Short stories, Travel and Health Information
“It is true that you may fool all the people some of the time…”
– Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
I am told that the most popular obstetricians in these modern days of high technology are now into the practice of providing couples expecting a new baby with CDs of their unborn progeny long before the baby actually arrives. couples have nothing better to do when they are at home than stare at these ultrasonic pictures on their TV screens, they can now have the inordinate pleasure of seeing images of their unborn offspring floating about in the silence of the womb. They can have the privilege, if they so desire, of listening in to the baby’s heartbeat, amplified so that even the people next door can hear the sound. Ultrasound scanning machines are so sophisticated nowadays that fine details such as the fingers and toes – even the ears and nose – of the tiny baby can be visualised. And, of course, the scans allow doctors to confidently predict, well before he or she arrives in this world, whether the newborn will be a boy or a girl.
It certainly is helpful in allowing the parents-to-be to decide whether to invest in pink baby clothes or blue ones.
In the days before ultrasound scans took all the mystery out of pregnancies, a question that mothers-to-be often used to ask their doctors is whether they could diagnose if the foetus within their womb would be male or female.
And this is where my old colleague Nick comes into this story.
Nick was the only doctor I knew with a reputation for being able to correctly predict the sex of the unborn baby. In the little village surgery in England where he and I worked many moons ago, Dr. Nick was well known for always getting it right – not just ten times out of ten, but a hundred times out of a hundred. He was, in the strictest sense of the phrase, a true Sex Expert.
When he was asked by one of his antenatal patients, “Will it be a boy or girl, doctor?” he would place his palm on her abdomen, wait a few seconds with a thoughtful expression on his face and then pronounce, with firm conviction, “This is definitely going to be a boy” or “This one certainly will be a girl.” He would always make it a point to take out his diary in the presence of the mother and carefully write down his prediction.
What his patients did not know was that he would write down in that diary the exact opposite of the prediction he had just made!
When the baby arrived, if the child’s sex proved to be what the mother had been told, there were congratulations all round – and further confirmation of Dr. Nick’s infallibility. If however the sex turned out to be not what the mother was expecting, Nick would greet her expressions of disappointment by putting on a puzzled look and shaking his head, murmuring, “No, no, it couldn’t be.”
He would then take out his famous diary, put on his reading glasses, turn to the relevant page, stare hard at what he had written – and then beam and show it to the family, saying, “No, I didn’t make a mistake – see, I wrote it down in my diary at the time you asked me.”
I am sure he left quite a few of his patients harbouring doubts about their memory power- but the fact remains that during the years that I worked with him, he always managed to get away with it!
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