5 November 2007

What's for Dinner - The Ocker Doc

Those of you who have had the misfortune to meet the Ocker Doc at dinnertime will know that you shouldn't get your hands in the way! The Doc and food see eye-to-eye. It's not the way to his heart - it just maintains guard duty! Dieting is not the Doc's favourite pastime.

Lois is a Sydney-sider (or a "Sudknee"-sider in the local NZ lingo). A pleasant and cheerful woman from the southern suburbs, Lois' only problem was a long-term investment that had paid off. No, she wasn't working the stock market - she was a smoker.

Smoking is a strange activity. Placing your head over a fire and breathing in - can you see the sense in that? Fortunately there is a nicotine kick in it or no one would bother, and then where would the habit be?

Anyway, Lois was a good woman who happened to smoke. She was feeling unwell one day and noticed some blood on coughing. Now I tell you there are few things in the world to get your heart racing better than coughing up blood! We doctors call it 'haemoptysis' but apart from 'haem' meaning blood, I can't tell you what a "ptysis' is. Probably the sound a Roman makes when coughing! Lois entered the medical system quickly.

To cut a long diagnostic story short, Lois had lung cancer - and it had spread to the lymph nodes in the chest. Unfortunately it was inoperable. So she was sent into the clutches of the radiation oncologist. (In the pantomimes, this is where the crowd hisses and the villain appears dressed in black!)

What can you say about lung cancer? Nasty piece of work! In any one year, for every 100 people who develop lung cancer about 97 will die of lung cancer. Now if you were a betting person, you would hate those odds. OK with your money, but not your life.

The oncologist offered her radiation treatment. It wasn't fun - feeling tired, difficult to swallow and going backwards and forwards to the radiation unit every day for 6 long weeks. Not that getting the treatment took long, but the waiting time was longer than the treatment. The staff looked after her well but she still felt bad. After 2 months all the side effects abated and Lois was back to her normal self.

I saw Lois while on holidays. She had put on about 15 kilos! Are you on steroid tablets? I asked. "Oh no, I just have a good appetite. Anyway you told me to enjoy myself! And I just love the taste of food; it's my favourite thing!"

Ah, a kindred spirit!