I switched on the radio this morning and immediately heard extremely important news from America. Apparently the President had appointed a very FAT doctor to the most heavyweight medico-political job in the country – surgeon general. Across the media and the blogosphere, self-righteous commentators were self-righteously condemning the Chosen One for sending out the ‘wrong message’ to the lardos of America. So I dashed to my computer to get a picture of the prospective big shot of American medicine. What an anticlimax! Maybe I’ve just seen too many pictures of fat people gorging on fast food in America. When you say a fat woman in America, I expect to see a VERY FAT WOMAN and certainly not a voluptuously endomorphic lady like Regina Benjamin. How dare journalists speak of her as the ‘elephant in the room’ of American medicine? Who do these hacks think they are? I refuse to join their ranks. I applaud Barack Obama for this appointment. Let me explain:
I know I’ve campaigned for fat people to pay more for air travel, but that is only because I resent being penalized for being 1kg overweight on my luggage while someone twice my weight, but whose baggage (if not BMI) is within the norm, waddles happily through. The plane uses more fuel to carry overweight people as well as overweight luggage. So it’s logical for you to be asked to step on to the scales next to your luggage and pay per kg, but I digress… This Dr. Benjamin looks like a GP with kindness and largesse and a body shape that is most desirable in certain parts of the world and was worshipped by artists such as Peter Paul Rubens.
If I were sick I’d be more than happy to have Dr. Benjamin at my bedside as would the poet W.H. Auden who expresses his partiality to plump doctors in Give me a doctor:
Give me a doctor partridge-plump,
Short in the leg and broad in the rump,
An endomorph with gentle hands
Who’ll never make absurd demands
That I abandon all my vices
Nor pull a long face in a crisis,
But with a twinkle in his eye
Will tell me that I have to die.
Auden, an Englishman, must have written this poem during his long sojourn in the USA!USA! because he rhymes ‘hands’ and ‘demands’. When I googled the poem (Google is marvellous for poetry) to make sure I had it word perfect, I came across a blog of another doctor who quotes a poem of a retired London GP by the name of Dr. Marie Campkin. Clearly a pastiche of the Auden poem of the same name, Dr. Campkin’s poem accurately depicts the state of British general practice today:
Give me a doctor underweight,
Computerised and up-to-date,
A businessman who understands
Accountancy and target bands.
Who demonstrates sincere devotion
To audit and to health promotion –
But when my outlook’s for the worse
Refers me to the practice nurse.
Dr. Campkin clearly understands what modern medicine is all about – money. I feel she loses her teeth in the last line because many patients would be happy to be referred to the nurse or any one else willing to help them. I’d prefer:
‘But when my outlook’s for the worse
Suggests that I phone for a hearse.’
In short I’m appalled that pc America has suddenly decided that Size Matters when it comes to choosing a leader of medicine or any other type of leader other than the CEO of Weight Watchers. Imagine we applied this sort of ‘ethics by example’ to Winston Churchill. What example would he be to the young binge drinkers of today? Whereas Hitler was a slim vegetarian. Need I say more?
I say ‘Give ’em hell Regina! Live up to your name, O Queen of American medicine! From across the Atlantic one doctor at least sends his unequivocal support!