Thursday, August 30, 2007

On Not Being Racist

The Mighty Consultant happened to come round when I was visiting the Communist today, with his accompanying flock of junior doctors. As they all do, the Mighty One was clearly a bit stumped by the Communist's condition: he feels quite well: two of his toes on his right foot are - well - fucked, really: he is perfectly with it mentally but just can't move. If he were younger they would take a Sharp Knife and remove the toes. But he's nearly eighty-four and his blood vessels are all buggered and we all know the foot would never heal.

"We need better pain relief," said the Mighty One. "How about something morphine-based?" I explained about the Communist's really bad reaction to morphine. The Mighty One muttered something about getting the Palliative Care team, because, although the Communist's condition is not terminal, the Palliative Care team know about pain control.

I told the Mighty One that I was very pleased with the way the Communist has been looked after in this ward (as opposed to the Ward of Doom in Another Leeds Hospital) and that the staff were great, and that I work helping to train medics in Communication Skills and so I know a bit about it, and the junior doctors chorused that indeed some of them do know me. Mighty One was pleased to be told this, of course, and thanked me, and said he was going to get the Even Mightier One to look at the Communist, and went away with his little flock.

"You told him the staff are great," said the Communist loudly, "and they all are, apart from the big black woman. She never talks to me except to tell me she's too busy, and she's really rough when she does anything."

"Ssssh!" I said, "you can't go calling her the Big Black Woman, it's really racist."

He wouldn't like it, of course, if he were referred to as the Bearded Communist Jew.

"But she IS big and she IS black," he said. And, as if to prove the point, she hove into view and was charming to me.

"She's not like that when you're not here," he said.

"Yes, I'm quite prepared to believe that," I said, "but can you call her something else? Let's find out her name, shall we?"

"I don't remember names," said the Communist, "and she is big and she is black. I'm not being racist. I'm just describing her."

I know I'm on a loser with this and she will be the Big Black Woman to him forever. All I can hope is that I can stop him saying it loudly and frequently.


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