“Do you want to hear what your heart sounds like?”
I never even thought about it, and all of a sudden it just felt so natural. I had just spent 10 minutes taking a history from my patient, listening to him describing his ailments as well as very personal details about his life, and then moved onto listening to his heart, checking pulses and all the rest of the tick boxing. As I semi-mechanically went through the process, it almost felt like the patient’s body had temporarily been consigned to me – my mind was working through symptomatology and differential diagnoses, now fully concerned with analysing the body in all its parts to figure out the reason for his admission – and it was now in my “domain”, somewhat. It’s as if at the beginning of every consultation patients agree to temporarily give up their exclusive intimacy with their body for someone else to get to know it closely, hold it in their hands and take it close to them, as it belonged to them. Of course, it’s all in best interest, and there is nothing particularly odd about that either (surprisingly enough).
However, it seems that while doctors do their doctoring with patients’ bodies, they rarely share their own art and discovery with the patients themselves.

So, as I heard that loud whooshing sound on the left sternal edge, it dawned on me. Whose body was this then? I had discovered something about the patient’s very own body that they were not aware of. Almost as if I knew their body better than they did, in that particular respect.
“Do you want to hear what your heart sounds like?”
I just blurted that out, in half excitement. Had it been my body, I would have wanted to find out that there was something I hadn’t known about it before.
“Yeah, why not – go on then”
I popped my stethoscope in his ears.
“Can you hear that?”
“Oh! I see!”

It was almost like giving that body back. Not keeping a portion of the patient’s body to ourselves, forever precluded from going back to the owner.
It’s worth remembering whose body it is.

It wasn’t mine. It was his.

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