When the Doctor finally looked up, she did not meet the patient’s eyes. “I would like to talk to your husband first,” she said.
The patient stared at her for a long moment before rising. The next instant she sat down again. “You know what, Doctor? I think I’d like to tell you a few things first before you talk to my husband.” She glanced at her husband, who shrugged and left the room. The Doctor sighed. She knew what this could mean.
The patient, not used to unnecessary preamble, drove right in. “Is it bad news, Doctor?”
“It is too early to say. I may suggest a few more tests. I would like to speak to your husband now, if you don’t mind.”
“Why, Doctor? I am the one who is sick. Do I look like a weakling? Is it cancer? Tumor? Or something worse? What do you think will happen if you tell me? Do you think I will faint? I will commit suicide?”
“It isn’t that,” said the Doctor. “I am sure there is nothing to worry but -“
“Don’t you know, Doctor, that men are babies? I am sure you do. They cannot handle bad news the way we women handle it. They need something to do. You need to give them something to do. If you make them sit down and endure misery, bad news, they will implode. Tell them, go get some medicines, bring the patient for treatment daily, get her to do some X-rays, blood tests, scanning,… they’ll feel great. They’ll enjoy all the hardships they go through to look after the patient. They need to take care of others. If you tell them to sit tight while you take care of everything, they just don’t know what to do. It’s for us women to absorb those kinds of emotions. So you please go ahead and tell me how bad it is. Then let’s decide how to break the news gently to my husband and what we can make him do so that he does not feel left out of all the fun.”