The Importance of Not Using Metaphors to Describe Symptoms

Once in my teens, I went to see my usual doctor, a general practitioner, in what is now called Damansara Uptown.

I was suffering from pretty bad diarrhoea. Time always seems to slow down when we are sick or in pain or need to urgently go to the bathroom. One minute is a century. After what felt like three centuries, I was finally called in by the nurse to see the doctor. I was impressed I had not shat myself during the wait.

The doctor was an elderly fair-skinned Indian man with a beard on his kindly bespectacled face. He was sitting relaxedly in his chair. He smiled at me and with a wave of his hand invited me to sit down. I did.

“What’s the problem, young man?”

“I’ve been hitting the toilet every hour or two. It feels like I have been pissing out of my ass.”

The doctor sat up in his chair and leaned forward towards me.

“Pissing out of your ass?”

“Yes, doctor.”

“Oh, that sounds serious.”

My heart skipped a bit. I thought I had diarrhoea.

“What colour is the urine?”

“What urine?”

“The one out of your ass, of course.”

“OH! Sorry, doctor. When I said pissing out of my ass, I meant that metaphorically. My stool is so watery it feels like I am pissing out of my ass. Too often at that.”

“I see. I see. So you mean to say you have a case of diarrhoea?”

“Yes, doctor. Sorry. You mean there is a condition where people actually piss out of their asses?”

“Yes, there is. It’s very rare but it happens.”

“Oh wow. Well, I don’t think it’s that. It’s just diarrhoea, doctor.”

“I see. That’s alright. I’ll prescribe something for you. In the future, young man, it’s best to use less colourful language to describe your symptoms. Language like that may set us down the wrong path.”

“I can certainly appreciate that now, doctor. I’m sorry for that.”

He prescribed me some medication and sent me on my way. Apparently, pissing out of our ass is a symptom of Rectal Prostate Fistula.

Since then, I have avoided the use of metaphors in describing my medical symptoms.

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