When i open my books a thousand ghosts rise out of them and if i am under no pressure to finish the chapter i leave today and join them in a timeless world. Here i listen to tales as ancient as our existence. Their awed fascination is communicated vaguely to me until what is to them fear, mystery and obscurity is to me fear, mystery and obscurity. There are countless pictures of patients in my books, all unnamed. What happened to these people? What did they do? What were they like?
And the doctors who toiled endlessly in forming the compressed residue of the chapter i read. There are the lucky, like William Beaumont who knew a man St Martin, whose gunshot injury in the stomach left a fistula which provided him with enormous insight into gastric physiology. And Alexander Flemming who discovered by accident the first antibiotic.
There are also countless examples of almost fanatic research in common illnesses like malaria and ingenious breakthroughs. These ghosts forgotten and unforgotten together are memories of a younger world when teachers were few and questions were many. Stories written between lines of books until they are almost lost to sight. A passing mention of the name attached to the subject, the Bainbridge reflex, the Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, the Bohr effect and a hundred other trifles which tell ancient tales which are, yet, woven like a pattern in the fabric of time for only recently was the Watson-Crick model for DNA published and the brugada syndrome described.