So at last, at the age of 50-something, I have developed a superpower. And it’s proving a very valuable addition to my consultation armamentarium.
To explain: I’ve known this would happen since I was four and had my own Batman cape. Over the years, I have regularly tested my ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, render myself invisible and catch thieves just like flies. With limited success.
The possibilities are endless
If I was to feature in a superhero cartoon strip, it would be as ‘The Incredible Brown-suede-shoe-man’. Maybe not ‘the Incredible’. But my brown suede shoes are my defining feature, because they’re what I always wear. To work. At leisure. Playing tennis. In bed. When my wife sends me off to buy new shoes, she does so with the same advice each time: ‘There are other types of shoes, you know.’ And when I get to the shoe shop, she’s right, there are other types of shoes, but there are also brown suede shoes, so that’s what I buy.
Anyway. Massively ironically, it is actually my latest brown suede shoes, which I wear as I type, that have at last given me my genuine superpower, and which have transformed my consultations.
What happened was this. The Monday morning surgery after I had bought my new brown suede shoes, I found myself in the annoying and, for me, unusual position of needing to examine the patient. And as I touched her abdomen, something really shocking happened. Just that. We both received a very distinct shock of static electricity.
I apologised and thought nothing more of it, until I found myself, later in the day, examining another patient. Same thing. A very noticeable electric shock. Hmm, I thought. That’s odd. Then, another patient, another examination, another dose of static.
Now. My room hasn’t changed. Floor the same. Humidity levels ISQ. No balloon rubbing going on. The only thing that’s different are my shoes. They’re a really cool brown suede – did I mention that? – and they have a sort of crepey-rubberised sole. And I realised that, if I really drag them across the floor, something I’ve now taken to doing on a regular basis as I move reluctantly to the examination couch, the subsequent spectacular discharge of electricity is sufficient to have both patient and myself muttering stunned expletives.
This is something to do with electrons and shoes that I don’t really understand – that’s what Wikipedia is for – but it doesn’t matter. The fact is, it’s brilliant. I have the power to electrocute my patients. With a single touch of my superhero hand. It’s like having an invisible cattle-prod.
You may think I’m being trivial or hurtful. But after 28 years in practice, I take my pleasures where and when I can. Besides, the possibilities are endless. A standard voltage for those requesting unnecessary antibiotics. A supercharged version to the temples of my depressed patients. And, who know, if I combine my electrocution power with a little diathermy, I might literally be able to make selected patients explode.
My only fear is that they start coming in with Kryptonite. In the meantime, I’m dusting off that cape.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield