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“It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.” - Sir William Osler

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    Wednesday, April 02, 2003
    More From Chuen-Yen

    Another delightful email from my internist friend Chuen-Yen, who is working as a volunteer in Malawi for a year: She has apparently become an expert on everything under the sun by virtue of her medical degree...

    Hi again!

    Every inhabitant of Malawi is a jack-of-all-trades by necessity. So, it�s only logical that, despite my background, I treat psych, ob-gyn, pediatric and minor surgical problems. It�s also plausible that I have become an endocrinologist, cardiologist, nephrologist, etc by default. However, since the advent of �Ask Dr. Lau,� my weekly column in The Daily Times, I have been increasingly obliged to address issues beyond the realm of medicine.

    The newspaper advertises, �Dr. Lau, an Internal Medicine Specialist, will answer your questions about health and fitness every Tuesday.� One might, based on this information, speciously anticipate inquiries about common medical concerns. But given that an expert in one field must be a universal authority, I�ve received some amusing queries.

    For instance, a hospital visitor recently accosted me with an urgent plumbing matter. After confirming that I was actually "the doctor", she began to unpack a large bag. Several feet of flexible metallic tubing materialized. Then emerged a showerhead at one end of the conduit and a portable electric heating device at the other. A relative had kindly sent this contraption. How she might utilize it? The lady was further confused about the accompanying item � a valve handle. I clarified that these were likely bathroom fixtures. The little thermal box should be connected to a water source, which the spigot would regulate. Delighted with this explanation, she thanked me for being a good physician.

    This evening, another character approached me for advice about potato cultivation. Fortunately, I had recently discussed the topic and was able to describe the tubers� water, fertilization and six-week incubation requirements.

    Readers are sending a multitude of interesting inquiries: How do you can foods? Where does salt come from? Why do frogs make that dripping noise? What makes a person feel happy? I didn�t learn all this stuff in school. But life is full of lessons that aren�t found in books. Hope you�re enjoying your education.

    Any questions?



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