No jokes

As a child I was wary of April Fools Day. The nun’s taught us this day commemorates Jesus on his struggle from Mount Gethsemane on his way to crucifixion and the guards who mocked him and afterwards drew lots for his clothes.

We should not therefore in all conscience make jokes on this day, the nuns said, nor should we laugh at the way others might trick someone into believing the toilet was clear for use, after the joker had spread a line of cling film over the top of the porcelain rim and then replaced the seat, leaving the cling rap to gape in the middle unseen so the poor helpless person pees into a little pool just below their bottom line.

Or worse still, some other joker might line a black toilet lid with vegemite so that some poor innocent cops a black rim around their legs when they sit to shit.

Such tricks held no appeal to me but obviously to some they were hilarious, though not for the recipients.

This jokiness has a masculine edge, or so Samuel Andrews argued, in a talk I heard recently, in which he explored what draws men into the helping profession, which traditionally has been so much a woman’s realm, except at the top.

At the top, of course, the folks who run the show are typically men, but the counsellors, the psychologists, social workers and the like are more often than not of the female persuasion and varying degrees thereof.

I went once for an internal pelvic examination and while up in the stirrups, legs spread, I wondered out loud with the female nurse /radiologist who was working the ultrasound, about my preference for a woman to undertake this task, simply because a woman felt less invasive to me.

If you give a man a choice about the gender of the person who might approach him for treatment of his genitals, most men will also ask for a woman every time. Not just out of some sort of homophobia, she said, but the view is a woman might approach the task more gently.

And yet in my time I’ve also encountered the gentlest of male nurses, men who came as kind and as thoughtful to me, as any woman could ever be.

So maybe again this construction of gender into male and female, like a black and white view of people, has knobs on it.

More and more I’m beginning to think in terms of degrees of masculinity and femininity, and all sorts of variations in between. That way we needn’t get stuck as one or the other.

We can be fluid in our sense of our bodies and ourselves in so far as our bodies and minds will allow us. We needn’t get stuck in one position or another.

My fears from last week were as I expected and hoped, unfounded. But it took not only a visit to my favourite and regular GP, but also to a second dermatologist, who as luck would have it had a cancellation and could therefore see me last Tuesday rather than at the end of May, which was his next free space.

What is it with some medical specialists? By the time you get to see them your ailment has passed or you’ve died.

This new dermatologist diagnosed three things, peri oral dermatitis, another type of dermatitis, which he called irritans or some such word, and finally some sort of fungal infection, all of which could be treated with medications that don’t even need a script, low dose cortisone and Canestan.

He also recommended I continue on the antibiotics my doctor had prescribed earlier and told me to be patient.

So I followed his advice, and after a few days saw signs of improvement to the point I’m confident now it’s healing.

The words that stay with me most clearly are those of ‘be patient’.

I fear it was my impatience that got me into trouble in the first place.

That impatience to make the fat lip from my fall heal fast which led me to use cream that had been prescribed elsewhere and to which I might have had an allergic reaction, and which then resulted in a rash that kept on spreading.

It’s a salutary lesson.

When it comes to healing there are no miracle cures.

Wounds need time to heal.

And I won’t try to explore whether this impatience comes from the masculine or the feminine side of me, nor will I try to turn it into a joke.