- Confidentiality is one of the core duties of medical practice, and a doctor must always ensure it is upheld.
- Breakfast could wait as I granted the caller time for the phone consultation.
It was a bright Sunday morning. My family had gathered at the dining table for breakfast. Suddenly, my phone rang loudly, disrupting the morning flow.
“If I cannot talk to you now, I will never call you again,” came the voice. “It has taken me a whole year to amass the courage to call and I don’t think I can do it again.”
I had requested the caller to talk to me later after he said he wanted to discuss a private medical matter.
I obliged at his seemingly non-compromising stance and walked out of the dining room, encouraging him to go ahead with the conversation.
Confidentiality is one of the core duties of medical practice, and a doctor must always ensure it is upheld. Breakfast could wait as I granted the caller time for the phone consultation.
“I cannot have erections and my wife is about to leave me” he said, “do you have medicine that can make my lion roar immediately?”
I reminded him that erection problems are complex and needed physical consultation including examination and tests. I asked him to come to the clinic the next day.
He grudgingly accepted. It is normal for people with erectile dysfunction to ask for instant solutions because the condition is quite stressful.
The next day, he arrived at the clinic at 7.30am. John, 40, was an accountant at a local NGO. He had been married for seven years to Ann, an interior designer. The couple had one child.
John had been having weak erections for three years. The condition worsened over time until he was unable to have penetrative sex. When he called me, he had not had sex for close to two years.
“I wanted to see a doctor over this problem but I have always been embarrassed,” he explained, “my wife has always made me feel worthless and useless, and I have never revealed my weakness to another person in case they treat me the same way.”
John was a man in distress. He had symptoms of depression. His self-esteem had crashed. He had drenched himself in alcohol.
His work performance had terribly deteriorated, and his employer was not happy. He had been served with two warning letters for poor performance.
Actually, he was about to be dismissed. He was two months in rent arrears and the landlord was threatening to evict him.