In these few years of being a medical doctor, I have found it funny and a little weird – in that order – dealing with people who have issues with my size and have it written all over their faces as if they have just seen a horror movie. I am not so short. I am 5’7 and the maximum weight I’ve ever been is 70kg. I have been like this for more than a decade. I did not have any issues with my size as a medical student, but with that thin transition between studentship and taking the Hippocratic Oath, there has been lots of controversies.
You see, our society has carved it in the crevices of the minds of patients that the doctor must always be a tall man wearing glasses, bestriding the hospital premises like a colossus; until the population of girls began to increase in medical schools. Yet, the society does not want to change this mentality. I guess that is where my problem started from.
In medical school, I remember taunting my roommate, Onyinye about how tall I was. It was not my fault. Onyinye was 5’3, so do you blame me? I would stand in front of the mirror and pull her close to me and smirk, and say something like, ‘To tall na beans?’ Trust Onyinye, that chick always had a riposte to everything. ‘Go use height as collateral to collect loan for bank na,’ she would say.
Fast forward. I bagged the MB.BS degree and I do not feel so tall anymore. Even though some of my male colleagues, mostly six footers, humour me and say things like, ‘Oh, for a lady, you are tall.’
I have had patients stand before me, in the consulting room, asking, ‘Please can I see the doctor?’ Once, on a flight, going for an international medical conference, the lady beside me told me she thought I was an 18- year-old student after we got talking and she asked what and where I study. Laugh wan kill me. I have seen shock on the faces of immigration officials in different airports whenever they see my ID or ask what I do.
Murtala Muhammed Airport
Immigration officer: (opens and stares at my passport) Ehen, what do you do?
Me: I am a medical doctor
IO : Oh, student doctor! That’s very good. (hands over my passport to me)
Me: No sir, I am medical doctor. I work in XYZ hospital
IM: Jesus! How old are you?
Me: (Bursts into laughter)
I have carried my rants to family and friends, seeking for help. A friend once asked where I was when God was distributing height. We ended it with laughter. My old man said, ‘Sebi I was warning you when you were a child, you only loved rice, you did not eat beans, now, see your stunted growth.’ I discussed with my 5’11, 85kg younger sister, that one no just send me at all. She even threatened to use one finger to carry me and throw me downstairs o.
No matter how hard the height prayer has been, God has not answered. Or maybe, he did, because I saw the answer in another dimension: an increase in weight. But I do not want to add weight. In fact, I am watching my weight. I guess because I was somewhere reading when God was distributing height, I will have to wait forever to get an increase in height.
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