Monday 23 October 2017

Bond the patient - how hypochondriac Roger Moore kept doctors in business


007: Roger Moore
007: Roger Moore

On screen, Roger Moore knocked off many baddies. Maurice Gueret now takes a look behind the scenes at a hypochondriac who bankrolled quite a few doctors

Doctor Bond

Every generation has its Bond. Today's bright young things have Daniel Craig to drool over. In our parents' day, it was Sean Connery. For my gang, Roger Moore was the man. He taught modern romantics all they needed to know about the humorous handling of dastardly baddies and swooning ladies. Our James Bond left us last month. A spot of cancer that the best Swiss doctors couldn't delay. Sir Roger was just a few months short of 90. A self-confessed hypochondriac, he packed a lot of clinical interest into his life. In his younger days, he did consider a career in medicine. In latter years, he said his second-choice career might have been as a pharmacist. Our 007 had more GPs than he had wives. The acknowledgements in his autobiography, My Word Is My Bond, he thanked five family doctors, four cardiologists and a proctologist. At one stage, he even considered naming the book Out Of The Bedpan. He certainly had an overflowing medical chart that included mumps, measles, chickenpox, jaundice, double pneumonia, renal colic, diabetes, lumps, bumps, prostate cancer, diabetes, warts and all. He had a pacemaker inserted, and his theatre list included excision of appendix, tonsils, adenoids, foreskin and prostate gland. A great loss, he leaves a lot of very grateful doctors among the Bond girls in mourning.

Woolly thinking

Another hypochondriac came to mind this summer when the demise of the Jaeger fashion chain was announced. Our own George Bernard Shaw was once its biggest fan. Gustav Jaeger was a Stuttgart physician who had a background degree in the study of animals. In the late 19th Century, he propagated woolly theories about humans needing to clothe themselves in animal pelts or fibres to remove toxins. He espoused some nonsense about cotton, linen and silk driving the body's vapours back through the skin's pores. He suggested they caused everything from breathlessness to indigestion, obesity and piles. Shaw, himself an anti-vaccine campaigner, was always up for a good fad. On the advice of a Jaeger advocate, he took the sheets off his bed and slept naked on woollen blankets. Underwear was out, and in the summer of 1885 Shaw ordered a red furry Jaeger suit, using a pay-out from his father's life-insurance policy. Followers of Jaeger were known as 'Woolleners' and tended towards the pedantic and prescriptive on matters like eating vegetables, tucking trousers into long stockings and liberating the feet in sandals. Nowadays, I suppose we might call them Greens.

No tips, please

Medical schools warn students never to insert anything smaller than an elbow into earholes. An examining auriscope or ear syringe are exceptions to the general rule that ear canals are best left alone. Ear canals are self-cleaning, with cotton buds the sworn enemy. Doctors are taught to celebrate wax, rather than always hunting it down. A new study from the Journal of Paediatrics looked at ear injuries over a 20-year period - 263,000 children, or 34 every day, were treated in American emergency rooms for injuries caused by ear buds. Apparently 90pc of people still believe that ear canals should be cleaned regularly. While it's quite acceptable to scrub behind the ears and lightly sponge the cartilage of the ear itself, medical advice remains the same - let doctors, nurses and audiologists do the fiddling, if indeed fiddling is required. The twirling and subsequent examination of a cotton bud may bring pleasure to some, but for many, the act of insertion impacts wax further down the canal and may just store up future problems.

Pneumatic danger

A chain of hearing-aid suppliers in the UK has called for the immediate banning of hand driers in public lavatories. They claim many machines are as loud as pneumatic drills and the audiologists are worried about the damage to vulnerable ears, especially young and old ones. One specialist said it is 'almost reckless' to position these machines in small, enclosed spaces where the sounds are amplified by tiled surfaces and mirrors. The audiologists suggest that if there are no towels and a hand drier is the only option, then "do as men have done since time immemorial - that's what the back of your trousers are for". Maybe Dr Jaeger and Mr Shaw had the right idea after all.

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