Conversations with a Doctor

In the end my father only dealt with super specialists: he had a Chinese cardiologist and another cardiologist who managed his arrhythmia. A pulmonologist who spoke Greek.  A daughter-in-law who is a breast surgeon.  A son-in-law who is a hand surgeon.

But in the early years our general practitioner did everything. He delivered my father’s three children. Declared my grandfather dead after my uncle brought him for resuscitation after one of the early Alberton Greek Community meetings. He reduced my dislocated shoulder more than a few times and never sent me for surgery. He saved my brother when he choked on a piece of cucumber. My mother and Aunty Marina ran from our house to Dr Prinsloo’s house on the block next door holding him upside down by the ankles. I think that’s what saved him. I always think about this event when I eat cucumber.

Dr Prinsloo was married to Anne, whose parents were Polish, and stayed with them. Jaja, her father, lent an air of Eastern Mysticism to the house that was filled with light and Anne’s colourful paintings. The house was different to the other ranch style houses or old fashioned square houses in Alberton. It had curves and arches, nooks in the garden. It had a real artistic atmosphere.

He was also my introduction to motor vehicles. In an era when American was best, he drove a Citroen Pallas saloon. One of the movies of the day (The Pink Panther?) had the estate version as an ambulance, so when I was young I thought the car was for medical professionals. It was quiet, had curves like their house and the suspension that levelled the car when it was started was amazing. It also had directional headlights

Those were special days. None of the houses had fences, and most garages were left open for whatever reason. My father left the keys for my mother’s Mercedes Benz 190 under the seat, in case anyone ever needed to use the car in an emergency. It was well before the time that we would sneak cars out for test drives around the neighbourhood.

One day something happened to Dr Prinsloo’s Citroen and he needed a car for an emergency. We were out for the day, in a big American car. He ran to our house and found the garage open, the keys to the car under the seat and drove off.

My father was right to leave things in case anyone needed it in an emergency. He was always creating safety mechanisms for people.