Once upon a time there was a man called Phillip. He was really kind, worked very hard and probably had too many kids but who’s counting. Phillip had good old Irish black hair (with growing numbers of grey – as I said, too many kids), blue eyes and a big rosy smile. He was an engineer, but because of his unusually funny sense of humour we’ll excuse that.
Seems like a great guy huh? (He is, I can vouch; I am his wife).
However, Phillip had a problem in life. He was prone to illness. But not your common cold type illness, nor gastro, not even chicken pox. No, Phillip got all the really rare illnesses – the ones where the doctor starts looking at you very closely through his monocle, like you’re a rat in a lab, and pulls out his antique doctoring encyclopaedia (they are the book – thing with paper pages – version of google), and searching back to Ape Times to see if he can locate what that strange blue spot all over one side of Phillip’s face might be.
This is not to say Phillip’s family didn’t feel sorry for him, because a few of these blue spotty type episodes have been life threatening. Like the most recent one.
One Friday, Phillip went for a glamorous night out with some Very Important Engineering-Types. He was quite looking forward to it and had left for the day in his really special cashmere dress coat for the event, which was a big effort for Phillip and possibly all engineers. All the friends sat down and began the evening in the luxurious function room at Sydney’s Aquarium.
Things were going swimmingly, when, mid conversation, Phillip choked on a piece of the steak he was eating. Or now not eating, as the case may be. His friends swooped in to help – “stick your fingers down your throat”, “fresh air will help it go”, and the ever helpful, “drink more beer”.
However, unfortunately, none of these clever pieces of advice worked and Phillip had to come home – still choking. Also unfortunately, his wife thought all the hiccupping and vomiting was due to that extra beer his friends suggested, and she slept on though. Until the dark hours of the morning when it became obvious Phillip was in big trouble and so she sent him to the hospital (feeling a little bit terrible).
Quick as you like (at least quicker than his wife), Phillip was having CAT scan, ECG’s and MCG’s (oh, hang on, that’s football), and was whisk through to Emergency and then a bed in hospital. It was gravely announced Phillip needed to be monitored so he didn’t completely choke and die, and that he would need an operation.
Sheepish wife comes in and her heart breaks for her funny, engineering-type husband. He is so very sick and really just wants to give up on life. His wife holds his hand, wets his head, and reassures him it will be over soon, and is as caring as she can be, even having a little tear at the gravity of the situation (or possibly because she doesn’t want to be left alone with so many kids).
Enter Doctor Straightyoneeighty – tall, lanky, bespectacled and with clipboard. Phillip has now completely given up on life and is a shadow of his once funny, smiley self. “Hello, Phillip. I see you are very sick,” says the Doctor, looking at his notes, the floor, the monitors and out the window, so Phillip assumes that, rather than actually seeing he is really sick, the Doctor is just really in tune with the vibe of sickness. “What you have is a restriction of the oesophagus…..blah blah blah…” Despite a voice which sounds like a mosquito in your ear at night time, Phillip’s Wife is listening extremely intently to the doctor because she thinks it will either help or will absolve her of her sins of ignoring her husband choking to death at home earlier.
The good Doctor continues: “And it usually happens when there is a group of men out for some conversation, having some beer, and because of the good conversation the men forget to chew their meal which is always steak. It is a condition we call Steakhouse Syndrome.”
Suddenly, Wife loses all respectability and LAUGHS OUT LOUD WITH TEARS ROLLING DOWN HER FACE AND CHOKING HERSELF mostly on the hilarity of this Doctor Straightyoneeighty, but also because her husband is nearly dying due to something called Steakhouse Syndrome.
Fastfoward and Phillip has had his general anaesthetic and the offending piece of steak is removed, but not kept to show us as I thought the good Doctor would do, being so fascinated by the whole syndrome as he was.
Phillip has to have soup for two weeks which his shredded oesophagus repairs. “Not chunky beef I take it?” he asks the Doctor, who looks over his heavy-framed glasses, perplexed at this strange patient of his. “No, I don’t think that is a good idea, Phillip,” he frowns.
Fast forward a couple of months and Phillip is well and off to another work dinner in a week or so. “What nice place are you going to this time, darling?” asks dutiful Wife. Husband checks back through emails to find the invite.
“Oh no,” he groans, squeezing his eyes tight. “We’re going to Kingsleys Steakhouse….”