Post 26 Is 'Having Sex' the same as 'Making Love'?

 This was the first tutorial that Paul had ever given but as he introduced himself to the group, he had no idea that it would end with such comedy and confusion.    


Without exception, the students were intelligent; had they not been bright they wouldn’t have been admitted to medical school.  However, they differed greatly in their ability to communicate with patients.     An essential task for their teachers was to observe the interaction between student and patient and to guide and advise as necessary.


Paul gathered the students round the bed of a rather deaf octogenarian who hailed from Pontefract in Yorkshire.    On this occasion it was Sunil Solanki’s turn to demonstrate what the consultant had taught the students the previous week. Sunil had been nick named ‘Sunny’ because of his cheerful disposition and ready smile.

  “Now, Sunny,” Paul began, “Mr Howell has a problem with his bowels.   I would like you to ask him to describe his symptoms.” 

He turned to the other students.  “The rest of you should listen carefully and be prepared to chip in and make comments - but only if you feel it’s something important.   Right, away you go Sunny.”

Sunny approached the bedside somewhat nervously.   “Good morning Mr Howell,” he said.

 “What’s that you said, young man?” the patient shouted.

“I said, Good morning Mr Howell.”

 “Aye that’s me, ‘owell’s me name.”

 “I am hearing that you are having trouble shitting,” Sunil continued.

“Ouch”, interrupted Miss Croft. “I don’t think you should use the word ‘shitting’.   Many patients, especially ladies would be most upset.”

Sunny looked puzzled.   “But ‘shitting’ is the same as ‘crapping’ I am told.   I have a doctor friend who is telling me all about English as it is spoken and that is what he says.”

“Yes, that’s true.   But ‘shitting’ and ‘crapping’ are both rude words – not words to be used in polite society and certainly not with patients,”  Paul explained.   “Were you taught any other words for the act of moving the bowels?”

 “Yes,” Sunny replied as if he had suddenly remembered.   He turned again to Mr Howell.   “Are you having trouble with your ha ha?”

“With what young man?” Mr Howell yelled, a cupped hand to his ear.

“With ha ha?”

The patient turned to Paul.  “I  ’ope  ’e’s not laughing at me.    I’ll not stand for that.”

 “No certainly not,” Paul said, laying a reassuring hand on Mr Howell’s arm.   “Sunny, I’m afraid there are lots of words in English for  bodily functions.   ‘Ha ha’ is a phrase sometimes used by children.   ‘Number twos’ and ‘having a poo’ are other expressions, but again only used by youngsters.   They’re not words you would use to an adult.   ‘Moving your bowels’ is probably as good a phrase as any, though the proper verb is ‘defaecation’.   Now start again.”

 Now both confused and embarrassed, Sunny tried again.

 “You are having trouble with your defaecation?” he said raising his voice.

 “Beg pardon, young man?”

 “Trouble with your defaecation?” Sunny repeated even louder.

 “I don’t know ’owt about ‘defee whatever that is’.   And there’s no need to shout, young man;  I may be a bit daft but I’m not deaf.”

 At Paul’s suggestion Sunny asked if Mr Howell was having trouble with his bowels.

 “My balls did you say.” Mr Howell shouted back.  “Let me tell you lad, I’ve only got one ball.   I lost the other one years ago.  Jerry shot it off in that little scrap we had with ’err ’itler!   But I’ve found that one works just as well as two, if you know what I mean,”  Mr Howell replied with a dirty laugh while giving Sunny a dig in the ribs which surprised and mystified him.

 It took the best part of thirty minutes for Sunny to draw out the story of Mr Howell’s bowel problems.   Having previously had a regular bowel habit, he now had a constant desire to go to the toilet but when he went, he passed little more than a small amount of stool mixed with blood.   Paul hoped that as a result of the session, the students would remember the significance of a change in bowel habit and the presence of blood in the stool. Unfortunately Mr Howell had a tumour in his rectum.

Later, back in the tutorial room, Sunny again raised the subject of colloquial English.  “If number twos is the same as defaecation,” he asked, “is number one pissing?” 

“Yes, it is,” Paul explained, “but ‘pissing’ is also a rude word. ‘Having a pee’ or ‘spending a penny’ are better phrases.   More often you would ask a patient if he has trouble passing water.   The formal medical term of course is micturition.”

“If number one is ‘having a pee’ and number two is ‘moving the bowels’, what is number three?    Is it fucking?”

Paul couldn’t help but laugh.   “Sunny, you need to learn which words to use in different circumstances or you’re going to find yourself in some embarrassing situations.   There isn’t a number three and since the number system is used by young children they wouldn’t know about number three, even if it was what you suggest.   In any case the word ‘fucking’ is extremely crude.  ‘Humping’ and ‘screwing’ are almost as bad but you might just get away with ‘hanky-panky’.    If you wanted to ask a patient about sexual relations you would speak of ‘having intercourse’ or 'having sex’.”


“Another expression would be ‘making love’” the blond and beautiful Miss Croft added quietly, catching Paul’s eye and offering him a coy smile as she did so.

 “Sunny,” Paul continued, ignoring the interruption despite it having caused his heart to skip a beat and his concentration to falter, “I fear the friend who helped you with your English has been having a laugh at your expense.   I suggest you ask one of the other students to write down the terms used for bodily functions and list those that are acceptable and those that are not.   Now if there are no more questions I think.......”  

Suddenly he was interrupted by the loud emergency tone emitted by his bleep. ‘Cardiac Arrest... Surgical 5 female ward.  Cardiac Arrest.....Surgical 5 female.’

Paul heard the message and dashed to the ward with mixed feelings.   He didn’t like cardiac arrests, never feeling totally confident of his ability to cope - but at least it stopped him thinking about the suggestive remark made by the attractive Karen Croft!

 Thought for the day

‘All professional athletes are bilingual.    They speak English and profanity'                         Geordie Howe 1928 -    In the Toronto Star

 Extract from doctor’s letter: Social history reveals that this 1 year old smokes, drinks and is currently unemployed

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