Mute Eating Goldthread

​哑巴吃黄莲

2017

‘Greet each patient with a smile, and they will feel better’, as my consultant used to say, doubtless repeating advice other doctors once passed to him. So I too wear a smile. 


An attitude of stoicism is a pervasive feature of medical culture. Despite the stressors faced by doctors, these unspoken pressures are concealed behind a smile of equanimity.   


Renowned though its medicinal properties may be, the taste of the herb Goldthread is bitter. My ancestors of the Southern Song Dynasty coined the idiom: ‘mute eating Goldthread’ to describe the idea of suffering in silence. A mute, with Goldthread overflowing their palette - bitterness that only the self can know; an ineffable sorrow that through no words can they share.  

So I smile. 

想当年,上司劝我:‘大夫待病人,该多笑;笑了病人则心安。’我因此脸上常戴笑。

医学上常鼓励‘斯多葛式的冷静——铁面无私’。而工作之艰亦该微笑掩之。

黄莲良药苦口。南宋以‘哑巴吃黄莲’ 暗喻有苦说不出。其中苦唯有自知,苦而难言。

我,一笑置之。