Name Of Love

Entry by: macdonald

12th February 2016
In the name of love.

Macdonald's case book

Mr White seemed like an ordinary patient at first. In his mid-thirties, with increasing back pain for several years, but now suffering leg pain which was worse than the back pain. He’d had time off work, in a local biscuit factory, because of the pain.

He attended with his young wife who made notes during the consultation and provided me with a list of the various tablets he’d been prescribed by their family doctor as well as dates of physiotherapy and osteopathy treatments. Physical examination revealed a very marked tenderness as well as an overreaction to the lightest palpation of his spine. If this was done when he stood upright his knees buckled and he shouted out in agony. He had difficulty in co-operating with power testing of his legs but there was no other evidence of any serious pathology. A range of blood tests and an X-ray of his back already done by his family doctor were normal. Because of the leg pain and the severity of disability I arranged a magnetic resonance scan of his spine but when I reviewed him a month later this revealed no abnormality. His pain and disability, which were by then worsening, were unexplainable. I reassured him as best I could about the scan findings and more physiotherapy was arranged but he continued to deteriorate and was referred back with increasing weakness. He attended out-patients on this occasion in a wheelchair, which he’d purchased himself, and was pushed into the consulting room by Mrs White, who understandably appeared increasingly anxious about her husband’s worsening health.
Physical examination on this occasion revealed less tenderness and overreaction but again no neurological signs apart from the weakness in his legs. He retained normal leg sensation and normal bowel and bladder function. He was cheerful and in less pain and I was puzzled, but worried I was missing a neurological disease so requested a brain scan and referred him to our local neurologist. The brain scan was normal and the neurologist could find no organic cause for the leg weakness. A neurophysiological assessment revealed normal function of the nerves in his legs. He suggested the problem might be best assessed by a psychologist.
When I next saw him he was unable to stand or walk and his wife looked at the end of her tether. He had been made redundant and was receiving disability benefits, but remained optimistic. His pain had gone and he was off all medication but confined permanently to a wheelchair. He refused to see a psychologist and was subsequently discharged from my clinic.
Seven years later I received a bulky package from a solicitor representing Mr White. I recognised his name immediately and feared the worst, that I had missed a serious condition. I would be sued and shamed, possibly struck off the medical register, but by the time I’d read the letter my anxiety was gone. I wasn’t being sued. The solicitor wanted a summary of all medical records relating to his client’s paralysis as Mr White was accused of assault and possibly attempted murder. His defence, as far as could be discerned from the solicitor’s letter, was that he could not possibly have committed the offence because of his paralysis. I forwarded my records and four months later attended court to give medical evidence on his behalf at a jury trial. Mr White attended in his wheelchair with his wife. They both looked happy, despite the circumstances, smiling at one another and holding hands during the proceedings. Apparently they had only been reunited a few months earlier after a stormy period in their marriage. I gave my evidence, answering simple questions easily enough from both prosecution and defence barristers about Mr White’s mysterious paralysis.
The prosecution then produced their trump card, a security camera videotape of the reception area of a public building in town. Near the beginning of the tape a rather frightened looking gentleman, identified as Mr Black, the victim of the alleged assault, ran across reception followed ten seconds later by a second man, running at speed. A few minutes further on Mr Black appeared again, noticeably breathless and red in the face and the second man was now closer behind. The barrister stopped the tape at a point where this pursuer's face could clearly be seen. It was indeed Mr White. There was a low murmur from the watching jurors. Apparently a few moments later the chase had ended on the second floor of the building from which Mr Black had either been thrown or jumped, the details being in dispute. It was agreed that he had subsequently recovered from the injuries sustained.
Mr White was allowed to give evidence from the wheelchair. His wife positioned him carefully in the dock and sat in the chair nearest to him.
‘Now, Mr White,’ said the prosecuting barrister, ‘you claim to have been unable to walk for seven years. Is that correct?’
‘Yes, sir. I can stand for short periods but can’t walk at all. My wife helps me transfer into chairs and bed. She also helps me undress, go to the toilet and the like. I owe everything to her.’ He and Mrs. White smiled fondly at one another.
‘And we have heard from Dr Macdonald that, as far as can be ascertained, the cause of your paralysis is psychological in nature.’
‘Yes, sir. Psychological sir. My brain’s not working properly sir, as I understand it.'
‘But you agree that it was you that we have just seen on the videotape? You were identified by several witnesses rising out of your wheelchair and chasing Mr Black up and down the stairs for ten minutes.’
‘Yes sir, it was definitely me on that videotape.’
‘And you caught up with Mr Black, even 'though he is a fit young man ten years your junior, and when you caught him you grievously assaulted him.’
'It was me chasing him, sir. That’s for sure and I can't deny it. But my recollection is that he jumped from that window, sir. I don’t recall ever laying a finger on him.’
‘What can you remember of that day, Mr White?’
‘I remember getting a taxi to my wife’s office. It was our anniversary and I was going to surprise her with a bunch of flowers and take her out to lunch. The taxi driver helped me with the wheelchair.’
‘And you remember nothing after that?’
'No, sir, I do remember asking the girl in reception to call my wife and say there was a surprise for her in reception. And I remember she came down in the lift a few minutes later. When the door opened Mr Black was in there with her. He was kissing her, sir. Then they came out of the lift. I don’t remember anything after that. The next thing I remember was leaning on the window frame looking out at Mr Black on the pavement below, sir, and then the police officer handcuffing me, sir.’
‘So can you explain it, Mr White?' asked the barrister, turning to the jurors and smiling. 'This loss of memory and the sudden return of power to your legs after seven years. I’m sure the jury would wish to hear an explanation, if you have one. ’
‘I do sir. It was love, sir.’
‘Love, Mr White?’ the barrister asked with a puzzled expression.
‘Yes, sir. I love my wife and when I saw Mr Black kissing her, my mind went blank and as my legs don’t work because of something wrong in my mind, that something, whatever it is, was blanked off as well. And the power came back into them for a time.’
‘I see, Mr White. I must say I find that explanation quite extra-ordinary and I think the jury will as well.’
'Yes, sir. Quite extra-ordinary. But love does do extra-ordinary things to people sir, don’t you agree?’ Mr and Mrs White looked shyly at one another again and a murmur of a different sort was heard emanating from the jurors.
‘I have no further questions your honour,’ said the barrister, who then sat down with a sigh and a resigned and beaten look.
Mr White was found not guilty of all charges, by a unanimous verdict. As far as I’m aware he and his wife remain happily together. He is still in a wheelchair.