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In more than one sense I must get this off my chest. I have just come home from a medical appointment. It was one about which I was more than a little anxious, but, as it turned out, the dreaded possibilities we all think of when we sit in the doctor's waiting room did not find fulfillment on this occasion. Deo Gracias! But something happened that I really wish to share.  

I want to report a minor struggle - admittedly very minor - to preserve the dignity of what would in more chauvinist days be called Man but now is for all persons, a struggle that resulted in noble defeat.  My tale concerns the garment - if it can be so called - that all of us have to don at certain times of our lives when we fall into the hands of the medical fraternity. Before they proceed they ask you to don something that with ultimate irony is called a gown. Nothing less like a gown can be imagined. I suspect it is designed to rob us of the last vestiges of dignity, thus making us putty in their hands. 

I have wrestled with this thing many times, most recently a few hours ago on this very day.  As I stood in the cubicle with this garment thrust into my hands, I began to think of the vast achievements of humanity. We have conquered Everest, landed on the moon, transplanted hearts, to name only a few wonders. Surely I thought it is possible to bring to bear on the modern hospital gown the same greatness of the human mind, if not the human spirit. 

I began this morning analytically. The heart of the matter is that the gown, when put on, is in theory fastenable down your back. The fact is that this is humanly impossible unless you happen to have graduated in your youth from the gymnastic staff of Cirque de Soleil  Very frequently the previous inhabitant of your gown has already in fear and frustration ripped off the lowest and therefore most essential ties, and with the shortages of staff and of everything else these days it has not been replaced. 

Suddenly in the fashion of many great scientific breakthroughs, inspiration came. I resolved what I should do. I would deal with the ties before I put my arms into the sleeves. I tied the knots, then slowly and with a growing sense of achievement I got it over my head, resting on my shoulders. Alas, hospital experts must have known that some of us would try this. I found that what went over the head would not go down over the shoulders. 

Acknowledging defeat like all before me I emerged, my hand firmly behind my - well,behind - to ensure what we might call closure! 

It never does!