WITH his sharp wit and a comical demeanour, it's hard to remain serious when you're around Dr Michael Abrahams. But even for this comedian and obstetrician/gynaecologist (OBGYN), women's issues are no laughing matter.
As a gynaecologist, he deals with many of these issues regularly, and while most men openly envy him for his job, he says his work with women goes far beyond the physical.
"I tell people, it's not about the vagina, it is not a vagina thing, it is a woman's thing," he said of his work. "So it encompasses things from incest and child abuse, going through to puberty issues, to relationship issues, to domestic violence, to gender discrimination, sexual harassment at the workplace, pregnancy, menopause -- it's so many things that women have to deal with."
Since becoming a gynaecologist in 1997, Dr Abrahams says he has become even more sensitive to the needs of women and has come to appreciate them much more.
"I mean just to look after a woman to me is a great thing... I tell people that I think the best thing that God has ever made is a good woman," he said, while condemning the injustice meted out to women on a daily basis.
"Many women are getting abused and many people don't even think about that. In one month, I had to deal with three patients who were involved in abusive situations -- one had a black eye, one had a bite in her back, one got thrown against a wall," said the OBGYN.
While he has wanted to be a doctor since he was a student at the St Hugh's Preparatory School, it wasn't until his second year of medical school at the University of the West Indies, Mona, that Dr Abrahams settled on being an OBGYN. This was after ruling out all the other areas of medicine -- including paediatrics -- for one reason or another.
"When children get very sick, like terminally ill, I get very depressed. To this day I don't deal well with children getting very sick. It breaks my heart to see that," he said before adding, "I really, really love my job, I can't see myself doing any other kind of medicine."
But even though some view his profession as "a never-ending Playboy montage", Dr Abrahams said his line of work is not immune from its fair share of heartaches and stress.
"When it comes to litigation risk, we are at the top along with plastic surgeons, everybody falls below us, even neurosurgeons and cardiothoracic surgeons," he pointed out. "When a woman has a pregnancy that goes well, everything is wonderful, but when something goes awry, it is your fault, even when you know you have done your best."
He said the obstetrics part especially is very unpredictable and requires him to make himself available to his patients 24 hours a day. But these days, the OBGYN said he is cutting back on this aspect of his work to pay more attention to his number one job of being a great father to his two children. The doctor made no bones about the fact that his wife Gail and his two children -- four-year-old Zachary and 11-year-old Aliyah -- come before everything else.
"Every single sports day my kids have had, I have been there, every award ceremony, every recital, I have never missed any," he said while noting that his wife's support of him is unquestionable.
"She is a sweetheart, she is my biggest source of support," he said.
In between catering to the needs of his patients and his family, the doctor is still able to find time to write music and poetry and do stand-up comedy. Most of his thoughts are recorded on his BlackBerry in traffic jams or during the rare spare time he gets to himself.
"I have always liked music, but the comedy thing, I hadn't planned to do," said Dr Abrahams who is now in increasing demand at lunch-hour concerts and other events featuring poets.
While his induction into stand-up comedy was rocky, the doctor gradually grew into it and over the past five years has appeared on a number of shows with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. His appearance on the Ity and Fancy Cat Show has afforded him a huge fan base and he is already looking forward to the next staging.
Today, the doctor uses poetry to highlight some of societal ills and approaches even this task with the same amount of tenacity as he does while tending to his patients.
"I said if I am doing work, I want it to reach people, whether to make them cry, make them laugh, make them reflect on whatever," said the big Saturday Night Live fan.
And his patients usually end up doing one or all of the above; as they unburden their issues before him in tears or are left cracking up as he offers his usual bout of humour.
"When you laugh, it does a lot of things to your mind and body... when you laugh a lot, it makes you feel less pain," said Dr Abrahams who practises at the Ruthven Medical Centre in addition to working a few hours per week at the Apex Medical Centre and the Portmore Health Care.
The gynaecologist is also fascinated with holistic medicine and has gone as far as getting certified in reflexology with a Canada-based institution. He is also gifted at making designs from paper, some of which he mounts in his office to distract patients and put them at ease along with a number of other funny gadgets that he uses to break the ice.
"I realise most women do not like to go to the gynaecologist, many people do not like to go to the doctor either. So I say, well, what can make people as comfortable as possible? I try to have a nice environment, I try to be pleasant, I try to smile, try to have something that they like listening to," he said. The doctor allows his patients to select their favourite music from his iPod, which has over 14,000 songs in different genres to ease their anxiety during his examinations
Dr Abrahams admits that he is still learning about women, but one of the most crucial lessons he has learnt so far is to not be judgmental, since a number of women are experiencing issues that sometimes leads to emotional and physical problems.
"When I see people, I often think about where they are coming from, not just what I am seeing in front of me now," he said, while pointing out that a lot of his time is spent talking with his patients.