Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Boy Who Cried, "Doctor!"

n a land far far away, but not so different than ours, there lived a young boy. Moving through the streets around his home, he gathered tiresome looks from those who knew him; this boy was not the most popular chap around. Wearing the most smug look, prancing around with his friends he created trouble wherever he went. 

While other boys his age would be considered naughty or hyperactive or be diagnosed his ADHD, "Royal pain in the ass" wouldn't not be on the differential list! He would beat down other kids & act like he was the victim. The minutest of scrapes while playing would be advertised as a life-threatening disorder to the others around him. He craved this attention, loved having his family pamper him, loved the idea of missing school, loved blaming others for his mistakes & loved the idea of getting away with it all!

He would run off to the Doctor for every cough, sneeze or burp. It started with body aches, moved on to migraines, escalated to visual disturbances & toned down to tasting problems. The doctor lent him a patient ear, and tried hard to arrive at a diagnosis. Finally, as the boy walked out of the casualty, he asked his parents if anything was bothering him at home. Met with a curt "No", he made a mental note of all that went on. The next day this boy came with another bout of abdominal pain. The doctor examined the boy thoroughly & after he was sure the boy didn't have any signs of pathology, he wrote down a long list of tests. "There has to be a reason that these pains keep coming back", he said, "We badly need to investigate because it could be systemic seeing his history. This is a necessary evil, but, wouldn't you want to be sure your child is healthy?". His parents could do nothing but nod in unison. That night they questioned the boy, "Are you sure you're ill? These tests are very expensive". The boy could not have his lie exposed so late in the game & rather demanded the tests, foolhardily saying something will surely be revealed. And so the cycle of lengthy, expensive tests began. A few days, pockets full of cash, many tubes in many orifices later, each paper read, "All findings within normal limits".

These papers were shown back to their Doctor who could do little to justify his happiness at being vindicated other than saying, "This is great news, your son is perfectly healthy!" And so the parents finally understood what  was actually wrong with the boy. Over the next year, not another day of school was missed; scrapes were not treated & dressed like battle wounds; & a fever would be deemed a fever only if the thermometer said so! But, this wasn't because of a lack of effort on the boy's part. There were still that many headaches, stomach cramps & flatulence, except that it usually disappeared after an hour at school or if the family so decided to eat out or take a trip.

One fine day, the boy noticed a pain in the right abdomen, radiating to his navel. He promptly brought this to his mother's attention, who brushed it aside like the million other times. The child's abdomen kept swelling, it kept aching, until finally he fell unconscious.  Expect the child wasn't faking anymore.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

In Sickness & In Health

I am a good doctor. I give my patients enough time to understand their complaints. When I feel my skills fall short, I readily refer them to a specialist. 

I am a good doctor. I give it my all to counsel my patients when they feel the world & their health is against them. I try hard to to get to the root cause of their complaints; even if it means I must dig myself a hole. 

I am a good doctor. I do not ask why they made a particular mistake; nor do I make them feel guilty about their present state. I am not their mother. I merely help & heal, that is what I am here for. 

I am a good doctor. I wake up at odd hours in the night for any complaint, ranging from life-threatening heart attacks to an itching finger. I do not discriminate against complaints.  I am like Sauron from Lord of the Rings, I see everyone & everything.

I am a good doctor. I do not complain about my workload to my patients, they have enough worries as it is. But when I'm in the middle of a 200+ clinic, without much help, at my wit's end with so many patients, and someone comes in to just say they're feeling "healthy & alright" after their meds... I am not a good doctor. I'd like to refer them to Surgery instead