“The great psychiatrist Dubois once said, so rightly: “Of course one can manage without all that (a doctor’s compassionate approach to a patient) and still be a doctor, but in that case, one should realize that the only thing that makes us different from a veterinarian is the clientele.” – Dr. Viktor Frankl in his book – The Doctor And The Soul.
Ever since he opened his clinic, just opposite to our home, in September 1995, Dr. Vishnu Poptani, a General Practitioner has been our family physician. A wonderful human being, a personal friend now, and a GP with extraordinary diagnostic skills, it was he who first diagnosed a cardiac problem for Urmeela and directed immediate hospitalizaion in the year 2001. He also got another equally human and wonderful cardiologist Dr. V S Srikanthan to hand, who took immediate charge and enabled Urmeela to live happily for eight more years, under his first class supervision.
I shall fail in my duty if I do not pay tribute to these two extraordinary doctors who were the only ones that Urmeela would trust and was comfortable with. Both were able to break the distrust and reserve, that Urmeela had for doctors in general, and it was always a treat to watch these two doctors with her. Gentle, yet firm and so affectionate and kind in their directions, that it was as though they were members of her family, rather than professional medical men.
Dr. Srikanthan warned me right in the beginning that I should not become his patient too, and guided me in my own well being too. He always remembered my own business and other interests and when on the periodic check up visits with Urmeela would ask me about them and offer some interesting insights too. This despite a waiting room full of patients impatiently waiting to see him and I owe a great debt of gratitude for all that he did for the two of us.
Dr. Poptani, called Urmeela “Mom”, just as Ranjan called her, and it was he who gave her the final farewell certificate. His attachment to her and me was obvious when he wrote that out in his clinic, where he insisted that I accompany him, after he had ensured that nothing more could be done for her.
I keep hearing about doctors who are impersonal and rough-shod and recently had a first hand experience of such treatment, when I had taken my father to a specialist for consultation and treatment. It took a great deal of self control for me not to tell him about these two other doctors who handled their patients in a humane and compassionate way.
I do not know if it already is done, but it may be a good idea for Medical Schools to have a course on how to handle patients and their care givers. If they do, I shall recommend that these two extraordinary physicians be made faculty.
Thank you Doctors Poptani and Srikanthan.