Hospitals Or Doctors.

Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where twelve of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Padmum. The eleven other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Conrad, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Magpie, Maria SF, ocdwriter, Padmum, Paul, Rohit and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!

I have personal experience of being hospitalised on five separate occasions. While two were successful for the purpose that I had been hospitalised, the highly and bordering on unethical commercial aspects of one hospital on those two occasions left me with no option but to change hospitals on the fifth occasion. Luckily for me, my surgeon was also of the same opinion and operated on me at a different hospital on the fifth occasion. The other three were excellent experiences and I am convinced that when a hospital is run on commercial yet ethical basis, patients can have pleasant experiences.

Having got that bit of background out of my system, I shall choose to write on the second option of the topic – Doctors.

I am blessed. There is no other explanation for my having had the benefit of medical assistance from so many wonderful GPs, one cardiologist, two amazing dentists, and two Orthopedic surgeons, besides a couple of friends who incidentally happen to be doctors. Besides these wonderful characters, I did have an unpleasant experience with a husband and wife team of dentists, who were dropped by me like hot potatoes as soon as I was able to secure the services of another dentist conveniently located.

My earliest memory of a doctor goes back to when I must have been around four or five years old. One Dr. Seshadri used to pay house visits to our place in Chennai in a Baby Austin. I do not remember much about him except that his car would start with a ping noise when he turned on the self starter, and the fascinating spectacle of his lighting a spirit lamp to sterilise his syringe and needles before administering an injection. I never had to be exposed to one, but used to be fascinated by the way he would use a rubber hose to tighten the muscles to locate a vein!

The next vivid memory of a doctor was Dr. Abdulla, a giant of a man forever laughing and with a way with children. He would keep a bottle full of candies and would ask children visiting his clinic to help themselves to as many as they wished. He was a personal friend of my father’s as well, and after he had retired and when I was 32 years old I visited him in his home and the bear hugs he gave me on receiving me and sending me off is a memory not easily erased.

There were many other GPs who came into our lives in various cities through either being close to our place of residence or through reference of friends who have all left good impressions on me. One particular GP was so good with our son Ranjan that the latter never felt fear in consulting him. When He was about 8, Ranjan developed jaundice and was under the care of this GP who was gently advising him about food restrictions during recovery. Ranjan used to read Asterix The Gaul those days, and when he was told to keep away from meat, chicken and fish for a while, asked the doctor if he could have wild boar! The doctor, without batting an eyelid, agreed that he could if he would go and hunt for one and bring it home! On a recent visit to the same neighbourhood in Mumbai, Ranjan went to see him only to find that he had passed away.

My tryst with orthopedists started in Mumbai in 1978 with one who turned out to be someone I knew from our childhood. He first tackled my prolapsed disc and subsequently replaced both my hip joints. He continues to be a good friend and almost all my friends in need and members of my family have been going to him for years. He is now in semi retirement but his son seems to be shaping as well as the father.

After we moved to Pune finally to put down roots, one GP opened his clinic just across the road from us who has not only been looking after our health but has become a good friend as well. He showed great tenderness in looking after my late wife Urmeela and was the one who gave her the final certificate to send her off. This same doctor now looks after the well being of my father with tremendous patience and skill.

Then came my tryst with a cardiologist, introduced to me by this same GP. This cardiologist too was instrumental in keeping Urmeela alive and active till her last.

These two medical professionals have done great honour to their profession and I acknowledged my debt of gratitude them in a special blog post.

My latest adventure/diversion with doctors was due to my last revision to my replaced hip joint three months ago. My readers know more than enough about that experience and I do not want to bore them with gushing admiration for the surgeon. Just one little episode to wind up my praise for him. During my latest consultation with him earlier this week, Ranjan who was with me, suggested something as part of my recovery process and the surgeon promptly told him not to teach his father to suck eggs!

Only one specialist is now necessary in my life to complete my association with doctors.

Modern Medicine And Caregiving.

I prefer not to write on Friday mornings as I have to post the LBC post in the evening anyway. Today is however an exception, as the topic that I want to write about just demands to be let out of my system.

I met a neighbour and friend yesterday after a long time. He has been busy the last couple of years helping his wife battle cancer, and though we have been seeing each other and would wave to each other, we had not found the time to have a quiet chat till yesterday, when both of us met while walking.

He is a completely transformed person. The confident, joyful and joking person has morphed into a morbid, shaky and unsure person. The doctors have given up hope and have stopped all treatment for his wife. It took them two years of all kinds of test, treatments, re-tests, hospitalization, relapses, treatments again and so on and so forth. He is so confused about the present, leave alone the future, that I had no words to comfort him. When I asked him how best I can be of help in his present condition, he simply said, pray for his wife and him.

On my return home, quite shaken by that meeting, I received a phone call from another friend to inform me that his wife passed away the day before. She too died of cancer, but did not suffer for as long or in the way my neighbour’s wife has suffered.

The difference between the two cases, is that in the latter, the doctors told both of them clearly in the beginning that the case was hopeless and at best another few months of living could be assured, but in great discomfort for the patient and the family. The wife, the brave lady and her husband, much against the wishes of other so called well wishers, decided to go the route of controlling the pain with drugs and face the end together. From the time of the first diagnosis and the passing away, it took just over six months. During that period, she was pain free but totally bedridden and my friend patiently looked after her like he would a baby.

Yesterday in the evening, I was talking about these two cases with another friend who sent me a link to an article in the New York Times, which I seem to have missed reading. It makes for poignant reading and I wish to share that story with my readers. Unusually, I had a restless night thinking about how medicine seems to be doing many wrong things and playing havoc with patients and their care givers.

I am still in a disturbed frame of mind, as sooner or later, I may well have to face similar situations either as a patient or a care giver, and despite telling myself that I should take things as they come, one day at a time and all the other formulae, morbid thoughts have been haunting me, and I hope to use this writing exercise to provide me with some catharsis.