Thursday, July 21, 2005

At the Mercy of Doctors

I don't like to visit doctors, they push you, prod you, and attempt to look intelligent, do a bit of guesswork and hand you a number of pills and a prescription. I prefer to let my body heal itself -- but all this changed over the last weekend. Looks like the patron saint of doctors finally sat up and noticed that there's this wee soul tucked away in a small town who hasn't needed a doctor for a long time. Over the weekend, he arranged for two.

Two years ago when my brother decided to tie the knot with a doctor, I resigned myself to the inevitable. But things didn't turn out to be so grim as I thought they would be. I hardly fell ill (touch wood) and so it happened that over the last two years, apart from the minor stomach upset or headache, I wasn't afflicted with anything major. The only time I was "ill" was when I needed to exhaust my "sick leave." My sis-in-law soon realized that there would be no custom from me and gave me up as a hopeless case.

Then on this weekend her prayers were answered. The uneasiness, dizziness, etc that had started early last week and which I ignored, finally turned out into a full blown fever and a badly upset stomach. Add to it some nausea, watering eyes, coughs and sneezes. I had finally become a doctor's dream.

My sis-in-law was positively full of glee. She spat on her palms, rubbed them together and got down to it. Here was her big chance. . . her showcase, so to speak. She is a homeopath and homeopaths are supposed to take a detailed patient history (or so she told me) before prescribing any medicines. And she started:

She: So what's wrong with you?
Me: (sarcastically) Let me see. . . I have a fever, I have been running between the wickets since morning, my stomach is hurting, nausea, watering eyes, coughs and sneezes. I can only deduce that I am ill.
She: (ignoring my sarcasm) Is your stomach hurting all over?
Me: It's hurting.
She: Go on. . .
Me: Duh!
She: (patiently, as if explaining to a small child with water in his brain) Does it hurt all over? Or it pains only on the left? Or on the right? Does it pain when you sleep all curled up?Or when you stretch your legs? Or only when you are sitting? Is it a dull throbbing kind of a pain? Or is it a sharp shooting kind of a pain? Or does it hurt . . .
Me: It hurts, it hurts. Does it matter where and how it hurts?
She: It does. But hearing your response, I guess it hurts all over.
Me: Whatever.
She: What kind of a headache do you have?
Me: Is that a trick question like the stomach one?
She: Have you decided to be uncooperative? I am trying to cure you and you. . .
Me: I just want to lie down, and not move, and groan a bit.
She: Shut up! Now back to your headache.

She continued to apply the third degree for what seemed like an hour. And made many little notes in her big notebook. At the end of the questioning she produced three bottles full of white pills.

She: Take four from this first. Then after five minutes, take another four from this bottle and ten minutes later take four from that one. Repeat after every two hours.

I took four from the first.The pills tasted alcohol flavored. Cool! So I took another four. And just when I was swallowing the third dose in a row . . .

She: What are you doing!!!!

The party was over. My sis-in-law confiscated all the bottles and administered the correct doses (according to her). And gave me a long lecture on the importance of taking the correct doses in homeopathic medicine. By the time she paused for breath, it was time for the second round of medicines.

Then it happened. By the evening I felt better (Was it the high induced by all that alcohol in those pills?) and I decided to ignore the slight fever and go out to meet a close friend who had managed to land in hospital with a badly fractured arm that was going to need surgery.

So paying no heed to all the dire threats and emotional blackmail, I escaped to the hospital. Bad move.

My friend's mom -- she dotes on me (like a son and all that) -- chafed at her bit the minute she saw me. Before I could say "hello" to my friend she had bowled her first ball.

"What's wrong with you?"
"Nothing. . . slight fever."
"And what are you doing out of your home? Have you seen a doctor?"
"My sis-in-law. . ."
"Homeopathy doesn't cure."

I was headed for BIG trouble.

She pulled out a cell, called their family doctor, spoke to him, and asked him to see me in half an hour (that guy was her student and so has to toe her line).

"He is very busy," she told the doctor. "See that you give him enough medicine. And call me and tell me what's wrong with him."

She then turned to me. "He is a good doctor. He'll give you both ayurvedic and allopathic medicines. They work the best when they are given together. And he'll prescribe you a diet. Go! Come back and tell me what he says. And show me the medicines that he has prescribed."

The doc was waiting for me when I reached his dispensary. An abbreviated version of the "patient history" happened and he turned to the compounder and made some complicated hand signals. Soon a big plastic bag of tablets was in my hand. The doc proceeded to give me directions.

"Have this packet numbered 1 before your meal."

He then opened the packet to show me a small white tablet, a big white tablet, a medium-sized off-white tablet, a light pink oblong shaped tablet, a medium-sized light green tablet and an heart-shaped (!!!) blue colored tablet.


"Have packet numbered 2 half an hour after your meal."

He opened it to show a colorful collection of some more tablets.

"Tomorrow morning have this packet numbered 3."

He opened packet number 3 to show me some more colorful tablets.

"The proceed 1-2-3, 1-2-3 through all the packets till you finish them."

I thanked him and turned to go.

"Wait! Here's your prescription."

"Doc! But. . ."

He shushed me and gave me a detailed tour of his prescription:

"This first one is an anti-malarial dose. Take two of these after your meal. And repeat the dose next Monday. This next one is packet of four tablets. One big one will be colored orange. Have it after your meal. Then tomorrow morning have one of the pinks. And the next two on the mornings that follow. This third one will be in a dull yellow packet. It's a course of 3 tablets --- morning-afternoon-evening for the next week --- for your stomach. (pause for a breath) All these medicines will cause you acidity. This fourth one is for that. Twice a day: in the afternoon and in the night. And all these medicines will cause you a bit of wooziness and weakness. So this fifth one is a multi-vitamin (it turned out to be red colored): twice a day, afternoon and evening. Come back after you finish this course of medicines."

"Yes doc."

"I also feel you shouldn't go to office for the next two days."

"Thanks doc. My friend's mom said something about a diet. . ."

"Oh don't worry. You can have anything you want. It will all taste like cardboard for a week."

So I came away, bought all those medicines and went and filed a report with my friend's mother.

Then I went home. My sis-in-law saw the huge bag of medicines that I was lugging.

She: So you think I can't cure you.
Me: Aunty made me. . .
She: Allopathic medicines. . .they'll only make your body weaker.
Me: Okay
She: I will give you some more medicines to counter the effects of these.

And promptly conjured three more bottles of white pills.

So I have become a battleground for two competing doctors. I don't which one of the medicines is working, or not working, or counteracting the other, and canceling the effects of the other. My head is still woozy. And as the doc promised, everything I eat, does taste like cardboard.

After two days at home I decided to come to the office. I am safer from the doctors here.

In the last four days I think I have swallowed nearly (if not more) 60 tablets. And three-fourths of each of those six small bottles of white pills.

And my sis-in-law now complains that I am not eating enough.


Anonymous said...

Poor Mandy. I completely agree with you! Our body should heal on its own. Doctors give us the third degree with questions, tablets, tonics, injections, advice etc. etc. None of this can be good for us. So in conclusion no doctor is a good doctor.

Murphy Jacobs said...

Awww, yer just chicken :>

Here in the land of insurance and medical malpractice, the doctoring one receives varies greatly. I personally abhore the whole medical field, -- I know one chiropractor and two accupuncturists to whom I will speak in public -- but I must admit a time or two they've come right in handy.

Unfortunately, the idea that one's body should heal on its own is rather like saying one's house should repair itself or the garden should just pull its own damn weeds -- it would be nice, but it doesn't happen too often :>

Nandan said...

Cool post man! keep it up...the wodehouse character in you is peering thru this post. I see him. Thar she blows and all that.