(c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“What’s the nature of your work?” I asked the patient.
“Nothing much.. I just sit like you all day long. It’s an office job” he replied, and winked looking at his wife, who rebuked him visually. I chose to ignore the sarcastic slur. I wanted to concentrate upon the diagnosis. After a thorough examination I wrote him a prescription and explained him changes in lifestyle.
When I advised him sleep and food discipline, he proudly told me “That I am very particular about.. since so many years I eat three times a day and sleep peacefully over eight hours”. I had a strong urge to tell him that in last twenty-five years of practice, there was never a night of undisturbed sleep thanks to hospital and patient calls, and there rarely was a straight week without skipped meals. I held my rebellious tongue, another patient waited outside. All said and done, I had myself chosen this career, and the fact that people were bitter towards doctors didn’t deter me from offering to solve their health puzzles.
The next patient walked in with a big “Hullo! Raja, pehchana kya (recognise me?)?”.. he was an old schoolmate, had come with his wife. She had had complicated neurological problems. After a lengthy clinical examination, review of many reports, and a long consultation, I wrote her a prescription. (c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“You charge so much for only writing these few words on the paper?” asked my schoolmate, desperately trying to sound jovial but overtly being critical and again, sarcastic.
I politely asked him to sit in my chair. “Please sit here and see if you can write the same three lines” I requested him. He hesitated at first, but then came over, held the pen and asked me: “Tell me what to write..”.
I told him to first write his wife’s name on that paper, date it, and then write Rx, which begins the drug prescription. Then I told him the name of the first drug. He wrote it down correctly.
“What’s so difficult about that?” he asked..
“Now tell your wife that this drug can either do good or bad, it can solve the problem in most cases, but it has a potential to cause serious side effects, including death if she is allergic to it. It may cause bleeding in the brain, stomach or anywhere, it can cause asthma-like cough, or any unpredictable reaction”. (c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande
His wife looked suspiciously at him. “Why don’t you let the doctor write?” she said, and then turning towards me said, “Bhaisaab, my husband has this nasty habit of arguing with everyone. Excuse us, I know it takes decades of study to be able to write that prescription”.
My schoolmate was not done with being offensive yet. He smiled sarcastically. “You are trying to scare me. Have you seen any death due to this simple medicine?” he asked.
“Yes” I replied him in truth. Aspirin causes many deaths indeed!
“Write the second medicine now” I told him, “it can have reaction with the first medicine or other medicines she is already taking”.
“What to do in that case?” He asked, now hesitant.
“It depends upon what side effects emerge. Many possibilities, many different answers. But each of that line has a potential to cause serious damage.” I replied.
He rose from my chair.
“Sorry yaar. I thought you were just charging fees for sitting there and writing effortlessly. How do you remember so many hundred drugs, their side effects, their reactions with each other? Aren’t you scared?” he asked.
“I am sometimes scared. Every doctor is. You never know which prescription can turn into a nightmare. The more you have studied, the more you have experienced, the safer you feel. You can imagine the stress of writing forty prescriptions a day, an average for every doctor. Still more dangerous is the surgeon’s job, every patient entering an operation theatre has some degree of fatal risk”. (c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“Oh so that’s why doctors charge so much fees for every prescription!” He was indeed a fighter!
I didn’t want to explain to him that the land, the rent, the petrol, paper, and time cost the same to a doctor just like any other citizen. (c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Just then there was a loud noise outside. We rushed out. A patient’s child was having a fit, her body all twisted and eyes white. Such was the impact that her head was bleeding, and she was frothing at mouth. The nurse was already by her side, I wore my gloves and tried to stop the bleeding, comforting the head of this child. In some time, the fit stopped, and the pateient became all floppy. Her respiration had been blocked by the blood and froth that choked her throat. A resident doctor ran around to get a crash cart, we opened the patient’s mouth, sucked out the blockage as the nurse pushed in the injectables. The child stabilised, her breathing resumed. As the wardboys kept her on the stretcher, I noticed my schoolmate behind me who was watching this in horror. He suddenly held his head and sat down.
“He gets a chakkar (giddiness) when he sees blood” his wife told me.
The earlier patient, who had commented “I sit like you all day” was also still in the lobby, watcing this whole episode. . He came over. “I help people too – just like you. People come to me every day for my advice. I am a social worker for XYZ political party. I have also saved many lives like you doctors.” he said.
I had no prescriptions for his mentality!
No pharmaceutical makes a common sense tablet, and there’s no injection for jealous egos!
(c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande
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