Living By The Words ‘Being A Doctor’.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“He is critical, an emergency heart surgery is planned tomorrow morning. The surgeon says there is very little chance of surviving this. I don’t know what to do. I cannot imagine this is happening to us.” Dr. Ranjeeta Joshi was crying on the cellphove, still making an effort to keep her voice even. Her squeezing agony about the sudden illness of her Orthopedician husband Dr. Sudhir Joshi reflected in each word she uttered.
This was a weird coincidence! I was not working that day, attending a court summons because a patient was being divorced for having epilepsy. On the way back I also had had a terrible argument with a very precious friend, we were both hurt. Both these had emotionally upset me badly, and so on my way back to Pune, I changed my route to visit my favourite Ganesh temple, where I usually rediscover my lost calm when life batters my patience and bludgeons my peace. Just as I entered this temple premises, I had received this call from Dr. Ranjeeta.
I knew the couple well because Dr. Ranjeeta is struggling bravely with two bad diagnoses: Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. The fluctuations of both cripple her often, but she stands back stronger every time. I knew she was already using a walker. Dr. Sudhir is one of the most renowned Orthopaedic surgeons in Mumbai, with his own hospital at Dadar. Dr. Ranjeeta looks after the administration of that hospital.
I was shocked. I didn’t know exactly how I could help. I reassured her. I told her I was praying for both of them, and urged her to have complete faith in a good outcome. One of the best cardiac teams, Dr. Ramakant Panda, Dr. Vijay DeSilva, Dr. Tilak Suvarna and their colleagues were to operate Dr. Sudhir in few hours. I prayed for the couple, informed her so, and returned to Pune.
She kept updating me. The surgery lasted over 11 hours. Dr. Sudhir was shifted to CCU.
Dr. Ranjeeta ran the show at their Dadar hospital. The staff of their hospital refused to accept salaries that month, and told Dr. Ranjeeta: “You have always looked after us and our families. Now it is our turn to stand by”.
Every passing day was like a slow mountain of fear heavy upon the shoulders of everyone involved. While using her walker and occasionally a wheelchair, Dr. Ranjeeta successfully managed to attend all his needs as well as home and hospital. Dr. Sudhir gradually came out of critical status, in a few days started walking again, and within two months started attending his patients.
Barely after 10 weeks of this major calamity, this medical phoenix started performing major surgeries again, back to his “Doctor Normal”.
When they came today, I was quite moved to see him all back to normal. Of course the love that the couple emanated for each other is beyond words, and I will refrain from expressing what is more beautiful unsaid!
Dr. Ranjeeta, with tearful eyes and a smile, said “We are so happy and grateful to God that we won! I feel every doctor must decide to be a survivor, strive to keep fit, because so many lives depend upon him / her.” she said.
“You are such a brave motivation!” I told Dr. Sudhir.
“It is my privilege to be a doctor, not everyone is lucky enough to become one. In death no one has a choice, but in life we do. I wanted to live and practice again, because being a doctor is a special ability! I can do so much for so many. I love this so much, that this itself became my motivation to survive and become fit again.” Dr. Sudhir replied.
As I stood mesmerised by his words, a beautiful guide to every doctor, he extended something.
A Montblanc Special Edition JFK Fountain Pen, something I was window shopping for so long!
What I ever did to deserve it, I will never know. But this beautiful pen will always remind me of the great JFK,, and more importantly, how I must make the best of my own life as a doctor .
One of the most famous quotes of JFK reads: “As we express Gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to just utter words, but to live by them”. There are thousands of prayers involved in becoming a doctor, in surviving, in reaching where we are today, each one of us. If only we live by our words, what we promised ourselves to be, never giving up, we can defeat so many adversities that stand between us and our life-goals.
Thank you, Dr. Sudhir and Dr. Ranjeeta Joshi, for this reminder, and being a great example.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Beyond Fear: The Lady Who Defeated Brain Cancer
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande About a year ago, a young man came with the MRI reports of his 64 year old mother, Mrs. Vijayalakshmi, who was then in Bijapur. She had developed paralysis on the right side of her body, could not speak, and was losing her consciousness fast. The MRI looked bad, a big tumour was compressing much of the left side of her brain. It looked cancerous, and needed immediate surgery as a life saving option. Otherwise the tumor could damage the heart / blood pressure and respiratory control centres in the lower part of her brain, that risked life. The situation could turn into an emergency anytime now. The family was devastated. They brought her to Pune. She was sinking fast. Required investigations were done, and we explained the facts to the family. The surgery could risk life or also cause permanent disability, including permanent loss of speech. Her husband, Mr. Venkat Babladi was always by her side, with his hands folded, and had only one thing always to say every time any doctor visited her: “Please save her doctor, do everything possible”. She was operated. Her husband, son Mr. Anand Babladi, and his wife all stayed in the hospital, taking turns to attend her. The tumor was sent for analysis. On the third day, the report brought the bad news: it was a type of cancer called primary central nervous system lymphoma. These tumors have a high death risk, with or without treatment, especially after the age of 60. “Tell us doctor, where can we do the best treatment for her? We want to do everything” her husband and family kept on telling us. She was still in critical care, but had started now to speak a few words. Our oncologist Dr. Minish Jain and his assistant Dr. Yuvraj Rangam took over, and started high dose chemotherapy. She developed many complications, some related to the medicines, but her family always stood firm. Every day, her husband sat by her, holding her hand, and telling her that she was going to recover, that he will ensure all was well. Her son and daughter in law arranged for all expenses and logistics, not by staying away and sending money, but by attending her every day after their respective jobs. After few days she was discharged with advice to continue chemotherapy. Unfortunately, Mrs. Vijayalakshmi had a fall while walking at home, and fractured her hip, she had to be operated. Her chemotherapy had to be stopped. It was resumed after she recovered from the fracture. Then in few weeks, radiation therapy was started. As a rare complication, she developed life threatening brain swelling, and had to be shifted to critical care unit. She lost her speech again. Her husband, who was now on the verge of an emotional collapse, met us outside her room and with tearful eyes, asked only one question daily: “She will be ok na, doctor?” Medical treatment is mostly standard all over the world, but the affection and care of one’s family is not. Hundreds of doctors treat thousands of such patients, many patients get cured of cancers and other dreadful diseases, a simple statistic that is never made public by those who perpetually talk against medical professionals. Equally unrecognised is the fact that a caring family makes a huge difference in the patient’s recovery, this has become very rare now. After a year, we repeated her scans recently, and told her the ultimate medical good news: she had defeated brain cancer! Her scans did not show any tumor activity at all. She comes smiling to the OPD now, her husband holds her hand on one side, and son on another. The most beautiful gift she gave me this time is that she learned two new Hindi words specially for me, because everytime I saw her I asked her how she was, and could not understand her answer. This time, her husband poked her, then she smiled and said “Achcha hai”. Those two words were the winning roar of a simple, middleclass woman against a dreadful killer disease! © Dr. Rajas Deshpande PS: Thank you, Babladi family for the kind permission to share facts. Please share unedited.
Allopathy? Oh, No!
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“Doctor, I don’t believe in Allopathy. There are so many traditional remedies that work wonders. We heard of this treatment where you eat certain flowers, and they cure everything, even cancer and AIDS.”
“Doctor, we hear that there are cures to many diseases, but the pharmaceuticals and doctors want people to be ill for longer, so the right treatments are hidden, and only useless costly medicines are prescribed.”
“I don’t want any medicines that cause side effects. I am allergic to almost every allopathic medicine”.
One standard answer:
“Then why are you here today?” © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
We live in a world brimming with superstitions and claims of all kinds. From parents killing a girl child to dowry deaths, from voodoo to sophisticated five-star magic healers, we have it all in our society.
Add education and a degree (not mandatory), add internet, and one becomes the King or Queen of personalized wisdom. Now one can question anything except one’s beliefs and random internet claims. Even years of training and scientifically proven facts, good or bad.
From scorpion bites to poisons of different kinds, from heavy metals in overdose to drinking one’s own pee, there are claims of cure that have been refuted by authentic scientific research, but then the easiest thing to question and suspect today are scientific knowledge and a doctor’s integrity and training, no matter how little one has studied medicine. Just as most hospitals struggle to fight infections, people happily drink urine: mostly studded with some of the deadliest microorganisms known. The fact that many children have died of Urine therapy does not seem to affect the popularity of this myth. By this logic, a person with kidney failure who is not urinating should become immortal! But only the proponents of this therapy will be able to tell why kidney failure patients die within hours of not passing urine. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
I had a classmate who would blindfold his eyes and cross a live railway track, to prove his courage. Whenever someone questioned his safety, his pet answer was “I have done this many times, nothing has happened”.
It stands to reason (again a doubtful criteria in some communities: why base arguments upon reason when there’s superstition?), that if you believe that all Allopathy is a hoax, you have a complete freedom to stay away from it all your life; that at least will save the Allopaths some burden and free them from the daily sins they are so presumed to commit by treating with a hoax science! May be one can wear brass badges that say “I don’t want Allopathic treatment, don’t take me to an Allopathic hospital even if I am serious”.
While some Allopathic doctors do use medicines injudiciously sometimes, it is seldom with an intention to cause harm, no doctor thrives on a bad reputation. Everyone wants their patient to get better.
Those who do believe that doctors are only after money, that Allopathy is just another deception, that most treatment choices that doctors make are selfish, they are welcome to never enter another hospital again in life. There are umpteen non Allopathic therapies from magic to music that are claimed to cure every ailment that Allopathy cannot.
Is there nothing better to do in your life than to visit places that you don’t believe in? Do you get a high questioning a doctor’s scientific knowledge while being unable to question your own unscientific hearsay myths? © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
God forbid, but next time someone is sick and dehydrated, down with a pneumonia that stops breathing, has a heart attack, or bleeding from a head injury, please call that friend who suggested that scorpion stings heal everything. May be he can help.
What will happen if children are not vaccinated? What will happen if all Allopathic hospitals are shut down?
Stand outside the discharged patient’s section in any Allopathy hospital, you will hear daily stories of returning from death’s clasps. From polytrauma to cured cancers, from patients recovering from a paralysis to stopped hearts beating again, Allopathy brings life to most. Have some respect for what science has achieved!
Allopaths should stop wasting time arguing with those who continuously belittle Allopathy and sing praises for the unscientific. Use that time for saving lives of those who need you better. The easy answer is: “Yes, you may drink your pee or pet a poisonous scorpion if you enjoy its bites for your health”. Reserve the social education for those who understand logic.
We don’t believe that science needs permissions to be accepted. What is proven goes through rigorous scrutiny and is then marketed. But then again, this is expected to be understood by only those with a certain mental education, reasoning ability and logic, those who are not carried away by every myth they hear.
As for the rest, may your faith and belief alone heal you.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
PS: There are some traditional remedies that help some medical conditions. That does not refute the benefits that Allopathy has brought to mankind.
The Lawful Massacres
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“Doctor, my brother has kidney failure, he is awaiting a kidney transplant. but the waiting list is too long, he has very less time and his health is fluctuating. We cannot afford to treat him out of India. We can pay some money if any donor is ready to donate a kidney. Please save his life, doctor, I will be your slave all my life.. What can we do?” the elder brother was begging and crying at the same time. His 28 years old highly educated younger brother is his only blood relation alive. The elder brother himself has renal compromise at an early stage.
“I am sorry. Indian Law does not allow us any other options”. I felt ashamed of what was happening. I wanted to add “Unless you are in power, unless you are stinking rich and have heavy pulls through many corridors, unless our society so eloquent about criticizing doctor’s intentions learns to come forward to donate organs, you are doomed to a long wait for any transplant”.
In fact, you are more likely to be the one among the three that die every day in India while awaiting an organ transplant. That is over a thousand human deaths every year. More like a massacre.
Because the law is always correct, it saves money, it saves against corruption, and it saves against a few wrong practices. This sacrifice of a thousand lives a year is just a small price to pay!
We are so very much against the word ‘corruption’ and the projected legal correctness of any system, that like the blinded goddess of justice, we refuse to see beyond what is the literal meaning of the law. Whether it is correct, whether it is causing more harm than benefit, and whether it discriminates (usually the rich and the powerful from poor) is something we are not allowed to think. Nor the judiciary probably. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Whether it is the action against some great kidney transplant surgeons that made them quit the profession and stop all transplant work, whether it is the “Kidney Racket” headlines on TV channels or in newspapers, the medical profession is already presumed guilty, and everyone seems to derive a pervert pleasure from doctor bashing, some even from within the profession. Yes there are unsuccessful, fame seeking doctors who are jealous of doctors who earn more and have a good name in their field, and most bitter losers like to point out only the bad side of the monumental achievements of such successful doctors: that the transplant teams in India have saved millions of lives of the rich and poor alike by developing transplant surgeries and performing them in a resourceless, supportless, poor country ridden with corruption is a deliberately hidden fact.
There of course are corrupt doctors as in every other profession, but one cannot blindly close all hotels because some didn’t serve good food!
Most of our society looks upon any medical money transaction over three hundred rupees (for anything) as corruption. In a country teeming with people who prefer to eat and drink an unhealthy excess and die early (while many die of malnutrition), for a country where there have to be laws for wearing a helmet, many take it upon themselves to criticise other professions without thinking.
We need many lacs of organ donors for the many dying patients awaiting transplants. We see extremely few organ donors. The only interpretation: “I don’t want to donate organs, I don’t want to help save lives, I will only criticise those who are trying to save lives by closely watching where they cross the law line, and then bash, arrest, defame, try and punish them. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
The government must seriously reconsider the laws about organ transplant. There must be a freedom to at least donate a kidney for someone one knows, and if the recipient wants to compensate for it, it must be allowed. This can all be documented and supervised by a legal team so as to avoid forceful / illegal sale of human organs. One can also consider the possibility of a rich recipient compulsorily paying for a poor recipients’ transplant surgery, if he / she is allowed to legally ‘buy’ a kidney. That way two lives will be saved. If I sound Utopian, so was everyone who thought that the world deserves to be a better place.
The legal correctness of each transplant should be mandatorily okayed by a judge, and if something is legally wrong, it is that judge who should face the consequences. This is because doctors/ other transplant professionals cannot always interpret all laws correctly, and innocent mistakes are then blown up / misinterpreted as deliberate attempts to kill patients. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
While the rich and powerful get their kidneys and livers fast and safe in and out of India through the similar rackets that have thrown innocent doctors into jails, it is the poor who are left to die awaiting a transplant: because the government set ups have limited facilities and resources, and the private set ups have to do it at a higher cost to safeguard innovation, technology, investment and skilled personnel. But the only highlighted aspect is the money earned by the hospital or the doctor, not the immense effort and saving of hundreds of lives. Ask hundreds of poor patients whom the transplant teams have saved, whether their doctors worked for money.
Those who choose to differ with this opinion are welcome, provided they answer this question: If your brother, son, daughter or you yourself are awaiting an organ transplant under the approaching shadow of death at a young age (God Forbid), will you choose to be legally correct and prefer to die or explore all options including illegal to survive?
As a doctor, it is very difficult to say “As per law, you must wait even if you die”.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
PS: These are the sincere feelings of a doctor’s soul tortured by the plight of those awaiting death thanks to the legal tangles and social apathy about organ donation. I do not support any illegal practices, but I do not also presume that all laws are perfectly correct. There is a lot of scope for improvement, and each waiting day costs us three preventable deaths. Jai Hind.
Please share unedited.
Stop This Anesthesia
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“Why so Doctor? Why cannot my child be like others?” asked the angry mother.
Just as I started to reply her, the patient: a 23 year old boy, went into a flurry of jerks. His body stiffened up, his eyes rolled up, and his face turned blue. He was already on the examination bed. Me and my student tried to support him there. We activated the code blue, just in case.
But the fit stopped. The boy came to, gradually. The nurse cleaned the bloody froth from his mouth. Heart rate and BP were normal now. Patient remained confused.
The mother, silently sobbing while patting his head, showed me the many large scars upon his face, head, and elsewhere. “He falls down many times every day and often injures himself. Can you imagine, doctor, what a mother’s heart feels to see her child bleeding every day?” © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
It was a case of hypoxic brain damage. The child was born in a village, the labour was prolonged and they could not reach a bigger hospital in time. If they had facilities, the child would have been normal today. Since birth, the child had had mild mental retardation and convulsions resistant to many medicines, They refused a surgery. I tried to counsel them. In many cases, we can control fits with a good combination of different medicines. But that takes time over a few months.
“We are farmers, doctor. We cannot stay home all day, we need to work to earn. The medicines are all so costly. I can sell everything to treat my son. But please tell me this will stop” the father’s voice was quivering.
It is easy to expect a doctor to detach himself emotionally from the patient, but then it is also like denying the patient empathy and understanding so crucial to their wellbeing.
“I will try my best, and I feel we can control the fits with medicines. Also, I can arrange for free medicines for your son whenever you cannot buy them. Never worry about my fees, I will be happy to treat him free. But make sure that his doses are never missed.” My teachers spoke through me.
“What after my death? Who will care for him? Who will bring him medicines? Who will ensure he takes them?” said the hefty man, and broke down. The proud feel it most difficult to declare their agonies. He tried to hide his face. The father and the mother sobbed on either side of the patient, who wasn’t yet alert enough to grasp it. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“There are some help communities and groups for epilepsy patients. We will enroll him into one. They will arrange for his medicines. I will also introduce you to some pharma companies who will give him free medicines as required”.
Then, pausing to realize the unasked question, I replied “And after me too, my students, colleagues or most doctors I know will never decline to treat him free. You just have to show them this note” .
I made a small note of such a request. I have never known any of my students or colleagues refuse to see a deserving patient free.
The tension in the room was melting. The parents had stopped sobbing. A possibility of hope and reassurance destroys the worst of darkness. The father folded his hands in gratitude, but couldn’t speak. The patient had a glass of water and they left.
But my mind was on fire again. Who’s guilty here?
Shall we blame fate for the blatant failures of a system? © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Why didn’t their village have facilities to ensure good delivery? Why wasn’t it possible for them to reach bigger hospital in time? Who is responsible for millions of children who develop lifelong preventable illnesses just because of a cruel lack of healthcare infrastructure? Patients with heart attacks and strokes and cancers die everywhere everyday, unable to afford treatment or to reach hospitals in time.
In a country that needs serious improvement in almost every area of healthcare infrastructure, the whole focus is being directed at the repeated exams for doctor’s requalification.
Do we need it at all in a country that is grappling with critical shortage of doctors, and where we are promoting every other pathy to allopathy with a six month training? We need many care homes, support systems for patients who cannot afford medicines. Many more ambulances. Many more hospitals in remote areas, Many more qualified doctors to work there while being able to afford a dignified life.
But the only decisions being made are about more exams for truly qualified doctors: why? This tranquilizer to divert attention from the main issues that need correction is the worst treatment possible for Indian Healthcare. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Doctors are never defined by the examinations that they pass, being a doctor is far more than passing qualifying examinations. But who will educate those who never bothered to pass any dignified exams?
Just before inducing the anesthesia, the patient is told “You will feel sleepy now. Everything is ok. Take a deep breath”. With complete faith, the patient goes unconscious. It is the doctors who ensure he / she returns safe. Some rare unfortunate patients never know that they will never wake up, because there are things a doctor cannot control.
That unfortunate patient is just like the Indian Society today.
How qualified are the healthcare policy decision makers?
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Please share unedited. Let the society know what is critically essential.
Emergency: The Doctor Is Not In
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“It’s an emergency, doctor” shouted the angry son at my OPD door at closing time, around 11 PM. We rushed to the casualty. It indeed was an emergency. His father had developed a stroke, and was found to have a moderate sized bleed in his brain.
His younger son who had done some medical diploma in some yet-unrecognised pathy had stopped his father’s blood pressure and diabetes medicines three months ago. “I was observing him at home. The BP was high and the sugar was around 300, but I was trying my own medicines, as I don’t have faith in allopathic medicines” the son told me without a trace of shame or guilt.
“How long has your father had these high BP and sugar levels?” I asked him, impatience choking me.
“May be a month” he had replied coldly.
The treatment initiated by the casualty doctors had stabilised the patient. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
As we returned to OPD, the angry resident doctor with me said “He should be booked for attempted murder”.
Within three days of the admission, both the sons of this patient decided to take him home. Patient had still not recovered his consciousness well, and was being fed via a feeding tube. “We will manage him at home. We will call you if anything is required” they told me.
Grown up by now, I replied “I am not available on phone. Please see your local doctor or take him to the nearest hospital should he have any problem”. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“What if it is an emergency? He is under you care” the elder son asked aloud, in a threatening voice.
“He is not under my care once discharged. We will advise him medicines and give other instructions. I am not your paid servant. I am not available for consultation on cellphone” I told them my working hours. I had not become a doctor to be abused by those who wanted to save time and money. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Then over four months later, the two brothers entered my room at 9 PM.
“Doctor, our father is having vomitings with blood since yesterday morning. He is not responding well when we speak. Can you prescribe something?” the elder brother asked “He is at home, we thought we will first give him some medicine and try”.
“Why didn’t you admit him even when he had bloody vomiting yesterday?” I asked, almost knowing the answer.
“We thought it will stop. Also, there was nobody to admit him. We both have our office jobs.
“I cannot prescribe anything without seeing such a serious patient. You must take him to the nearest hospital with a gastroenterologist. Please treat this as an emergency” I told them. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
However their calm was unruffled.
“We will take him to some hospital near our home. They will treat him immediately no?” asked the younger one.
Before I could reply, the elder brother raised his voice again: “They will have to. Or we will show them. This is an emergency. If something goes wrong, we will bring down the hospital”.
In two days, we read the news of a small nursing home ransacked and destroyed, doctors manhandled by relatives because this patient had died. The doctors who tried to save him were arrested under an allegation of “attempted murder”.
The word “emergency” is as familiar to every doctor as his own name. Hundreds of deaths in casualty are related to delayed admission at the terminal moment, and no one looks at the gruesome ignorance, neglect and delay behind the scenes, which equals murder by the patient’s own friends/ relatives. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande. Addicted to thoughtless emotional outbursts, our society usually reacts without logical thinking except few intellectuals who do not constitute a vote bank.
Drug reaction? Beat up the doc!. Patient in casualty or hospital died? Beat up the doc! Arrest them! Jail them! If the same patient is killed due to wrong treatment by his relatives, or dies at home because he was never taken to the hospital by family members: it’s okay!
Many who are advised right tests don’t do those. Many who are advised right medicines do not take them. Many do not undergo the correct procedures / surgeries advised. Because the patient is “King consumer!” Then when their health deteriorates. It is suddenly the medical profession that becomes responsible for everything that goes wrong.
Time has come for IMA to demand an enquiry into the circumstances few hours / days / weeks prior to every death in casualty and emergency where the doctor / hospital was blamed. Right from neglect, ignored medical advice to hidden information, many skeletons will tumble out. An IMA legal cell should start filing cases of culpable homicide in every such case. Then alone, equality principle will prevail.
Time has come when small hospitals, nursing homes and clinics, which were earlier trying to rescue serious patients in emergency, will display this board after the regular OPD hours:
“Emergency services not available. Doctor NOT in campus”.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Please share unedited.
When a patient from Arabic world is happy, he hugs you and kisses you too! However much unused to we are for such a gesture, it wipes away all the dust off one ‘s mind and rejuvenates the spirit of every doctor, to thank God once again for considering one eligible for this responsibility.
The Customer and The Patient.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“I have seen the patient. In my opinion she has multiple lesions (injuries) in her brain because her nerve fibre coating is destroyed. You will need some tests, and an MRI of brain.” I told the family.
Affluent, educated and polite. Patient, her parents, brother and an uncle.
Then there followed a 30 minute viva. All of them asked me questions about her medical condition. They had extensively googled, and had over fifty questions about the causes, types, her symptoms, diet, lifestyle, job, exercise, physiotherapy, marital life, treatment options all over the world and what not. I am proud of my patience, but when the questions started repeating, I politely reminded them not to.
This disease being my specialty, I was only too glad to be able to answer every question. As I wrote down the investigations, they looked at each other as if they had planned a surprise for me. The brother went out and brought in a huge bag. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
There were consultation notes of at least 5 other neurologists, two from my own town. Repeated tests were done. Four of the five had diagnosed her correctly, and had also written the standard tests and management.
“We were very upset at the earlier neurologist. He did not have time for consults at all. And she was not happy with his attitude. So we wanted to know if he was right. That’s why we didn’t mention it earlier.” said the mother.
I kept my poker face on. As all tests were already done, I reviewed the results and wrote them the treatment plan. There was further screwing about the side effects of the medicines (I want your personal number in case I have side effects) etc. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
The father spoke. “Yes Doc. I am working as a senior govt. officer, and we have free tests and medical consultation. If you want to repeat any tests, we can get them done at any hospital at low rates”.
They got up. I noticed that the uncle was fiddling with the smartphone. Alarmed, I asked him, “What is that? Were you recording?”
“Yes doctor, we don’t remember the conversation so we keep recording every time we meet anyone” he said without any change of expression.
I lost my patience but did not react. I was not scared of the recording, but they had to know it is wrong to record an informal conversation without the doctor being aware. But there was no time. Outside, they fought with the receptionist about my fees, and demanded that they be included as govt employee category (which has to pay @ 52 Rupees as a specialist consultation fees).
I declined. The first consultation and a second opinion can be free for such govt patients, not the whole medical hopping and shopping.
The next patient came in. a lively and smiling software professional with her father. He had obvious signs of Parkinson’s disease and was having too many side effects of medicines. As I changed his prescription and informed him of possible complications, he smiled and said “I am in your hands, Doctor. I know you are not God, but you are like a God to me. I accept all the risk. I know my illness is not your fault. Do what you think is best for me. We are not very rich, but we will try and do whatever you say”. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
The first case went down in my mental diary as a “Customer”. The second one as a “Patient”.
There is a lot of difference that the doctor has to opt for when dealing with these two categories. In case of an arrogant, suspicious, accusative patient / relative, the doctor automatically turns his medical safety switch on. These patients will require more documentation, longer consults (hence more fees), more tests (courts always ask for proofs), safest, low profile medications that may take longer to act, and lowest reassurance. That because a simple “he should get better” is being recorded and “you said so“ will be questioned in future. So the doctor, even when asked in front of the patient, has to frankly tell all the bad possibilities about the patient’s illness. That further depresses many patients, especially the elderly and anxious. Most of these “offenders” are usually continuously dissatisfied, whatever you do for them.
One cannot put a gun to a doctor’s head and then expect him / her to be loving, compassionate and perfect. As many doctors will have realised, medical optimism is dangerous. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
The doctor wants the outcome for each patient to be the best too: which doctor would like to be a failure?
One can easily deduce that the patients will also make such categorisation as “Doctor versus Businessman”. That is true too. But the difference is that the “Businessman” doctor is still an educated, qualified person who is trying to do good to the patient in most cases.
A judge can knock his hammer and shout “Silence” and punish the misbehaving. A policeman will lock you up if you misbehave or offend him. A minister or a government officer will have you thrown out by his security. A performer or a musician will not tolerate disturbance. There is no other profession where you tolerate insults and demeaning behaviour. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande. The nobility of a doctor (or a nurse) is that he / she will still try to do good to their offender.
Once the complete and genuine trust is felt, most doctors go out of the way to help the patient. Many will never realise, but almost every doctor has over hundreds of non paying patients: relatives, other doctors, teachers, poor patients, maids etc., hospital staff and many more. Add the forced free patients: politicos, govt. employees, and the pseudopoor.
Every “Doctor” wants to treat “Patients”, and this sacred relation still exists, although waning. I feel it is more of the doctor’s responsibility to improve this relationship. For their own good, as much as for their patient’s good.
As for the “Customers and Businessmen” mentioned above, I think they complement each other, and the true “Doctors” and “Patients” should avoid both of them.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
The Sweetest Pinnacle Of Life© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
To many students who are lost in their search for the right aims and goals in life, who trusted me enough to ask that question, I have suggested that they imagine what they actually want in their life at its Pinnacle.
Success, riches, fame, awards and accolades, a legacy, achievements are all good to show and leave behind oneself. The truth is far more than that. Love and care, affection and respect in one’s evening of life is what everyone deserves, but few are fortunate to achieve. For what good is s life that spends its aged years in desolation, isolation, despair of an uncaring, loveless family one has sacrificed much to bring up well?
Hollow words of “show- love” and “pretend care” are commonly employed everywhere, especially among the rich, educated and culture-claiming pundits of humanity.
One experience I have is worth sharing: that the poorest of the poor, like the farmer in the wheelchair here, are cared for with far more genuine love and affection than many. This family collected alms and help to get him to India, and never asked for any concessions, free treatment etc., always saying they were willing to do anything for the happiness and health of this grandpa. His son standing by his side is an illiterate farmer, but is caring for his father . quoting proudly “He brought me up!”. There is no smell of “I am obliging my parent” in his behaviour.
I have met hundreds of Arabic Muslim patients who care for their parents, sons and daughters equally well, willing and with total faith in the treating doctor. It does not change with their financial status. They insist on the parents staying with them, ask questions about their food, exercise, medicines, happiness and comply strictly with the given instructions.
They naturally do not know the words “Culture, Rights, Medicolegal, Elderly care, Nursing Homes, Mercy Killing etc.”. Rarely have I seen them unemotionally “okay” with a bad diagnosis of a parent.
This old man, in my personal opinion, is one of the luckiest human beings upon earth!
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Thank you, Mr. Naser Ali, Mr. Abdul Hakim Mohd. Al Malahi, Mr. Majdi Jamil Aiselwi, Mr. Ahmed Anwar Aqlan!