If you have not read the book by Eric Segal, then pick it up if you get a chance. I used to follow Eric Segal a lot once upon a time. I did enjoy his works. If given a chance now I would not voluntarily pick a book by him, just like I would not pick a book by Nicolas Sparks though there was a time I quite liked his books. Why am I telling all this when the point I want to write is totally different. *rolls eyes*
Doctors – they have one of the most respected professions in the world. Many a times during my work , when I am really bogged down by the pressure and feel like exploding, I think – I am not a doctor or in the defence services. Lives don’t depend on this bit of code I am working on. Along with doctors I highly rate people who work in defence too. I think it takes a lot to choose a thankless job to protect nameless country men especially in our country. There was a time I wanted to be either a doctor or join the army. I remember my mom and dad having a conversation with me if I was willing to give 5 years for MBBS, 1 for house surgeon-ship, 2 for post graduation (that is the way the course works in India). In total 8 years of my life studying then subjecting myself to the vagaries of job hunt. Having the negligible patience it seemed a very daunting prospect to me while I could visualise my compatriots who would have gone for engineering route rolling in foreign money after 4 years. I even nurtured thoughts of joining the army but Short Service Commission was the only option for women. I would have been able to extend it, but would end up being employed for 8 years tops (As far as I remember that was the advice from a distant uncle who was in the Air Force himself) I had gotten it straight from the horse's mouth! Being jobless would be a nightmare. Hence army was again a road not taken.
Coming back to my original train of thought, doctors have always commanded a lot of respect from me. I have had a lot of interactions with them, some good some not so much. Always I have been stimulated by how much we depend on them. My sister was born with 2 teeth(Yep! Shes an ajooba :D) One of them was loose. The doctor recommended that it ought to be removed, else there was a risk of it coming off and choking her. All of 4 days old, she was taken to a dentist and her wobbly tooth was extracted. The dentist claimed that he was nervous and she was her youngest patient! The icing on the cake was, he was not a trained dentist- not trained in the conventional sense of the term. He was an apprentice, who graduated into a full dentist in due course by learning on the job. None the less, he was a fantastic doctor (I know dentists are not regarded as 'real' doctors but try living with rotting teeth or paining wisdom teeth or like my sis being 4 days old with a gingerly tooth). He took care of a lot of my teenage teeth problems. He was the disburser of good advice not something that would give him repeat business. I have met 'qualified' dentists who take patients on a joy ride and appreciate his integrity way more.
Did a doctor ever save my life? Yes. When I was 12 years old, I had very high fever. The fever would not subside with ordinary medication. I was prescribed some pills which would sometimes work, but the fever would be back with a vengeance. My dad during those days was doing some research with the local Malaria Research Centre. He decided to take me there, and get a check. Since it was a research centre, there were no doctors there. He took the report to a friend of his who was a pathologist. I will never forget the look on Pramod uncle's eyes when he saw the report, and calmly asked to get me admitted in the Critical Care Unit. I was on intravenous quinine. He took care of everything all around. It was much later that we came to know that I was infected with cerebral malaria aka brain malaria. I know he was a friend of dad's but he did not owe anything more than the diagnosis. The way he took personal responsibility not only then but in many more occasions for many more people, I am sincerely indebted. He was a gem of a person apart from being a very good doctor. I have met pathologists who are out their depth and make incorrect diagnosis which makes the patient go on a wild goose chase. But with Pramod uncle, you were in safe hands.
2 of my mom's cousins are doctors. After Chiyaa there have been innumerable accounts where I have pestered them with questions and queries. My elder uncle is in the US and is a dad, so he gets bombarded not only with the usual physiological doubts, but also with psychological ones like how much crying is ok?, is day care good?, how much separation anxiety is tolerable? And you name it. I know all this sounds very silly and any of the grandparents can happily answer. But hearing it from a doctor is way more comforting.
Recently we took Chiyaa to the local dispensary. The usual cough and cold. The doctor checked her and let us go with the prescription. An hour later we got a call from the clinic advising us that she was a bit concerned and would like to have a look again in the presence of a senior doctor. We were flustered and ran back. Both the doctors were very comforting and assured us, all was fine. Being cautious, they recommended we take her to the paediatric ward of the local hospital where a more thorough investigation could be carried out. Chiyaa was not happy with it all, but we were very satisfied with the detailed examination, the x-rays and the final verdict of it being just acute chest infection. They could rule out pneumonia and anything serious which was good news. The doctor need not have taken the personal ownership and gone to such detail. After all, here we do not pay them and are on public health care. I will forever appreciate the personal care and concern they had.
There are junctures in life where a good doctor is a life saver. As they say in our Bollywood movies, Doctor sahib aap to bhagwan ka roop ho!