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Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Doctor's word.

Practice of medicine is the most respected of all professions. For all I know, they worked so hard, really very hard to get that degree to their name and it is not a joke. Well, they are also placed on the top of the status tier ,and most deservedly so, as no one can do without them. A doctor’s learning phase doesn't end with the last day of their final year examination. They need to keep themselves updated each and every single day of their existence because that is the pace at which medical science grows. A good doctor is one who is passionate about what he does,  and not one who was sent to medical school because it was his grandpa’s last wish.

There are however, few morons who spoil it for the entire medical fraternity. Fake and unqualified ‘doctors’. Yesterday as I was watching TV, I came across this appalling piece of news, which reported that there are thousands of unqualified people practicing medicine across the state. That too, in full public view with placards outside their fake clinics. Amusingly enough, they even have an association for themselves, something called the All Kerala Unqualified Doctors. Unqualified-Doctor is a laughable oxymoron. A so-called ‘physician’ prescribed an unsuitable medicine for a child, was caught red-handed and thus was unraveled the shocking story of an entire community of medical frauds in the underbelly of the state, earning status and money to their credit since decades. Steroids, and expired medicines which were regularly prescribed, were caught from their pharmacies.

We are all laymen when it comes to medicine. When we get a headache we pop a paracetamol and get temporary relief. When there is a stomach upset we have something else ready. In short we have a whole medicine box to ourselves. Don’t we? Any self-respecting doctor may tell you not to prescribe medicines to yourself. If that headache persists even after you slept for 12 hours and ate enough food, then it is ideal to get a doctor’s opinion. Instead we eat paracetamol three times a day for a week to get rid of it. It may disappear for some time, but the suppressed symptom may be back with a bang later. Its better to be safe than sorry isn't it? But no, we do not get an appointment with a doctor, because, they are expensive, it takes an entire day to get a token, wait, buy medicines and come back home. Moreover, fake doctors are in town. Who knows their background and what if we end up eating steroids? I am a nobody as far as medicine is concerned, and I will go to a hospital only when something strikes real hard and a sick leave certificate is required from a doctor. Now with the fake doctor news, we are most likely to think twice and the value of qualified and lifesaving medical professionals go down. 

It doesn't stop there. There are another category of qualified doctors who are determined to slander reputed and sincere ones.  We had a a family friend-doctor, to whom my parents went flocking to when they sneezed or had hair fall. This person, who dint have many patients to his credit was proficient to prescribe antibiotics for the smallest ailment. But who are we to judge? 'He is an MBBS!' defended Papa ever since I could remember. A month ago, my mother had this incessant tiredness, sore arms and fever and high body temperature that wouldn't come down. The doctor prescribed antibiotics, repeatedly, which further worsened the condition of my mother, whose arms got red and had rashes after ten days of treatment. When the doctor understood that things were going beyond his expectations, he said that this was a confirmed case of measles and that she had to shift to a different hospital. When my parents met with an experienced doctor from a reputed hospital in the city, he admitted her immediately in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as this was a severe case of Dengue fever and shouted at Papa for not bringing her earlier. The platelet count in her blood had gone way down from normal and in the next two weeks, she had to be infused with six bottles of blood. My mother, who later recovered, battled with fatigue and body pain for more than a month. Now tell me, everyone makes mistakes, but can doctors wait so long until they come to a conclusion in the diagnosis of a person? Shouldn't he have checked the blood when fever persisted so long, given that dengue is like a plague nowadays?

I have another example for you. Once when my husband was about to leave after his appointment at a hospital, the doctor casually asked how our son was. My husband replied that he was fine, but had a slight cold which was manageable. Immediately the doctor tore a paper from his pad, wrote the names of three syrups and handed it over to him, saying that these would ease the cold. My son was four months old at that time. All three syrups had in their leaflets, dosages and warnings which said that it is not for kids under the age of two. I am not judging anyone, but I am educated enough to know, that without seeing, touching or knowing about any allergies or medical history, is it not okay to prescribe medicines for an infant, or anyone for that matter. My son was not there with my husband then, and so it sounds really wrong to me. Nevertheless we did not give those medicines to our son. We met a qualified pediatrician who suggested that no medicines are required and to consult him again if it does not subside in a week.

Both the examples above are my bad experiences with doctors in general. The doctor we meet with now is a qualified person, who listens, educates us about what is wrong and prescribes medicines only if it is necessary. He doesn't write down big names in illegible letters just because we visited him. And we trust him blindly because he is right all the time. I wish all doctors were like him. Most of them are, I know, but I hope the unqualified ones and others who lack experience, does not meddle with the lives of people. I hope as many people wake up to realize that there are fake doctors out there, waiting to make money out of our misery. 

Good doctors are found not only in plush multi-specialty hospitals alone; they are everywhere. You just need to identify them. The minute you stop placing your trust on that fancy placard outside, and go that extra mile to do adequate search and gather opinions, it is worth each day you take out for an appointment. Because healing comes from God; real doctors are His messengers.  And his, is the final word, the answer to your question of health, of life.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

In my defense...

In my childhood I dreaded to say ‘I forgot’ to anyone.
 For one, I was enrolled into a Convent school where the nuns considered wearing nail polish as a severe crime. Forgetting to bring a book or an assignment was blown up into an act worthy to be reported at the nearest Police Station. When they distributed books for the academic year, they gave us two notebooks just for composition writing. One for English, and the other for second language, Malayalam in my case. So composition notebooks looked alike for everyone from first grade to the twelfth. Which also means that if you dint bring it, you cannot take another notebook and pretend like it is the composition book and save yourself a visit to the Principal’s room. Composition books were specially made to punish annoyingly forgetful students like me. However in a classroom of around 50 students there always were a couple of other miserable souls who were also brave enough to admit the same and followed me as the teacher escorted us to the Principal’s room.

Principal: ‘Hello Anita Jeyan. And others’.

(I am special you see)

Me: Good Morning Ma’am. *bowed head and held the ends of my skirt wide*

Principal, obviously not impressed by the show with the skirt, puts on a grim tone.

‘What did you do now?’

The teacher who escorted us to her room explained that according to the timetable one hour was assigned for composition writing and still we had not brought the composition book, with an expression as if she caught guns from our school bags. Principal started further interrogation.

 ‘How could you do this?’

‘I forgot, Ma’am’. I explained meekly.

‘How can you forget? Did you forget to comb your hair today? DID YOU?  DID YOU?

I touched my head to check if my hair is okay, because she seemed to have thought I dint comb it.

‘Anita!” she screamed. ‘I am trying to tell you, that if you dint forget to comb your hair, but forgot your book, then you should reset your priorities’

Ohh. That’s what she meant. Hair is okay only. For a second she scared me.Why cant people convey properly what they want to say and stop acting like Shakespeare? I can expect some sort of straight-forwardness from a Principal, no? Anyway. The frustrated Principal sent us back to class with instructions that composition for that day could be written in the rough note (which I had forgotten, but who cares) and copied in the composition from home. The next day she wanted to see these composition books first thing when she comes to her office. She had way too much free time .

Thats my past. I continue to dwell in amnesia. When hubby drives back from the mall, I remember the most important item which was the reason I sent him to the grocery in the first place. From his animosity to any explanation of forgetfulness, I usually keep mum. Or if he finds out, I am tempted to lie in highly animated tones like, ‘ Dint you buy that? Omg what were you thinking?’

My Mom writes a Things-to-buy list and sticks them on the refrigerator with a magnet. Papa notes them down in a tiny yellow pad, in a much smaller and illegible handwriting, so that even if someone pickpockets him, they don’t crack the code of what secret vegetables he is going to buy:-/

By the way, the Principal is nothing compared to how my parents react if I told them I forgot something.

What I am trying to say is, when I forget, I want to say that I forgot. If it is not taken gently, I will be tempted to lie. If you tempt me to lie, then you are answerable to God. ;-)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Writing my way in 2013...

Hello dear folks who noticed that I was not here over a month! Others who dint, miss me next time, okay? ;-)

2012 December was one incredible vacation. Details later, but I can tell you it was nothing less than pure bliss. Except the part that I suffered a splitting headache on Christmas eve, that I spent more time lying down on the back seat of the car , parked in the church premises with a toddler dancing on my head, when the choir happily sang, ‘Joy to the world!’. Sarcastic singers, I say.

Later December 16th happened. The wretched night of Delhi gang rape. The aftermath of riots, chaos, tears and ultimately her passing in glory to the land where rape is unknown. Been following all news and articles written on the same. However some people who blame women to have done the heinous crime of “provoking” men seems to be determined to show off the deepest low of stupidity they can stoop to. Honestly.

December 28th. It was our wedding anniversary. I celebrated it in Trivandrum, and hubby at Cochin. Well as per our schedule it was preplanned according to the layout of a larger plan. Well we live together and work at the same office all 365 days- being geographically separated on anniversary is not a big deal. All the other days are.

So recently I was filling out a few forms, and realized that with time, I am losing my ability to write. Writing my full name using a pen on a piece of paper has become so tedious that I am sure in a few years I will not be able to do it anymore. My son will grow up to call me illiterate. Or he will think I passed Engineering through online multiple choice exams. Did I answer those five essays, four pages each and 20 short answer questions all in three hours? I mean ideally I’d take a week to do that.

 My papa saves some handwritten letters of his father and his uncle. These are some of his invaluable possessions. Those words in custom handwriting speak a lot more than what Microsoft word does. Handwritten letters have that quality of intense personal communication, achieved by the handwriting, aroma and an invisible attribute which actually makes the reader feel that the sender is actually speaking just to him. These letters are also physically saved and read over the years, just for that aroma, handwriting and a personal touch, unlike the emails we archive and never read a second time. Also, a handwritten letter is usually unique. There are no copies, and it has a single receiver, unlike the Cc’s and worse, the BCc’s of standard email.  This makes it priceless. Letters written on paper with fountain pens are really memoirs, or little personal tokens of eternal worth.  I do not know how authors of today write. I know that JK Rowling writes in her Macbook Air. So the authors of the yesteryears must have taken so much effort to write those timeless classics. Imagine the passion which went into those books, when there was no google and availability for reference was scarce.

Every year, my employer gives me a diary and calendar in the first week of January, and I routinely donate it to my parents who have the habit of writing down expenses, recipes or important dates. This year, I am keeping it to myself, and will try to note down something on it. I will not write a summary of my day to day activities, but when I go to meetings I will carry this diary and a pen instead of my laptop. I will draw those instant pictures, or reinvent my signature or do something with it, but I will see to it that I use my fingers to write, and not just to type. My idea is to draft blog posts or write ideas for a short story in it, which may not be possible, but I am determined to use it. Well that is my resolution for 2013.

During my days with my parents last month, I spent some time in my room, which is still decorated with stickers and greeting cards from my teenage years. The handwritten Archies cards of the 90’s. One of them had a black and white picture of five little girls sitting on a wall, and the caption says ‘Friends like us paint the town red!’.  I lay on my bed and looked at the innumerable cards stuck on the walls. Those were the days. Even today I can identify the handwriting of each one of my friends. The personal letters written on the cards are still fresh and real. When was the last time I received or sent a card through post? I think it was a long time ago. My son will never know what birthday and Christmas cards were… or what it was worth. He is likely to think of it as a waste of time and paper. Oh I feel sorry for him; he will never experience the joy of a greeting card.

Spread the word!