Today, let’s talk about the practitioners of the noblest profession in the world. No, not teachers. Doctors! I have always believed that there are two types of doctors. First, the best kind – those who talk to you nicely, give you maximum information in the little time you consult with them, who really look like they want to see you get better. Money is not of concern to them. These are the kinds you’d see practicing in remote villages or among Doctors without Borders or the decrepit looking clinic in city. The second type is those we tolerate because they are the best in their field but way too snooty for comfort. During a consultation they will speak as little as possible, just sticking to the point. There are probably 3 lines with which they can run their entire conversation: What’s the problem? Get these reports done and see me in two days. Take these medicines and see me in a week. To extract one more word from them, you may have to pay them in gold jewelry or organs, perhaps.
And then there is one more — the third that I hadn’t encountered until that fateful day. It’s like we discovered an extinct species minus all the rejoicing. The third kind is like the 2nd kind of doctor but only that he would give Hitler a run for his money. He behaves like a dictator to a small country. This guy will be very curt and at the same time give you a whiplash with his tongue. If only he had a firing squad at his disposal, many of his patients would be delivered of their trauma quickly. He being curt doesn’t mean that you can run away with your vocabulary. No Sir, he won’t let you even complete your sentences!
So, it transpired that we took this well-meaning reference of an elderly gentleman we knew for a problem as trivial as elevated readings of liver and thyroid tests. Hence, there we were sitting in the hallway of this great doctor’s office with a string of fancy alphabet and impressive alma maters attached to his name. After paying a princely consultation fee, we were anticipating a wonderful knowledge sharing session. We were very impressed when there was a mini session with another doctor before we met this biggie. Imagine this guy has another doctor and not a nurse to take down the history of a patient like smoking habits, drinking habits, exercise regime etc. It’s a different matter that we seemed to know more than the rookie doctor. But, what the heck, he has his personal staff in this big hospital! That must count for something.
Finally our time comes. The door to the hallowed portals opens and a gruff voice calls out our name. Throwing a distinct smirk at the poor souls still awaiting their turn, we enter the lair gingerly.
The doctor doesn’t even lift his head from my husband’s reports. We quickly take our places without much fuss. He raises his head and asks the inevitable question: “So, what’s the problem?”. We’ve done this many times before with many doctors. We’ve got the ball. And just like my pet Labrador, we run with it.
Husband: “Doctor, we regularly do a routine body check. And this time we see strangely elevated values….”
Doctor: “Yes, your TSH is too high.”
We had painstakingly put all the reports of the past few years under the current report. And, we were thinking that the doctor could get a context by seeing the past reports. But wait, he is already scribbling some medicine name in a prescription. We see our highly interactive session going down the drain.
Husband: “Doctor, can you please see my past report. It’s…”
Doctor (quickly, as if he was anticipating protests from me): “I only see the current reports.”
Husband: “But, I don’t understand how I ended up with such high values. I’ve been taking my medicines regularly.”
Doctor: “Values don’t lie; people do!”
*Applause! Whatte dialog*
Husband: “I remember missing my medicine once or twice in a month. Surely, that can’t…”
Doctor: “You miss your medicine and ask me to explain the high values!”
Husband: “But once or twice a month surely can’t cause such a high swing…”
Doctor: “Do you forget to brush your teeth or go to toilet in the morning? Then how can you forget your medicine?”
Great! He is scolding us! And I am thinking that isn’t it the job of the doctor to probe him further to find the reason for the swing in values? Why should we be probing him? And why doesn’t he let my husband complete what he was asking?
Husband (He is already getting close to his wit’s end with this doctor): “Doctor, I expect you to tell me what is wrong with me, and what I can do to get better…( He meant in a holistic way but the doctor butts in as expected)
Doctor: “With your kind of drinking, smoking and lack of exercise this is bound to happen.”
Husband: “But doctor we walk regularly for close to an hour! We also take care of…”
Doctor: “What is the use? When you don’t follow other good practices, what is the use of walking?”
Husband (Whoa, that’s hard hitting. And does he mean that he is latched onto the bottle?): “But doctor, I drink occasionally. I am not an alcoholic.”
Doctor: “Did I say that you were an alcoholic. Tell me, did I say?”
We slumped into our chairs. Suddenly, in my mind’s eye, we were errant 5-year-olds shaking like a leaf standing in front of a stern Principal.
Doctor: “I am increasing your drug potency. Take it for one month and meet me at the end of it with a fresh test report.”
The husband was looking very confused. Impatiently and with infinite patience (something I never have the benefit of witnessing) he prodded on in a last-ditch attempt.
Husband: “Doctor, what are the safe limits of alcohol consum..?”
Doctor: “Safe limits (he almost spat at us). There ain’t any. You stop, completely! Go to another doctor if you don’t like to hear the truth, like many of the morons who like their doctors to molly coddle them.”
*Did he call us morons?* We looked at each other horrified.
Now I am getting it. He knows that most of his patients don’t come back :)!
I was mortified. I did not open my mouth during this charged conversation while a carefully prepared list of questions languished in my purse.
Me: “Thanks, Doctor.”
The husband was clearly very angry by now. Somehow, I had to get him out of there without there being a blood bath.
And we left in a rush. The husband was shaken and fuming after this emotional atyachaar. We left for home with our bruised dignity. Just made me realize how the doctor gets people to give up the things they enjoy – food, drink, even life 😀 with his torture chamber treatment. His seriousness and rude behavior was a virulent virus that can annihilate all in its path.
Yep, this was one of the days when we paid to get whipped!
Disclaimer: This post is not intended to poke fun at any particular profession. The incident is true, and this particular Doctor had a huge attitude issue.