Long, long ago we used have family Doctors. Whenever you fell sick you went running to your guardian angel expecting him to cure you of your misery. Mostly a bespectacled, benign looking old gentleman, his chamber was usually an annexe in his house. A few gulps of that ugly pink, bitter tasting oral suspension and you were up and running, back to your pranks. If your eyes hurt from too much of reading in the dark you went to the eye Doctor and to the Dentist to get your cavities filled. They were more like family members reprimanding you for your indulgences. In college our “Guardian- Angel” was a rather good looking fellow, far from old, but you usually don’t get attracted to men who smell of Dettol.
How life has changed. Your eye Doctor has a fancy new title “Ophthalmologist”. If your vision is getting hazy you go to the Optometrist. Tummy ache? Which part? If it’s the kidney you rush to the Nephrologist not to be confused with the Neurologists meant to calm your nerves. Your liver is taken care of by the Hepatologist and not the Haematologist meant for your bloody troubles. For your intestinal woes you need to rush to the Gastroenterologist. Does it mean that we can now fall sick without a care in the world and expect miraculous recovery? After all there is a specialist tending to each miniscule part of our achy-breaky body. Newer, spiffier five star hospitals are mushrooming all over the city. So is your Doctor, he/she with-a-tough- to -spell title still your guardian angel?
In this age of specialization, the General Physician is almost dead. If you are unfortunate enough to fall sick, the Doctor despite his many degrees will be more often be as clueless as you are. Rarely will he dare to diagnose your condition. I guess after all these years of fancy sounding diseases; he doesn’t trust his judgement anymore. Instead you are expected to undergo a battery of unnecessary laboratory tests. Hey how about utilizing your mine of knowledge and making Hippocrates a little proud?
You may have guessed by now, my brush with the medical fraternity has not exactly been pleasant. The husband doesn’t fall sick too often, but when he does the virulent viruses fall so deeply in love with him, that they refuse to let go. They grow, touching unfathomed heights and try to forge a long term relationship with him. We rush teary eyed to the Doctor, expecting deliverance. But that rarely happens. With a grim expression- Your condition is indeed very rare (I have no frigging idea). Let me prescribe the strongest, the most expensive antibiotics for you. A week later.... Uh O, you look even worse. Let’s try another line of treatment now-gullible guinea pigs are hard to come by.
We are living in paranoid times. Each new year ushers in a brand new disease and constantly mutating ailments. Unfortunately most denizens of the medical fraternity feed on our paranoia. Oh you have high blood pressure at such a young age, that’s a very serious condition.....With a sombre expression....We need to hospitalize you as soon as possible. You are saying it is a hereditary condition? Ha, are you trying to tell me you know more than I do? You need EEG, ECG, Echo Doppler tests...... Dear boy you might even have a brain tumour. Why don’t we run a few more tests on you? We will have our panel of specialists drop by in the evening for a little tet-a-tet, chargeable per appearance of course. Ah... the reports just came in. Oh Dear, there’s nothing wrong with you. Hmm, I guess it is a hereditary condition, but we just wanted to be sure.
How many stories I have heard and experienced; of gynaecologist whose patients always end up a with a C section, of a reputed Paediatrician whose incorrect medication had my 4 year old daughter vomiting blood, simple procedures being unnecessarily blown out of proportion. Armed with information, experts can create an unspoken fear. Fear, that you might die of a heart attack if you don’t get the angioplasty done. What if your fibroids are malignant? Is your kidney giving you too much trouble, let’s just remove it.
I am not saying good Doctors do not exist anymore but their number is dwindling alarmingly. Exorbitant medical care ensures that health is a luxury that only the rich can enjoy. Ironically medical insurance is available only to the young, fit and the healthy. Dare to have a medical condition and no Insurance Company will touch you even with a barge pole!
Why even as an outpatient I am expected to give medical insurance details? When a Doctor sees a patient, is he looking at someone to cure or is he eyeing his pay-check. Me, I only go to the Doctor as a last resort because I know this will only be the beginning of a long, agonising ordeal. But this has only reaffirmed my faith in God. I pray that my near and dear ones never fall sick and if they do, God save them.