When I started to train as a doctor, more than a decade ago, society in India still believed in doctor’s nobility and sanctity of profession. Though it was a dying trend then too, but mostly, positively palpable.
Then globalization happened. Indians became gullible recipients of anything western. Folks in India tasted the world of client servicing industry. They wanted everything tailor-made. From clothes, to cars. From vacations to gymnasiums. From birthdays to Valentine’s days. At the same time social media was taking the world by storm. People had more avenues to show off their luxury filled life than ever in history of mankind.
Cut to diseases. Diseases are the big daddy of the biological world. They are bad ass. They are nasty. They are smart and they mean business. The way diseases infect humans and the way they are treated has not changed much over past century or so. We have developed unmatched technical wizardry in diagnosing and treating some diseases. But largely we have no control over when are we going to get infected/diagnosed with a disease. We have hardly any say in how long will the treatment last, will we recover fully? or if at all will we be able to afford it ?
So, once at the clinic, all the high and mighty experience of being a precious client comes to a halt. You can’t negotiate anymore. Nothing sounds custom made. You can’t throw your money and influence and no one’s listening.
This is where client meets the patient, and they don’t like each other. And as mere mortals, what do we do when we don’t like something and can’t change it? we whine and cry and throw tantrums and get angry and exhausted. That’s followed by loosing hope and praying. And since God doesn’t really speak much, or shows his face, it’s the doctors who are called to answer the unmet expectations of clients-now-turned-patients.
Remember I started training to be a doctor more than a decade back ? Never through the process was me or any other doctor taught to succumb to wishes and fancies. We were hardened to think clearly in the face of death and deliver treatment backed by decades of scientific proof of reliability. It’s a learned art to be unemotional and distanced from the suffering of the patient and administer solution under microscopic monitoring and care.
All that is layered with empathy and responsibility to explain the patient and his relatives the nature of disease, its prognosis, treatment plan and burden on the patient at the the end of the whole process.
No where is there any fanciness in this whole episode. It’s cold, methodical, largely effective but boring. Nothing you can share on social media or brag about. Nothing fashionable. But death-delaying for sure.
What I am trying to point out here is that you can be a client of a service provider where everything is under his control. Like with adequate money and time you can have a vacation custom made, get the best of pictures clicked and wear clothes designed by your own self..! But with diseases we are only reacting to attacks and anomalies of highly complex micro-organisms and or body mechanisms. So one shouldn’t expect the luxury of having much choice and say in how your body is going to suffer through it. You can’t bribe the disease away or make a few calls to ‘take care of it’.
So, it is realization of the fact that not everything is under or control. Not every force in the nature listen’s to humankind. And at times we have to bow down and take a deep breath. Swallow our pride and choose from what is being offered, makes us a good patient. A good patient not only bows to a disease but also jabs it right in the ribs if he listen’s to this doctor and plays his moves right.
Thanks for your time. You can see your doctor now.
The author is general Surgeon working as SR at Rajiv Gandhi Medical College,Thane