Search here


Follow by Email

Friday, May 6, 2011


          This incident happened during my ophthalmology end post exam.
          My patient was a 65year old widow, hailing from UP. She had presented with a complaint of watery discharge from her eyes and gradual loss of vision. Usually staying in her village, she had come to Mumbai for her treatment and was currently lodged with her son and BAHURANI. It was the same BAHURANI and her JETHANI who had accompanied her to the OPD.
          So, I began. I introduced myself. All was fine untill I told her that I was a medical STUDENT and she was the one who was my exam case. I prefer being honest from the very begging, let all doubts be cleared initially, else should my mistake make a patient believe that doctors in my set up are not competent enough and lead to complete loss of trust. Finally trust is what bonds the patient to the doctor!
          I do not like referring her as a case, so I'll refer to her hence forth as “Amma”, as that is what I was actually addressing her. So, Amma became very defensive. Her Bahurani and her Jethani were taken aback by the revelation. “Oh my God”, they thought (I am the inner voice, remember) “What disease has Amma got, that this person is examining her for an exam!!”
“Pakka dal me kuch kala hai”, grumbled one of them. And they grumbled some more, most of which I do not remember. Perhaps they had realised, that I was going to be an extended session. They tried their level best to try to get Amma away. But, it seemed that the old lady was in a mood to defy them today.
Soon, they began sending her visual instructions from the corner of their eyes. I have seen many a women do these. It’s surprising how only they can do these; and more so, decipher them as the actions remain the same in every situation but the inference changes! But, little did they know, that Amma had diminished peripheral vision, and they most probably were in a blind area for her. This gave me a lot of courage. “Divine intervention” I thought!!
          I continued asking her questions, she continued answering them, unwillingly though. For her it was more of like a deep sea and devil situation. And she chose to persist with the devil.
 Then came the turn around. I had to examine her eyes. And I said, “AMMA JARA MERI TARAF DEKHO”. Again “divine intervention” I thought. If there was a 22 year old instead of this 66 year old, my instructions may have had some completely different altercations! Phew!  Medicine is tough, but only tough people last and survive.
          May be, I was unable to communicate my instructions to her properly, or maybe she wasn't getting them correctly, or maybe sh was in a rebellious mood in general.  So each time I had to restart and I would start by saying “AMMA JARA MERI TARAF DEKHO”. After a couple of times, Amma also started enjoying this attention.
          One thing, it would have been after such long ages that someone was actually trying to attract her attention, if I may say.
           Secondly, it would also have been after ages that she was getting so much attention.
           And the topping on the cake came when I took her for a check-up. She identified with the place as the same place where she had been stranded for over an hour not more than two days ago. But, today she had royal treatment. She had skipped the queue.
           She would have looked around at the endless queue of patients and thought, how any of them barely got to talk for more than 5 min to their doctor, here she was with a doctor already since 20 minutes and ready to spend even more time with her. And to top it all it was him who was actually patiently listening to her, politely repeating the instructions again and again until she finally got it right. And for once, even the Mamas in the wards were behaving softly with her!
           I could feel it from the smile that was growing her face. The more she tried to hide it, the more widely it grew. She had just within a span of three minutes turned so co-operative
          While all this was going on, someone was not happy. No I am not referring to that batch mate of mine who had actually got a real nut of a person to crack. It was the Bahurani and her Jethani. Either, I was subconsciously overhearing their conversations, or they were consciously ensuring that it was overheard. This is one more of those special abilities of the ladies; they ensure you hear what they want to say.
          All the time they were grumbling, “ Ye kidher fas gaye”. Or, “ Kya Timepass ho raha hai. (As if you've put your time to great use by watching those family sops.)
          Yes, I heard it!
          “Amma ko to idher laana hi nahi chahiye tha”. “Ye log kuch bhi kar rahe hai”. “Abhi tak to ghar bhi pahunch jaate”. “kal to dekha tha, aaj fir se kyu dekh rahe hain”. And they went on and on. Finally came the revelation, “Array, mera serial chut jaayega. Aur pata hai, iska repeat bhi nahi aata!”
          I think I even glimpsed at them once. Wasn't it wonderful to see those 64 teeth exposed and shining in a friendly manner! (They were 2 of them, and I actually counted them). Ladies again!
          But Amma was too happy turning a deaf year to the Bahurani and her Jethani.
          “Booo, Not your day today”, I felt like kidding them. But, the apron on my body prevented me from saying this.
          All went fine. Exam however wasn't that fine!! And when Amma was to leave, she looked up and told me,” Accha dactar ban na”. That is one gesture, I cannot forget. I am still surprised, how a patient for whom I thought I would have to present as, “CONSCIOUS, COHERENT, but UNCOOPERATIVE”, had actually said such a thing. More than anything else I could feel the warmth in those words.
All this while, the two accompanying ladies still continued to grumble. I looked on as they walked out of the OPD, two well built figures engrossed in each other and a frail figure trying to keep pace with them. Maybe, a little attention is all that people want at that stage of their life.
          May be all that is needed is for someone to tell them,