Thursday, 3 December 2009

Carry on doctors

Being an orthopaedic surgeon's son I have grown up playing with X Rays, little hammers to tap people on their knees, injections, stethoscopes and seeing my dad make plaster casts out of white water (POP). I learn lessons from my mother about not breaking the time sequence for medicines, not stopping antibiotics mid way, not taking medicines without doctor's prescriptions, getting tetanus when you get cut, dissolving Dispirin in water and eating something before taking a pain killer. These are the standard 'facts of life' lessons which most Bengalis get.

Imagine my plight when I come across the Wild West of Mumbai medicine.

My first encounter with a Mumbai doc was when I had fever and my P G aunty recommended that I go to the doctor she went to. This fine disciple of Hippocrates examined me and then gave me a set of coloured pills. Pink and blue at night. Yellow in the afternoon. This was the equivalent of going to the village Shaman to a person who is used to talking to his doc in terms of the merits of Amoxycilin versus Thrombocyn and the m g of each.

I asked him if I should do a blood test for Malaria. He said 'you can do it if you like'.

If I like ???!!! If I wanted to be poked with a needle I would do a tattoo for God's sake.

His parting words to me were 'don't have non veg food for a few days'. That's when I ran out of the chamber vowing never to return. Any respectable Bengali knows that chicken stew is synonymous with fever.

This happened way back in 1997. I have found a set of wonderful doctors over the last twelve years.

Our family doctor is a GP who gives coloured pills, a reality of life in Mumbai. I had read somewhere that you should find a doctor you trust who is your age and grow old with him. That's the case between us. I never have to remind him of any of my previous ailments. I can get him on on phone at any time if there is an emergency.

You know that he really feels for you. He seemed heartbroken when he had to prescribe cholesterol medicines for me and started by saying 'This is a sad day and I am really sorry to say that I have to give you... '. K and I had to console him. He looked psyched and distressed when I told him about my recent fish bone scare. Then I called him to tell him about my fractured toe. He replied by saying, 'Oh my God', and sounded like he'd seen a ghost.

He is very popular and you have to wait for ages to see him. But then it's no surprise that people would like to be with a doctor who feels for you.

I went to a Catholic lady doc, a G P, sometime back when our family doc was out of town. I had an upset stomach. I don't know how the conversation reached there but my visit ended with her giving me her recipe for pork spare ribs. She is a colourful character, full of life. And, surprise, surprise, gives prescriptions. She'd talk about the most morbid thing with a jovial voice...from breast cancer checks (!) to a parting shot of 'don't forget to take your vitamins, we are all hurtling towards old age and senility'. We went to her once for K's bad throat. Doc told us that it could be infectious and that we should avoid contact through towels, utensils and then suddenly threw up her hands and said, 'what to do, you guys will kiss naa?' And she has the most adorable, scuffed up, teddy bear in the room. Reminds me of Ross' visit to his paedio in F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

Both are very good docs.

I have my ortho on speed dial. I had read about the tea and coffee machine in his chamber in a Bombay Times feature way before there were blogs and before I had a back problem. I have never tried the coffee though the sign kindly asks you to help yourself.

He is another very nice soul. As, Julius Caesar told us, all roly poly folks are. Unlike other surgeons he won't ask you to do MRIs straight away. He is extremely patient and kind and will NEVER scare you. He will take the skeleton on his desk and will describe in detail about what's happened to you. And will often show you exercises at the jump of a hat. Don't forget that he is super sized. My mom in law calls him a teddy bear.

You don't feel that its all about money when you deal with him. He won't push his own physio or diagnostic clinic. At times he will prescribe stuff on the phone even if it means losing out on the visit charges.

Thankfully he was close by yesterday when I broke my toe. He called me over to the charity clinic he was in. Then called back by himself to tell me that I should take a Combiflam and a glass of milk before I left home.

He took one look at my foot and said 'yes, it's looking deformed' . Turned out he was looking at the wrong foot! Anyway he strapped up my toes and I am hobbling towards recovery. He didn't bother about his fees and said he'd adjust it a week later.

Almost everyone I know goes to him. We are the bad back generation after all. I think the time has come to start a Facebook group around him.

We know a genius of a Gastroenterologist too. A nice person to know once the little business of Endoscopy is done with. Some people shake hands when they meet, others hug. He pushes a pipe though you when you are introduced for the first time.

My mom in law credits him with giving my Pa in law a second life when everyone else was floundering. Our family swears by him.

I once told him about my cholesterol report and asked him about the dangers of mutton. He went into a monologue about how the mutton today is not a patch on real mutton. No fat, no taste, no juice. I was surprised to know that our skinny doctor had obviously seen life.

Feel free to drop in a mail if you ever need, and I sincerely hope you don't, the name and contacts of any of these doctors. They are all based at Bandra.


Scarlett said...

For small day-today ailments like an upset stomach, viral fever, sore throat etc. I had a GP in Bandra - Dr Tapia (recommended by my PG aunty :). She used to give me multi-colored pills or just push an injection & I'd miraculously recover! Specialist doctors generally look down on GPs (at least the ones in my family do) but I think they're really sweet & helpful. And those multi-colored pills & injections they give work wonders!

For more serious ailments, I used to go to a doctor at Bombay Hospital. He's a Cardiologist but also a very good Physician, and without a doubt the nicest doctor I've met EVER. Dr Eric Borges. Don't know whether he's Catholic or Parsi but he's a darling. He'll give you compliments in abundance, is most gentle & loving when he's examining you, and recommends only those tests & medicines that are absolutely necessary.

Scarlett said...

Oh, and Dr Borges always downplays an illness, saying it can very well be treated/controlled, and for a hypochondriac like me, it's a balm.

The knife said...

Scarlett that's a useful tip for a fellow hypochondriac

GP's are the first line of defence. But coloured pills are unique to Mumbai. Froke me out