When the Doctor is the Antidote

When the Doctor is the Antidote

I thought it was only kids who did it. Embarrass you by appearing hale and hearty in front of the doctor whom you’ve implored to come for a home visit because the child is much too ill to make the long trip to his clinic.

I know a boy who developed the habit at the pre-precocious age of eight days. His grandmother had died and his father had rushed to perform the last rites. The young mother was left alone, literally holding the baby. The first day that the father was away, the child cried all evening and night. And kept it going through the next day. By nightfall, the mother could take it no more. Already shaken by her mother-in-law’s sudden demise, she was terrified that something terrible was happening to her child. To make things worse, it had been raining non-stop for almost a week. Gloom pervaded the ambience, inside and out. At 10 pm, she took an umbrella, and waded out into the rain. She knew there was a paediatrician in the neighbourhood and she was determined to get him to her son.

The doctor opened the door and listened to her tale of woe. He asked her a host of questions and listened intently to the answers. He took in the quivering voice and pleading eyes and, grabbing his own umbrella, walked with her to her house. From outside they could hear the baby crying. They went into the baby’s room and the doctor laid one hand on the baby’s heaving stomach. Voila, the infant stilled. Not only did he stop wailing, he even began flailing his arms and legs with a mild show of energy. This, after keeping everyone awake and stressed for almost 24 hours. The doctor examined the baby, and then turned smiling to the mother, “Clearly, I’m not needed here. There appears to be nothing wrong with him.” 

This was the first, but far from the only time this happened. Time and again, the boy fell seriously ill, only to be miraculously revived by just a glimpse of the doctor.

He wasn’t the only one. The boy next door did much the same through his growing up years. But the strangest incident occurred when he was six. He was out playing when he had a nose bleed. The next day it happened again, and then again. A week later, he had a blackout. Scared stiff, his parents took him to hospital and got an MRI done. But it was a Sunday and the report wouldn’t be available till the next day. By evening the boy was pale and limp. He would neither speak nor eat. His doctor was away but gave them the name of a colleague in the suburbs who saw patients on Sunday. The family drove 40 km to see him. The boy lay listlessly the whole way. Finally they reached their destination. The boy lay down on the table, his eyes closed. The doctor came in and examined him thoroughly. Finally, he asked: “How are you feeling, son?” “Very good,” beamed the boy and jumped up. “I’m hungry, ma,” was the next sentence. The flabbergasted parents could only stare. 

Those were kids. But it seems they have company.

My colleague took her 80-year-old ailing mother to hospital yesterday. She had been feverish for a week. Last morning, she collapsed while getting out of bed, holding her stomach. When she came to, she demanded to be taken to hospital. They hotfooted it to Emergency. “How are you doing,” asked the good-looking doctor on duty, abstractedly, as he examined her. “Oh, I’m absolutely fine. Thank you so much,” simpered the old lady and began playing with her hair. “I don’t know what I’m doing here.”          

Maybe they should redo the adage, and forget the apple. Maybe they should say, “A doctor a day keeps illness away.” At least for kids and old people. They appear to be one of a kind.   

Courtesy: The New Indian Express


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