Humour: Doctors are the best medicine
Healing can often be hilariousUpdated: Sep 29, 2018 21:42 IST
I only dare to write this piece because I’m a medical science bhakt. (Read: rational.) I do not think cancer is brought on by bad thoughts. Nor do I believe yoga is a cure for TB. I was once made to chew a bunch of despicable leaves while lying in a hospital bed with jaundice. That was the beginning and end of my relationship with alternative healing. (Though I’m willing to try blues or jazz healing.)
However, my faith in (actual) science is regularly tested by (real) doctors, not by the treatments they prescribe but their well-intentioned yet confounding words.
OTT in the OT
I recently underwent a minor surgery. I left the hospital room with spirits reasonably high. The bubble burst when the star of the show, the anaesthesiologist, walked in. I tried to convince her to put me under general anaesthesia, but she convinced me local would do. At my fervent request, however, she agreed to sedate me through the IV.
These are the nuclear heavyweights whose short-term treatments you can’t avoid because in the long run we’re all dead. There’s the doctor who is filled with righteous indignation when you ask questions.
By the time the surgeon and his assistant entered the frame, I was babbling like an undammable brook, sedatives be damned. To get me to shut up, the anaesthesiologist asked a question that she thought would calm me down. “So do you have a boyfriend?” she enquired in dulcet tones. “No, but I have had boyfriends in the past,” I blabbered. The surgeons thought they should step in and politely enquired which publications I wrote for. They were surprised when I named a men’s magazine among the lot. I countered the surprise by launching into a spirited speech about gender dynamics in the publishing industry. While two men hovered over me with sharp knives. The conversation somehow ended with a discussion around Michael Jackson’s supposed sleeping pills. Sheesh.
Then there are those days when your doctor is hell-bent on misunderstanding every word you say. A very glamorous cousin suffering from kidney stones was inseparable from her hospital kidney tray for days. And then one morning, it happened. She craved breakfast. Her tray had just one meagre sachet of butter, so she requested the nutritionist for one more. The doctor replied smugly, “Are you sure you don’t need emotional butter?” My mild-mannered cousin emitted a scarily harsh glare at the suggestion.
Doctors come with all the factory defects of ordinary mortals. What makes me return time and time again is the understanding that all doctors are not, in fact, out to get us in the guise of healing
I recently visited a migraine specialist, determined to offer my head up for a lobotomy if nothing else was at hand. After I’d finished explaining the problem in excruciating detail, the doctor drew two segments of varying lengths on his notepad. “If someone had to go to the US to receive an award, and the shortest direct flight took 14 hours, while he was adamant on flying for not more than four hours at a stretch, what would you call such a person?” “Impractical,” I said unsurely. “Correct,” he confirmed, while scrawling on his notepad: “No connect with reality.” This long-winded metaphor was supposed to convey that I needed meds all year-round if I were to address my condition – a suggestion I hadn’t at all refuted. (Doc, if you’re reading this, I’m eternally grateful for the prescription.)
Hello, please take off your pants
Then there are the doctors who pierce your bottom with a steroid shot even when you’re just stopping by to say hello. These are the nuclear heavyweights whose short-term treatments you can’t avoid because in the long run we’re all dead. There’s the doctor who is filled with righteous indignation when you ask questions. There’s the doctor who shares very disturbing stories of other patients (with pictorial aids) in order to lessen your worry.
What I’ve learned from all these experiences is a simple truth: doctors come with all the factory defects of ordinary mortals. What makes me return time and time again is the understanding that all doctors are not, in fact, out to get us in the guise of healing. It’s not all big bad pharma and medical malpractice. Yes, they can be prohibitively expensive. Disturbingly monosyllabic. Annoyingly chatty. But confronted with a health situation, that’s where I’ll go, every time. Not a faith healer. Mindfulness expert. Mountain mystic. River reader. I’m not that disconnected from reality after all.
From HT Brunch, September 30, 2018
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First Published: Sep 29, 2018 21:41 IST