‘In today’s hospitals, the patient does the rounds’

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I went to see my friend in his super-speciality hospital after a long time. I marvelled at the Italian granite floor and Husain paintings on the wall, and thought I had entered a place which is cross between a 5-star hotel and Royal Albert Music Hall.

I knew it would take quite some time for my feet to negotiate the 6-inch-deep Kashmir carpet and reach my friend sitting on the other end of the room.

He smiled broadly and pointed me to a sofa in which I sank in deep inside. I noticed he had a spread of deer skin with holes on his sofa.

He got up and poured a cold Pepsi and took water from a copper Kamandal.

“Why aren’t you taking a Pepsi?” I asked.

“I don’t trust any of these things. Full of chemicals that eat way your insides. I get weekly supply of Ganga water straight from Alakananda, which I boil and bring it to office.”

As I sipped the dreadful drink wondering about my vitals inside, I thought I shouldn’t worry as a doctor was at hand.

“Didn’t go for your rounds today?”

“The concept has changed. We don’t do any more rounds. We let the patients do the rounds.”

“I didn’t get you.”

He took a small piece, the size of broken chalk, and started chewing and offered one to me.

“What’s this?”

“It’s amla. I pick these from Baba Ramdev’s ashram during my fortnightly visits. As you chew, this removes toxins and cleans up intestines inside out… I was talking of the patients’ rounds.

“From morning I had six patients. The first patient, a boy of 16 had mild fever, headache and couldn’t sleep for the last couple of days. I have sent him for a CT scan and just to make sure there is no tissue infection, have asked him to get a MRI scan. Two days of sleeplessness can be dismissed as due to stress or whatever. After an ECG, I have asked him to do treadmill and come back with an echo Doppler and an Angio. He will stay here for two days for more tests before we can diagnose what’s wrong with him. Can’t take chances…”

“I see.”

“The second patient, an old man of 80+, doesn’t get hungry and has eaten very little, has loose motions and hasn’t slept a wink. He will get his blood and urine test; take an ultrasound scan of his liver, abdomen and pancreas. His liver function test will help us to see any sluggishness of liver. The lack of sleep in this case worries me. We have put him on 0.1 N Glucose and Brine drips. Later, a routine EEG and a brain scan will be done to rule out any infection.”

“So this is what you meant when you said, ‘It’s the Patient who does the Rounds’! By the way, what ever happened to the ‘family doctors’ who gave a couple of doses of a ‘mixture’ which cured almost anything?”

“Family doctor concept is long dead and gone. Even if somebody were to be alive alive, it will take 10 years for her to understand the modern gadgets and learn what it can do.”

“You have maintained yourself very well. What’s the secret of your health?”

“I follow my grandmother’s tips down the ages. ‘Drink lot of water. Walk twice a day. Laugh at the patients laughing in the park. Keep your anger in check, even if Sachin fails match after match. Forget your patients and hospital once you reach home.’ It never fails to work.”

“I hope you won’t charge for the advice,” I said as I started my ‘Slow March’ towards the exit.”