Teja got impatient. Pu explained patiently that I needed antibiotics. Dhanno said in her mildly sarcastic way, “Mom, doctors exist, medicines exist, there is science, there are cures.” I finally agreed to visit a doctor. I got the prescribed antibiotics.
I am not proud of this tendency to ignore a medical complaint. It is not that I am reckless, I have a fairly healthy and active lifestyle, and I believe in my body’s power to heal itself, particularly since I have never had much wrong with me.
But it seriously never occurs to me that if I am in pain, I could seek relief. Each time I think, the next time this happens, I can do this. And each time, I forget, until someone reminds me.
Teja, back home, then took me to a doctor in the family circle. I spoke of my recurring stomach infection, the doctor looked at his computer screen, turned away from me, and asked a list of questions, I answered. He was involved, but in rather a routine way. He then turned around and explained patiently what could be happening to me, what could happen, and what the possible measures could be. There was nothing much to the whole thing.
Then Teja mentioned that my father had died of liver cancer, and so had my aunt. This is something that I had genuinely forgotten about in the context of this examination. But it had been playing on Teja’s mind.
The doctor’s eyes lit up. “Now that is interesting,” he said. He came forward, and asked, now really curious, “How many siblings did your father have? What about your aunt’s kids? What about your mother? How did your paternal grandmother die?”
I said, “My father had 10 siblings, a lot of them died before I knew them, probably some died before my father knew them, my aunt has no children, my grandmother died of cancer, but I don’t know which one, my mother is fine.”
He said, “Trace all your cousins, get them to take this test, talk to your surviving uncles and aunts, find out who died of what, get to know as much as you can, it would be interesting to find out.”
As we left, he said, “The stomach infection is fine, but it would be interesting to know about your family history.”
Suddenly my visit became interesting to me, too. My resistance to doctors is to waiting to meet them, and the clinical conversations thereafter.
But the spark of a good story got me involved. I understood then why this person is known as a good doctor, why his clinic is overflowing with patients, not only from the city, but the villages around, at all times of the day.
Like me, he is interested in stories. That to me, is a good recommendation for any doctor, degrees be damned.