These days, as I grow older [also wiser?], I am reluctant to take new patients and added responsibility. The main reason is that I have come to value my private time much more than before. Another reason is the fear that I may not be able to give an efficient service by my own standards. Be that may, I still have to take a few because of many compulsions. One such is my own friends who bring their dear and near, and I owe it to them, so I accept. Here is one such patient.
This old lady walks in and tells me that she is a very good friend of Mr G and because of his recommendation she has come to see me.
‘You look good’ she said by the way of opening the consultation. I am used to patients telling me their complaints and not complimenting me on my looks. I sat looking at her rather confused and did not know how to respond. She must have guessed,’ you don’t know how to take a compliment’. This is true; it leaves me uncomfortable because I suspect the motive which is not really the right thing to do.
I said belated thanks and asked her what I could do for her.
She sat thinking. Few minutes passed. I asked her what the reason why she has come to see me. ‘Oh, that is because G told me to see you’, she said.
We were now back to square one. Many of us old persons are forgetful and I thought this one must be one of those who has forgotten. So I asked her,’ have you forgotten why you are here?’ ‘Common doctor, I am not that old, I remember all my problems, the trouble is that there are so many of them, I don’t know where to begin’.
This was enough to make my heart sink.
She began her complaints with unusual gusto.
Thirty years ago, I was involved in an accident and since then I have this periodic head ache. She went on to give a graphic description of how the accident took place, the number of doctors she has seen and the investigations that have been done and the medications she is presently on and the diet she has been following.
Seeing me getting ready to examine her, she said 'hold on,’ I also have diabetes and high blood pressure.’ She proceeded to give another lengthy description.
Then came the description of her knee joint pains. Then her gas in the belly,
There was a brief intermission when she was collecting her thoughts as to her next problem.
‘Ha, I also have this ache in my back and pricking sensations in my legs. Sometimes I get up too often at night and this disturbs my husband’. A description of how irritable a husband she has, followed.
You may think that I sat there docile without interrupting her. My attempts were firmly put down,’ wait a second, I will come to that, or some such comment to keep me in my place.
At last, after nearly half an hour, she allowed me to examine her. There was not much wrong with her. I was able to get her medications down from the twelve drugs to six essential ones. I thought she would be happy. Instead she said,’ but doc, I have been taking these for over ten years. A mild argument as to the need to cut down unnecessary medication ensued. She reluctantly agreed to do so.
By now, I was feeling the beginning of a small ache in my head and was having visions of my mid morning tea.
‘When should I come back? She asked. ‘Six months from now’ I said. She was taken aback,’ but my doctor sees my every fifteen days’. I said,’ see him every fifteen days but see me once in six months’.
She gave a strange look, thanked me and went. I heaved a sigh of relief that I don’t have to see her for six months.