40 years ago when I put up my board, this area was much undeveloped to say the least. Full of swamps, with agricultural fields in between, with no pukka roads laid, connectivity with the city was two busses, which plied twice a day. Mosquitoes were ubiquitous with an invasion at night fall. And there I was with an open door leading to the road sitting and waiting for the patients. Occasionally, however, I used to get busy and when BR visited me all in a panic that forenoon it was one such occasion.
He pushed his way through, and said, ‘doctor, my wife is unable to breathe, please hurry and come with me’. How long she has been ill’ I asked. Since three days she is worse, she has asthma, and her medicines are not working’ he answered.
Asthma and Bangalore city have been great friends and continue to be so. In those days it was even worse, the whole area of nearly two to three square KMs, slated for development of an extension was full of parthenium weed. The abundant spore producing parthenium was one most important cause of allergic rhinitis and asthma. Over the years buildings came up all over and this noxious weed disappeared and the incidence of asthma came down. It is very much present on the outskirts of the city and doctors practicing in the periphery of the city must be seeing quite a bit of asthma cases even now.
Coming back to BR, I said,’ if she has been having this for three days, it can’t be an emergency, I will come with you after seeing these patients’ He did not take kindly to this, he said, ‘no, no, it is serious, she will die if you don’t come, my home is just across the street’
Seeing his panic and my reluctance to leave the waiting patients and go with him, one of the patients told, doctor you go with him. We will wait’
I had no option but to go with him. I took my black foldable bag which had all the emergency aids and went out with him, He had no vehicle with him and as it was a short distance we walked, he carrying my bag and virtually running, and I following him. Across the street we went but he would not stop, his across the street was not just across but across many streets! When asked where the house is, he pointed in the general direction and said there. No point in asking this man. Better go and face the problem when we get there I thought, after walking nearly a km we reached that single storied small bungalow. Both the gate and the front door were open, we went in heading straight to where the patient was, half sitting and half reclined.
Mrs J was then a young woman of 25, recently married, new to the city, was in real trouble. One look at her, I realized that BR was not exaggerating when he said it was an emergency. She could hardly breathe, with a cyanotic tinge, perspiring all over. There was no need or time for any detailed check. Subcutaneous adrenaline was the drug of choice and I gave her this and followed it up with IV deriphylline and decadron. Her breathing eased, but she became nauseous and even before BR getting a basin to hold the vomit she brought out all her breakfast on to my shirt front. This happened as I was keenly watching her recovery and did not with draw quickly enough to escape the spray.
It was not an uncommon side show of using adrenaline. I took off the soaked shirt and vest and sat watching her recovery. Within the next ten minutes, like miracle she was normal, and wanted to make tea for me!
Where was BR? He had disappeared with my clothes. He returned after a few minutes with a new shirt of his. Different color, different make and size. I had no options but to put it on and return to my waiting patients. BR came with me carrying the bag despite my telling him not to.
On reaching the clinic, one patient asked me,’ doc do your patients give you a shirt also when you make a house call? I had no patience to explain or appreciate his humor. I must have given him a dirty look, to make him keep quiet.
That night after the evening clinic, I dropped in to see her. She was perfectly normal, and gave me a paper bag which had my clothes neatly washed and ironed
The friend ship that began that day has lasted even to this day.