Doctor, doctor


It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. The stars are shining wherever you look. We’ve also managed to to get our Goan winter down pat too. I can feel it in the nip that swoops in at dusk, lacing everything with a crisp sprinkling of wintery coolness. And I can feel it in the wheezy rattle of congestion that’s made itself very, very comfortable deep inside my chest.

I prided myself in getting through a large part of this year illness-free. But I’ve had two terrible bouts of the cold-throat infection-flu triad. And the second time around, two weeks ago I decided I was going to fight it sans anti-biotics. I emerged battered at the end of the week of plying myself with anti-histamines and warm liquids, but victorious because I was phlegm-free! Or so I thought. Until fifteen whole days later, the rattle in my chest made a dramatic comeback. And this time around I swear I heard a wheeze every time I breathed in deeply. This was worrisome and I knew I needed to have myself checked.

I’ve also prided myself in not needing a local GP for the 5 years that I’ve been in Goa, but its not a very good place to be in, when you finally realise you do need a doctor, but have no idea where to begin. Some checking around and I found myself in a poky little clinic of what looked like an old-timer kind of doctor. The kind where you take your  slippers off before go in. The frayed pages of a yellowed calendar flapped around in the breeze, just below a picture of a chubby pink baby advertising some pediatric medicine or the other. From inside the doctor’s room walked an elderly couple, heaving what I can only imagine were germ-filled breaths of relief. I quickly stopped breathing, walked into the doctors room and realised the place smelled like becosules capsules.

There, behind an imposing teak desk sat a healthy (kind of short and rotund) looking doctor with a shiny bald pate. Bespectacled, round people are mostly cute and induce warm, fuzzy feelings. Add a dash of concern like only old-timer doctors can pull off, and I am usually reduced to mush. He was polite, gentle and so filled with concern, I was shocked. He was so gentle and sweet I could have kissed his soft hands. I was probably not paying attention, but when he gestured to ask me to lie down on his tall examination table, I didn’t know what he wanted of me. It should also give you a clue about just how long it’s been since I went to a doctor, that I didn’t realise I needed to lie down in order to be examined. And imagine my surprise when I realised I’d forgotten what the cold disc of a stethoscope against my back felt like.

A battery of questions followed, amongst which he even politely asked if I minded him asking why I don’t have any children despite being married close to seven years. I don’t mind, when a doctor puts it like that. He also gave me a flattering label of “big time writer” when I told him where some of my work is published, admitting he only reads the local news because he doesn’t have a smartphone or a laptop.

He was silently winning so many brownie points in my mind. But the clincher was the parting shot, “You can take all this medication, but nothing will give you relief like steam inhalation and warm water gargles will. Don’t stop doing that,” he said, as I walked out, grinning, because I had visions of my mother dispensing her ever-effective wisdom of steam inhalation being the cure for every ill forming in my mind.

Later, at home, I called Amma to update her about what the doctor has said. I told her he too belonged to her school of thought, where steam inhalation cures all, warm water gargles soothe a hurting throat, and he probably stopped just short of telling me to make a nightcap of haldi-wala doodh.

“I like him already,” she said.

I knew I did too.


17 thoughts on “Doctor, doctor

  1. Pingback: This and that | hAAthi

  2. I feel your pain! I had bronchitis 2 months ago and was still coughing up phlegm last week. I was actually quite indignant that I got so sick and was forced to take time off work. Hope you are feeling better.


    1. Same. But my last bout lasted three weeks. Finally the meds are working and im feeling much better. Stepoed out again today after three whole days of being woozy from downing cough syrup!


  3. I had the mother of all sore throats last March and completely lost my voice. I decided to skip the antibiotics route and stayed home and away from “talking situations” for a week, gargled ten times a day and inhaled vicks in hot water twice a day. Worked like a charm! :) I would recommend it! :D

    Also, I’m one of those people that judges my doctor based on their bedside manner. This guy sounds like a keeper :)


  4. Coming from an old school doctor’s family (As none of my generation kids turned into doctors except one!), I am scared to go to any doctor in Pune. I prefer calling them and explain how many liters leakage of my nose I could tolerate. Well, not too soon but I would have to find a local doctor here too.

    I am also from the family where we believe in the tradition of a family doctor and not rushing to the super specialist unless our physician asks us to. Glad you could get one such doctor with more power to diagnose the real issue and less interest in making patience rush to labs for 100 tests.

    By the way, I love people who can do without smart phones. Facebook and Whatsapp – How I wish I can just delete both of them.


  5. I am absolutely for old school doctors..somehow the straightforward simplicity is comforting..its the doctor who wraps everything in medical jargon that make me strangely suspicious! come to think of it.. the need for uncluttered simplicity is something I desire from most things in life these days!!

    last month when I had that horrible stomach viral.. he gave me antibiotics for 3 days but said I can make it alright with coconut water, curd rice and khichdi to get things in order! and honestly that’s the only thing that worked!


  6. R

    It’s probably just all the news this week, but this post made me cry. (yes, I am now stark, raving mad :D). It reminds me of all that is simple and uncomplicated in this world and I am pissed, so mad at what we are doing to it. From smartphones, to faster cars to pesticides-parading-as-vegetables to terrorists who cold- blooded-ly kill children. I know I make no sense, but I had to comment anyway.


    1. I dont tell you often enough but I value your comments because youre one of the only people who says things that make me feel like you really GET what Im posting about , when you unwrap the layers of all my random ramblings. You manage to always figure out what Im saying even when I dont spell it all out. I dont get enough of that, so I really value it.
      And yes by end of day I was tired from everything I was seeing online and it doesnt stop. That shutdown was needed. It took a simple docs appt to make me smile and feel like all is not lost, somehow. So I totally get the tears and even though you think you dont make sense, for all that youve said above, you make absolute sense.


  7. Some doctors have this innate ability to put their patients at complete rest while examining them. I have come to believe that such doctors are able to diagnose better cause the ease lets the patient give them more details.

    He seems to be such a nice doctor. My favorite one was one from when I used to go to high school. An old timer like the one you described, he would end up telling me to not bathe for 2-3 days and just wipe my body with a hot water towel. I would come back with a grin from his clinic.


    1. Probably true. But there is also something just inherently calming about old school everything. Part of the reason iv avoided finding a local doc is because I went to a couple of speialists when I first moved here and had some freak skin issues. They were uniformly horrid. Hasty and behaved like they were doing me a favour by treating me. So i didnt bother looking for a doc, thinking theyre all the same.


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