Hey Maz (whom my friends call me affectionately), got a minute?” A curly haired schoolmate called to ask about her mom. going down,” she explained how her mom had a small operation a few weeks ago for a deviated nasal septum, and explained why she was having pain in her stomach. Well. “It’s probably It’s just sciatica,” I said, while defying it in the midst of a few more.
A few days later, she called back saying that her mother’s leg pain was better, but the leg was slightly swollen. I immediately took off my friend’s cap and put on the doctor’s cap. “Why don’t you bring him to the hospital, we’ll see,” I advised, switching from dismissive to cautious. She was there within an hour, holding the hand of her mother, who was walking with a limp. I gently put him on the examination bed and put my hands on the backs of both his calves. The left one was clearly taut, while the right one was soft and flabby, as is usually the case for most septuagenarians. It was clearly the deep vein thrombosis that I had initially isolated. I got a Doppler to confirm the diagnosis and sent her to a doctor, who gave her the correct medication.
Before leaving the hospital, he thanked me with a big box of chocolates—which most people do when you don’t charge him—for being so caring with him, but as he left, I sat in my chair. fallen. “It could be fatal, Maz,” I said to myself. An untreated clot in the leg can easily travel to the lungs and cause sudden death. But thanks to some of the borrowed grace I’ve earned over the years from healing patients, she made a good recovery and came back a month later with another box of chocolates. “We are all greater than the sum of our sins” – remembered Janine Frost.
Is there any difference in treating a friend as opposed to a complete stranger? The more authoritative the answer is an emphatic “No!” Should be. Humans have some inherent biases. When giving advice to a loved one, I am either overly concerned or completely careless. I want to be like Buddha and take the middle ground, but for now, the pendulum depends on who that person is, how often they call you, the environment in which the issue is discussed, And whether their problems fall in the spectrum of your specialty.
There are some friends who call me with a number of minor health issues, to which my standard answer is “it’s nothing,” and they echo, “I know it’s nothing, but I Still wanted to check in with you. There are times when you don’t want them to spend on countless checks and want to offer them the fastest and least annoying solution. But sometimes, hardly Sometimes, trying to help someone, you might hurt yourself.
Then there are friends (or rather acquaintances) who bump into a wedding or funeral, want to catch me on their blues when they see me. It’s not unusual for me to check the neck for tenderness, check the back for cramps, or check someone’s eyes to check for dizziness in the midst of a social gathering. “Doesn’t this drive you crazy?” Someone asked that a friend’s uncle dragged me to the washroom at a party for showing testicular swelling. “Not at all; in fact, I enjoy it,” I replied. “Not part of the toilet,” I explained, “but the ability to make someone feel comfortable right away is a privilege.”
Of course, there is a certain sanity in seeing patients in a clinic or hospital where they get undivided time and attention, but we have to be flexible to make allowances. After all, wouldn’t I discuss my next vacation plan with a professional globetrotter friend or my friend with a broken washing machine who specialize in appliances?
During all the pandemic and the initial lockdown, I was flooded with calls from friends on how to “manage the virus”. It’s not my area of expertise at all, but then, anyway, nobody knew much about it, so why not help someone to the best of my ability? My driver probably could have given the same advice, but my friends would love to hear it from me. My mother sends all her old friends to me; He has problems that I know nothing about, but just talking to him about it takes half his pain and all my pain away.
“Doesn’t it bother you that so many people are calling you and asking for advice without any idea what you’re doing or where you are?” I was recently asked when there was a flood of calls over a dinner one evening. “If it were not for them, no one would have called me; At least that’s how we can have a conversation. Who’s calling someone these days?” I justified. And after the phone call, I usually shoot a bunch of WhatsApp messages that describe Amrit, because every phone call to a friend ends with them saying, “Just message the meds, nah!” Thankfully no one has died yet, even with autocorrect writing off the dangerous stuff on its own.
I have often been stopped by the traffic police for violations which I firmly believe I never did. But every time I tell a cop that I am a doctor, I prescribe medicine instead of paying a fine. They always talk about what’s hurting and are happy to have roadside repairs. The waiter, the NCPA, my regular chaiwala, fruit seller, and postman at the hospital restaurant are all friends now whom I recognize by what is bothering them, not what they are doing. At the end of the day, all we’re doing is running into each other’s houses.
To all my friends: Whether I am able to solve your problems or not, do I give you advice that helps a little or a lot, call me if you are in a health crisis, and we will do whatever Will think to fix it. In the words of Carole King, “You’ve got a friend in me”.
The author is practicing neurosurgeon at Wockhardt Hospitals and is an Honorary Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Grant Medical College and Sir JJ Group of Hospitals.