Friday, March 21, 2014

Alternate Therapy





My worst nightmare is visiting a hospital. Even if it is about a minor sprain, the thought makes me sweat. Part of it is the tense waiting area. But a large part of it stems from the fact that I didn’t have to visit a doctor for a greater part of my life. Dad being a doctor, I seldom lingered around in the waiting area or dealt with prognosis based on monetary considerations. So now the exercise of waiting while a loved one is in the throes of physical discomfort, is distressing.

The waiting area can be a strange place where people avoid eye contact and cling to their own anguish. There are those who pace away in the corridor. There are those who look vacuously at the television monitor. And there are those who shuffle feet and indulge in inane chattering with whoever is accompanying them. Regardless, hospital visits are an inescapable nemesis. We can be perfectly healthy and suddenly a root canal comes to bite us. Or the mandatory sight checks.

How I wish modern science could ease the anxiety by simply making us wear a relaxing cap, the moment we step in the sterile sepulchral precincts. Now I know why my father was a popular practitioner even though he lacked FRCPXYZ, Edinburgh. It was the knack of making his patients smile in the gravest of situations. He would not shy away from holding hands, patting on the back or indulging in a casual chat to lighten up the mood.

It is a common phobia, this fear of the ‘white coat’ called ‘Iatrophobia’. Sometimes I wonder if macho men who participate in Khatron Ke Khiladi and brush lips with hissing cobras, or chew creepy tarantulas, feel the same way I do.

So I tried alternate therapies to lighten up when a minor irritant necessitated a trip to the doctor. “Please wait, the doctor is on the way,” said the nurse. The doctor was on his freakin way for more than an hour.

Meanwhile, I tried watching the comedy show running on the small television. Didn’t work. I tried listening to the soft music playing in the background. Why in the name of Honey-freakin-Singh didn’t I feel better? I strolled in the canteen and ordered a chocolate muffin. Couldn’t finish the damn thing. So I did what everyone else was doing. I fiddled with my phone. Perhaps Mark-freakin-Zukerberg would make me feel better. Nope. In that moment, I wanted to strangle the friend who tagged me in a funny picture.

Somehow, all the bonhomie of chatting with strangers, sharing pictures of what I ate in the morning disappeared. In that moment, I didn’t want to know who needed blood transfusion or who suffered from indigestion. Funny, because I connect with virtual strangers on social media all the time. So why wasn’t I able to talk to the lady sitting next to me? Ask her, how she twisted her ankle? Perhaps I should have asked her if she wanted coffee from the canteen?

Beneath all my socializing skills, lies a space where chat messages, jokes and vacation pictures become superficial. And in those reclusive moments, that space is for my immediate family.


‘All good. Nothing to worry says the doctor,’ I text message my husband and copy it to my son. ‘Follow up visit, next week.’

Phew!

No, not again. 

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37 comments:

  1. Ha! Alks! That was SO me :) Believe me, when I fractured my hand (of course, I did not KNOW it was a fracture) I just went to the chemist for a Brufen. It was he who insisted on my going to a doctor against all my pleas that a hand swollen to the size of a football was merely sprained :) THAT is how much I hate going to a doctor and, were it not for that chemist, I would probably be typing this left-handed :)

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    1. I can totally understand Suresh. I just hate it so much that I had to write about it. Knowing fully well that readers don't want to read about hospitals or doctors. Its distressing.
      :)

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  2. I think that there are moments in life when feeling anxious is the only thing you wish to do! If a loved one is not well, I wouldn't wish any magic wand to take away my anxiety because that anxiety is part of my love and caring! Best of luck.

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    1. True, cant wish away that anxiety.
      Thank you.

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  3. I am really not sure how to comment on this one. In one heartfelt post, you have incorporated everything from that painful wait at the doctors to social media. And not to mention Mr.Yo yo himself. Makes me think- why cant I chat to strangers in public. Probably our online persona is different to real life one. Very well written and profound :)

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    1. Funny Sid. because there I was sitting doing nothing for more than an hour. And yet, I was in no mood for casual chit chat. Perhaps the anxiety gets the better of me.

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  4. I knew there was a bond between us Alka! I submit proof:

    1. I hate going to the doc.
    2. I take 'alternate therapies' of homeopathy and accupuncture. Both of these come combined in a single person who actually comes home and 'does' me up. *bliss*
    3. I can't talk to stranger in the flesh. Online yes, offline no.
    4. I hate Mr Yo Yo.
    5. I am sure you hate me for #2. I'd have hated you too if you'd told me.

    Dagny

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    1. For me, eight out of ten times, allopathic treatment has cured one problem but created a new one.
      So yes, I try all the other options before visiting a doc.
      I love you for all 5. And everything else!
      :)

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  5. For some reason even if it is for a fever, my visits to the doctor's clinic or a hospital gives me a dry mouth and stomach ache!!!

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    1. Et tu? Hmmm....so I am not the only one.

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  6. I empathize with you, Alka, and I abhor the next time. Come on! It kills and I've been spared hospital visit for a long time but the very perfume of hospital makes me sick. Superb post:)

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    1. Lucky you. Touché! It's best to stay away from lawyers and doctors.

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  7. I guess I'm the opposite now.. not by choice but by necessity. I have literally lived INSIDE a hospital for more than 5-6 years and nearly 14 years now inside various hospital campuses. Never imagined myself having this life when I started but thats the way it goes... but yes, I've seen how traumatising it can be for the patients. Have seen so many faces light up with hope and also collapse with defeat over the years...

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    1. It's the uncertainty of what the blood sample holds, or what the ultrasound will reveal and damn that mammography....gives me the jitters. You know what I mean. And thank God for docs like yourself. More power to your stethoscope!

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  8. Alka,I have been going to the hospitals for more than 10 years now because of my Hypothyroidism and a few other tests related to the thyroid.I too have experienced what you have mentioned but on a few occasions I have managed to make friends with those sitting around me. Once I had a circle of people from various walks of life, of varying ages too, chatting away like old friends.Depends on my mood and the severity of the procedure I am in for, when I go in for FNAC, I don't talk to anyone, just pray, quietly. Enjoyed reading your lovely post.

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    1. You are right Sulekha, a lot depends on why you are visiting the place. But I feel the anxiety pangs even when I visit the dermatologist!
      And thank you dear for spending time here. Wish you health and happiness.

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  9. I hate going to the doctor's. I am very poor at making small talk :). I hate Yo yo whatever. Conclusion: You are I are so alike :).

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    1. Oh yes we are. Look forward to meeting you finally.

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  10. Chalo, at least all was well - I am glad.
    What makes us this way? Do we alwaysfear the worst when it comes to doctors and hospitals? Fear of the uunknown? The unfamiliar? Or just that when you are amid sick people, your brain starts playing tricks on your own inner peace?

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    1. Fear of the unknown. You said it. That is what it is.

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  11. Glad you are doing good :) Btw loved this line "Beneath all my socializing skills, lies a space where chat messages, jokes and vacation pictures become superficial. And in those reclusive moments, that space is for my immediate family."

    I guess on Social Media it is a different avatar that is seen, we don't always expose ourselves.. in physical presence that's not as easy now is it? add to it the anxiety and well.. it all becomes superficial as you put it. Btw about the hospital ordeal, been attending to a Grand Ma all of this week and have seen a fair share of those lab coats disappearing round the corner every 5 minutes.. it lowers your morale like anything, even if you are fit and just there as an attendant. Your fear was absolutely normal and justified.

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    1. Wish your granny good health. Seeta, I just don't like the thought of visiting a clinic even if it is visiting a friend or a relative. Or visiting a dermatologist or the ophthalmologist !

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  12. Thankfully, all is well. I am the one who despise going to doctors. I try and avoid it as much as possible. I just can't take it. My heart starts beating fast, my stomach starts rumbling, my eyes start burning. I just turn into a mess. I think Rickie is right when he says it is the fear of the unknown, perhaps.

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    1. So you know what I am trying to say here. Yes, Rickie is right, it is the fear of the unknown.

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  13. I am petrified of visiting the hospital and one of the reasons is, it's a fertile ground for virus and bacteria and we end up there when our immune system is the weakest.

    Like you said, in our moments of despair we seek the comfort of our nearest and not our many online acquaintances.

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    1. Hospitals are not a nice place but I have this phobia. The pulse begins to race even if I am accompanying someone.

      Delete
  14. I am sure it must be harder on you now, somewhat like taking away of the carpet from under your feet, with your father leaving for his heavenly abode. You have accurately captured the predicament of the lesser mortals, aka the clients, in the waiting area. Yes, I hate hospitals too.

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    1. Most people do. No wonder they say, one should stay away from doctors and lawyers.

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  15. With you in this fear of hospitals....also a good reality check with the sickness existing in this world.

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  16. I hope I'll be able to save you the trouble of cussing at every-freaking-person in the vicinity, virtual or otherwise by offering a very humble gift for your next visit:

    here Youtube Link.

    But please, do not watch it until you are feeling utterly miserable, it is like a 'Bhramastra', can be used just once. Above all, DO NOT TRY IT AT THE HOSPITAL.

    On a different note, it is good that in your reluctance to go to the doctor you don't wait for the problem to just get bored and get over you when you starve it from the attention it deserves. I for one, sometimes turn to the internet and then lurch between the easiest minor ailment and the most severe case related with the symptoms, by being my own, internet learned doctor.

    Stay well :)

    Blasphemous Aesthete

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    1. The link is a laugh riot created by Mr Bean. I am going to embed the link in the post. Thank you for sharing and making me laugh.
      And I visit Dr Google too. More often than not, he scares me and makes me imagine the worst. This time when I visited a dermatologist and asked her the reason behind my itchy skin, she said, " why don't you read more about it on the net?"

      Delete
    2. Forgive my stereotype here, but maybe you should visit a 'He' dermatologist of good repute.

      Delete
  17. I dont think there is anyone who likes togo to the hospital,except,the medicine salesman.
    Even for periodical blood test,I have to plan excuses with the family for not going to hospital

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  18. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have escaped this phobia. My grandfather was a doctor and I was used to seeing patients and their blood. But yeah, the only thing I hate about hospitals is the scent. It sucks!

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