Friday, April 18, 2014

Experiencing Professional Egos of Two Medicos and the Story of Losing A Friendship Too!

This is a real life story and a real experience of my life that happened some quarter-a-century ago. When this happened I was an young professional executive working in a large company in central India. My family comprising of my wife and my two young children lived in a newly constructed residential area of the company for which I worked. Nearly three hundred families similar to mine lived in the place and we were all professionals holding similar ranks in the same company.

Those living in the place were all colleagues because we all worked for the same organization and mostly knew each other by face but obviously all could not have been considered as friends. Yet there were small groups in the community who could be termed as friends or higher level acquaintances. I too had a small group of that type and we knew each other more and had more unofficial friendly interactions. We used to visit each other in the evenings, had tea or coffee together while the men and women talked on various topics of common interests.

My family friendship group comprised mostly those belonging to my home state, Kerala. Because we were more acceptable to each other in our in cultures and mother tongues. In this group we got the opportunity to talk in our first language-Malayalam. And we felt some mind relief in talking in the first language during our family get-together meetings in the evenings after our day long official interactions in our second language, English and in our third language, Hindi.

Our company owned and operated many hospitals for the benefit of its thousands of employees and their families. The biggest one was a 1000-bedded high rise hospital with many modern facilities and this hospital was very near to the place I lived at that time. Our company employed hundreds of specialist medicos and medical staff under its medical department. 

While many people are too much enthusiastic about medical facilities and also are overjoyed when such facilities are free, my personal outlook to this was always different. While I realized medical facilities necessary, I have been always repulsive against the concept of medical profession becoming too much specialized and mechanical and moving away from its divine and holistic approach. The super specialty system of modern medicine have been turning and training medical doctors with least concern or empathy towards humanity or human feelings! 

Due to this, I was reluctant to go to the in-house medical department of my company for any type of medical aid to me or my family. We were fortunate that no major health problems occurred to us in those days that we were forced to seek the free medical services offered by our company's health department. I relied on a few private medical practitioners for all our small medical needs and was not much bothered to spend the money from my pocket rather than getting the same free from our own company facilities. The reason for this attitude was also due to the arrogance of many of the doctors and hospital staff who considered it as a great favor that they were giving out to the patients as if the free medical aid to the company employees was from their own pockets. During that time, corruption also became rampant as many company doctors resorting to preferential treatments to those who greased their palms secretly. Many employees also felt it better to resort to such practices to gain what they thought as higher value medical help by pleasing some of the specialist medicos in the unethical manner. So, the situation was that the medical department of the company had truly transformed as much bureaucratic and an employee was likely to get some real medical help only when he or she either personally knew some doctor or made up such an equation by unfair means.

I had only heard about the situation that had been prevailing in the medical department and I felt it better not to experiment it my self for good. I had a couple of doctors with whom I had better personal relations than mere strangers, but I preferred not to use such relations for getting some preferential aid from our hospitals.

There was an young Malayalam speaking lady doctor in our family friend group. She worked as a junior child specialist in our big hospital. Her husband was my college-mate and colleague. We regularly visited each other for our evening get together and were family friends.

My son was about three or four years old at that time. One day when I returned from office in the evening, I found my wife gloomy and disturbed. When I inquired, she presented our son before me who, I noticed as having a cut and bruised lower lip with blood clotting clearly visible. The boy while playing hit with some thing and got his lower lip wounded in the process! I examined it and with my own past experiences during my childhood days, felt this as not any thing to be worried much. The wound would heal up in a couple of days with some home remedies. That was my reaction.

But I was not going to have an easy evening. Ladies from the friendly neighborhood of well wishers began to pour in after hearing about the playtime accident of my son. They all had their own examinations of the boy and were too liberal in giving advises to my worried wife. Many of them had expressed their anxieties and accusations secretly to my wife adding the tensions of my already tensed wife. Some of them even pitied with her for having such an insensitive husband like me who was sitting coolly inside as if nothing had happened!

Last came our lady doctor friend. She examined the boy in a professional manner and declared her professional advice to me. The cut was not to be left like that. It needed immediate medical attention and she compelled me to take my son immediately to the casualty section of our big hospital without losing further time.

Now I had no choice. I searched for our medical cards which we seldom used and was fortunate to locate them. I took my son to the casualty by around 8 p.m. A group of casualty doctors examined the boy and opined that the cut need to be stitched and directed me to proceed to the first aid room with their medical advice written on the medical books. An old medical attender glanced the boy and the doctor's scribbling on the book and asked me to guide my son to lie on the examination table. 

To my horror I watched the attender proceeding to do the lip stitching on my son. Never in my life I imagined that this work was done by a medical attender! I thought it was done by a qualified medical doctor. I asked him about it. He told that for years he had been doing it in this hospital and he was perhaps more experienced than the doctors who were attending the casualty cabin outside!

We had no choice. In a couple of minutes he completed his stitching work on my son's lip, creating a bulging ballooned flesh bound by some black threads at the base. He directed us to present before the doctors and proceed home with some medicines that the casualty pharmacy would give. The young casualty doctors examined the work of their attender and approved it. They required us to return back after a week for further actions.

Seeing the condition of my son's stitched up lip, I had a feeling that some thing went wrong. But I was helpless.

Next day evening, our family friend lady doctor visited our home and examined my son. She minced no words. Her hospital attender had done a horrendous work indeed and needed to be immediately corrected by some expert surgeon before it became too complicated. She was feeling the responsibility to help us being a specialist of the same hospital. She knew that we needed her personal recommendations in our big hospital for things to move properly and quickly.

She accompanied us to the hospital and with her influence she took us directly to the senior most surgeon of the hospital. As a case referred by a junior lady specialist, the senior doctor was too professional in examining her family friend's son. He admitted that the case had indeed become complicated which needed to be corrected by a surgery to be performed under general anesthesia. And for that the boy should be admitted in the hospital a day before and all the medical tests are to be completed before the actual surgery took place. He advised the lady doctor to use her influence in the various labs to complete all the tests and get the results well in advance before my son was admitted for the surgery. While he was explaining all these things to his junior colleague, what I noticed specially about this senior specialist surgeon of this big hospital was the obvious display of his professional ego. He was making it too obvious for me through his gestures and talks! He was apparently least concerned about me or my son! This surgeon in his late fifties appeared to be more concerned in showing his surgical knowledge and professional superiority to his junior lady doctor who worked in another department in the same hospital.

And the process of medical tests began at a speed much faster than normal as the personal acquaintances and interventions of the lady doctor in the hospital helped. Completing all the initial introductions she left us in the hospital to get the test results even at odd time later in the evening as a special case so that my son could be admitted the next day for the intended surgery immediately thereafter.

While waiting for the lab tests in the late evening with my young son, I was feeling much uncomfortable. My common sense kept reminding me that all that were happening were indeed unwanted and unnecessary. The doctors of this big hospital had become too egoistic with their professional pride that they had lost what we call as wisdom! I decided to act according to my inner urge!

I started my vehicle and proceeded to a private clinic with my son. This was the nursing home where I used to go occasionally. The doctor who owned the clinic lived in his home attached to the clinic. I reached the place and the doctor came quickly from his home. I told him what had happened and what was in store ahead from our 1000 bedded super specialty hospital. He told nothing, but took my son to the adjacent cabin and returned back, perhaps within five minutes. 

To my utter surprise and happiness, my son looked normal. The horrible lip bulge was gone for ever. There was not even a wound. The doctor had carefully incised and removed the awkward looking bulge of flesh, created by the big hospital attender, from his lower lip, skillfully!

We were much relieved and proceeded home happily and peacefully. There was no need for my son to be admitted in our free service big hospital next day for a day long surgical procedure under general anesthesia as opined by the renowned surgeon!

Next day with a peaceful and tension free mind I went to office. There I called my friend and the husband of the lady doctor and told him that we are out of the problem now and there was no need for my son to be admitted in our big hospital for the surgery. He seemed to have understood our relief!

Though my son's hurt was healed, it was not the case with the doctors of our free service hospital. Later I learnt that their professional pride got hurt with my decision.

Our family friend lady doctor got her professional ego hurt because I proceeded as if to deny her out of way professional help. The professional ego of her senior medical colleague was also hurt because the case was so easily settled by a private doctor of a small time nursing home outside who had no professional standing matching his professional standing as a renowned surgeon. His medical judgement was proved silly by this family friend patient of his junior doctor!

They were least concerned about the comfort the patient and his family got! Professional pride for them was of more importance than all the medical ethics that they were supposed to have adhered to as medical practitioners! 

The hurt ego for the lady doctor family friend stood so high that she cut all our good relations without any further explanations. Her poor engineer husband felt helpless and he candidly admitted that to me when we met outside later.

We never met later in our life as she maintained the uncalled for grudge against me all through out later.  

I had written about this incident now only to explain to the readers about some facets of the complex nature of human beings. The human state of self pride and importance that we call as ego is such a damaging thing. Getting rid of such ego is something that humans have to learn and practice if they wish to live a life as a son or daughter of God!

I know that it is very difficult for many. I also know by experience that many people would not even like to become such sons or daughters of God! If abilities cannot give superiority over others what is the use of having abilities, they ask.

Their egos would not allow them to be humble and humane! Being humane is considered as a weakness in this world.

What a pity!

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