Friday, December 23, 2005
To, at, with the doctor
The other day I had to collect my reports from the doctor and find out whether I had typhoid or not. I was pretty sure that I didn’t have typhoid because well, I didn’t want to.
So, Mom and I went to the doctor’s clinic where I was greeted with a toothless smile. An old man was sitting there in a blue and white sweater and a green monkey cap. He was the only one there and was probably happy to see somebody else, namely me, not my mother. She was scowling because my father had lost his tenth mobile this year.
Now, the doctor’s clinic is rather oddly shaped, like a kidney stone or something. It has irregular rooms jutting out and beds pressed against the walls. And because the walls aren’t straight, the beds aren’t straight either. And the people lying on the beds are crooked and the nurses attending to them do it slantingly. Head hurts after a while.
We sit down and a nurse materializes from some dark crevice behind us and breathes on Mom’s neck. Since my mother has never been the sort to be gently startled, she shouted loudly and had raised her purse in attack. I pulled it back just in time. The gentle, toothless man smiled again. At me – the safe, quiet, gentle one.
‘The doctor will be here in 5 minutes’, said the nurse whose duties I gather include waiting in the shadows, literally.
‘Okay’, I say. Let him take his time, I thought. What’s the hurry? Good health warrants no urgency.
Then another nurse appeared before us in a white …and words fail me now. It wasn’t one of those uniforms that nurses wear, although it was rather similar. It was like a karate outfit that decided to be a Roman toga and gave up its impossible aspirations mid-way to return to its roots. She looked very funny. But that was only the outfit. Her expression, on the other hand, was a whole different story. Jack the Ripper? Good cop.
‘Who is the patient?’, she asked.
She could dub for that butler in Adam’s family. I was a little disappointed though. I mean, I had been suffering the last few weeks and I didn’t even look like a patient. Anyway, I took heart in the hope that I didn’t look the part because I didn’t have typhoid.
I raised my hand.
She took me into a room and went away somewhere. I had just rounded my lips to whistle a cheery tune when she came back and thrust a thermometer in my mouth. I was horrified.
‘To check temperature,’ she said.
Of course. That excuses shoving a giant, cold toothpick in my mouth when I wasn’t expecting. Does she not realize what she has done? I’ll never be able to whistle ‘Jingle Bells’ with gay abandon again.
‘Wait’, she says.
‘Okay’, I say, looking at the sterile wall here and then looking at the sterile wall there.
‘WAIT,’ she bellows again, this time pointing to a scale.
‘Oh… weight!’, I smile at her.
‘That’s what I said’, she scowls.
She writes down my temperature and my weight on a chit of paper. And because she has interchanged the values for the two, I now weigh a 101.2.
(‘What have you been eating in Pune?’, Ma asks me later when I show her the chit.)
Miss Congeniality comes out and is shuffling through some reports. She finds mine and goes through it.
‘Umm,’ I ask hesitantly, ‘that’s mine, is it? What does it say?’
‘The results are positive.’
‘Yay!’, I’m ecstatic. The old man grins again toothlessly. ‘I don’t have typhoid! I can go out and I can…’
‘You do have typhoid’, snaps the Nurse. ‘The results are positive.’
Ohhhh! So, in this parallel universe of the doctor’s clinic, positive doesn’t mean good. It doesn’t mean health. It, in fact, means that some pestilential, obnoxious, miserable, marauding parasite is growing and thriving inside you. Hmm. A doctor’s clinic is almost like a cult then. They don’t follow the rules of the rest of the world.
The doctor then came in, grumpy as ever. I’m guessing no-one around here thinks laughter is normal, forget about being any sort of medicine.
I’m shown in and poked and prodded a tad too harshly. He’d press me on one side and ask if it hurt. I’d say no and then he’d do it harder, until I said ‘yes’. Then he’d stop.
Finally, he pot on his specs, which I thought would look funny if it had orange lights round the rim. I giggled a little bit and he looked at me sternly.
‘You have typhoid. You can’t go out. You can’t have ANYTHING outside’, he mutters.
Perhaps this diagnosis is really an approximation of what I should or should not be doing. Like I can’t go out in the daytime; night time ought to be good. And what if I’m indoors in a mall or a movie theatre or a pool? That should be okay too.
I think he read my mind because he leaned forward and told me, ‘You can’t go out.’
Then he wanted to see my temperature chart which my mom handed over with a flourish. He scanned through it, looking puzzled. ‘Not this.’
What my mom had handed over was a list of gifts we’ll be buying for my cousin’s wedding. The list began with the KBC number. I don’t know why and, well, I’ll never ask.
So, that was my visit to the doctor in 2005. And as fun as that was, I hope I never do it again.