A few days back a close friend of mine received a gift. A large box wrapped in purple gift wrapping, ribbons and all, with a note saying “thank you doctor, from the Martins family” * (name changed to protect privacy)
A sweet gesture which a few patients still followed. A token of gratitude apart from the fees they paid and the medical bills. The medical profession has been subjected to major mud slinging in the past few years and small gestures of gratitude and appreciation mean a lot to us trying to do the best we possibly can.
But this gift was different.
“your patients must really like you.” I said, especially since I knew that many of his patients considered him family, and would get him fruits from their gardens, home made wines or cakes for Christmas, sweets on Diwali.
“the patient died. She had terminal cancer, there wasn’t much that I could do. I didn’t want to take the gift, but the family insisted…” he replied
The doctor patient relationship is a tenuous one. The giver and the taker.
It is true unlike many other professions this was one where the joy of ‘saving /curing’ was immeasurable in terms of money, and so was the gratitude on being “saved /cured” . thus leading to a ‘job satisfaction” which could not be encashed at the bank, and yet was coveted by so many from other professions.
In recent years Doctors have been relegated to ‘service care providers’.
Here is the money, now do what you were supposed to do.
Relatives beat up doctors, doctors turn away patients because they are unable to pay the fees, government trying to bring consumer protection laws and taxable services against doctors. Newspapers having a field day, one day reporting how doctors are being mistreated, beaten up, verbally assaulted by patients and relatives, then reporting on how the doctors on strike are doing a grave unjustice to the needy public.
Doctors disillusioned by the innumerous years of training, months of sleepless nights, years of underpay, harsh working conditions and being compared to their more “settled” classmates who opted for engineering, marketing, social media professions, or commerce courses now owning cars, houses and even retirement plans, have started to question the sanity of choosing a profession which only expects one to GIVE , until there is nothing left to give, with no expectations of any remuneration.
The environment is rife with strife.
And so when the relatives of an already dead patient, acknowledge that the doctor did all he could, are appreciative of the care and kindness their mother got in her last dying days, when even after losing someone they had such a magnanimous and large hearted attitude then it is a moment worth more than any words I can think of to explain the feeling.
When things go right , as they sometimes still do in the medical world, a lot of people take it in their stride, some are grateful still. So boxes of sweets are distrivbuted after a childs birth, or bouquet of flowers are sent to the doctor after a successful surgery. These incidents are few and far between these days, for the reason as mentioned above, doctors are just service providers, it is their job to treat, no more no less.
When things go wrong, as they sometimes do in the medical world, inspite and despite the doctors ‘best intentions’ things can become volatile. Many accept the ‘ways of God’ and the fact that there is just so much that the Doctor can do. Yet we have incidences of a man with a sickle cutting killing an obstetrician because his pregnant wife died during child birth. The fear of these incidences has made doctors turn away critical patients in the fear of backlash, they are reffered to government hospitals where the doctors and atleast the hospital is protected by the law of the government. Small nursing homes, with no guards, no security cameras, feel ‘threatened’ by the patient. What an irony that the needy is feared and care denied because of the ‘what if the patient dies, then the relatives will blame us.’ attitude.
This gift, THE gift, restored my faith in the doctor patient relationship, atleast for the time being.
I AM GOOD
I DO GOOD
I INTEND GOOD
If we live by these, then hopefully some day doctors will once again live without fear, will care without hindrance, and give of themselves and people will know that we did the best that we could.
As I looked at the purple box with ribbons, My heart filled with overflowing emotion.
Sure, we don’t earn as much as our engineering counterparts, sure our marketing friends own houses while many of us worry about rent, sure we don’t have pay hikes and pay packages, and company holidays and annual perks, sure we work 6 to 7 days a week, and some nights even, but when have you ever heard a ‘customer’ ever gifting an engineer a gift when the “software was not fixed or the coding not working.” Saying thank you but I know you tried.
Let us all strive to be that doctor a helping hand to all in need, but more importantly let us all strive to be that patient, let us lead a life of gratitude knowing the basic goodness of Humans.