Sunday, October 10, 2010

My School Friends and Talk of Healthcare Costs

Met yesterday with my school friends of forty-five years ago. We meet once in two months, sometimes three. The mood is electric with a lot of laughs about how gauche we were, how unprepared for the present realities. How naïve. It is nice to meet the bearded, bald, friends with whom I played and shared dreams in those days of innocence and inexperience. Discussed how the medical profession was as corrupt as any other professions in India. Unfortunately, these days you can't trust your life to a doctor. You don't know what's hiding behind the smooth and suave exterior. Such naivete, as we had never experienced before, long ago in our halcyon childhood.

I remember Dr. Rajaram whom I used to visit when I was sick in childhood. His regular prescription was a pink liquid and a few white tablets to be taken morning and night after meals. The pink liquid – I discovered later – was magnesium sulphate (MgSo4) which made motions smooth, and the white pill was salicylic acid, a sort of pain-killer. I used to get well.

Nowadays, if I go to a doctor he would suggest a hundred tests. Have we become more sick or has the medical profession become too complicated? I have a sneaky feeling they are experimenting with us, our lives and asking us to pay for it. I don't know. We end up neural wrecks who become paranoid with what we eat and what we don't. We become obsessed with our weight, we don't believe anymore in the simple life. How have we become so complicated? How have our lives become so intertwined by that of chemicals and pharmaceuticals? If we get a headache we go for an analgesic instead of unwinding a little, or, better still, reading something relaxing. Yes, I found reading relaxing in the middle of a very hectic day.

Gone are the days when doctors themselves recommended Yoga and breathing exercises. Nowadays they would rather have you eating twenty tablets a day rather than take a walk every day. Once you are in their hold, once you become a habitual customer, they bleed you with all sorts of tests and regimens. There are rumours of doctors being given fancy junkets by pharmaceutical multinationals to prescribe medicines.

My walking companion is in hospital for an operation. His is a case of hernia. Though it was supposed to be a cashless hospital, he had to pay sixty thousand rupees. And the hospital? It doesn't at all look and smell like a hospital. I usually associate hospitals with the smell of disinfectants and formaldehyde. No formaldehyde here, instead it smelled like a five-star hotel. Indeed, there were babes around in stilettos (imagine!), straightened hair, and fancy jeans with embroidery. Wow, I thought I wouldn't mind being admitted. Joking!

Well, all that was a big digression. Suffice it to say that we friends from school – based out of the suburb of Chembur – had a lovely time reminiscing about old times.

1 comment:

Anoop Padmanabhan said...

Dr. Rajaram was our family doctor and I still remember the painting he had on his wall of his clinic. I assume that it was painted by him, I never asked him that though I wanted to. It was a simple paining but stretched about a metre long and it had a bus with some children in that vehicle looking very happy. His clinic was inside the gulli of Society General stores. One visit to Dr. Rajaram was enough to get rid of any sickness. Sometimes he used to just look at our face and guess what was ailing us. We really miss him a lot. I wish we still had him in Chembur.