बुधवार, 28 मई 2008

An open Letter to my physician !

25th July, 2007
Prof. (Dr.) Prem K. Kakar,
New Delhi

Dear Mr. Kakar,

This letter is not intended to amuse you. On the contrary, if it can lead you to some introspection, my purpose would be amply served.

When on someone's recommendation I decided to meet you and reached your clinic on 23rd July as scheduled, I had hoped to meet a great doctor who would use his long years of medical training, vast experience and clinical acumen to diagnose my problem and would do his level best to find a solution to it. Whom I met instead is a highly irritable, aged and incapacitated surgeon with outdated knowledge and obsolete notions; one who vituperates his patients, shuts them up every now and then; one who lives in his past glory and considers himself belonging to some superior race and therefore treats his patients with same high handedness as he would do with some erring students.

My exact problem - which you had refused to hear by shutting me up - is this: I experience occasional attacks causing temporary distortion in my hearing. The first sign of impending trouble always is stuffiness in my ears (as if air is filled in my ears) with increasing difficulty in deciphering what is being said. Sounds reach my ear quite muffled - losing their sharpness and clarity. It seems that certain frequencies are lost while others are changed. Coupled with it, is hypersensitivity towards certain sounds (a door being shut, pressure horns etc., a person talking very near to me) which seem to attack my ear drum, annoy me very much and even make me lose my equilibrium and afraid of falling. When I am having such spells, walking in semi-darkness steadily becomes difficult as if I am intoxicated. When I try to listen to music, I get a feeling that the speakers of the sound system are damaged.

Invariably, these attacks follow some irregularity in my intakes. It so appears that I have a sluggish digestive system that cannot cope with certain items if taken in abundance. When 'harassed' beyond a certain point, it triggers these attacks affecting my auditory system.

Finding my hearing adversely affected, when I reduce and simplify my diet, slowly and steadily, the situation is back to 'normal' with all these distortions in my hearing gone ! Now I can again understand what people are saying to me. I can enjoy listening to music again. However, I do not return to complete normalcy. With each attack, some irreparable damage is caused to my ears and it takes away a small fraction of my hearing capacity.

The recurrance of these attacks in all these years has cost me a loss of 60% hearing in my left ear and 30% in the right ear. Even now, I can live a 'normal' life in my present condition if the situation does not worsen further.

When I had decided to consult you, I had not expected you to bring my lost hearing back. (I am knowledgeable enough to know that at its present level, modern medicine has no clue of it. I have gone through relevant portions of ENT text books which today's medical undergraduates / graduates are studying. I have talked to various medico friends of mine including my local ENT specialist friends and all of them have expressed their helplessness in reversing the damage already caused to the ears.) What I had certainly hoped that with your level of expertise and experience, you would know how to break the pattern which I am frequently experiencing in the form of these spells.

And what did you actually did? You started shouting at me when I tried to tell you what my problem is. You refused to listen to me and thus rendered yourself completely incapable of helping me out of my problem. [May be you mistakenly believe that what I wanted to tell you was irrelevant, insignificant and not deserving any attention/careful study/detailed analysis on your part as my physician. You accepted that you did not know what causes this problem. You also accepted that there is no known cure but still, you did not want to derive any benefit from my experiences with my disease, my own observations, self-analysis and study] You sent me to Bhutani for the tests - especially directing me to the Black Building (Do you get a percentage from him?) When I brought the tests to you next day, you again started abusing me for getting late and making you wait even though I had reached your clinic well within your displayed consultation hours.

Dear Mr. Kakar, if you are not a good human being, you can never be a good doctor. A good doctor is a very compassionate, caring and loving person who has genuine concern for the people who approach him with their debilitating health problems. You are none of these. Even when you translated the graphical images of the test findings to me in an intelligible language, you sounded like a Supreme Court judge awarding death sentence to a culprit and not at all a doctor.

My son is an student of MBBS and I have related to him my shocking experience with you. My only advice to him has been : if you ever became like Dr. Kakar, you won't do any proud to me or to anyone else in our family. In fact, it would be better if you stayed away from this noble profession. Charging hefty professional fee won't make you a successful doctor. Mentioning some fellowships alongwith your professional degree won't make you more knowledgeable and more capable to serve. Mentioning your past connections with Rashtrapati Bhawan (President's house) on your prescription will only tell the public how hollow you are from within. Being recipient of awards like Padmashree would merely prove that you have right connections with right people and that you are adept at maneuvering people in high places. If you shout at your patients, it would only reveal how much fearful and threatened you are -- in the face of your own lack of knowledge and competence.

I am genuinely sorry for my harsh words. I have never been this much harsh with people of your age but you have invited this from me. I can't live peacefully unless I let you know how I feel about you. If you are indeed a medical professional by heart, you would ignore the unhappy tone of your patient [which could very well be the result of hyperacidity from the drug prescribed by you] and would concentrate only on such things in my letter that would benefit me and others as your patients. After all, you have charged your hefty professional fee from me. I have a right to be heard. If you won't hear me in person, you will hear me in print. Adieu.


Sushant Singhal

P.S. As far as my case history is concerned which, again you didn't care to listen here are the highlights : Ctrus fruits, banana, chocolate, cheese are forbidden to me owing to migraine (left-sided headache) since 1985. I was given Inderal 10 mg. and also Actifed. Inderal was continued for quite some time. I am afraid that my migraine took a new and more severe form. I started feeling palpitation in my heart. I also felt ringing in my ears, sudden vertigo and violent vomitting. After an audiometry test, the problem was diagnosed as Menieare's syndrome. Cinzan and Vertin etc. were tried with no relief. It was a homoeopathic medicine taken after a few years which relieved me of this Meniere's syndrome but by that time, I had already lost substantial part of my hearing through my left ear.

मंगलवार, 27 मई 2008

Holy makeup !
Golden beauty
Lake View from Maharana Pratap's memorial.
Reaching out !
Weight of old age.

Street children
Dance group of Rajasthan
Children in a village hut at Saharanpur

Patterned face of a milkman's son.

Lake Palace, Udaipur in early morning.
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A view of City Palace, Udaipur from
Open air Amet Haveli Restaurant

शनिवार, 24 मई 2008

If End is Well, All is Well !

Yesterday night, I was wandering in a high flying area of Central Delhi trying to locate a shop. Though I am quite tall, the high-rise buildings made me look life a dwarf. It was a residential area where I was moving around.

At one place, I found water coming down from a building. Perhaps an overhead tank at the rooftop was overflowing. I stopped and waited for someone to stop this flow of water. But soon, I knew I had to do it myself. It is my habit to close every road side water tap which is flowing unnecessarily. I do it even if it means getting out of my scooter or car. I know some people consider me a quirk.

I am equally disturbed when I find street lights switched on all day. I take it as my duty to switch off each of them. I am not ashamed to admit that I am laughed at by some of my neighbours for that. I have decided to offer myself as an example which they may emulate. When some people laugh at me surreptitiously I pray to God to forgive them because they don't know what they are doing!

Well, when the water didn't stop, I got off my scooter, went to the elevator in the building, entered it and pushed button for the top floor. While the lift was perhaps halfway on its journey to the top floor, it stopped and there was complete darkness! My mayday calls didn't seem to bring any help. As the law of relativity states, those ten minutes appeared to me like ten hours! When power was thankfully restored and the lift moved again, I stepped out of it on the very next halt. In that frenzy, I had suddenly forgotten where I was and why ? May be those ten minutes of asphyxiation did some irreparable damage to some of my grey cells. Walking completely disoriented like a madman, I took another lift from that floor so that I could come down and when it finally stopped, I found myself on a railway platform! Perhaps a metro station!

I was still asking myself what I was doing there. Two trains came and left at short intervals. Many people boarded the trains and many disembarked. I decided to leave the place and then, someone in the uniform asked for my ticket, I was aghast and under frenzy for I had no ticket. I told him that I had not disembarked from any train. The rest of the conversation went on like this :

"What brings you here ?"

"Really, I don't know."

"What do you mean by I don't know?"

"In fact, I had come here to switch off the water lifting pump!" (In that emergency, my memory was coming back!)

"What are you talking about? Which pump ? Why would you switch off the pump here ?"

"No, I mean, the water was everywhere on the road so I decided...."

"Which road ?"

"Sorry, I don't know."

By this time, the uniformed man was looking at me curiously, perhaps trying to decide whom to call -- police or a psychiatrist or both.

"Sir, I had come here by scooter. Here are the keys."

Looking at the key ring, I suddenly remembered that these were not my keys. I had borrowed scooter from a friend. The person in uniform took the keys from me but kept looking at me with suspicion.

"Where is the scooter?"

"I don't know. I can't tell the exact place where I had left it.

"Tell me the registration number." He commanded.

"I don't know !" How could I remember registration number of my friend's scooter!

The fierce look on his face was terrifying.

Sir, please believe me. I have got my PAN card also. Here it is." He took the card from me. But he continued to stare me with stern eyes !

"Sir, I happen to have my Passport also. You can see it."

He took the passport, gave a careless glance over it. Again the stare !

"Why don't you believe me, Sir ?"

"Give me one reason why I should. "

"Sir, I had come here merely to switch off the water pump."

"Don't try to fool me. Why won't you know where you had parked the scooter?"

"Believe me, Sir", "I had parked it on a road to enter a multi-storeyed building to get an elevator to reach to the top floor to switch off the water pump !"

He was about to blast with anger now.

"What was the name of the building ?"

"I don't know !"

"Let me call the police. I shouldn't waste my time any more."

"No ! Please don't do it to me. I am a respectable person. I don't need any police."

"Okay, okay ! How come you don't know your scooter's number?

"The scooter is not mine. A friend had lent it to me." Suddenly, my face brightened with hope. "Let me talk to my friend." I took the mobile from the pocket but its battery had run down.

"The battery is finished. I can't call him."

"I knew it already ! Okay, you can call from public phone. What is his number?"

"I don't know. It is in the phone book. But the battery is down." I was close to tears now.

"May I see your mobile ?" I handed over the mobile to him looking at him helplessly.

"Okay, wait for me here. Don't try to escape. I will be here in a minute." And he was gone.

I waited for a few minutes but couldn't see him again. I started wondering if he was really an officer or just a crook ! Suddenly, I realized that I had given to him my keys, PAN Card, passport and even the mobile ! I didn't know where the scooter was, I was not sure if I could even identify my friend's scooter. I didn't know which building I had entered, which lift I had taken, how I had suddenly come to the railway platform. I had never been in such a panic in all my life before.

Suddenly, a female voice called "Someone has come to meet you."

The voice seemed familiar. With revived hope, I turned and with a loud thump, I fell on the floor. It was my bedroom and my wife was looking at me incradulously.

"What is the matter? How you fell down from the bed?

Still half awake, I pressed my head where it was aching. I said worriedly, "He has taken everything - my PAN card, my passport, keys of the scooter, my mobile !"

"Who has taken everything? Were you dreaming of something?

"May be you are right." Even though there was some swelling on the back of my head, I was happy that all my belongings were with me only. Moreover, I didn't need to find my way back home.

सोमवार, 19 मई 2008

Hi to all !

Thank you for being here. I don't know whether you are one of my friends or a total stranger. In either case, I consider it my duty to offer good value of your time spent here. The only way to pay you back is to offer you something worthwhile to read - something that will entertain you, stimulate you and may be, even disturb you. Since your views are very important to me, the opportunity to share my views with lots of people will go a long way in improving my own thinking.