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 Whom I met instead is a highly irritable, aged and incapacitated surgeon with outdated knowledge and obsolete notions; one who vituperates his patients, shuts them up every now and then; one who lives in his past glory and considers himself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.

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