Physician, Heal Thyself…
A Doctor-Patient relationship is quite unique and unlike any other relationship. A Doctor can be a friend, philosopher or a guide. A Doctor could be a figure of authority or a Doctor could be a shoulder to lean. A Doctor could, at times be a set of eyes and ears for a patient and often, on matters non – medical! He could function as a sounding board or a neutral opinion giver..
It is a relationship based on trust and complete faith and to violate this, in my mind ought to be regarded as a heinous crime. The patient entrusts oneself, so utterly and completely into the hands of the physician and willingly lays his greatest asset-his health, into the hands of the healer.
When a patient or an individual seeks medical attention from a physician, it is on the basis of an implied consent. It is a delicate relationship and it is a wonderfully two way path and one learns from ones’ patients as much as they gain from you. One learns how to conduct oneself and at times how not to. One learns patience and fortitude and seeing your patients and their families cope, one is strengthened.
I have had the pleasure and the privilege of many of my patients becoming my friends and well – wishers and advisers on various issues. Especially patients who are under your care and follow up for a long time. I have elderly patients advising me to dye my hair; lose weight and get on to Yoga. I have patients telling me to change my taste in music and ask me to change the music playing in my OPD constantly – they ask me to switch on to something livelier than the Bach or Beethoven or Ghazals playing in the background! I have patients telling me to improve my handwriting and to stop using fountain pens and some who insist that I ought to use only fountain pens in the era of Ball point pens. I have had patients who have an opinion on the movies and plays I ought to watch. I have even had the privilege of being asked by a couple about my opinion on a prospective bride for their son – my neutral and wise counsel was sought! I was inducted into Golf thanks to the insistence of a Golf crazy patient of mine.
There are patients who can be very irritating and demanding and unreasonable at times. One requires all the patience and tact to remain calm and composed. There are patients who will ask the same question again and again and again in the midst of a very heavy OPD. They will paraphrase the question in a million different ways and it does become a little difficult to remain patient; perhaps that is why the patient is called a patient- he teaches you to become “patient”. One understands that they are worried and concerned but still ..
The Internet has armed the patient in many ways and it can be a dangerous tool with so much of unfiltered information floating. The internet can make the Doctor-Patient relationship interesting, irritating/infuriating or truly interactive !
Over the years, I realize that no two patients are alike in their attitude- with respect to information, disease, medication, advice or treatment. Interacting with patients and their attendants can be gratifying, rewarding, frustrating and challenging. It can make one go through the entire gamut of emotions. However, as long as one remembers, “Primum Non Nocere”- first, do no harm: you will probably do just fine !!