By Farouk Gulsara
A rule is often made for others.
A morning in the doctor’s clinic, a retired teacher was apprehensive about the nagging pain she had over her left nipple. Her beloved sister had succumbed to dreaded breast cancer. Naturally, she was concerned.
She came with a stack of her medical reports, old ultrasound pictures and mammography prints.
“You know Doctor, I have brought all these films for you to see,” she said. “Well, my late sister died at the age of 35 due to breast cancer.”
Her conjunctiva, showing strains of not sleeping well the night before, was flushed. There was a weakness in her voice. She hoped that it would just turn out to be a red herring, something superficial without much fanfare. After all, she had just undergone a major gastrointestinal surgery four months ago. Indeed, God couldnot be so unkind. She had done her duty as a human, paid her dues to humanity.
“I cannot be so despicable to get a double whammy,” she thought, gazing at the doctor who was scrutinising intently into her medical records. “I have been a good person.”
“I see you have kept all your records nicely, pictures from 1996 all the way to 2006,” the doctor blurted out, looking directly at her eyes. He turned back to his perusal of the documents.
The teacher opened her mouth to say, “I don’t know why, Doctor, my hospital stopped giving my ultrasound pictures for the past few years.”
“I wonder why?”
Still deep in thoughts, halfway looking at her and the other at the notes, he verbalised. “They are scared. With the increasing complaints against hospitals and the litigious nature of the society, they may find it better not to give out reports freely.”
A long pause.
“There are many people out there just to find fault with others… to kick dirt. They create problems only to exert power because they can. And there are many pseudo-intellectuals to douse the fire with kerosene,” the doctor added, sounding frustrated as if he was one of such victims.
The patient was quick to rebut: “No, I am not that of person. I was a teacher, I know.” She appeared slightly irritated that the good doctor was wasting time talking rather than diagnosing her! “I hold the medical profession close to my heart with the utmost respect. I don’t find fault.”
“Why is the doctor smiling?” the teacher wondered. “This cynical doctor better not keep me in further suspense. I don’t think my heart can take all these uncertainties.”
Time almost stood still.
In what appeared like aeons later, the healer vocalised. She could not believe what she was hearing. It could not be accurate. After all, she had been keeping these documents so carefully.
“Ms Nayagam, do you know that the last film that you have been safeguarding for the — the past 15 years actually belongs to a 30-year-old Malay lady, not yours!”
“You see here,” he pointed to the printed corner of the ultrasound picture. “Anyway, the rest of the images and your clinical examination are normal.”
Ms Nayagam felt overwhelmed with an avalanche of relief. Suddenly she felt empty. That is how she had been all her life, anyway. Constantly worrying about something or someone, so much so that her children must have decided to stay away.
“No, this cannot go on!” she thought.
“Doctor, can I have the films? I have to go back to the breast clinic to kick up some dirt.” She suddenly found new strength. “I have to complain about this foul-up to the highest of authorities. Some heads need to roll!”
The smiling doctor broke into a wide grin revealing his coffee-stained teeth.
“Well, well, well! Now you know why people are becoming defensive these days.” the doctor went into lecture mode again. “One small error and the whole twenty years of good work done on you gone down the drain. Nice!”
“What is that, Ms Nayagam?” the doctor chided as he gazed directly at his first patient of the day’s eyes. He could see clearly her cholesterol deposits of arcus senilis on her sclera.
He thought to himself, “What is there in your mouth, Ms Nayagam? A hot potato?” as he scrutinised her slightly agape lower jaw and her face pale with embarrassment.
Farouk Gulsara is a daytime healer and a writer by night. After developing his left side of his brain almost half his lifetime, this johnny-come-lately decided to stimulate the non-dominant part of his remaining half. An author of two non-fiction books, ‘Inside the twisted mind of Rifle Range Boy’ and ‘Real Lessons from Reel Life’, he writes regularly in his blog ‘Rifle Range Boy’.
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