In my life I have had the pleasure of meeting many quacks. It would be fine if they were just quacks, but they also had to go and be insensitive pricks.
After I had been diagnosed and was getting treated for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) about three years back, the stress of dealing with chronic, debilitating pain made me suffer from depression. My mood swings were quite awful and I went to a doctor who has a clinic in Banaswadi and heads the Department of Endocrinology in a well-known hospital in Bangalore. He came highly recommended by my mom’s friend. He took one look at my RA reports, rubbished it, said, “You have no Rheumatoid Arthritis. Your problem is just that you are too lazy.” I paid him INR 500 for this consultation. His parting shot, “Come back to me when you are less lazy. Actually, you won’t have to because all your problems will be cured,” followed by a snicker.
Recently, I have been suffering from awful pain in the neck which turns out to be Spondylitis. The pain has been quite unbearable more so because it radiates to my arms, fingers and makes it feel like an RA flare-up ensuring that I cannot do normal stuff like pick up a bottle of water or open doors again. So my doctor prescribed a fairly strong NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) to combat the pain. I used the medication very judiciously. However, on my recent trip to the NCR, I ended up throwing up blood on the flight which led to a nice and happy panic attack. Sitting in my claustrophobic hotel room and bawling, I was convinced the end was near. I apologised to the Consort for my horrendous behaviour towards him on my birthday, because your closest relationships are the ones you always take for granted; spoke to my biological mom; and Manasee who is mom 3 in my life, about death, pain, and general destruction. I even alarmed my colleagues. After everyone calmed me down and put some sense into me, and the panic attack became less intense, I began to see things clearly and booked a flight back home the same day. I resolved to be a better person as I travelled back to Bangalore.
My calm-as-a-river-in-winter family physician, told me that the painkillers had caused some minor internal bleeding and if I watched my diet and avoided spice, gave up my pills, I ought to be fine in no time. The neck, however, was another matter. Since painkillers were ruled out, I had to try alternative therapy, something I am usually loathe to try. Because.
Preethi, my best friend from college, gave me the number of an acupressure plus spine specialist. His clinic was all the way in Jayanagar, but sick people will travel anywhere in the hope of respite. The ride in the auto from Whitefield to Jayanagar in peak hour Bangalore traffic made me feel that being guillotined would probably be easier. So when I met him, I had tears in my eyes because of the pain. He was magical. He touched some points in my neck, on my shoulders, made me walk a bit and I felt as if I could finally see the world clearly. He also told me about my characteristics and general attitude. He said I like to keep busy; I take all my responsibilities very seriously; I love my parents excessively and not just parents but all the people in my life. I am always there for everyone. At work, I am very efficient. But I always have ‘my way’ of doing things. I always think I am right. However, I am extraordinarily open-minded so I always attract a lot of people. But I am terribly result-oriented and stress a lot when things are not heading in the way of the result. It was like meeting a doctor + astrologer all in one. He added that just overwork and some recent trauma had made my neck so bad. It was nothing to worry about. He also assured me that I would sleep like a baby after his magical treatment. I happily paid him his fee of INR 500, agreed to meet him the next day. The ride back home in an auto while miserable was nowhere close to the agony I had suffered on the way to the clinic. I immediately thanked Preethi and we were both very excited that we had found us a miracle-worker. But by night, it was worse again and I could barely sleep.
Day 2 was the day of the bandh in Bangalore, yes, these things happen.
So I met him on the third day. By then I was in godawful pain, the sort where I couldn’t sleep on the bed; or if I managed to sleep, I couldn’t turn; if I turned, I could not get up without thinking of all the sins I might have committed including finding lizards revolting.
For two days and two nights, I suffered in abject misery and pain without any sleep, any book, hardly any respite.
So this time when I met him, I told him that it didn’t feel like overwork or trauma.
He said: But I am sure you slept very well both these nights.
Well, no actually, I was awake nearly all the night because I was in so much pain.
No, I am sure you slept. You are just saying that. Tell me the truth now, did you or did you not sleep well?
I did not sleep well. In fact, the pain is quite awful. I don’t know, is it Spondylititis?
Yes, it is Spondylitis, but early stages. But that’s not your problem. Your problem is not your health or neck.
Oh, then what is my problem?
You cannot say ‘no’.
No. Of course I say ‘no’ when I want to say ‘no’.
No. You cannot. You always take on more work than you need to do.
Oh work? Yes, but I say yes to only what I like to do. I actually like the work.
No, you cannot say ‘no’. And you always tell the truth, correct?
Well, yes, why should I lie?
No, not like that, you will foolishly tell the truth even if it’s going to later cause you pain?
No, why are you so honest?
You expect others to be honest and truthful as well. Why?
Because that is always easier?
No, why is it easy? Look at you. You are stressed. Why?
Yes. I am stressed. I have a lot to stress about. Now you tell me how can I function normally in spite of my stress?
What do you mean?
Unless you stop being honest, you cannot do anything. If you are not honest, if you can learn to lie, play a few tricks, you will not have any stress.
And as he said this, I kid you not; he looked at me in contempt.
I just stared at him mutely as I paid his fee (again) of INR 500, and got out of there with hardly any relief.
My mom who was incensed with him told me that we should never waste our money on such sorts. When I discussed this with Preethi, we found it strange that he gave me a diagnosis only after I had suggested it. I omitted telling her the rest.
And I never went back.
But I really don’t know.
Take my earlier post on bad parenting. On Facebook, I saw people saying it is the frustrated outpouring of a woman without a husband or child. That was their only take-away.
Then there was this incident with a student whose work she herself confessed was ‘nonsense’. So when I critiqued it, I requested her not to submit nonsense and write using her strengths and skill. But apparently, that was the wrong thing to have done and said. That also went viral with crazy, long mails being sent to my partner that lambasted me for being a great number of things, and that I ought to be taught a lesson, the cat must be belled, and I must issue a public apology. While my partner handled it with professionalism, class, and grace; the response to my partner’s mail included a veiled comment that reasoned how one could get ill constantly if one were negative. Unfortunately, nothing more came of this because none of this was actually addressed to me. Nowhere was I confronted directly, nor was any of this discussed with me. Had my partner and I not had a transperancy and openness clause in our relationship, I wouldn’t have known about any of this. Since it didn’t seem like there would ever be an honest (that word, again) confrontation, my partner and I decided to ignore her and the issue and went about our lives happily enough.
But all this has got me thinking. Is there something like too much of an honest thing? Is expecting openness and honesty such a bad thing, after all? And is being open and honest really the worst thing a person could be?
You tell me.