When I was about 13 years old, I was on vacation in India for the summer, visiting relatives. About 2 days before we were scheduled to go home, I developed a cold and a slight fever. My cousin, who was pre-med at the time, told my mom that she should take me to the doctor. Since we were traveling so soon, it was better to get it checked out.
We went to a doctor that my family had known for years. She was friendly and kind and talked to my mom like the old friend that she was. She checked me out and, as she was listening to my heart, noticed that something was not quite right. I had a slightly irregular heartbeat. She then made me drink some water that she said had a “memory” of some of my blood before I was sick, and it would teach my body how to be healthy again. Since then, I have roamed o’er the land by night, drinking the blood of the pure.
Not really. But within 24 hours, I was admitted into the hospital.
I stayed there for nearly a month, unable to leave my bed, as they continued to try to understand what was happening. As it turned out, I had a viral infection that had affected my heart. The doctor said that had I flown home as planned, the altitude would have worsened the condition and she was sure that plane would have had to make an emergency landing.
I always think of Dr. Divate when I go to the doctor here in the States. As some of you know, I’ve been fighting some sort of malingering, hacking crud for nearly 2 months now. I had bronchitis in January, right before TAM 5.5, got on antibiotics to take care of it. I felt OK for about a week (which included the time I was at TAM, thankfully!) but then got sick again. I’ve pretty much been sick ever since. I’m on the third round of antibiotics, this latest round, prescribed by my doctor over the phone.
My husband went to his pediatrician from when he was a fetus until he was in college, when the doctor retired. Dr. Miles sent his family Christmas cards and had them call him at home, day or night, during emergencies. I think that sort of care and friendship is worth a waiting room full of giant Legos and ducks on the wallpaper.
I know it’s a lot to ask, but I really miss having a doctor who actually knows and cares about you. I find that in the U.S., doctors treat the symptoms and don’t really spend the time to understand the root cause of the problem. Yesterday, when I told the nurse over the phone that I was concerned that this was becoming pneumonia and that I had been sick for 2 months, she discussed it with the doctor and simply called in a stronger round of antibiotics.
I am feeling better and this round will probably be the last. In addition, I’ve taken some time off work and am resting, getting fluids, and doing the usual things that will probably help. But I can’t help but wonder whether her spending just a little more time with me the past 2-3 times I’ve been to see her, might have caught something that would have made me feel better faster.
When I take my dogs in to the vet for a procedure, the vet calls us the day after we take them home, to check on them and see how we’re doing, even if they just got their rabies booster shots. And you wouldn’t believe the extravagant card we got after my husky died, filled with original poems and sketches of Vandal. But the idea of a doctor calling us to check on how we’re doing is unheard of. Why do our animals get a better class of health care than we do?
Or, do I just have a crappy doctor? Do you guys have examples of health care professionals who do go the extra mile for you and your family? Do I just need to search for a better doctor? My demands are simple — I want to be treated with the same attention and dignity as an 11-year-old dog with crappy hips and bad breath. Can I do that here? Or do I just need to save up to put a niece through med school?