As we celebrate this year’s Doctor’s Day, one’s thoughts inevitably turn to the string of doctors who have treated oneself as also near and dear ones at some point of time or the other. A word of gratitude is surely in order. For these are the people who show us light when we are enveloped by the darkness of ill-health. They give us hope when we need it the most. They have the capacity to ease our minds, make us worry less about our sickness and do their very best to lessen our pain and suffering.
They have to necessarily cope with patients of all sizes, shapes and temperaments whose income and curiosity levels also vary. Some patients are content with merely following instructions, whereas others who believe in self-medication and suffer from ‘Googlitis’ merely come to see a doctor to get a confirmation of the sickness they already believe they are suffering from. If the doctor comes up with an unfamiliar name of illness, orders a new test or prescribes a hitherto unheard of medicine, such patients go back quite convinced that the doctor is a ‘good’ one!
If one has a complaint, it is only that they work too hard, often neglecting their own well-being in the process. One silently admires their chin-up attitude; despite remaining surrounded by human misery in possibly its worst form, they continue to smile and keep their focus on the task at hand. The poor souls have family responsibilities just like all of us. However, for a vast majority of them, patients are always the first priority, virtually 24X7.
The Angels in White
Same can be said of the nurses, technicians and other para-medics who are eternally vigilant in taking care of the patients under their charge. The angels in white uniforms ensure that the right medicines are being taken at the right time. They also grapple with issues facing several patients at any point in time, coordinating with each of the doctors concerned and ensuring that relevant instructions are rigorously followed.
Nurses play an important role in maintaining the morale of the patients as well as the relatives at an appropriate level. Often, they have to bear with patients who have a foul temper. A caring and compassionate nature, coupled with a high Emotional Quotient, helps them to handle their complex task.
The Patient Patients
It is rather baffling that while we celebrate a Doctor’s Day (July 1 in India, March 30 in US) as also a Nurse’s Day (May 12 internationally), we do not spare a thought for the hapless patients. Their contribution to the field of medical science is no less; the entire medical fraternity owes its existence to patients! Moreover, besides being sick, they have to show remarkable patience while undergoing the trauma of getting treated – in getting an appointment with the doctor, endlessly waiting in queues to see one, pushing around to get all kinds of diagnostic tests done, rushing back to the doctor to get medicines prescribed and then going through the whole treatment.
In case a surgery becomes necessary, the immediate family gets involved. In these days of nuclear families, the support of the family’s social network becomes critical. The fear of impending surgery gnaws at the inner being of the patient, whose energy gets all the more depleted in the process. The fact that the he/she is causing so much trouble to all near and dear ones goes on to add to his/her agony. Post-surgery, pain and trauma have to be faced to which all others can only be mere spectators. Back home, an endless routine of visitors starts, with some of them making uncharitable and insensitive comments which make the poor patient suffer even more mental anguish.
The Silent Sufferers – Attendants
And what about the hapless attendants? They have to practice multi-tasking no end. Answering calls from anxious but distant relatives while procuring medicines is only one facet of the challenge. Organizing food which strikes a delicate balance between what is wanted and what is needed by the patient is another one. If admitted to a hospital, lot of formalities and paper work may become necessary. Round-the-clock surveillance becomes necessary. Skills in house-keeping come in handy, because prior to the scheduled visit of the doctors on rounds, the nurse with a stiff upper lip keeps nagging the attendant till the time the patient is in a ‘presentable’ condition and the room is tidy and orderly. Naturally, the fairer of the species fit into such roles with much ease!
For an attendant, PR skills are a sine qua non, because an endless stream of visitors has to be managed. In most cases, patients treat the number of visitors as a clear measure of their personal popularity index. Nothing would cheer them up more than to keep a tally of the kind of fruits and goodies brought in by various visitors, so the favor may be returned at some future date in a proportionate manner. On their part, some of the visitors leave the hospital in a cheerful mood, thanking the Divine for not putting them in the patient’s predicament.
One would propose that as a caring society, we seriously consider declaring days earmarked to celebrate a World Patient Day as well as a World Attendant Day. The European Union has already taken a lead in this direction, with May 15 being observed as a Patient’s Rights Day. One sincerely hopes that other forward-looking countries would not only declare Patient Days but also honor the nameless attendants who silently slog and bring some relief and succour to the ailing patients. This would ensure an equitable treatment to all those who play a crucial role in the well-being of Homo sapiens!
Medicine-related blogs on this site:
- 1. ‘A First Hand Experience in Medical Tourism’, published December 14, 2012
- 2. ‘The Miracle of Alternative Therapies’, published March 31, 2012