But Where Is The Other Banana?
I took my time trying to process it all in but the early warning signs were clear- my life as I knew it till then was probably over. This patient was going to scream and create a scene, maybe even file a court case against me and some stupid judge who had probably been in a fight with his wife over breakfast will find me at fault and order a compensation amount enough to wipe me out and all this doomsday scenarios revolved around in my mind in the ten seconds after I heard that screaming voice before my training automatically took over and careful to keep a blank professional look on my face (hiding my inner terror) I commenced further enquiry.
Me: “Mrs.So-and-so…I don’t remember you, when was the last time I saw you? And for what? Do you have any prescription of mine? (Denial is the best offence right?)
Patient: “I didn’t bring the prescription because I lost it, but I came to you for an infection and you gave me two tablets to take morning and night for two days”
Me: “And when was this?”
Patient: “Oh, I don’t remember, around ten or fifteen days ago I think”
Me: “Was it ten? Or fifteen? How many days ago did you see me? Tell me correctly for its very important”
Patient: now in a milder voice- “Hmmm, I think two weeks ago, but I don’t know the exact date”
Me: “And I told you to take the tablets for two days, right? Did you take it?”
Patient: “Yes, of course, I took it for the two days”
Me: “And I must have definitely told you to come back after two days, right? I tell all my patients to come back for a check-up without fail. Why didn’t you come back after two days?”
Patient: now in a definitely hesitant voice – “I was busy”
Me:- moving my voice up a notch “Busy? Busy? Very busy? What’s more important than your health?”
Patient: “But that is exactly why I couldn’t come doctor- I had severe fever- viral fever they diagnosed it- for ten days after that- and then I was admitted in so-and-so corporate hospital for ten days to treat the fever and was not discharged till three days ago and so I couldn’t come see you as you said- only now I am free to come see you”
Me: in an exaggeratedly patient voice – “Yes Madam and can you tell me when exactly these lip ulcerations developed? When you first saw them?”
Patient: in a wary-unwilling voice- “Two days ago, I think, but I definitely noticed them yesterday”
Me: “Madam, are you aware that fevers, especially, severe fevers like viral fevers (with increased body temperatures) can cause lip eruptions all by themselves – especially if they are of Herpes simplex virus origin (which is a sexually transmitted disease by the way, so where have those lips been hey?) And also the drugs they must have given you for a ten day old severe fever could also have been strong enough to cause an allergic reaction to your lips?”
I took a significant pause to wipe my specs and stare at her in my most intimidating professional “who-are-you-kidding” manner
Me: “So how do you connect the mild, probably vitamin tablets I gave you fifteen days ago for two days with the lip eruptions you developed yesterday? Can you think of any reason?”
Patient : “Oh, ah, but the hospital I was admitted in for the past ten days told me that my lip ulcers were not caused by them, they didn’t even listen to me doctor like you are doing, they just chased me away, saying it’s a very minor thing and they will give me an ointment for it to apply for one week and they asked me to leave and so I was confused and then I remembered you”
Me: and so you thought about whom to vent your anger on and decided poor old me was the person to scream at? You know what, I am happy you got what you deserved there- such a crappy response- from that big corporate hospital – “Madam, what they said was correct, no need to panic for such a small thing, I think that ointment they gave you is enough and your ulcers will soon heal if you apply it.”
Me: “And oh, no fees, please no fees, you are after-all an old patient” and I will never touch your goddamned money as this will be the last time I will ever see you, bitch.
And that’s how some of the patients are. They blame doctors for everything which goes wrong in their lives (even unconnected things) and remind me of that famous banana joke of comedians Senthil and Goundamani (You-tube link of comedy scene) in which when Goundamani asks where are the two bananas he paid for, he keeps getting the same answer from Senthil “but this is the other one” a perfect example on how to do a matter-of-fact pulling of the wool over the eyes when wide-awake.
And this is just to show that some patients have no qualms in ripping-off doctors and contrary to what the media keeps telling all the time it’s not fair to accuse doctors as being always wrong while patients are angels.