I am a normal girl, or maybe I am not. Perhaps, that is not as important as not wanting to be ‘abnormal’. This word has stayed in my medical history and psyche for as long as I can remember. Trips to the hospital for check ups were as frequent as exams in school. I was scared of only one. Exams always went well, but every check up would mean that my mother remained isolated and gloomy for the entire day. When I grew up, I understood why.
I was born with a disorder in my spinal cord and I am lucky to not have any other neurological problem due to that. But the disorder became more noticeable when I hit puberty. The bones and muscles in my upper body did not grow as they should have. As a result of which, my trips became more frequent. At that age, young girls usually become conscious of their growing body and are rather diffident about it. I was made to go through examinations that required me to unclothe in front of the doctor. And every time I did that, I felt very inconsequential and humiliated.
I used to often wonder if there was any way out of this ignominy. In my mind, I had already invented machines that detected your disorder by only sitting in front of them. In my world, there were places in Himalayas where you could find people who would cure you by giving you their herbs and concoctions. I could not understand as to why the entire process had to be so painful…
Now that I am much older, I can objectively look at the issue. Adolescence is a very impressionable and vulnerable age. And many a times, these young adults are not treated as they should be, especially so in hospitals. The Indian Penal Court provides guidelines to doctors to avoid non-consensual medical treatment. But that does not solve the problem mentioned here. Most of patients are willing to get treated, but have difficulty coping with the various pressures and strains of the treatment.
In India, medicine is taught like a science that is devoid of emotions. A doctor may or may not empathise with you. He could be a great human being and may care for how you feel while he is treating you, but he is definitely not obligated to do so. His job is limited to treating the physical illness, while the emotional and psychological brunt of it is borne by you. And that is how thousands of aspiring doctors today are being taught all over the country. There is absolutely no emphasis on training these students in skills like communication with the patients, their counseling, treating the illness in the mind etc.
This profession needs a humane touch, and formally so. There are a lot of people who need help recuperating from the feeling of seeing a doctor. Hospitals for young and the old need not be such a terrifying place. As for me, I am still mortally fearful of going to the hospital for my check up.