For all this talk about the beauty and nobleness of serving humanity with the unparalleled gift of healing, I doubt anyone really understands doctors. You visit them when soup-and-rest just doesn’t work, and leave with words of advice and a miracle pill. These stethoscope-wielding, prescription-pad-defacing, endlessly questioning drug dealers are perhaps the most mysterious creatures of all (surpassing poets and performing artists by a stunning eleven percent!) and it’s because you can never quite guess what goes on inside their heads. What gears are turning as they hover over you on an examination table? Are they scanning through pages and pages of textbook knowledge, or are they just thinking about food, like most humans? What hides behind that thoughtful raised eyebrow while balancing your metal retainer on one hand? I suppose we mere mortals will never know.

Having been provided with a father whose day job and night job consist of absentmindedly doling out modern medicine, I have had years to study closely a few specimens. Some doctors light up with almost comical delight (internal, for the sake of the stoic exterior) at the arrival of the drug lords (medical representatives). This glee is not, mind you, a result of an unceasing thirst to find better cures for all the diseases that plague humanity and ensure that everybody receives nothing but the best. Fun fact- physicians find immense pleasure in tiny white boxes that say ‘Physician’s sample. Not for sale.’ It’s their sad, monotonous version of online shopping. They simply cannot stop. As a direct consequence, every corner of a physician’s house fills up with truckloads of antibiotics and painkillers and anti-HIV medication and fertility remedies. I certify that I can count on one hand the number of times that, since the day my parents and the three of us children rented a house together, I have actually had to step out and buy medicine. I also admit to having played guinea pig under the treatment of a few highly ineffective capsules. I would not be surprised if I met my death by tripping, falling into a pile of paracetamol tablets, and drowning in it.

There are those doctors who walk around with all the easy confidence and self-assuredness of House M.D., and then there are those people who spent their entire medical course locked in their dark, windowless room, poring over an eight-foot tall stack of textbooks- and failed to do anything else. These individuals can be identified fairly easily, if one makes an attempt. Take, for example, the dentist who stares blankly into your open mouth for ten minutes straight, while making idle conversation with your parents. You understand that he is trying to recall a picture in Volume 3 of The Dentistry Manual which looks exactly like your mouth, and proceed accordingly. When he eventually fails to do so, he takes his sweet time in pulling out a new set of gloves, letting them drag and snap over his hands, and then running away to a secluded corner of his consultation room under the guise of working. If you are observant enough, you realise, with that comic escape, that your period of orthodontic treatment was doomed from the start.

Then there are the Grey’s Anatomy doctors, whose entire lives revolve around their professional life. They have no friends who aren’t doctors, and there are no doctors who aren’t their friends. Hobbies include hanging out with doctors and gossiping about doctors of another specialty. They marry doctors, and make children who are expected to be doctors. They think they live the party life because they have a fancy lunch every now and then, and they go to their graves never realising that work parties don’t make people cool. At all.

There comes with the knowledge of ailments, a certain level of paranoia. Or so one would think. One might be filled with worry and care when one first delves into human physiology, but it wears off as soon as one becomes a doctor. Apathy enables a doctor’s feathers to remain permanently unruffled. My friendly household doctor maintains the role of Efficient Physician for every patient who isn’t a member of his immediate family. Over the years, I’ve come to learn that fever can only be legitimate and warrant treatment if a nasty cough and hallucinations accompany it, a week or more after the first sign of illness. A large number of my complaints, if not all of them, have at one point been labelled “psychological”. Headache? Psychological. Muscle cramps? Psychological. Indigestion? Psychological. Twitching nerves? Psychological. I have now accepted that, short of having a seizure in my room, nothing on this earth will coerce my father into treating my frayed nerves.

It is also not uncommon to hear of a doctor hiding a fever or a torn ligament or two for months, because he or she believes it is psychological, and considers it a matter of pride not to submit to the ministrations of another doctor. Therefore, it is safe to say that most doctors would do well with some professional psychiatric help. However, considering the risks of running into a schizophrenic psychiatrist, humanity would do best to leave the species to their own devices.

 

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