My parents decided that it was time for my mother my younger sisters and me to join my older sisters in Madras and join good schools. Being a Govt servant my Dad always told us all to study well so we could all stand on our own feet as he had not acquired any wealth he could give us all, seven children. I had three older sisters and three younger sisters. Blessing in many many ways and also got bullied by my sisters all my life. We shifted by ship and each had a steel trunk packed with our assets mostly clothing.
Madras was a far cry from Port Blair. We were used to a large independent bungalow in Port Blair and in contrast we were renting a portion of a delapitated house in Mylapore and there were too many people in one building. Our family alone had ten members including my grand mother and aunt. We were happy to share our lives with cute little sparrows and squirrels but were terrified of mean jet black crows who watched you all the time, cawed incessantly and dropped any where and every where. When night fell came out the cockroaches, mice, rats and bandicoots that even cats were scared off and we were eaten alive at nights by mosquitoes and bed bugs.
Within a few months I fell ill. I picked up "ONE HELL OF A COUGH" and no one paid attention as they thought it would go away soon on its on without medicines . It did not.
The Cough became worse by the day and was worst early in the mornings. My aunt complained she could not sleep as I kept coughing like a dog all night.
Every one hinted to my mother that it must be TB which was rampant in India those days. My mother was no doctor like my father but he was still in Port Blair and had non clue how sick was. only means of communication between my parents was snail mail that came by ship once a month. My mother phoned my maternal uncle her only brother for help. My Uncles wife had TB and knew the top doctors who treated TB. So he made an appointment with a Doctor Moses who was head of Dept of Respiratory diseases. The man saw me for a few minutes at best concluded it was TB and told my uncle and mother that I needed two injections every day for the next six months; from memory it was called Streptomycin and also strepto penecilin I think.
I was not going to school, stayed at home and my mother was religiously taking me to the local doctor twice a day by rickshaw to get these injections. Injections and doctors did not bother me as I was half dead anyway and in five months I had become a bag of bones. I was wasting away.
The highlight of the rickshaw rides were that we had to pass through the local markets and I was always begging my mother to buy me a top.
She said no. If I get you a top then you'd want to go and play with other boys and you might infect them. She made me promise that I would spin the top only inside the house before she bought me one finally.
One week end a family friend dropped by to say hello to the family. he was also the land lord and an Engineer in the Railways. We all affectionately referred to him as the railway uncle. He loved chitchatting with my mother in English and talking about Rangoon Burma where she was born.
He said to her SIL (sister in law), I think Chander is not looking good and you need to get a second opinion soon or risk losing a son and I know a Dr. Gunasekaran who has just returned from London and is supposed to be very good. My mother said Ok you make an appointment and come and take us and he did a few days later.
Dr Gunasagaran's clinic was packed with men women and children all coughing away as if they were all there for an audition to see who coughed most. He was busy in his room with another lady when I got a Coughing bout and my mother was telling me not to cough so loud.
Next thing I remember is Dr Gunasagaran walking out of his room and coming towards us. He asked my mother how long has your son been coughing like this and she said about seven months now doctor and he is being treated for TB by Dr Moses. He got angry and scowled at my mother and said which idiot said he has got TB? Your son has got "Whooping Cough and not TB".
Dies he cough early in the mornings and my mother said yes that is the worst period and he struggles with breathing. he gets this bad wheeze she said. He has been given injections twice a day and took out the medicine and showed it to him, but this has not helped.
He shook his head and I could tell he was angry and he went back to see his patient. We were sitting and waiting when he appeared with a calibrated glass bottle of some murky medicine. He said just take the boy home and give him this medicine twice a day and his cough will be gone by the time he runs out of medicine. I don't thing you will have to see me again and believe me your son does not have TB. It was wrong diagnosis. That medicine that saved my life cost me just Rs 10 for the whole bottle of mixture the doctor compounded himself.
So This Railway Engineer was my God Send. But for him I wold have died and been cremated in 1953.
This wrong diagnosis caused a lot of damage. at this very young age I developed hiatus hernia and inguinal hernia on the right side of my groin and this meant I could not play sport where I had to run like Soccer or Hockey and I was rejected for medical reasons from being selected for Aero wing of school cadets. I was relegated to Scouts.
Six months of injections must have affected my metabolism so much then that I am paying the price now in my old age for this medical stuff up in 1953.
Well I was not meant to die..
Yes Doctors are no different to Plumbers, Mechanics or electricians. You have the Good the Bad and the Ugly who are there fr the money. A Smart patient has to sift through these doctors until you find a good one you believe knows his/her stuff. Never believe some one only because he or she has a degree.