Saturday, June 8, 2013

Anxious is sometimes good

The hunt began three weeks ago. Amma is staying with me and one of the things on the agenda of this stay was to get her to the doctor who checks her eyes. If you have been reading this blog long enough, you will perhaps know, that Amma, rockstar amma is partially sighted. She has no vision in her right eye, after a series of glaucoma related issues, the optic nerve died and right now the eye is shrinking and may completely close in a few years. Amma thinks she looks like Lalita Pawar. But that's her sense of humour! and she has loads of it. Possibly the only way she has been able to deal with the hard knocks in life. 

her left eye, the "good" eye is now functioning with a 30% efficiency.This means, if you are an unfamiliar person and sitting more than 4 feet away, she cannot make out your face or features... you appear as a blob to her. This eye is what she manages with. Fiercely independent, she is a person about the house, wielding the knife with aplomb and cooking almost everyday. She scans through the papers with a magnifying glass, watches tv and goes about her normal stuff. She travels alone, although now only between cities where my brother lives and I do. she is also one of the neatest people I know and that's not because she is my mother! walk into her room 5 minutes after she wakes up and you will find a spotlessly made bed. When you meet her for the first time, and if you dont know the background, you would never guess she is partially sighted.

So why this ode to amma? when i started this post with a hunt? Last year, she had an unsuccessful cataract operation. Complications arose and the procedure, which is fairly simple, needed to be abandoned to save her leftover vision. The doctor gave her 6 months to get her nerves back and redo the operation. In the midst of all this, she came to visit and I insisted she stay for a longish period of time. 

We found a doctor who came highly recommended. Away from the world famous eye hospitals in hyderabad. We consulted with him, hoping he would be able to give us a breakthrough. A youngish doctor with thick fingers and a soft spoken demeanour. he had the patience to listen to amma and go through her case history. he then pushed his chair back, and asked "do you want me to be honest or popular?". I believe a good craftsman is someone who does not need to showcase his ego at every opportunity. a person who knows his skill, yet will do what is best for the situation. He very gently told amma that in her case, he does not see any need to get aggressive with her treatment. the approach needed to completely rest on preserving her existing vision. He told her quite frankly that her cataract was not going to be a show stopper and that any intervention on her eye would be done only when absolutely needed. The only thing he wanted was to review her periodically to keep a check on the state of the eye.

This was last year. This year, we went back to him for a check up. Hence the reference to the hunt. We were unable to meet him the day we went due to his ill health. He asked us to consult with another doctor, who also happens to be his wife. She took on a different stance. Telling us that an operation, tho complicated was possible under general anesthesia and that Amma shouldn't be defeated by her age! She negated every other earlier bit of advise. We came back with an anxiousness and a need to see the original doctor. 

I was wondering if he would also recommend surgery now. Considering one year had passed and that there could be some further developments in the state of her eye. Also, since one doctor of the fold had already advised that, would it be necessary to keep up the same stance?

It proved elusive to get to the doctor. First he was travelling for over a week. then his ridiculously inefficient and clueless support staff, scheduled and rescheduled appointments at will. Twice, we had a busy morning, mentally preparing amma, rescheduling the morning routine and just when she was dressed, we would be told that the doctor was unavailable. So when friends and family called to ask what happened and when the operation would take place, we had no clue. Am sure everyone questioned my credentials at having been unsuccessful at scheduling another appointment. On monday, I finally lost my marbles. On each of the three calls I made to the hospital, I yelled and threatened the person on the receiving end of the call. calling them inefficient and unprofessional, I recounted the blundering efficiency they had. Finally, we were scheduled to meet the doctor yesterday morning at 10.

up bright and early, we trekked down to the hospital. Finished the preliminary tests and waited and waited. Finally met the doctor who thoroughly checked amma again. She told him she was ready for surgery if he wanted to go ahead with it. He sat back, apologized for the previous inconveniences and told her he wasn't about to put her though an operation or any kind of procedure unless he thought it was absolutely needed. With that, i think i fell a little in love with a doctor who put his patient before his professional ego. It is so difficult to find someone like that.

We came out of the hospital relieved for having found a good doctor, who will not look at you like an invoice receivable. So the two weeks of anxiousness was actually good. While a lot of folks told us to look for another doctor, we waited.... 

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