Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The monsoon surge in professional work

One of the things that is unique about medical practice in India and similar tropical countries is the surge in illnesses that occurs around the time of the monsoon. This season is marked by floods, a general decline in the hygiene status of cities and metropolitan agglomerates, slush, a multiplication of the population of house-flies and mosquitoes, the ubiquitous vectors of deadly diseases such as malaria, typhoid, gastroenteritis, etc, a rise in humidity that brings in illnesses like acute attacks of asthma and croup, crowding and gathering of masses (e.g. under awnings and rain-shelters during an unexpected bout of rain), and several other factors that cause a rise in illnesses, hospitalisations, and the like.

The indirect spin-off of this is that our professional work rises too: there is a spurt in the numbers of patients visiting the clinic, a rise in patients who get hospitalised, a rise in home-visits and a sudden increase in the number of patients who call on our mobile phones for advice that is, seemingly, for problems that are so small that they do not merit a visit to the doctor - e.g. ear pain, a rash on the skin, a slight runny nose, a stickiness of the eyes, a mild cough and so on.

While advanced economies like the U.S., Europe and so on have doctors who will almost never directly take patient calls, and chemists who will never bypass doctors and never give medicines unless the patient hands them a valid prescription or the doctor faxes him one), in countries like India, this is generally not the case! This means that doctors never get paid and cannot raise bills for a telephonic consultation, patients can buy medicines from the chemist on a friend's recommendation or by showing a past prescription of a doctor, or by simply asking the chemist for, say, "Amoxil" or "Tavegyl". This skews the advantage towards the patients, and as chemists still get their pound of flesh, and the manufacturer is also not hurt financially, it is the doctor alone who gets cheated out of his rightful income.

This, dear reader, is the sad but true account of medical practice in India.

Now then, having said that, as India is home to more than a billion souls, I am certainly not cribbing that doctors do not earn well; it's just that a lot of practice gets siphoned off in the above manner.

Okay, last para: now that the monsoon has all but receded, the inflow of patients has reduced. This has enabled me to do other things, like, for example, writing this loooooong entry in my blog!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Feelings on selling something you owned

Along with the other information relating to the above, you will find, in the post I have made to my general blog, some idea of the gamut of emotions I have encountered while selling off the premises from where I practised pediatrics for over twelve years. Read this for the same!

First clinic at Nagpada sold

With my new clinic (read older posts to see its inauguration details and pictures) doing well, I took the decision to sell off the premises where I used to sit earlier. I have finally sold that place off, and am now considering running the charitable aspect of my practice from a rental place in the same building where the clinic used to be. In this way, I am trying to have the cake and eat it too.

Let me explain this further: my clinic is (or rather, was) a very small 100 sq. ft. office space that served me well for over 12 years (I had purchased it in June 1996 and, after renovating it, started practice on October 1, 1996), was actually a very cramped place that necessitated the purchase of a bigger premises whenever I could afford to buy it. With the flow of cash also coming in from Nishrin's salon practice, this finally made it possible to buy the new premises near J.J. Hospital in 2007. As readers are aware, I began practice at my new place on October 21, 2007.

Thus, the older place became useful to segregate my charitable venture poor patients from the regular patients who can afford to pay my full consultation fees. The charitable venture was, in fact, started in memory of my late mother Mrs. Zubeda, who died of breast cancer when I was just 11. I have even received donations to continue doing this charity. These donations have come from some of my cousins whose lives my mother had touched in the past. Thus, you can see why I would like to continue the charitable work that I am already doing.

Leaving the premises was a clinical decision which has not had many psychological repercussions; however, the actual emptying of the premises was a physically draining affair with some pleasant spinoffs in the form of recovery of memorabilia that would otherwise have lain hidden inside drawers and cupboards. These include letters from friends: imagine two thick files of long letters written by snail mail from friends in this age of emails and mobiles! The two files are literally a treasure-trove of past memories. Other stuff included gifts and mementoes from well-wishers, writings done by me from the past, a sketch-cum-colouring book that I used to while away the time in the era before computers (in fact, how does B.C. sound for that? :-)), notes and academic stuff from the time when I was still studying to be a pediatrician, pictures and notes on patients that I have seen in the past, old books, toys, an antique casette-tape-recorder player (that I have gifted to my receptionist), etc.

It is said that life must go on, and it has. The sale was completed last week. As of now, I am work-less in the two hours from 16:30 to 18:30 that I used to sit at the old clinic. I have decided to resume those timings at a rental premises after Ramadan, that is, sometime from October 2008.

Funny when you think of it, but October features repeatedly in the above post: it was the month when I had started both my clinics, and it will be the month when I start my charitable venture as well ...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What happens to one's blog if one is inactive for long?

Let me ask that question again: as you can see, my previous post was over two weeks ago; at that time, and in the preceding few weeks, I wrote posts frequently enough to increase the page views and eyeballs that my blog was getting very regularly. The Shinystat counter that shows these stats to me even increased my blog's rank from 4 to 6 as the numbers piled up. Then, in the past two or three weeks since my last post on Google Knol, life caught up with me and I was unable to find the time to surf, log in, research and write a post. The result was that the page views and then the ranking came down ... so that now, I find the rank at 3!

The question is: what happens to one's blog when one stops posting in it for more than just a few days? Well, to tell you the truth, nothing really "happens" to the blog; what happens, happens to the owner of the blog: I started feeling guilty after five-odd days, and then, kept returning to the blog to try and log in and write something; unfortunately, it was not to be, as my work has increased tremendously. I have even stopped going to the gymnasium,and my diet and weight are both up!

In addition, the withdrawal symptoms included a tremulous imagination that allowed my soul to think ahead and take a firm decision to enter a post within the next two or three days. Which is why this post came to be.