It was 4 AM and my phone was buzying. I had recently changed my handset and unfamiliar to the new ringtone I unheard it. Now the melodious ring tone was replaced by a coarse cacophony -a familiar one though ( the husband) who was now shaking me too. I got up from my stupor and answered the phone. It was my resident doctor to inform me that a couple had bought a 3 month old baby with excessive crying to the ER. Why this tiny minions howl like owls only at night I wonder. First your own borne robs you of sleep for years and now someone else’s breed. Oh Come on dude now tell me what it is ?colic ,ear ache or sheer boredom and you just want a drive at night to the hospital , I yelp .
Now my husband screeches at me again asking me to go out of the room and talk. He’s my life partner after all ,so isn’t he suppose to be equal partner in staying awake with me ? The wedding vows got to be in sickness, health and medical emergencies ! I prescribe a cocktail of analgesics and colic drugs for the baby and resist a strong urge to prescribe a sedative to the overtly anxious parents. Finally I go back to bed but the barking dogs on the street ruins my left over sleep.
I finally make a cup of strong coffee and pick up a book to read -13 steps to bloody good luck by Ashwin Sanghi. I certainly need it.
I start my consulting feeling a bit groggy. The first patient is a six month old infant with loose stools and vomiting. I start with my usual history taking about the frequency and type of stool. The elite mom who is clad in a smart short dress replies -Doc.. Its like phata paneer jaisa , khata smell, pasty like oats porridge . Ok ok I cut her in between. I got it ,we are not in a masterchef show. No doc ,you please have a look – she insists. Then slowly she unlocks her “Gucci “Bag and removes a soiled diaper and lay on my table in front of me. I control my nausea and ask her to put it back. I quickly ink a prescription and spray some air freshner in my room.
Next patient is a gujju NRI returned to swadesh from the land of Trump. With heavy gujju American accent and clad in Armani jeans and a “Guess “T-shirt complains that their child is coughing incessantly thanks to the Indian air. They are also carrying bisleri bottles with them and are forcing the child to sip every ten mins . They mention that he’s cried the whole night and he might get “dehydrated losing water in tears”. Alas ,I mumble – in that case I should be dehydrated my entire life… no wonder my tears have dried. I now finally found the logic after years!!!
Next in line is a perky Sardarji and his lovely wife , for vaccination of their six weeks old twins. After all sardar hai toh chappar phad ke double whammy produce kar dia ,I smirk. I explain to them about the vaccine, types, side effects etc and give them options. I almost feel as if am selling some patanjali product. Nahi jee dr saheba aap painless hi laga do meinu baccho ko rote hua nahi dekh sakta. My staff loads the syringes and as I take my position with the syringe in my hand , sardarji shouts -hold on jee. Ab kya hua , I ask. By now the other parents waiting outside are getting in a rift over my AC not cooling the room well. Now the sardarji takes out his swag iphone X and plays a Punjabi song in the baby’s ear while his wife switches on the camera of her iphone to record the whole drama. Ji ab aap lagao. Amidst the Punjab da dhol and film shooting of recording “vaccine lamhe” . I do my job of injecting the vaccines and lo the mini Punjab products howl as if I they have swallowed a mike. The over exuberant family finally leaves my room and i grace myself that Happy Singh did not hug me out of exuberance.
I feel like taking a mini break and crave for some caffeine and chips. I try to mellow down after this mello-drama.
Next is a tall, dark, dad with six packs and tattoed biceps ,bulging out through his skin fit T-shirt. My room is filled with a whiff of his perfume or after shave I am not sure what. As if Bahubali has come to my consulting and suddenly I start liking my job so much. I put up my best smile and ask what’s wrong with his son. The five year old son looks a mini hunk with the funkiest hair style I have ever seen . In a heavy south Indian accent he says that his son does not eat well off late and gets fatigued easily. He says he has tried cooking all possible culinary delights for him but still nothing interests the child. I could not resist to enquire about his wife and am too awed that he cooks and is so sensitive to the child. He says his wife has to travel a lot so he is a “penguin dad “meaning work from home and raising the child too. Where do you find such men good looking, sensitive and with maternal instincts for the child?? Infact he mentions that he wished he could have breast fed his baby like moms do and my eyes well up with tears. Statistics mention that South India especially Bangalore has 50 percent of penguin dads. I should have gone to Bangalore but its too late now. Seeing me lost in thoughts ,he asks does his son needs any tests. I regain my composure and examine his son and prescribe few tests so that he comes back to me with the reports.
My mood is a bit better now. The sindhi lady with plunging neckline and low waist jeans, highlighted hair, and wearing heavy make up enters with her seven month old infant. I wonder how does these women manage to get time to dress up and wear make up with such small infants. I remember when my daughter was of that age how haggard I looked and smelled of breast milk whole day long. She looks pretty no doubt and my husbands cataract patients in the waiting area are suddenly having a clarity of vision even without consulting him. However she wants some counseling on breast feeding and weaning which a seasoned mom like me can do effortlessly. After examining the baby and mother ( she wanted me to do her breast exam for cracked nipples) I give her some advice on nursing and weaning. With a worried look she asks me to check if all the spare parts of her child’s body are normal. That makes me feels like a carpenter or a body mechanic. With my tools –stethoscope I reexamine for her satisfaction.Now she says she feels her infants left arm is loose and is worried that it might come off. Taken aback for a moment with her query I sarcastically tell her possible you may find it one fine morning in the other bedroom. She obviously does not get the pun intended.
Finally few more and I am done with the days opd and rush back to see whats happening with my own kids at home which is almost like a Jurassic park. After sorting their fights etc I look forward to some time to wind up. And the phone rings .it’s a emergency csection for fetal distress. With reluctance I get behind the wheels, scrub in the OR and wait for the obstetrician to deliver the baby out. Keep talking to her says the Obstetrician to the Anesthetist. But she is sedated says the anesthetist. No not the patient, keep talking to the pediatrician Dr Aroskar ,says my obstetric colleague, she might dose off too sleep so keep her awake. That’s the last stroke of the day and I am speechless. Baby is out ,fortunately is crying and pink and my job ends. As I am leaving from the OR I ask for the father and update him about the birth of a healthy baby boy .He is all teary eyed -one more penguin dad in the making and he is tamilian too. To my astonishment he takes my hand and kisses and says thank you. Now I am totally in a daze and all I want is to fled away, wash my hands off everything and plop in my bed.