Taksh is now 4 months into this world. He has been doing all things that babies of his age do, including waking up the parents at odd hours and making them fret and fuss over his every move.
One fine day we observed that Taksh had a slightly warmer-than-usual forehead. “Fever”, the Mrs announced with eyes that had already begun to sulk. “Uh-oh,” I whispered to myself. A digital thermometer was drawn out by the Mrs. (who doesn’t believe in the good old Mercury thermometers, the only ones that I had ever seen until this moment).
After sticking it into Taksh’s mouth, the digital thermometer began its painstaking measurement process. The digits raced from 90 to 97 degree Fahrenheit in a matter of seconds. I was impressed already. After 97 however, every decimal point took an era. Taksh was holding the thermometer in his mouth pretty well so far, not breaking into his customary agoo-goo-goo yet.
97.1 97.2 97.3 – time was ticking on.
It reached 99 in about 20 minutes. The Mrs and I were left aghast to see that the counter didn’t stop even at 99.3! Finally at 99.4 the digital thermometer sucked up all the energy from its tiny cell within and gave a tired beep sound. So, 99.4 was Taksh’s temperature. We had freaked out by now. This is not ‘normal’, you see.
So, the Mrs. drew out another digital thermometer (she has quite a few of them, as you can never change the cell in them anyway, so you need to keep a few handy, you know. Of course it is rational). We started yet again. The numbers raced forward, stopped, sputtered and finally settled at 99.4 yet again. I was impressed with the consistency of these gadgets before coming back to the issue on hand.
“Is it really too high?,” I asked.
“Not sure. Perhaps it isn’t?,” said the Mrs.
But then again, we are new parents and new parents in this new age don’t take chances do they? So we rush to the paediatric (I got that spelling right the first time!).
“Does he have fever?,” asks the doctor while he finishes writing some notes about the previous patient.
The Mrs. and I look at each other screaming in our thoughts “Isn’t HE supposed to check and let us know?”
“Yes,” replies the Mrs.
“Is it too high?,” queries the Doctor.
“We don’t know. His forehead is a little warm though. Perhaps you can check?” I, the man of the house, decide to take charge.
“Ok. Most likely it is nothing. But if the fever persists, perhaps you need to get his urine tested for infection,” the Doctor casually replies, scribbles with his blue pen on his white letterhead, tears the paper in a flourish and hands it out to me. He didn’t even touch his thermometer! What gall! Perhaps gall wasn’t the right term to use where matters of urine infection were being discussed.
So we go back home and we figure out how to get Taksh to contribute his watery excesses for a test. The Mrs and I both get on the internet (after all, even God comes after the internet) and go through a million web-pages, half of which were filled with Google advertisements. Finally we learn of a small bag that can be used to achieve the desired goal.
Leaving aside the details on what we did next, we manage to submit Taksh’s contributions for a test.
Two agonizing days later, the tests come and the report says that our 4 month old has a case of serious infection. Infection which left untreated can lead to a failure of kidneys! We run to Paediatrician number 1.
Paediatrician number 1: “Oh-oh. This is too much. We have to go for ultra-sound, 10 days antibiotics and perhaps even an operation”
So we rush along with Taksh and his bag of accessories (read diapers and many spare clothes) to Paeditrician number 2.
Paediatrician number 2: Takes a while staring at the report. Removes his spectacles and says “This is very unusual for a 4-month old. I cannot take a call. You need to consult a specialist. A paediatric urologist infact. Here, this is his name, he is a friend of mine, take an appointment.” He mumbled has he wrote some doctor’s name on a white notepad, tore it with shaky hands and gave it to me.
By now the Mrs and I were scared out of our wits. However, we didn’t want to give up now did we. So off we again went running to Paeditrician number 3. All this while Taksh has been perfectly happy with the goings-on and urging us to smile and laugh at life. “What character my son has!,” I think to myself, visibly impressed.
Paediatrician number 3: Looks at the report in a calm manner, turns it around, looks at some other parameters. He then takes his pen and circles a few parameters and explains to us “While this report states that the bacteria count is so high, none of these other parameters confirm it. You see, if the bacteria count is so high, then Ssdfhsdfs, Tesdfoidsfs and Qerewrposd should also indicate some numbers. But they don’t. So what I suspect is that the bag in which you collected your sample was most likely contaminated.”
The Mrs. and I are all smiles now. Taksh is bawling as he hates being put flat on a doctor’s bed. Cutting the rest of the details short, we repeat the test and much to our liking the test comes negative.
But after all this, I wasn’t really happy. What would have happened if we had not gone to Paediatrician number 3? What if we weren’t able to afford consulting 3 doctors? Isn’t that the case with most people? How many people out there even have access to a second opinion? Third opinion? What about the ability to go to so many doctors? The ability to get information? Why is there such a vast asymmety of information and access to healthcare in our country? And aren’t doctors supposed to be a whole lot more responsible?
I shudder to think that if we hadn’t visited the third doctor, Taksh would have undergone a 10-day antibiotics course, perhaps even an ultra sound. And later a new test would have affirmed that the bacteria was gone. Then we would’ve heaved a sigh of relief and thanked the antibiotics and the doctors, whose status would’ve now elevated further in our eyes. And we would spread good word about such doctors and they would become famous.
Scary, isn’t it?