Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Tale of Two (or More) Doctors

Christmas eve is a very bad time to fall sick. In my case at least it wasn't life-threatening, but a very frustrating case of conjunctivitis, coupled with and preceded by a mysterious swelling of the lymph nodes 2 days prior. Mysterious because there were no other symptoms: no fever, no pain - just a swollen preauricular node by the ear, and then two days later the eye goes red in pain and swelling during the Christmas dinner, and hasn't let up for 6 days.

After several visits to a 24-hour clinic (the only ones open over the holiday), 3 baffled doctors (no, I was not doctor hopping: I started with the 24-hour clinic, and made a conscious decision to go back there for consistency: ironically, every time I went back a different doc was on duty, not unusual given that this 24-hour clinic employs multiple shifts of doctors to cover the time slots), and two courses of antibiotics and eye drops, I thought it was about time I went to an eye specialist to get some proper help.

What a waste of time: I received the most cursory of inspections (I hesitate to even call it a medical examination) and not so much a diagnosis as a dismissal with medicine. More medicine. Better medicine perhaps, but probably just different medicine, when what I needed was a proper diagnosis, and some information. In the end, I was charged $12 for the medicine, and $99 for the 3 minutes in "consultation", which boggles the mind, given that there wasn't much consultation, and the medicine was probably worth far more than that.

In comparison with this specialist, I can't help but think of my old GP, who died recently (and tragically): he was the best family doctor I ever had, the only one who really took the time to listen and talk to his patients, the only one of my doctors ever to call me up 3 days after every consultation to follow up on my condition. It sounds like a simple thing, but it meant a lot to me, and it showed how dedicated he was.

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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

hope you are feeling much better dude. btw, jo and i got a good GP at manhattan house @ chinswee (i know it's far). really nice chap called Dr Goh. if you are interested let me know? wes

tscd said...

So...are you better now? Sometimes a warm compress over the affected eye helps with the pain.

wahj said...

Much better now, thanks guys. The eyes the specialist (bah) gave me caused blurry vision in the eye for a while, but the symptoms have all cleared - thought the lymph node is ever so slightly swollen still.