There are three classes of physicians. The physicians of one class feel the patient’s pulse and go away, merely prescribing medicine. They are the poorest class of physicians. Likewise, there are teachers who only give instruction but do not stop to see whether their teachings have produced a good or bad effect.
There are physicians of another class, who prescribe medicine and ask the patient to take it. If the patient is unwilling to follow their directions they reason with him. They are the mediocre physicians. Likewise there are mediocre teachers. They give instruction to the student and further try to persuade him in various ways to follow the instruction.
Lastly, there are the physicians of the highest class. If the patient does not respond to their gentle persuasion, they even exert force upon him. If necessary, they press their knees on the patient’s chest and force the medicine down his throat. Likewise, there are teachers of the highest class who even exert force to direct the mind of the pupil towards God.
Well, these are not my words. These are the sayings of Sri Ramakrishna Pramahamsa. I often read his sayings and they remain etched in memory. Although His words above may sound too simplistic, how true they are! We always bemoan the lack of or fall in standards, the lack of commitment or discipline, honesty and straightforwardness and the like. But seldom do we praise people for the good they do or the devotion and quality they exhibit in work. I am indeed inspired when I meet people who are committed and work for work’s sake, nothing else.
Talking about doctors, one whom I hold in high esteem is Dr Patrick Yesudian, consultant dermatologist. Probably the best skin specialist in Chennai today (considering that the legendary Dr A.S. Thambiah is well past his prime). I first met Dr Yesudian or was forced to seek an appointment with him ten years ago when my mother suffered from severe mouth ulcers which no doctor (we have a couple in the family) was able to diagnose correctly. From general physician to specialist to dental surgeon and then finally to Dr Yesudian. The journey took two or three months but it was perhaps worth the wait, because we met the right person.
The dapper Dr Yesudian has a commanding presence. There’s something in him that immediately draws respect. He is a man of few words and you can tell easily that he is not one to suffer fools gladly. Even without exerting pressure of any sort, he can get the patient to listen to him. When we met him in 2000, he had little to say. He took a long, hard look at the ulcers, got through the clutter of the various treatments, test reports and prescriptions and came to brass-tacks quickly. He ordered a few tests, including a biopsy, and asked me to get the biopsy slides as well. The report alone would not do for him.
A mouth biopsy is extremely painful as can well be imagined. My poor mother went through it all without much fuss. Once the reports came in, Dr Yesudian took less then ten minutes to write out the prescription. He diagnosed the condition as a form of Lichen Planus. My mother was put on a short course of steroids. After the first shot, there was a remarkable improvement and in a couple of weeks the sores had disappeared. My respect for the doctor grew.
My mother had no complaint of mouth ulcer for ten years… until early this year. After a couple of old teeth were knocked off, she began experiencing pain again. This soon developed into a sore that would never heal. What was worse, the sore was spreading across the palate. Back we went to a couple of dental surgeons we knew, one of them Dr Prem Kumar who is rapidly making a mark for himself in the field of orthodontics, having already authored two textbooks and translated Graber’s Textbook of Orthodontics.
Their medicines really did not work and, this time, Dr Prem suggested that a biopsy be done. Biopsy over, my mother was put on a course of medicines by Dr Prem and his senior at the Government Dental Hospital. They diagnosed the condition as a rare form of Plasma Cell Gingivitis, but thought it worthwhile taking Dr Yesudian’s opinion.
So, off we went to Dr Yesudian’s clinic. Ten years had hardly changed him. He had as many patients, if not more, waiting. He tweaked the prescription a bit and included a short-term steroid. My mother’s condition has improved and she now swears by the good old dermatologist on Poonamallee High Road.