Over the course of the last 31 years, I have had many, many bad experiences with doctors. Some were just poor, but more recently, they’ve taken the shape of being diabolical. So much so that I’ve decided to eschew all conventional, allopathic medicine in favour of pure Ayurveda.
(Disclaimer: I am not looking for an argument, so please don’t try convincing me otherwise. Secondly, I know that there are good, honest, and decent doctors also out there. I’ve met 2, but they are sadly not available for me any more. This isn’t a post vilifying the medical fraternity, but one to explain my somewhat drastic life choice.)
Earlier this year, my father had a gastric infection. He was weak and nauseated. He couldn’t lift his head from the pillow, except to go throw up in the sink. We tried to wait it out, because he suffered from diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, anaemia, and high uric acid. Any other medicines would not have improved the quality of his life. (We were subsequently proven right, by the way.)
This went on for a week, when we finally decided to take him to a doctor. We have been visiting that clinic from the time my mother was a kid. The old doctor passed away (1 of the 2 I mentioned before) and his son has taken over his practice. He knows us. He knows dad. He has prescribed for dad a countless times.
Which is why he should have known that one of his medicines causes an allergic reaction in my dad’s system. My father’s face swelled tight, with skin stretching like a balloon over his features. He should’ve known because this wasn’t the first time it had happened. Last time it was gastric infection medicine again.
Worse still, the medicines didn’t ease his discomfort. so we took him to another doctor. She tested his blood, and realised his creatinine level was high – not dangerously so, but over the acceptable limit. She referred us to a nephrologist, telling us not to worry because this was reversible.
I called work and said I wouldn’t be coming in, and I took my father to the hospital. There, we met the nephrologist. He asked my father a few questions, poked him stomach a few times, and sent him out to the weighing scale. That’s the moment he chose to drop a bombshell on me: my father would eventually need dialysis.
I froze. My father already suffers enough ailments. Now dialysis too? I barely had a moment to react, when dad walked back in. The doctor prescribed a laundry list of medicines, advised us to consult with a nutritionist, and get a blood test done immediately.
In a daze, I clutched the prescriptions and exited the room. I bought the medicines from the hospital pharmacy, and headed back home. My mother was in tears. I was in tears. My father was exhausted, and needed to lie down.
The next morning, I bought the remaining medicine from the doctor. He had advised against buying them from the pharmacy, because it would work out to be 3 times more expensive, and he could procure them for us at a much better rate. Sure, we said, you know best. He was in a different hospital, closer to home this time. We met up with him, and he took us to his car, where he pulled out a package from under his seat. It was very cloak and dagger, and my father and I visibly squirmed.
We came home, and for the first time in my life, I administered an injection. I am hopelessly squeamish, and I nearly passed out just after. I was trembling like a leaf, because I was feeling physically sick at the thought of poking my own father with a needle.
A week later, I had the blood tests done. The creatinine level had increased, in spite of the fact my father was on medication. He had barely eaten anything. I called the doctor to ask whether this was expected. He said yes. I went to work in silence.
My mother sat in front of the pooja place at home, and wept. She prayed for God to take my father away, but not to make him suffer so much. We had reached the end of our tethers. I resigned myself to never seeing my father back to himself ever again – happy, bouncy and full of life and laughter. Over.
Two weeks, we religiously took the medicine. Two weeks, and my father was still not better. Two weeks, and a ray of hope unexpectedly burst into our lives. We met Bua.
Bua is the most unlikely doctor you will ever see. He is a villager – a Maharashtrian villager, with a Gandhi topi, white wide-legged trousers, wizened brown skin, terrible teeth, and not a word of English.
He came home to check my father. He took my father’s hand in his, closed his eyes, and let it go. We hadn’t told him anything, except that my father was sick. He wrote down my father’s age, and a few other illegible details. Turned around to my mother and said, “Don’t worry. I will bring down his creatinine level. It is only 7. 9 is the danger level.”
My jaw dropped. This man hadn’t seen the blood reports. 7 was the exact reading. We hadn’t shared that information with anyone except the doctor.
He turned to me next, and said, “I need 4 days to make the medicine. I will call you when it is ready. Come and collect it from the nearest railway station.”
I nodded, and he left. 4 days later, I collected the medicines. Packets of powders, bottles of oils, and clearly homemade pills. I looked at them in confusion. This was supposed to cure my father? These powders, mixed in with milk, water or lemon juice? Seriously?
I took the packets home, and the next day my father started taking them – and stopped all other medicine. I was very wary, but we made a decision to go the whole hog. The pills and injections weren’t making him better anyway.
In one day, the nausea stopped. The second day, his weakness went away. The third day, he started feeling hungry again. I checked his blood sugar. It was normal. Not diabetes normal, normal-normal. I was convinced.
Some well-meaning friends did question our decision. But I knew the condition my father was in, and this was my father – I didn’t acquiesce to this decision lightly.
Fast forward several months, my father no longer takes diabetes medicine. Not a single pill. I check his blood sugar every week, and it is still normal. I had a blood test done again, and his creatinine level had halved.
Bua came a week after I got the test results, to check dad himself. He closed his eyes, and told me the number on the blood report exactly. To the decimal point.
This is why I moved my family to Ayurveda.