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Sunday, 2 November 2014


“When you the doctors* are now falling sick, then what will happen to people like us…….?”  These were the words of my neighbor when I recently felt sick.

His words reminded me of the perception of the society towards medics. Most people think it’s awkward or even impossible for a doctor to fall sick. Yes the perception is understandable, but it’s important to be reminded that medics are also humans like any of you.

In fact medics are no exception to the life style diseases you have heard about like diabetes, hypertension etc. But wait, haven’t you seen the doctors with pot bellies, drinks heavily and smoke lots of cigarettes? There are even those who are in sexual networks. It’s not obvious that someone will practice what they preach.

I think a doctor undergoes the most psychological stress when he falls sick especially to serious diseases. The fact that you know exactly what is happening in your body, how the disease is progressing and if the drugs are no longer working is way more stressing than to any ordinary patient.

It’s considered unethical for a doctor to treat himself or a relative. This has been attributed to the fact that we can’t make good decisions in an emotional state. But just imagine you’re the only doctor in a health center and your son is brought in with a very serious injury and he requires immediate surgery, won’t you operate on him?
The temptation for a doctor to always treat himself is always there. 
Often times we make efforts to emphasize to our patients the importance of adhering to medicines prescribed to them. Poor patient’s compliance often is because of the side effects of drugs. Recently I was also a victim. I was given metronidazole (flagyl) to take for an infection. I gave up on finishing the dose because it caused too much nausea, loss of appetite and dizziness. You see sometimes the doctor doesn't even finish his own medication.

The only ‘advantage’ when a doctor falls sick, is that he is able to recognize symptoms early enough and immediately seek medical attention. A case in point is the Ebola doctors who quarantined themselves. This goes a long way in preventing complications.

Of late there has been a call for doctors to lead the way in fighting those diseases by living by example. I think this will go a long way in combating many diseases of public health concern.
Sometimes the imagination of what you read can sometimes drives you nuts.

Hmmmmm bottom line is that sometimes I wished I didn't study about all these diseases or drugs.

*I have used the term doctor to mean the entire health care team which include among others a physician, pharmacist, nurse etc

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