A meeting with Doctor Strange

by Terence

I’ve never liked going to Polyclinics. Nothing against them because I feel that low cost healthcare does have it’s place, but I’d rather pay more for a shorter queue and better service. My last experience at a Polyclinic was very forgettable. It was hot, muggy and crowded, and I waited for at least 2 hours before finally getting to see the doctor for about 5 minutes.

Before we brought Clare home yesterday, we were told that her jaundice levels were on a downward trend. However, to play safe, we were told to bring Clare to a polyclinic today to do a follow-up jaundice level test. Given my apprehension about polyclinics, we tried calling up the nearest children’s clinic in Tiong Bahru, but they didn’t do the test and advised us to go to the polyclinic… shucks.

So we got in line and waited… As expected, it was a pretty long wait. The doctor turned out to be a complete ass. I could have sworn that the sign on his door read “Consultation”, but the moment I got in the room, he proceeded to prescribe the treatment, which was to come back everyday for a blood test until her jaundice levels were back to normal.

When I tried to explain why we were here, he got annoyed and told me very pompously that he wanted to “clear a misconception” on my part. Clare’s jaundice levels were not normal, and if I wanted to take the risk of brain damage to my child I could do so. He then told me this insurance agent inspired story about this chicken rice seller he knew whose son ended up in a special school because of jaundice.

Now both Joan and myself have Clare’s best interests at heart, but if you are going to tell us something radically different from all the other medical professionals have told us, then I think that we are fully entitled to a clear explanation. I didn’t like the way he treated us as if we were some poorly educated juveniles who needed his paternalistic brand of medical advice. Like I said, I went into the room expecting a consultation, not a quickfix.

It was obvious that he was in a hurry to go home. He shooed us out to get the blood test done, telling us that the lab would be closing in 5 minutes. When we finally got back, he took the results, and without so much of a glance at them, he summarily told us almost exactly what he told me earlier. Come back for a blood test every 2 days, and a special blood test after 14 days.

I asked him to explain why this was necessary, since her jaundice levels on a downward trend and we could visually monitor Clare’s jaundice levels daily. He didn’t bother to explain. He just threatened us by saying “Just do it, just do it”, and said that “the pain of the blood test will be forgotten in 5 minutes, but brain damage is for life”. !!!?

By this point we couldn’t be bothered to argue further with him. It was obvious that the desire to be rid of each other was mutual. We said that we would like to get a second opinion (no reaction from him), said thank you and left.

A medical degree does not:
1) mean that you can ignore what the patient wants.
2) automatically equate to providing good healthcare.
3) mean that you have a free ticket to a good life, and that your patients owe you a living.

On a happier note, my trigger-happiness with the camera and Clare is still very evident. She looks different everyday, and I wish I could capture every moment of it.

My two favourite girls 🙂

I wanted this so that I could remember how small her hands were. Actually her fingers are pretty long for her age.

Not sure how long the froggy mobile will keep her fascinated, but it was lovely to see our little frog princess watching them so attentively 🙂