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Scene from a Medical Centre
Faruk Kader



I wonder, how much time we spend in managing our health in old ages! Visiting GP for routine check-up, routine blood-test, reactive diagnosis, consultation with specialist doctor - all take away a chunk of our old age life-span; let alone the long wait for the appointment of a specialist doctor, which could take months. Sometime, you wait at your local medical centre or a doctor’s chamber. If your waiting time is more than you have anticipated, then your time is well-spent in observing the shreds of life in the centre, hardly seen elsewhere.

I went to my local Ingleburn Medical Centre to see my GP a few days ago for some advice. Like any other days in the morning, the centre was abuzz with the enquiries of the patients and their movements. After waiting for some time in queue, I approached the fat reception girl and sought an appointment with my GP. I saw that four out of five girls at the reception were fat. Is it because they do sedentary jobs! Probably.

The reception girl said, “How are you today? How can I help you?” I wish I could tell her, “You should know why I am here!” Instead I said “I am not too bad.” Then prompted by her, confirmed my address and contact details, which I had to do every time I went to see my GP. After that I took my seat among the waiting patients.

The medical centre was full of patients, the majority of which were old people; kids and toddlers accompanied by their parents; multi-racial people, many of them were new comers to the locality, who outnumbered the locals. When I first experienced a busy day in the medical centre, I was shocked. So many people are sick and unhappy in this world! After that I became used to it.

Some patients were making way out of the doctors’ chambers, finishing their consultation and feeling a bit assured; others waited in their seats in silence, while young people browsed smart phones. A few old patients made entry with walking sticks with twisted and agonised body-movements. “I don’t want to be like them,” my inner-self cried out, “I want to remain as fit as ever.”

Meanwhile, the attending GPs after finishing consultation saw the patients off and called out names of the waiting patients to usher them into their chambers. The wait for call could vary from 15-20 minutes to one hour. I usually bring a book to read and to kill the waiting time. Today, my visit to the centre was not pre-planned. Without something to read, I waited for my call in silence like many. But, my eye sight was busy and I was trying to make sense of the hustle and bustle in the waiting lounge.

The centre had a number of TV monitors stuck on the wall, which promoted the centre’s facilities as well as showed programs from popular channels. The centre seemed to have every possible facilities imaginable, including treatment for anorexia, obesity, dementia, sports injury, IVF and also teeth whitening. The TV monitor nearest to my seat was showing a realty program by the Hollywood gay celebrity Allen. I never warmed up to Allen. Not because she is gay or I am homophobic. She earns so much money with her realty shows, which I think quite silly.

An obese lady of Pacific island origin had her buttock sprawled on to the adjacent seat. A toddler broke through her absent minded mother’s cordon and started stepping away from her mother, lurching sidewise. She said, “Um Um” and stopped just short of the obese lady and stared into her big face in wonder. Her mother rushed to the toddler; pretended admonishing her, “You naughty girl, what you are doing?” and then grabbing her returned to her seat. She held the toddler tight in her lap, which made the toddler cry, whence her mother stuck one pacifier into her mouth. End of the story.

I found my GP see off four to five patients meanwhile. Every time he came out, I vainly looked at him expecting to call my name. I had the impression from the reception girl that the waiting time would be short. Exasperated, I reached the reception girl and asked the reason for delay. She told me that there were a number of patients who wanted to see the GP on first available doctor. It’s not that they needed urgent attention. I didn’t argue further, being aware that it was futile to criticize the centre’s policy, so resigned to the reality that it was not my day, and went back to my seat.

The psychologist’s chamber was at one corner. During my wait, I saw the psychologist come out few times to welcome her patients into her chamber. I thought, attending mental patients could be a horrendous job: taking history, communicating with patients, spelling out strategies to cope with anxiety and depression – which could be different from patient to patients; mood disorder, tackling difficult patients, all those things. And doing it day after day might exact a toll on a psychologist. I would not be surprised, if the psychologist himself or herself becomes a mental patient in the long run! It is quite possible. I knew a female psychologist who practiced in our locality took her own life. Actually, the female psychologist of the centre appeared to me a bit untidy and jaded. Who knows, she might be bored enough. May be, she had been planning a long vacation, which would be the right thing to do. However, psychologist profession is a job well worth in gold. The mental issues with varying degrees are on rise among the population, and getting an appointment with a psychologist is not easy.

I too was getting bored as I waited for my call and almost fell into a nap. Then, I heard one GP call, “Megan Ryan, please.” I became alert and curiously looked at the patient, the namesake of the popular Hollywood actress. She stood up from her seat and started walking gracefully to the doctor’s chamber and came into my full view. She was an old but dignified lady, with white silky hair tucked behind into a red ring lace; she was wearing a frock printed with colourful flowers. As she walked her frock rustled, as if flower bloomed all around her. I thought she was very attractive and pleasing in her heyday. Her attending GP allowed her to go past him; and he followed her to his chamber. And then she vanished from my sight.

My reverie about the lady came to an abrupt end after a few seconds; was it seconds or minutes, I couldn’t remember, when I heard my GP call my name and beckoned me to follow him to his chamber.



Faruk Kader, Sydney, 31/12/2017



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                            Published on: 8-Jan-2018