Finally i decide to blog...There are many reasons for not blogging for so long.I am a very visual person who believes in ‘seeing is believing’ rather than ‘ reading is believing’. I’ve always thought posting images is much easier done on facebook or Picasa rather than on a blog.
Secondly I am a person whose writing is concise and to the point ( Perhaps that is the reason why i was not among the highest scorers in descriptive subjects ) . But now that my confidence is inflated thanks to my dear friends on facebook , i am typing already! If Amitabh Bacchan has been blogging for a couple of years now, its high time that i start right away :) My professor and HOD friend in endodontics will be extremely unhappy if she would come to know that i am writing a blog rather than writing my research article, but never mind...There is this strange happiness that you derive when you do things that you aren’t supposed to be doing. I used to love watching cricket ( even if it was the quarterfinal of a test series, even if i don't like the game) just one day before my exam. I watched the whole of Sholay for the second time, just before my tenth standard boards, though i was never a hindi movie buff. This is one of such pleasures.
Now let me stop my excusitis for not blogging and talk about Eyetis..
It is a word coined by me( patents pending), because i don’t like the use of any other words that is used to describe it: “ Conjunctivitis”, “ Eye flu”, “ Madras eye” or “ Pink eye”. I thought let me find a more subtle word to describe it, just in case i get affected by the highly contagious infection that has continued to haunt me for few years now.
If there is one thing that scares me it is the virus. I am scared of this little infectious particle, not because it causes a variety of deadly diseases, but because it is one of the only living species that makes man repeatedly realize how helpless and not in control he can get in front of them. Be it a silly running nose or life threatening AIDS, there’s nothing much that can be done, once this creature gains entry into our system!
And there are reasons, why Iam continually haunted by eyetis. There are memories that are painfully etched in my mind of the infection and the stigma that came attached to it. I guess, everybody treats an HIV infected person with respect, thanks to the etiquette that the education system has taught us “ They are no different people. Treat them like humans”. But when it comes to Eyetis, i guess everybody forgets their manners, and just runs away.
The first time it hit me was when i was in my internship, in the department of pedodontics. It was school vacation time in May, with lots of interesting children patients coming to the department. But there were two other thing that came that season along with the kids. Flu and eyetis.
There was a filling in a front tooth of a five year old child that i had to do. As soon as i realized that she had eyetis, a hypochondriac that I am, i politely refused. My professor who was doing his usual rounds saw this and made sure that i took up the case after shoving it into my head that i was the most unprofessional doctor to refuse a patient.
Predictably, pink striae started appearing in my eye by evening( that's why i believe it is called Pink Eye). My friends who said a “ hi” by shaking hands, stopped doing so and kept a distance of two feet from me. By late night, my eye opening on the left eye was restricted to 1mm. I woke up the next morning only to find myself at the wash basin trying to open my left eye for half an hour. I am eternally grateful to my roommates, who even once did not give me a feeling of being unwanted or being infected. And some of my fondest memories of convalescence are in room # 133. It was a Saturday, and though you cannot afford to bunk on a Saturday because of the heavy load of patients, i was immediately quarantined to the Isolation room where they deal with difficult children.
Saturday was also a day when they serve you ice cream in the mess in the afternoon. Our combined mess, meant to cater to all the students of the hostels, was a large one. However it used to be extremely crowded on a Saturday afternoon because everybody gets back from college at the same time.( also probably because they serve you ice cream). Though there was enough and more seating arrangement, you always had to wait for your turn to sit on a crowded day. This Saturday, the mess was especially so. The waiting queue almost extended till the stairs of the mess. So i had to wait for another fifteen minutes before i finally found a chair to sit.
The moment i sat on a chair, a very strange thing happened. Five chairs next to me on either side got vacated instantly. I thought everyone must have finished their lunch, so i looked around, only to find the standing queue still extending to the exit door. But no one would want to sit near me. I quickly gobbled my lunch and ice cream in embarrassment. I faintly remember this story told at school about how Dr. BR Ambedkar was made to sit next to a tied goat away from the rest of the class and treated like an outcast. Today i was treated like one. I thought the whole ordeal would last for three days max, so i was glad that there was a Sunday in between. By Monday, i realized that my right eye just caught the infection from the left. So that made it another four days for the right eye to heal, hence a whole week of eyetis. When i was finally out of eyetis, i was so glad that a difficult funny phase of my life was just over.
Seven years have passed since then. I am now a practising dentist in Gurgaon. I again hear about eyetis doing rounds this monsoon just before the commonwealth games. I ignored it all this while until the dental technician who comes to the clinic to collect the impressions, comes wearing jet black goggles. This is the beginning of problems i thought.
“ Stay away from him,” I tell my dental assistant. “ I don’t want you to catch this infection. I have rootcanals lined up for the whole week. I cant afford to get eyetis again.” He laughs, but tells me that he’s been avoiding sitting next to him in the reception and having a chat with him.
“ Dont even go to the reception area when he is around.” I advise him. “ I have a very important patient who is flying here just to get his rootcanal fixed this Tuesday. Imagine me calling him up and telling him i cant do his rootcanals because of my sore eyes! Avoid!”
The more i try to avoid something, the more it haunts me. True to this rule, my dental assistant turns up to the clinic the next day with small red eyes. In my fit of anger, i gave him a good piece of my mind on ignoring my advice to stay away from the lab technician. My assistant says “ abhi kya kare, jo ho gaya hai uske barein mein kuch nahi kar sakte..”
I resigned to my fate of spending time with the dental assistant in a closed space of 12 square feet. I sent him to the reception area for most of the time that i was in the clinic. I set an appointment with my ophthalmologist and asked her for prophylactic eye drops. I continued using the placebo eye drops for three days, until my assistant’s eye became better. I asked him to wear a pair of glasses, only to find that he too had bought the same kind of jet black big goggles with golden side rims. I wonder if the virus spreads by just looking at the redness in the eye that everyone buys these stupid looking glasses. My patients would run away , had they seen him with those black goggles. Imagine, getting treated by a dentist with an eyetis patient half a feet away from you suctioning your mouth!. So i asked him to avoid wearing those black goggles now that his eyes had drastically improved.
“ Stay away from the dental assistant” i warned my driver. Imagine my driver getting eyetis and me resigning to fate of spending time in the closed space of an air conditioned car waiting to get infected by him. “ Haan, mujhe pata hain!” “ Didi, meri biwi ko bhi aankh ka infection huwa hain”
Now who can stop me from getting infected i wondered. My driver instead of returning home went to his brother’s house for two days to avoid the infection. I began calling my dentist friends to tell them that i may have to tentatively cancel my root canal appointments at their clinics as i may get eyetis in another two or three days. A wise senior dentist smiled and told me that conjunctivitis only affects you once. I instantly took his words. I would love to believe his words. After all Tuesday was just three days away. This very important patient had to be treated at any cost!
On Saturday i developed a slight running nose, which got converted to a severe sore throat by evening. By Sunday i developed temperature and my eyes were slightly red. I kept looking into the mirror inspite of my fever just to see if there were any pink striae in my eyes, but there weren’t.
I took a course of heavy duty antibiotics just to make sure Iam fine by Tuesday. On Monday, i could barely walk, but by Tuesday i was up and ready for this root canal that i waited for so long.
At ten past ten in the morning, a man wearing jet black goggles walks into the dental office and shakes hands with me “ Hi, Iam scheduled for a root canal in your office!”..