• Respect for a lady

    Dr Swati was early that day – which was not unusual: she liked to have the extra half-hour she could get to dig deep into a patient’s condition. Today, the first post-operative day of a major surgery she had done in a while, was especially important – so she sacrificed the half-hour she got with her husband after her daughter had left for school, so that she could get the nitty-gritty details from the nurse at the ICU.

    Sometimes, it took a lot of detailed questioning – nurses had enough work in their hands, and sometimes were not quite tuned to a particular doctor or a patient – so it took Swati a good 45 mins to complete her examination, make her notes, and leave instructions for the day before she made it to her OPD where she already had a number of patients waiting impatiently for her.

    It took Dr Swati a good 45 minutes to complete her examination and leave instructions for the ICU patient before she could reach the out-patient, where patients were waiting for her.

    Which was the reason that by the time she was seeing the young Arab lady – her third patient for the day – the young male escort was already a little put-off. Swati could make out he was not a local Arab – not only from the difference in the way he wore his dish-dash but the slightly brash and arrogant manner.

    His brash and arrogant manner suggested he was from out of town.

    The patient had a bad collection of pus in a very private location, and was in obvious pain – though it was plain also that she had a low pain-threshold and given to full expression of it to gain sympathy from people. The male escort – Ahmed – definitely appeared over-concerned and over-protective!

    Swati had dealt with such dynamics a lot, so she went about her work with expert ease, reassuring the patient and her escort who she took to be the husband, – erroneously, as it turned out. But who could fault her for that? – Arab’s are known to be very protective of their women, after all. But things turned sticky when the moment came to examine the area of concern – the patient was very apprehensive and Dr Swati had a tough time explaining that a little bit of gentle manipulation could probably solve the problem on the spot.

    “A little gentle manipulation,” explained Dr Swati, “and maybe you won’t need a surgical procedure.”

    The moment she touched the offending area, the patient let out a loud wail and whimper, and Ahmed jumped up like a soldier protecting his country.
    “How dare you touch her in that way!!” he screamed. “Stand back, you wretch!!”

    Dr Swati was non-plussed; “It’s a routine procedure,” she explained. “There is a big collection of pus here, and I can drain it out. She may feel a bit of pain now, but this would be better than going through a surgical procedure.”

    But when the doctor touched the place again, the patient screamed in exaggerated pain, and now the escort was besides himself with rage; he all but grabbed the doctor by her lapel.

    “You low-life!” he yelled at the doctor. “You will not touch her, or I will break your hand!!”

    Code Purple had not yet been implemented at the hospital by then, so all Dr Swati could do was to walk out of her room and seek shelter in the PRO’s room. Security staff was summoned and an hour was wasted calming everyone down, including Dr Swati.

    Two hours later, Dr Swati was tearfully explaining the incident to her husband Dr Vivek over the phone during the lunch break. “I suggest you don’t leave it at this,” Vivek advised his wife. “Last time – remember you had that problem back in India – and because you thought things had blown over, you got into trouble for not informing the authorities. I don’t want you to go through the same thing again.”

    “Better report it to the police – for safety’s sake,” advised Dr Swati’s husband, Dr Vivek.

    So the next morning, the two were at the local police station, along with the Hospital Administrator – who had begged them to delay it by a day. The policeman on duty was very nice, listened to the whole account and made sympathetic noises.

    “What do you think made that chap so aggressive?” was his question.
    “Absolutely no idea, sir.” said Dr Swati. “It was as if he was waiting for an excuse to create a scene. Neither in my words, nor in my tone did I convey anything offensive – not even in my intent. I was genuinely trying to help the young lady.”
    “Ok,” said the officer, ending the conversation.”Please give me a few hours’ time. I might want you to come back here, depending on when this fellow reports to us.”

    It was not until the next day that she was summoned back, and she met the officer again – but the offender was not to be seen. The policeman showed her a letter, written in Arabic, and said, “This is an unconditional apology from the young man.”

    “This is an unconditional apology from the young man.” said the policeman, showing her a letter in Arabic.

    He continued as Dr Swati nodded, “We uncovered many interesting things, though. He is on a short visit here, with this lady friend – who he is trying to impress. He has serious money problems, and I suspect marrying her is a possible solution that he is looking at; and he is not in good with her because she knows his long history of drug abuse. In fact, he has far from kicked the habit and was very much under the influence when you met him yesterday.”

    “Threatening somebody is bad enough – almost on par with actually carrying out that threat,” continued the officer. “Threatening a lady is classified separately – it’s a graver offense, apart from being shameful. But threatening somebody who is carrying out his or her duty – now that takes it to a whole new level. The punitive damages for him would be compounded because of all this.”

    “And I am not even touching upon his drug problem, by the way: abusing drugs is a serious offense in all Islamic countries, and possessing them compounds the offense. And contrary to popular belief, committing a crime under the influence of drugs does not provide somebody an excuse – rather, it escalates the offense and invites stronger punishment.”

    “Threatening a lady doctor while she is performing her duty is a bad enough crime – it is only made worse by the fact that he was under the influence of a recreational drug.”

    “This young man could have been in serious trouble based on your complaint, madam. The only reason I didn’t book him for his crimes was because he is on a visit, does not have any record either here or back in his country – I checked it out, and he is clean. That, and plus he is well-connected – both here and at home – so he would have got off the hook, anyway.”

    The officer continued his statement. “I hope you don’t take this to be a typical situation; he comes from a country which is known for it’s strict laws against drug abuse, and this situation itself is very unusual. Please do not harbor any ill-feelings against us.”

    “Please do not harbor any ill-feelings against us, madam,” the policeman begged. “Not all Arab men are like this!!”

    “Oh no, sir!” exclaimed Dr Swati. “Far from it. I have always been treated very well in this country, and the amount of respect I receive not only as a doctor but as a lady doctor is beyond belief. As you said, this is an unusual incident – and the only reason I brought it to your notice was to protect other ladies that he may threaten, under the influence of a drug or otherwise. I hope he learns the lesson to trust and respect his doctor.”

    “The respect I receive as a lady doctor in this country is incredible,” said Dr Swati

    “You have the choice to continue to treat her or to refer her to somebody.” said the cop.
    “After this unsavory episode, I would not like to risk it any further. I am sure that my colleague at the hospital would be able to provide the same care and treatment, so I will ask him to take over, if that is okay.”
    “Oh yes,” declared the policeman. “You are within your rights as long as you are reassured the patient is taken care of.”
    And there the matter ended.
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