Doctor ! You are sick !!

I was taken ill last week. It started as a simple cough and cold, and soon, I lost my voice. When I tried to speak, only a hiss would come out. The difficult part was that I was not looking badly ill. I used to fresh up every day and would go to hospital. For few days, I managed by giving written down instructions to the staff and avoided the outpatient clinics .In between, paroxysms of cough would come and who ever happens to see me would ask

“Doctor ! You are sick !!”

When I failed to attend the clinic for few days some patients started complaining .Worse, when they happen to meet me at the wards, they would think I was faking illness and avoiding the clinics. The best thing would have been to call in sick and take leave, but then, that would bring further resentment among colleagues, who have to put up with the extra work. Personal days and sick days are frowned upon in the physician world, yet daily I am writing work and school notes for patients. I sit in the clinic giving sick leave for those who come to me with pharyngitis , and asking them to give ‘voice rest’, all the while, talking to them  in my husky voice. Physicians are expected to be superhuman. In the last fifteen years, I have never called in sick, not that I had not been sick. There were many times I continued working at the hospital with the troubling pains of kidney stones, which is a constant companion these days.

It was interesting to see how people look at us when we fall sick.

It may be hard to believe, but we get health problems too, like anyone else out there.
I see this odd view surprisingly often. People somehow expect us to be beyond the health concerns of ordinary people. We may be doctors, but we’re also humans. Prone to the same illnesses, bad luck, and erroneous judgments the rest of mortals are. Being a doctor doesn’t protect you from the things that affect others. The chances are that we might catch infections more often than others, because of the frequent exposure to illnesses.

I also learned something. For a person who is sick, his own sickness is the worst. If the nose is blocked, the nose becomes the most important organ. If a leg is injured, that is the worst situation possible. We forget those with heart attacks or cancers.

On the flip side, sometimes we’re surprised when something serious happens to us. At times, there seems to be an unspoken belief that by devoting ourselves to caring for others, it should magically protect us from those same diseases we fight. I wish if it were so.

If anything, the high stress nature of our work makes us more likely to have bad things happen. We often ignore our own issues because of the time needed to care for others. Most of us live sleep deprived, stressed up lives, and survive on food that we’d never advise others to take. When I come back from the hospital, it has become almost a routine for me to pick up a sandwich from Burger King or Mc Donald. That is exactly what I ask them not to do.

I get angry at patients for not exercising, or a poor diet, or forgetting to pick up their prescriptions. I call them ‘non compliant’!  But I do the same stuff as much as, if not more often, than they do. After a long day at the clinic and tiring hospital rounds, and dealing with un ending problems at home, when do I have time to do my exercise, pick up my aspirin and get something decent for dinner?. And hope that over the weekend I’ll find time to exercise. Or get up earlier in the morning and go for jogging. It never happens.


  1. Sorry to hear this news. Hope you're much better. At times you have to give yourself a mandatory rest!! People tend to forget doctors are humans too and overlook the sacrifices doctors give. They think doctors can heal themselves without much problem.

  2. Anil and I were wondering what happened to you!

    Now, I wonder why instead of saying 'tsk,tsk, get well soon' and such other sympathetic cluckings, I am chuckling! Guess laymen get a sadistic pleasure when doctors who order them about diets and dos and donts fall ill! :D

    Drink a lot of warm water, doc, and every morning, gargle with salted lukewarm water! Bill you later when i see you later! ;)

  3. hey..Doc..I was wondering ..didnt see ya blog longtyme..but its sorry to know about your bad health...this kinda a viral infections needs lots of rest and sleep which I assume from ur write up are not doing ,take care of your health...
    A piece of advice...
    "you cannot please everyone in this world"

  4. This kind of cough is getting common here now. My daughter has it and my sis too. And looks like I am getting it too! What is it? It can't be the flu! There is no fever! The doc Prescribed antihistamines for allergy!

    My BIL is a doc here. So I know that docs are humans too. He is hardly ever at home! :D

    Get well soon doc. Take rest and please don't eat junk food. I am getting jealous! ;)

  5. Dr Antony,

    I hope you get well soon.

    On a lighter note:-

    No offense but in my opinion doctors make the worst patients.

  6. My dad was a doc...forget patients even for us it was difficult to digest the fact that he could fall sick. Lovely read as always..

  7. "It may be hard to believe, but we get health problems too, like anyone else out there." Indeed, for we do believe like you say that doctors are superhuman. However I hope you are better now and all the best to stay that way.

  8. Take good rest and get well soon.It was nice to hear a doctor's side about falling sick also that doctors are human and not the superhumans they seem like most of the time. I love the doggie pic :).

  9. doc , now the mystery of the disappearance from the Blog pages is cleared.

    How can a person who prescribes matters for alleviating pain and illness , himself fall sick? It is like the Gods falling ill!

    Any way get well soon.

  10. Aaahhh Anil echoes my thoughts - like Gods falling ill. How can that be possible. But it so happens and its a pretty uneasy one isnt it

    Alright, get well soon

  11. OH--You will be OK soon.
    Dr, if you fall sick, who will take care of your patients?

  12. Hope you get well soon...your post makes me respect the profession even more.....
    Great job Doc but do take care of yourself!

  13. my sister is doctor....and poor training registrar.....she has to bear with every third day night duty...whenever she gets ill...she usually comes across such comments..''lo doctor to khudi bimar hay'':-)
    get well soon dear doctor....the illness really does not suit the active people like you per i could guess from your writings.

  14. Aw... I hope you are feeling better by now :-)


  15. Oh dear! Get well soon. even at the place I work, people look down up on (no kidding) when we call in sick. What do they expect eh? Would they rather we come and be sick for 5 days or just take rest for couple of days and be ready on 3rd?
    Anyway, you get well soon doc.

  16. @Keats
    That is the usual hear say.And doctors often tend to ignore many things as well.
    I was thinking of writing a mail.How ever small a sickness is, it is a sickness.Can I tell you some thing? When I don't feel well,I ask my sisters what to do.Some of them are good than many doctors I have seen.
    Sure you can bill me. I will pay next month when I come home.
    Half of our hospital staff are already affected.It is some kind of funny virus.Only symptomatic treatment would do.Having said that,I had to take a good course of antibiotics,when it went on for more than a week.Voice rest is important.
    Yes,I have heard that being said. Some are very apprehensive because they know about illnesses and complications.
    Thanks. I am already better.
    I remember you having mentioned him before.Your father must have been dedicated to work. i can understand.
    @Raji and Rachna
    Thanks.It is good to hear kind words.
    Yes,that is the joke. Last week, a colleague of mine who was the HOD at another hospital,was simply found dead, leaning on to his computer table.His wife,who is a doctor,called him few times,and finding no response, came back home to find him dead.
    Like I had said once, death is an unbeatable enemy.Spares no one.
    Like Anil said.I feel like an ant when I fall sick.Times when one realizes how helpless we are.
    I used to think so when I started my career.No one is indispensable,that is the truth.If not me,someone else.I never believe when my patients tell me,' doctor,I don't go to anyone else', because I know they lie.
    @ AN Beginning
    There is good and bad in every thing.
    @Heavenly muse
    Even after she becomes a consultant,not much will change.I do alternate day on calls these days, the only difference will be that you can be at home.But, still, I am not relaxed even when I sit at home.
    Thanks,Doris. I am already better.Good wishes take effect soon !
    Being sick is bad,especially when others don't believe you are sick!

  17. Dr.Antony, it hurts even to hear about that voice breaking virus, we had it here two years took over two weeks to regain normal voice.
    You are one true kept attending clinic. Here doctors are very irregular..every now and then they are off..kind and caring factor is missing..I mean at family physician level.
    You must pay more heed to self care too...hope you get relaxed time....Hope you are feeling much better now. Thanks for sharing with us.:)

  18. Get well soon Doctor.. and please take care of your health.. it is more precious than those of us mere mortals, call it a selfish concern if you want to :)

  19. Take care and get your voice back:)
    You are right,a person I know who had surgery in her throat and has a tube inside told me it should never happen to anybody, it is the worst thing that can happen to anybody .she told me no one is suffering like she does. I told her, my cousin’s 3 yr old, that too only child has cancer. I didn’t bother to explain to her the pain the little baby is going through. I feel one much think about the less fortunate people when you think you have the worst suffering in the world. ..

  20. Sorry to hear your news, here's to a speedy recovery and getting your voice back.

  21. Sorry to hear abt your sickness.Hope you are all right now.
    I too hate calling sick even if I am sick.Being in a one man private practise it is tough for both myself and the patients. So I used to over treat myself even with a sniff of fever or cold.Now I am more wise but still take a lot symptomatic medicines.
    Many believe doctors go on working even if they are sick because they are crazy for money. More than money it is the thought of patients who depend on you that make us work even if you are sick. I hate to hear patients saying "Doctor, you were not available for a week and we didn't know what to do. We were really desperate and so went to......". Also I hate the overflowing waititng room the day you start working again.
    Yes many doctors believe that they wont get those dreaded illness. Recently a doctor working in my district ignored his chest pain as "GAS" for the whole night only to collapse and die the next day in the hospital.
    Good that you reminded me to regularise my work out schedules.

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. Sir, Would like to know your view on this issue

  24. Dr. Antony,

    How are you feeling now? Have not seen you for a few days now?

  25. Pei pa koa is pretty decent cough medicine (from herbal as I remembered), great non alcoholic medicine, some western cough medicine are more effective, but this is non drowsy.

    You can access info online @

  26. It is hard to believe that doctors get sick. But in the real sense we are the ones that give him our germs. Hope you are feeling better soon and sorry you can't seem to get off work.

  27. Get well soon. Yes we do like to believe doctors are superhuman. Some of them do put on airs too!

  28. How are you doing?:)take rest and get well soon,not just for the patients but for us too:):)

  29. Yes of course, it's hard to imagine a "sick doctor". Nice read.

  30. @Usha
    Unheard of viruses these days.And no one knows what kind.Funniest, no treatment ! I am OK now.
    @Hapy Kitten
    We are all the same mortals.Do you know what I think about healing? Might laugh at me.I am getting wiser as I get older.
    I think it is destiny.Only those who are destined to live,will do so. People survive illnesses mostly by natural mechanisms.
    Thank you Roshan. I am OK now,but got busy at work. We get short of people at times.
    I don't have explanations for these kind of things. I have asked myself..why do children suffer? We believe in God, and then hoow does he forsake those who trust in Him?
    Yesterday, a colleague of mine lost his cousin sister in a tragic accident. She was just twenty years old,and slipped and fell in to a water fall.How the family will survive this sorrow?
    More than anything,the worst suffering would be to see a child suffering in front of parents.
    Thank you. I am fine now.At times like this,one knows how the patients feel.
    We tend to believe what the patients tell us.I think the trust factor is on the decline.I don't believe when they tell me," Doctor, where were you? I will not go to any other doctor ,but you". They probably would say the same thing to every doctor.I would put the blame on doctors,because they don't show an iota of sincerity to the patients.It has become all money business.
    I am OK now. Got busy at the hospital due to shortage of staff.
    Thanks for visiting.Come as often.
    I tried some herbal remedies too. In Kerala we have the 'Chucku Kappi',which is good. It is made of coffee, dried ginger,pepper and jaggery.
    Thank you,I am better now. When we get infections,it is difficult.We get some immunity due to frequent exposure.
    Thanks for the wishes.It is good to know that I got so many friends !

    So kind of you Meera. I got better by last week,but then,got busy at the hospital.If one doctor goes on leave, others end up doing the extra work. I was planning to go home on a vacation as well.
    Not sickening doctors !

  31. Get well soon.i wish u that:)
    nice blog of urs,,i enjoyed.thank u

  32. Doc ,you have described the in and out of a Doc's life.I agree that doctors are considered superhuman and nobody imagines the Doctor life in his perspective .He too has his own life ,his limitations ,his health concerns and all.

  33. Its good to know that even doctors get troubled like ordinary mortals when they are sick. Enjoyed reading your post..hope to read more ...

  34. @Dreamer
    Welcome to the blog.Thanks for the visit.
    I know you are too busy a writer.Thanks for the comment.We try not to look sick!
    Welcome.Come often.Doctors are said to be the worst patients!

  35. Yes we do sometime feel that doctors can;t get sick. It sound wried "Doc you are sick"

    Get well soon

  36. "well said doc.... but do take care of urself coz ur precious to us".......... !!!!!!!!

  37. Same problem for teachers. Take care of everyone, don't dare take time for yourself, give and believe it's a calling not a job. I have bills that would say differently. All I hear from doctor's is how I can go to work because they believe my pain isn't that bad. Wow. Can I give them the pain they so blithely downgrade?


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