It’s no secret to those who know and love me that I am a champion hypochondriac. Every headache is a tumor. Each upset stomach is a signal of pending death. Trouble breathing and an elevated heartbeat is most certainly a stroke. I’ve survived heart attacks, amoebas, flesh eating bacterial infections, cholera, malaria, alien invasions, swine flu, bird flu, cow flu, yellow fever, red fever, green fever, and I’m also pretty sure I’ve had testicular cancer at least twice. So, it should come as no surprise that when I made the choice to move to India my loved ones were, shall I say, a bit skeptical about my decision. Truth be told, I was a bit skeptical too. But I am always up for an adventure (not without a healthy dose of panic mind you). And besides, everyone knows that all the best doctors come from India, right? I took my chances.
When I arrived my new colleagues told me that I would be sick a lot this year. I listened, but had no idea how right they really were. Having been recently diagnosed with tonsillitis, bronchitis, and sinusitis I was curious about the number of times I’d missed school due to illness this year. I consulted my sick leave applications: ten sick days. Ten? Ten! Ten, and it’s only the 1st of April! That’s five times more than I was sick the last two years of my teaching career and my year in India isn’t even over yet. Yikes.
I’m lucky though. I work at a school that anticipates things like this for its first year teachers. They give us time to heal and they have lists of good Indian doctors. My doctor makes house calls anytime I need him. He is kind; he listens; and he knows people. People like Sumesh. Sumesh is a vampire. He takes people’s blood for a living. Most of the vampires I’ve interacted with are at doctor’s offices or clinics. They are all very nice but when they prick, I panic. I can feel the blood draining from my veins and immediately get nauseous and light headed and scared. But not with Sumesh. Sumesh is different.
He came to my house this morning to take some samples for a battery of tests my doctor/nutritionist ordered. After presenting my long list of tests, he proceeded to pull vials from his little black bag. VIALS. Plural. Five in total. Glancing up from his bag his kind eyes met my wide worried ones and with one quick outstretch of his warm hand the worry stopped. Seriously. It stopped! He invited me to lie on the kitchen floor, applied the tourniquet and in mere moments he was done. I didn’t feel anything. Five vials of blood and I felt nothing. I was seriously amazed. This had never happened before. Ever.
Stunned, I rose quickly and with tears in my eyes hugged Sumesh. He was a bit shocked, having never been hugged after a procedure, but accepted the embrace. Never, in my (almost) 36 years of life have I ever had a vampire take my blood without me experiencing a panic attack. I was amazed, thus I fully contend that it’s true: The best doctors really are from India.