Where's thou, dear LMP?

Going through a list of participants and their products at an international medical equipment trade fair recently was an experience that was at once educative and disturbing, apart from bringing back childhood memories. The names of the equipment to start with. Photo & pneumo-plethysmography, colon hydro-therapy, irrigation therapy, ultrasonic wave Iontophoresis, otorhinolaryngology, etc.

The creator having endowed me with fecund imaginative powers, I found myself on the operating table. Groaning in pain as the surgeon, with a beatific smile lowered one of these monsters towards my supine body, all the while saying “relax, it will be over soon. It won’t hurt you more than an ant bite”. Then the post operative part, with the nurses prodding me all over with more of those devilish things. Coming out of this painful reverie, the similarity with the actual picture was striking. Or was it the other way round?
Having seen all these in real life, was my mind only playing out the recordings? Anyway, there is no denying that technology has made such giant strides in medical science that even the most ordinary of hospitals resembles a hitech scientific laboratory, which maybe it actually is. All those bleeping and beeping monitors, probes et al would make one think that health and recovery is only a click away. But is it true? Diagnosis may have improved, waiting times for investigation results may have come down. But illnesses and diseases have an uncanny knack of being one step ahead of medical advances.
Now to the flashback part. Remember the family doctor of yesteryears? Just an ‘LMP’ (Licentiate Medical Practitioner). No string of fancy degrees. No gadgets and gizmos to aid. Just the good old stethoscope. Sitting on his chair, he would ask a few well structured questions. Then remove the stethoscope from around his neck, ask for deep breathing, while the other hand checked the pulse.

Next, the mandatory oral examination, with a metallic ruler like thing inserted into the mouth with orders to make a nasal ‘aaaa’ sound. Then write out something on his pad and direct the patient to go that now extinct species, the ‘compounder.’ Bottles of red, yellow and green coloured liquids lined his counter. In a porcelain mortar, a white powder was mixed with one of these liquids and given. Bitter and foul tasting. But curative all the same. Now, its all hitech devices and equally high mortality!

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