by Anura Guruge
++++ Search ‘Dartmouth-Hitchcock‘ for other related posts >>>>
Dr. Akinmade has been my Primary Care doctor since he joined Dartmouth-Hitchcock in 2008. I like him and as of my last visit, just last month, got to respect him, quite a bit at that, too.
I had a letter last week to say that he is, as of July 3, 2014, leaving Dartmouth and the State. I am upset. He proved to be a good, decent, caring doctor.
Given that I have had the misfortune of encountering more than my fair share of quacks in this country, I had since the 1980s — after a female doctor in Milford who would always make me drop my pants and do a physical check on me even if I was there because of a sore throat told me, erroneously, that there was something really bad wrong with me — tried to deal with Indian doctors whenever I can; with New Hampshire not having any Sri Lankan doctors as far as I know. Though there are exceptions like me amazing ‘new’ cardiologist, Dr. Stephen Hanlon at Catholic Medical in Manchester, N.H.
I am fussy about doctors. I don’t like going to doctors and as such have an aversion to them — other than in social settings. I was spoilt. Growing up I had my own personal physician — who was also the personal physician to the Governor General. So, of course, he was good. He happened to be my uncle — my firewalking, larger-than-life (though he was but 5′ 4″ I would think) uncle, philanthropist par excellence and a bon vivant without equal. I do take after him in some respects (and those in the family, if they are reading this, will be snorting in agreement). Anyhow …
I was lucky enough to have found a tremendous Indian cardiologist in Laconia in 1998. Dr. Venkatram Nethala, my friend. He was good. He has saved my life. In 1998, though I was 45, and my blood pressure and cholesterol was within ‘limits’ he insisted that I go on Lipitor and a bunch of high blood pressure medication. His words were: ‘Anu, given your family history and your lifestyle I am putting you on these now as a precaution, you will thank me for this when you are 60’. THANK YOU, Dr. Nethala.
Another doctor who is no longer in New Hampshire. I miss Dr. Nethala all the time. He was not only a good friend but a doctor that I would, and had, trusted with my life.
In 2008, though Dr. Nethala was still around I needed a PCP because I had a ton of things wrong with — none of which were ever pinned down. Given that I was having every test known to man, and a few that I am sure were invented just so that they could bill me, I decided, rightly or wrongly, to signup with DHMC so that referrals etc. would be easier. I saw that DHMC Concord had an Indian doctor — Dr. Murali. I was going to sign up with her. That way I would have had two Indian doctors: Drs. Nethala and Murali. Then when I was at Concord to sign up I saw Dr. Akinmade. He had JUST joined. On impulse I told the receptionist that I would signup with HIM rather than Murali! In my mind, it was the right thing to do. New Hampshire, as we know, though it is getting better each year, doesn’t have too many non-whites. So I felt a moral obligation to signup with Akinmade to show allegiance — since he was new (and I had been in NH since 1996).
On my first visit with him, my decision, was validated somewhat. He had read through my entire file over the weekend! That is why I sign up, whenever possible, with foreign-qualified doctors. Two impeachable reasons: they essentially have to be TWICE qualified and have gone through more training (once in their native country and once in the U.S.) AND they try much harder because they know, at least to start with, that everybody is watching them.
Akinmade did nearly kill me in November 2010. He refused to give me antibiotics when I begged for some and then gave me the ‘wrong’ one when I had explicitly told him: give me anything BUT the 5-day Zithromax. I used to know my antibiotics in those days and knew that I had taken too much Zithromax over the previous few years and needed a change. Well, after I broke a rib coughing and nearly died, he came to his senses and gave me the antibiotics I needed — albeit not without insisting that I spend $3,300 on unnecessary CatScans! But, I am man enough to realize that it wasn’t all his fault. He, as a ‘new’ doctor’, was trying to do his best to adhere to DHMC’s new, very stringent, anti-antibiotics policies. His hands were essentially tied. I appreciate that.
Last time around, last month, he impressed me — and it is not easy for a doctor to impress me because I am such a jaundiced patient. He knows his stuff. He really has matured and become one heck of a doctor. An American doctor would have had be admitted to hospital! But, Akinmade, to his credit, was realistic and pragmatic. WHY I like foreign qualified doctors in general. They are good.
I am supposed to see him in June. I wasn’t going to unless I was dying — again. I try NOT to go see doctors unless I am in pretty bad shape. But, I guess I will. I need to say Good Bye.
So per Akinmade letter, I call up DHMC Concord to get a new PCP.
At our last visit Deanna, as is her wont, had picked up a fancy brochure with all the DHMC PCP doctors. I spotted 4 Indian doctors. WOW. So I tell the receptionist that I want an Indian doctor. She, over the phone, doesn’t ‘bat an eyelid’! She tells me that I can sign up with any of the four. Wow. I am impressed.
So I am looking at the list. 3 females and one male! Wow. I picked the MALE! No. No. No. I, alas, am not shy.
I picked Dr. Ravindra Nath for two reasons. His name, he too being from South India, was similar to Dr. Nethala. Then I had noticed that he had done his residencies in Wales and had even attended University Hospital Cardiff. Well, I too got my first degree from the University of Wales. So we have that connection.
BUT, he is a Tamil! That could be a problem. He as a Tamil may feel honor bound to kill me, a Sinhalese (at least by adoption), given the Tamil separatist movement (and recently concluded Civil War) in Sri Lanka. That should make it more interesting. Me having to always be on my guard to make sure that he is not trying to bump me off so that he could send out e-mails to Canada saying: ‘OK, bumped off another damn Sinhalese. Only 18 more million to go — but he was the only one in New Hampshire.’ [The Canada reference is only for the cognoscenti. Don’t worry about it.]
I just hope that he proves to be at least half as good as Dr. Nethala (who was also Tamil, but never spoke about it) and on par with Dr. Akinmade — and doesn’t try too hard to kill me off just because I am Sinhalese. I will, of course, let you know.