It is Harmful to Fall Sick in May

Just as we have a warning on cigarette packets that states, “Cigarette smoking is injurious to health”, we need to popularize another rule that says, “It is harmful to fall sick in May”.
Let’s look at these two scenarios.
Scenario 1: You have a cough and some cold and fever. You go down to your friendly neighborhood family physician and you find that he has gone on vacation to Nainital and will be back only after 10 days. There is a junior locum doctor, but you remember a “not-so-good” experience with the last one and you decide not to go to him. Your backup family physician is also in Panchgani and will return only after 8 days. You now decide to manage things on your own with the help of the local chemist and pray and hope for the best.
Scenario 2: You have a nodule in the lung, discovered on a routine, yearly chest x-ray. Your family physician is leaving for London after 3 days. You immediately get a CT scan done. A CT-guided biopsy is now required, but the radiologist who performs this is going to Sikkim tomorrow. You need to see an oncologist as well, but if you do that, the radiologist will have gone, and then you might have to get the biopsy done with a junior colleague or somewhere else. Already stressed, you get the biopsy done the next day, but the report will come only after 4 days. In the meantime, the recommended oncologist is also leaving for a Europe holiday in 3 days. You try to call up the pathologist, but she is not in town and will return from her vacation only two days later and it is unlikely that the report will be ready in time. In the meantime, you get a PET/CT done, which shows that if the nodule is cancerous, surgery is the best option. You now have to see an oncosurgeon, but all the chest oncosurgeons are on vacation and the first one will return only after 10 days.
The biopsy report is positive for cancer, but by the time the biopsy report comes, the oncologist has left for his vacation. You try two other oncologists recommended by the family physician, but they are out of town as well. The family physician has also left by now and there is no one to handhold you through the whole process. You see a fourth oncologist, but since he was not recommended by your family physician, you are not sure whether to go by his suggestions. By now, 12 days have gone by and your stress levels are sky-high. The oncosurgeon has just returned, but his secretary refuses to give an appointment for the next 3 days, since the appointment diary is full because of the backlog….
I’m sure you’ve figured out what the issue is. May is the month when virtually all doctors (except those whose children are entering the 10th standard) go on leave. And when the doctor(s) you want to go to is/are on leave, scenarios similar to the ones that I have described above are not uncommon.
The May phenomenon is tied to the school holidays. But over the years as more and more doctors have taken to going on long vacations, other doctors have followed suit as well and the whole “vacation” issue has snowballed. Unfortunately, we can’t ask doctors not to go on vacation. Hence, the only solution available to the general population is “Don’t fall sick in May”.

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