Dental Gum!

For this blog, I have used the title as Dental Gum (गम in Hindi). गम in Hindi means sorrows. People usually connect dental treatment with fear, pain, and sorrows. First, let me make a disclaimer or two. 

  • My daughter Priya is a Pediatric Dentist 
  • I had my first dental treatment at the age of 65, that too because I went through cancer treatment and had 34 radiation sittings. I was treated for dental caries. 

I somehow have the feeling that a person’s dental health quality is hereditary! My grandmother could eat raw mango (Kairi) easily in her eighties. I have the same ability, but I have a way to go.  

I chose the subject because I read an article about horror stories about dentists, in the US. Well, as in any field some people do not follow the ethics and can be called black sheep. Making a general statement about any whole group of professionals is incorrect. But not that I am not going to tell any horror stories (as I have taken dental treatment only once), but I will share with you some anecdotes shared by Priya with me.  

First things first, I have been brushing my teeth only once a day, I don’t do any flossing. I have never used any special brushes or toothpaste. I have had my share of chocolates and ice-creams, colas and candies. I have a sweet tooth, but now I don’t consume these things. So my heridetary theory should be ok!

Once I asked Priya about her young patients. I asked her, “How tough is it to handle the kids on the  chair?” She said, Baba, once my patients get confidence about me, they are straightforward to handle. It is their mothers who are difficult to handle. 

I am going to share anecdotes about patients, their parents, general situations in dentistry. Sometimes it is funny, many times it is surprising, but probably human behaviour remains very similar in different situations.  

Priya was treating a fouryearboy. He was very cooperative, but sometimes he needed a kid-glove treatment, pun, of course, is intended. One day he came inside, goggles and all; a la Salman Khan. He was a big fan of Salman. He came inside, sat on the chair and Priya started the work. After about ten minutes he signalled to Priya to stop. Priya stopped and asked him the reason. Without replying he indicated her to allow him to get down from the chair. Priya complied, he got down. He put on his goggles, put both his thumbs in the trouser pockets. He danced to the tune of the Hindi song, “Hud Hud Dabangg, Dabangg; after a couple of minutes, he stopped, climbed back in the chair and signalled Priya to restart the work! 

Some patients are too busy to take their kids to the doctor. There was one such lady, the same age as that of Priya. She always claimed that only time she could get her child to the clinic was 8 pm on a Saturday. After all, she was in IT. She would always tell Priya how difficult it was in IT and so on. Once the lady came almost twenty minutes late for the appointment and Priya had her next patient in another clinic. They met on the staircase; the lady started her usual dialogues of being in IT, but her hands were full of stuff bought in the malls. Priya apologised and said that she could not treat her child as her next patient was waiting at another clinic. The lady was upset, and before she could start her diatribe, Priya told her, “Look, I am a doctor, and I don’t know anything about IT. But let me share some personal information with you. My mother is handling Nvidia operations in Pune, my father runs his software business for the last 15 years, and my elder brother is working in Microsoft at Seattle for some time. So, there is a possibility that I may know a few things about IT, by induction. One more thing, when I was a child, my parents used to take me to doctors, whenever it was needed, without bothering about time and the day. Thank you!” The lady never spoke about IT stuff with Priya again. 

One lady came with her child. The child was fitted with a crown, and the child was not supposed to eat chocolates for obvious reasons. While eating the chocolate, the crown came out and was misplaced. Priya told her, “ I had told you not to give chocolates to the kid. Why did you not follow instructions?”  The treatment was done, and the crown fitted again; when she was asked to pay the money, she simply refused to pay saying that it was Priya’s fault, chocolate was incidental. Priya let her go and instructed her team not to give an appointment to that patient again!  

The next episode could be an incorrect diagnosis or was it the socalled horror story; I am not sure! I felt that it was a case of the wrong diagnosis. An eightmonthold child was brought to the clinic; Priya was surprised, as generally such small babies rarely have any teeth. The mother told her the following story. A couple of days back while the mother was cleaning the babies mouth, she saw a gold tooth in the baby’s mouth. She took the baby to three or four doctors, and all of them said that the gold tooth needs to extracted; treatment needed to be done under general anaesthesia. Since the baby was very young parents were not too keen about the procedure. Somebody suggested to them Priya’s name, and they came to the clinic. Priya looked at the child and saw what was inside. She had a small instrument in her hand. She put the instrument in the babies mouth and plucked the golden “Tooth”; it a piece of gold that was stuck in the baby’s gum. Out came a small earring. Priya gave it to the mother. It was the mother’s earring; she had never realised that it was missing. Somehow it had fallen and went into the baby’s mouth and became the “Golden Tooth”! The tears of joy came in the parent’s eyes! The father asked Priya “Doctor what will be the charges?” Priya said, “No charges; I am happy that I could do this without any anaesthesia”!  

How trial by media can affect a professional career can be seen in the following anecdote. A child was being treated by a dentist. He checked up with parents if any medicine was being given to the child. The mother said that they were not giving any other medicines. The doctor gave the local anaesthesia and started the treatment. After some time he felt that the child was becoming listless. They rushed the child, to the next door paediatrician. From there they rushed to the hospital. But the child died. The trial by media started; the newspapers showed the doctors name and the photograph of the clinic. The baby’s parents gave statements and hid the fact that there was another treatment being given to the child! The medical council did its investigations and in the end, found out that the dentist and the paediatrician had followed the correct procedures. But all the media trial and photographs in the newspapers made life very difficult for the dentist. He left Pune and moved to another city!  

Friends, life can be exciting, rewarding and tough at the same time for professionals. But some times, one loses control over the situation, and things do get haywire. Customer is always the king or a queen; the kings and the queens also can go overboard and need to be told so. But at the end of the day, professionals have to remain true to their profession and continue to perform! Don’t forget to show the smiling face, especially when a child is being treated.

 

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Paranormal behavior or “Angat Yene” or “Devi Ana”..

I attended one religious function recently at someone’s home. It was a Pooja, a prayer to invoke a Goddess with a request to ensure that the family remains blessed. It was the last ritual in a series of functions in that family. The ceremony was for 50-minutes. Suddenly 2/3rd of the way, a 45-year-old lady attending the Pooja, from a middle-class background and educated family, started behaving what is called in Marathi as “Angat Yene”. She suddenly went into a trance, and it appeared that she was possessed by the religious chanting that was being sung in rhythm, accompanied by instruments. I had never seen such paranormal behaviour in close quarters and not in a known person. She started swaying to the musical rhythm and later she started sweating. Other ladies present stood surrounding her so that others could not observe her fully. Then, when the music and singing stopped the lady slowly came back to normal. By normal, I mean that she went out of swaying and out of her trance. She was sweating profusely and looked very tired.

I was quite uneasy in mind and started surfing the net to look for articles explaining such events; naturally, there was not much scientific material, and probably not much scientific research has been done on the subject. Analysis may be there, but it is more about traditions or “Pratha” and not the science behind it. In one or two places I read something which indicated that people do not want to challenge the old traditions for fear of backlash. One thing I realised that this might have been “business” till last century and even today in the rural areas. It is assumed that during “Angat Yene” or “Devi Ana” the Devi or Goddess’s spirit enters the body of that human being. It starts with the assumption that the Goddess physically exists! I came across one thorough article by Dr Prakash Pangu wrote about four years back. It is in Marathi so all may not be able to read it.

http://www.kattaonline.com/2013/07/how-spirit-possession-happens.html?m=1

After reading this article, I started getting some insight. I have used some references from this article, but most of the take on this subject is mine. First, let us look at the facts. This phenomena occurs in ladies and never in Men. The ladies who are affected by this can be generalised in the age group of those who have an active menstruating cycle. Phenomenon never occurs in young girls or old ladies. It was claimed that these ladies sometimes chant hymns and talk in a language other than their mother tongue, during this spell.  Some are supposed to climb coconut trees effortlessly. Dr Pangu says that he has never heard of ladies from Maharashtra speak Italian in this spell. Those who did not know swimming are not known to start swimming when they are under the spell of the Goddess! Probably they speak a language which may be known to them but is not spoken by them regularly! Maybe some of the ladies were already conversant with the skill of climbing coconut trees.  I want to share one experience with you. My cousin had a nose surgery years back. While he was coming out of Anaesthesia, he started talking a bit irrelevantly. To our surprise, he spoke in English all the time! He knows English quite well but prefers to talk with family and friends in Marathi. It appears that the effect of Anaesthesia made him speak in English. Anaesthesia and “Angat yene” appear to have the same effect on humans!

All of us get very happy and excited when we see certain events like a concert, a cricket match, or a football match. Sometimes we get overly excited and exuberant. I am sure that there is a switch in our brains which operates when our exuberance level goes beyond a certain limit. It trips or works like a fuse, at the right moment and brings us back to reality. Similarly, we react in certain ways in the event of sad things or when we are in grief! I am sure the switch is standard for both happy and sad events, and it all depends on how the brain gives a signal to this switch. In a Hindi movie Munnabhai, the hero says that there is chemical “locha” taking place in his brain. Meaning of “locha” is turmoil! This turmoil causes human beings to react in abnormal or Paranormal ways.

With this background, I am trying to understand what decides the intensity of the different behaviour? Why the energy goes above the standard tripping point? One of the reasons could be that the ladies mentioned probably are suppressed in their day to day life. Though they are educated, they are forced to suppress their natural thought process, and they live under some pressure which does not allow them to express their thoughts openly. Combination of this suppression and the brain switch not tripping correctly, probably causes this problem of Paranormal behaviour.

Lack of knowledge and blind faith is a deadly combination. In olden days when the “ParaNormal” behaviour started, people must have been surprised initially with this occurrence. But later on, some smart people decided to take advantage of this scenario and got control over people! They started telling people the Devi had entered the body of the lady! They glorified the event and started taking advantage of the situation. It was a Win-Win situation where the ladies could come out of their suppression, cunning people around got control over surrounding people and created a fear psychosis. Maybe the people started giving offerings or alms to the “Goddess” within the lady!

This phenomenon was never analysed scientifically, but slowly this may change. Probably some German or American scholar, who has no Hindutva baggage to carry, will be able to interpret the event correctly. Another explanation of this type of activity is that like psychosomatic illnesses, where people get the symptoms, the paranormal behaviour does make bodily changes like change in blood pressure or profuse sweating and so on. So what we see is happening, but the reasons for this event are psychological. Post this event; the person is physically as well as emotionally drained. Hence the general population tends to believe what is happening is rational and correct. It is true but not reasonable; it is paranormal. There is a weakness of mind within these ladies which affects them to such an extent that the “Angat Yene” process is kicked off!

Friends, I have tried to understand the so-called religious tradition. My take is that the even today nobody is seriously trying to understand or analyse. Such so-called traditions are not suitable for society and need to be abolished. It is a grave matter and suppressed women folk should be helped to overcome their inhibitions and their problems. Is it not some sort of exploitation that society is doing? Your take, please.