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11 October, 2004

The Placebo Effect

Well the placebo effect is as old as mankind, and this must seem rather a bizarre topic here at the blog.

However, in may rambles across the nation, ran into an ageing junior metallurgist [ oxymoron intended] who likes to trade stories, in this polluted congested and noise-filled city of Hyderabad. The curious thing is, having met thousands of metallurgists, this happens to be the first one who tells me he married another metallurgist -and this tribe is pretty small, lets not forget.

Riding his two wheeler we were discussing his sinus problem that has reached the migraine level, not a pretty scenario, and the haze of pollution is abetting the diseased portions to go berserk. He told me he wants to avoid micro-surgery, and there can be no argument aganst that, as he has faith in medicine. Said both his parents are doctors, so medicine is a homebrewed art perhaps.

I told him about my ability to cure small infections and mild fevers, which by the way I love as my mind races at double the speed, mutilating the keyboard as now -all based on deadlines to meet and promises to keep. He didn't seem impressed, this young upstart.

I told him my golden anecdote about the typist in Baroda who was diagonosed with TB some 50 years ago and with only half a lung functioning, the good doc had given him six months to live. The guy went home, closed all windows in the narrow bylane where barely an auto-rickshaw could pass without crushing cats or dogs on either side, and gave the matter a thought. I have three kids, I have an unsteady job, a chronically ill wife -I have to get them educated, send them abrod, get them married off. No, I don't want to die. He went back to the doc who said there was a thin chance he could survive. He followed the advice and walked fifteen KMs a day, ate fresh fruit, shifted to an area where there was fresh air without pollution [yes once upon a time Baroda was unpolluted]. He is alive today, whilst the wife died 45 years ago. Kids married off, with great jobs and families, all abroad.

He didn't seem impressed. Whew, what a waste of a whopper I thought, this was a whale of a story that went phutt..

Thus spake the young man : and now I know he had a bigger bombshell up his sleeve. It seems his parents had gone to see an interesting movie, wherein in the middle of the movie some guy started asphyxiating as if he had a fit. An epilectic fit or something worse. Is there a doctor in this crowd? his companion yelled throatily. Our man got up rushed to him, pulled off a button from his own shirt and shoved it down the throat of the man foaming at his mouth. Swallow this, don't chew he said. In five minutes, the victim was laughing with Mehmood and yelling at Madan Puri as if nothing had happened.

Talk about the placebo effect... it's 99% faith and the rest is the curative powers of the medicine.

Cheers, keep smiling and better still, laughing.

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