Afterward, I tell this story to two doctors.
One recent medical graduate insists it was entirely reasonable, offering a mother-of-two like me, with my medical history, a lumbar puncture. He thinks me reckless for refusing.
The other doctor is Dr Ranjana Srivastava, a consultant oncologist who sees general hospital patients as well as those needing cancer care. When I tell her about my hospital experience, she understands why I left that day, happy to take the 1 per cent chance that I was having a stroke.
Srivastava’s recently published essay, Dying for a Chat — The Communication Breakdown Between Doctors and Patients, looks at why patients end up having unnecessary, expensive tests. She also questions why the old and dying are often subject to relentless, painful treatments in their final days.
The author is a kind woman, frank and intelligent. She has written widely on the challenges of doctor-patient communication, including a book, Tell Me The Truth — Conversations With My Patients About Life and Death.