Delusion, Doc? Part-I
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
This post is primarily meant for doctors.
For one moment, stand naked and shed the language public likes. Be yourself as a “non-doctor” person. Right, the one under the shower.
Not enough time for self, peace, family, health, food, sleep, happiness, hobbies or even introspection. No stress free days. Continuous social and media criticism. Highest moral and ethical conduct expected under scrutiny, even the most criminal and immoral can deride you publicly.
Do you want this to be the schedule all the rest of your life?
Doc, are you living your life then?
The dream has materialised. Became doctor, served people, most patients happy, some unhappy. Some earned a lot, some didn’t. Some achieved personal / social goals. Some made mistakes, some suffered unfortunate violence. Some are beginning with new hopes and vigour, confused still confident of better futures.
Some fortunate and vocal got awards, fame, medals. Some fell for the hypocrisy of having to tell everyone how rewarding and pious their career was. Thousands of stories. Some genuine.
Some questions and material answers:
What is the ultimate aim of a doctor?
Serve as many patients as possible, earn money and fame, stay free of problems, and be respected for all this. Be the best in one’s field. If possible, achieve something great. (What?.. Oh! Haven’t had time to think about that yet.).
What was the last stress-free phase of life?
School. After that, only merit, hardwork, compromises and stress. Medical stress is worst, dealing with uncertainty of life itself. One may choose to accept, mature, ignore, meditate and come to terms with some situation, but never have “Peace” of mind in true sense. Absence of irritation is not peace of mind.
How is your family life?
Compromised. No peaceful, happy togetherness. A torn relationship especially if both are doctors. Worst if a surgeon. More irritability, more self neglect, less “love making” time, disturbed nights due to serious patients and other endless calls: a practice essential.
As a parent: Guilt, Shame and Tears. So much want to spend time with kids, watch them grow up. But mostly irritable and completely tired while with them. Sunday is the peak fatigue day for doctors, paralysed with the past week and outstation visits, or plans of the oncoming one. Kids find you happy and energetic only rarely. We catch up with their childhood years later in photo albums!
Food: not always in time, irregular, cold if home-cooked. Cannot afford / even plan healthy eating time wise.
Romance: What’s that? Oh Ok! Yes yes we imagine that
sometimes among the bleeding, crying, whining and violence.
Sleep: Shut Up! Just please SHUT UP!
Exercise: Only what the running around in and between hospitals, stairs.
Social: Hardly a weekend with friends. If hoteling or travelling, accused of being bribed by pharma. At any other social event, grabbed by opportunists who will discuss their health problems, especially bowel habits (during buffet) with you. Or ask you references of a cheap but very good doctor who will treat without investigations or surgery.
In a beautiful Santoor concert, my next-seater described her Tinnitus for a good 20 minutes, entirely spoiling my favourite Raag Shivaranjani!
Time for parents: Rare. Most doctors cannot even accompany / attend their own parents in illness properly.
If you are away from work, someone else is waiting to take your place. Patients cannot wait.
Private practitioners: Moderate income, huge risk and stress, long work hours if charges are competitive. Surgeons earn better, but have higher stress. Physicians have to see more patients for decent income. Good work satisfaction.
Corporate/ Nursing Home practitioners: Moderate income. Most corporates using “divide and rule” policy to encourage competition for earning more. Most doctors have to continually increase revenue. If you are not making good profits for the hospital you work at, there’s someone else in line with better ideas.Hospitals must make profits. So most specialists must work at different hospitals for a decent income. Not everyone can afford to open hospital with all facilities. Low-Moderate satisfaction.
Govt. servants: I am yet to meet a genuinely happy govt. doctor. (Exceptions: those whose transfers / promotions or some other “special requests” are pending). Right from Resident Doctors to Professors, even Deans, are paid pittance, their only satisfaction being : atleast this is better than the earlier generations. Too many non-medical paperwork ‘dumped’ tasks by govt. Low-Moderate satisfaction.
There are some claims:
“I am happy because I don’t care what happens once I am out of my clinic”. Difficult if one is really involved in their patients.
“It is my choice to be in this much stress”. I wonder how happy their families are with this attitude.
Two classes say: “I enjoy serving the poor for free and am proud to be in this profession. I live for this”. Typically a MSS (Medal Seeker Syndrome). Will write separately soon about this.
Class ‘A’: Have it alls. Please explain your merc or beamer sir.
Class ‘B’: Dying for recognition, attention, praise etc. Explain your outcomes sir.
Are you happy with the perpetually unstable state of affairs that has become lifestyle for this profession now? Anyone can make any rules and you must follow them, all specialties must obey what semi literates and non specialists dictate.
The “High” of actually saving lives, curing diseases, easing suffering can never be understood by anyone else, but we too never understand the addiction part of it. We must work, or we are afraid people will die. There is no compensation for being a good doctor, you are at par always by law with anyone with a similar degree.
There are few seekers of perfection, of “doing the best for most”. They are villains in the public eye, for earning more, for being in a hurry, not explaining themselves to the system and general public. They do a lot but never get the deserved “social” accolades, which are typically reserved for the A class mediocre hypocrites.
All in all, the “Doctor”, under the delusion of respect and recognition, is subjecting him/her self to extreme stress, social and media criticism, health and legal risks, and most importantly, a life of a slave to their own delusion.
You income stops, your reputation dies the day you stop practice. Many retired Indian doctors of yesterday, who served the society without thinking of money and who are unfortunate to be alive today, live in a miserable poverty. None of the “Ethics and Morals” lecturing idiots ever cares what happens to them
Like times, we must change or die..
In Part II let us see some of the solutions.
(c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande