Monthly Archives: July 2020

A Fountain Of Youth


© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

From college days, a single habit, which I am probably most obsessive about, has saved me from a lot of trouble while facing so many difficult bad phases. Above exercise, I have loved my meditation.

It is indeed emotionally fatiguing to listen to same and new health complaints practically every day of your life, year after year. Add consoling crying and angry, panicked patients and their relatives, frustrated with themselves, with life, and also sometimes with the doctor. Who other than doctors can know the helplessness while receiving and delivering a bad news? To bear all this one needs immense emotional strength, patience and mental stability. Almost every doctor tries to help and soothe the patient. But the more sensitive, deeply thinking doctors bear the brunt of this emotional overload differently: it affects them negatively.

A common advice given to most such “sensitive and emotional” doctors is ‘detach yourself’, do not involve your feelings much, try and just do what is scientifically, professionally correct. How is it possible to squeeze out the pain that reaches your blood? To learn to be able to deal with this, I needed a major effort, and after a lot of suffering and speaking with some evolved medical and spiritual souls, I could devise a mental platform to deal with this. To be able to clean the slate before the next patient walks in is an art that needs dense practice. A doctor who can ignore and detach from pain and its expression cannot be a good doctor, although I understand that not everyone will agree with this. To their credit, I have also seen many dry, non-conversant and short tempered doctors who actually are far more receptive to their patient’s pain.

Vienna has excellently preserved the home of the great Sigmund Freud. His furniture, papers, books, fossil art and even clothes are maintained well. Freud sat for long hours on his high backed chair, looking at the dense greens outside his window, while fathoming the complicated, layered depths of human minds. In his office, there is a glass cabinet displaying his hand written application for financial support towards higher education, requesting grants. If that genius had to seek financial support by applying to far less intellectuals in his time, where do mere mortals like me stand? There were many times when my finances were in doldrums. Most of the hands that help usually usurp far more than their help in future, so I had to also make a long bucket list of what I did not want. However, my fate was as stubborn as myself, and it gave me enough with its blessed hands always.

It is not possible to be a good doctor if one harbours negativity, sadness, anger, depression and especially regrets within oneself. That’s where meditation saved me for years. If I want to think deep at length about something, I visit my rendezvous where I get a secluded corner and unlimited black coffee. As for this daily meditation though, not much is required. I just sit in a quiet place, switch off all gadgets and lock myself away from human reach. Then I just tell myself: I am completely forgiving everyone who hurt me, misbehaved or cheated me, without any conditions. I will not carry any negatives about them in my heart. In fact I do not want their apologies and I don’t care whether they regret what they did or nor, whether they change or not. Even today, I will meet many who will take advantage, speak arrogantly, misbehave or try to show me down, but I will have already forgiven them, ensuring to protect myself and my work. I will not lose my temper today. I will take excess precautions not to hurt anyone with my word or deed. If I do commit a mistake, I will apologise immediately. What people do is not my problem. How I react is indeed my responsibility. So when I finish my day, I come back with no anger, irritability, frustration or chaos in my mind. Things that are most important for me: my patient’s health, my student’s skills and my writing- I will protect them from any disturbances that may dilute their perfection. I want to satisfy my ego in the greatness and success of my work, the intensity and beauty of everything that I do, not by showing anyone else down. I will return today with a clean and fresh mind.

This simple reminder every morning helps me defeat any diversions from internal peace while working in the highly tense hospital atmosphere. This simple meditation takes me only five minutes, and usually my Alta Rica Black makes my meditation deliciously bittersweet. My accompanying picture is during one such meditation, but as censor boards would object, I have filtered the image.

To be able to forgive the whole world is probably the best thing I ever learnt! It is extremely tough and taxing to forgive the near and dear ones who usually top the list of those who hurt you, but it is equally rewarding too. Please do try it, it will make you at least ten years younger.. and if you can master the art of forgiving yourself for all your mistakes too, then probably you will enter the fountain of youth.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Please Share Unedited

The Suicide In Our Brain


© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

My mom once badly thrashed me up for jumping into a river for swimming (and for many other things I cannot mention here). The sadness of not getting my dream PG seat of surgery nearly killed me. A very brilliant, extremely mischievous and beautiful girlfriend of mine had to marry someone else. Years later, I went through a divorce. During each of these phases, thoughts of suicide crossed my mind like every normal person, several times. During all exams, thoughts of suicide, poetry and a rebellious dropout haunt many. After every suicide, disturbing thoughts of ‘exactly what, how and when’ haunt any sensitive mind.

During my student days, I spent an hour daily in a small space behind our boys hostel to use the double bar, the only facility for exercise. One senior, Sunil, was also a regular visitor, and we became friends. He was repeating a term. He was always smiling, calm and an introvert. Many students made sarcastic fun about his being aloof. Somehow he was nice to me, we usually spoke about stamina building.
One morning I woke up to the shocking news of his suicide. He had hung himself in his hostel room. I had met him only two days prior, and he was as smiling and quiet as ever, had exercised well, spoken in a normal tone, and while leaving had said his customary words of parting “chal bhetu parat” (okay, we’ll meet again)”.

Many theories came forward, and a professor who was always rude to many including Sunil was gossiped a lot about. It was also revealed that Sunil was under treatment for depression since a few years. Some said he was frustrated with his failure and poverty. For a good few months, I did not dare go to that double bar again. I wondered about his parents. How could he have done this? I asked one Dr. Madhu, a psychiatrist who often visited our college from UK. He replied “Well, there is no point in presumptions and allegations. How can one not think about near and dear ones, especially while doing something so drastic with themselves? Suicide is way beyond the grasp of a normal mindset. We must never forget that although immediate causes may act like triggers, usually suicidal thoughts build up over a long period”.
I started reading more about it.

Since then I know of many medicos (and others) who committed suicide for various reasons: failures, stress and negativity, depression, disturbed relationships, blackmail, boredom, harassment etc. I’ve also managed many suicide-attempt cases like burns, hanging, poisoning, drowning or self inflicted wounds. I have followed up with some of these patients for medical issues. It is indeed difficult to deal with some of those cases. To add to the problem, some (not all) anti depressants and other medicines may worsen suicidal tendencies or cause them in a patient who did not have them earlier.

The mental suffering of a genius is beyond the realms of a normal and mediocre mindset. The more extraordinary your mind is, the more it suffers, and only a better brain is able to understand that suffering. One who can feel for others suffers most. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande.

Two other common triggers for suicide- failure and loss- are more manageable. We are so engrossed in marrying our dreams with the rude reality around us, that we create a perpetual high-friction, tense atmosphere in our own mind. Instead, we must learn to unchain our dreams and expectations from the current reality. One can always attempt to change the situation around, but that needs a healthy mind. Unfortunately we do not have gyms made for the mind.

Human brain compels to repeat. We can develop an addiction for anything: negative or positive. The thoughts of futility, ‘having no other options’ can also make home in one’s mind. To be able to catch and prevent this can help some, but not all. Suicidal thought or intention is NOT a mental weakness. No one is any braver for not killing oneself. Suicidal thinking is a state of mind not in control of the owner of that mind, and can be reversed if the right steps (seeing a psychologist) are taken in time. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande.

The importance we all give to complete acceptance and best success is cruel. Parents today want to grow up only gold-medal champions, who can then never be graceful in their failures, or satisfied with being the second best. Lesser success is no success today. No one achieves all that they want. To be able to accept failure must be taught from school. A different, failure-accepting attitude by parents and society during development of a child’s mindset is desperately required. Tying failure to the feeling of being inadequate and worthless is a common crime we all commit.

That brings us to the last thought of this article: we must learn to never let the behaviour of others affect our joys. The wise will get this immediately: one deliberate hurt is too many, never allow another. Exit the situation, it is not called running away, it is protecting yourself. A Mahatma Gandhi cannot feel comfortable amongst a gang of mafias. That said, if all suicides are investigated well, many others in future can be prevented: white collared and financial criminals, trust-breakers who instigate others for suicide are quite common in our society.

Sometimes it is an internal phenomenon to have suicidal thoughts, some other times a sudden emotional shock or breakdown can provoke such an action. We must take every mention of a suicide seriously, even if the person is smiling or casual while saying it. A change in behavior pattern of a beloved introvert can also be an alarm, one must spend more time with them without being intrusive. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande.

Glamorisation of suicide is an open abuse perpetrated upon our social conscience, worst in India, and should be declared criminal, as this may fatally affect some potential young minds. The mindless repetition of suicidal news has a devastating effect on many stressed minds, and who is not stressed today?

Medicine is a difficult career: long, hard and emotionally fatiguing, with late rewards (rarely financial), and legendarily thankless. Many doctor work on the verge of thoughts about quitting. The concept for vacation, rest or good sleep is not allowed to most doctors. This drives some across the edge. The only way to stop this is that each and every doctor looks after their own stress levels, that they take adequate rest and sleep, find leisure and entertainment, every few days. Socio-federal expectations never end, while our life withers away.

A change in career is a good idea, if you feel frustrated for long. One can always excel in a PG branch once not wanted, one can reappear and pass exams, one will meet better people. Most importantly for medicos, education is not a forever state, and after passing, medicine enables us to practice anywhere we like. Let us not make drastic decisions affected by transient scenarios like bad seniors, frustrating workloads or those recurring breakup’s! © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

If given a chance again, I will choose nothing but to be the Neurologist that I am today. The memories of that thrashing by mom strengthen my resolve to stand up to the unpleasant and stern parenting duties so crucial for the safety of my own children. That divorce liberated me (and her) from many more years of painful discomfort. Life, even without anything that I possess now, is still beautiful. Still, every single thing that I possess today is a dream for many, and adds to the inherent beauty of my life. That deeply roots my faith in the wisdom “Whatever happens is for good“. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande.

There are many glaring examples of those who turned tables to win over fate, overcame failures, deception, breakups, crises- financial and emotional, defamation, bullying and humiliation. Almost all of them have dealt with suicidal thoughts, some sought right help, and now are living proofs that this is possible only if one lives on.

I feel like whispering to every silently suffering soul out there: Dream, fight, chill, win or lose, but never give anyone the right to take away your charm. That little muscle-machine ticking in your chest right now, the insane neurochemical chatter of your neurons which makes you say ‘I think’, are miracles specifically made for you. That little hand you hold, someone’s moist eyes upon seeing you, and the enormous capacity of your coconut to imagine a beautiful future – are all precious blessings. Let’s not belittle them by asking for something more just to smile once again.
Smile NOW for what you are, smile NOW for what you have!

About that b. em.& b.. girlfriend… well I fondly miss her still, but every time I think of her, I cannot help smiling!

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Two Shades of Nepotism, and Doctors.


© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Surgery final exams.Butterflies.
My best friend and me were sweating since last few nights.

My turn, a case of breast cancer. I did well, but obviously it is not possible to answer everything, and there comes the “Sorry Sir, I don’t know” moment, I said it. The kind external examiner smiled at the end, a positive sign. I started on the next short case nearby. My best friend was presenting to the same examiners when I was recording my next case. Poor guy, he had a difficult case and was confusing. He was better than me in surgery, and here he was, not doing well. Just then, his uncle, a senior surgery professor, entered our ward, and our examiners stood up to wish him. They were his students. Our professor wished my friend best luck, and said to the examiners he hoped his nephew did well.

I got enough marks to cross the first class, my friend was far ahead. While I secretly resented that my friend had an advantage, I knew he was a good student, and it did not hurt much. Maybe, if it was an enemy my reactions would have been different. Many examiners in India actually discriminate between an outsider (belonging to non-medical parents) and insider (belonging to doctors, especially from the same institute), or on the basis of caste, language, and even gender.

Gender discrimination and its various shades are nothing new in India and still a taboo to write about, but there are beneficiaries and victims of this anomaly. There was a girl in my college, not very academic, who did ‘impress’ the examiners with her beauty and smile. We saw some male professors being partial to her because she was exceptionally beautiful and had a model-like personality. She always passed with very good grades, got the best ranks, and eventually married a similar rich and handsome guy. Nothing in this story offends me, these are the ways of today’s world, but since centuries probably. I know that most beautiful women also face a reverse discrimination, i.e. even after being the best they are accused of using their looks to get what they want. They are usually above the tendency to reply to such allegations.

A very wise quote mentioned in almost all spiritual texts says “Imagine yourself in their place before you speak about someone”. What would I have done, if my uncle was a Surgery professor, and could ‘push me up’ a little bit? Or, a more difficult question, would I have taken advantage if I was a woman with really good looks? Well, the answers are not very pleasant, and certainly not universal. I wished I had a Godfather in medicine, to guide and protect me. However I do not hate those who have one. Not having a godfather helped me grow better and stronger, and I always found ways to create enough opportunities for myself, to face this reality head-on rather than engage in a blame game about it.

Nepotism and discrimination are not new, in fact it is an ancient tradition in many cultures, like some other questionable traditions. From Kings and Priests to classical singers, people have preferred their own over deserving others. For example, if a wrestler has struggled and won medals, name and fame, he would want his progeny to excel in his own craft, and will do everything possible to help his own son/ daughter. Only those who can say ‘ I will never help my son / daughter / friend to excel in their career, I will never invest for them, never use my goodwill to get them the best life should be able to criticise nepotism in true sense. Nepotism is the naked truth about almost every profession, from politics to mafia. Even genetically (this might need a broader-grasp mind) there are certain things which people inherit an ability to do better. Right from famed watchmakers to singers, dancers, and some artists in fact retain their craft strictly within families, and proudly keep it a secret. So long as they do not prevent someone else from making their craft, or do not stand in the way of others, one cannot blame nepotism. Why should we presume that the son of a great singer cannot be a greater singer if given a chance?

Unless everyone in our society is mature enough to swear not to help their own family and friends and follow that, unless we eliminate nepotism by laws that apply to everyone, we cannot selectively blame one profession or other about it. While we evolve away from it, we must also accept that near and dear ones will always be the favoured ones as a human tendency, with rare exceptions. If a woman is rich enough, she can buy a Mercedes for her daughter, and her neighbour has no case crying nepotism because their kid was denied a Merc. However, if the neighbouring child’s toy is snatched, then alone there can (and should) be an argument. A true anti-nepotism sentiment should be to help every hungry and homeless kid we see on the roads, as they need food and home more than our overfed kids do. Is that happening?

Most of the politicians, businessmen, and even doctors who have reached heights in their careers have tried to rope in their own near and dear ones in their field of expertise. That has never prevented outsiders in any field from reaching where they are destined to reach with their hard work. In fact, outsiders are often seen reaching higher and farther than those who get help and support early on. I have very strong feelings about those with money buying out medical undergraduate and postgraduate seats while those without money and just merit having to let their valid claim vanish. What money does when it changes hands is far worse than what nepotism does in any field. There are other vices far worse than nepotism in every profession. Taking advantage of gender, power and connections to disrepute, defame or emotionally torture others are far worse. There’s nothing wrong in helping one’s own, but it should not be at the cost of destroying others. If a doctor has established a great hospital with his life’s blood and sweat, he will obviously want his own child to own it rather than conducting an international survey for researching the most eligible person to run it. I am not at all in favour of Nepotism, but I strongly feel about the misuse of this term by those who openly practice cronyism, favoritism and shoelickism.

To choose a vice that suits one’s immediate cause and ignore one’s own ‘bypasses’ to success, being thankless to those few who made one successful is a creepy tendency. Many who accuse others of having ‘Godfathers’ gladly indulge in other types of ‘push-pull’ tactics for utterly selfish gains. In medicine too, while we gradually become more objective, we should try and also eliminate our own faults before raising fingers at others. Every doctor should be graceful enough to be above short term attention seeking. If we don’t understand good and bad mentalities, who will? The best we can do is to concentrate on the good we can do, while fighting with a smile those who suppress others. We can never forget that there indeed were people who helped us.

Nepotism will create only a transient glitter. The beautiful spirit of eternity is never affected by it.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

My Best (And Last) Effort For Indian Healthcare.

My Best (And Last) Effort For Indian Healthcare.
(c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Are you fed up of the medical scenario in India?
Neither patients nor doctors are happy.
Society and Government have expectations but no answers to basic questions.

Healthcare must reach everyone, including the poorest, but it cannot be a charity at the cost of the doctor.

Junior doctors, Interns, Medical Students are exploited and harassed by one and all, many have not been paid. They have no voice. Private medicare is on the verge of collapse, gun to its head.

Worst, Doctors are pathetically divided due to various reasons, hence being exploited at all levels.

Are you a doctor, willing to change this? It is possible.

Do you accept the principles of ethical medical practice, with ethical and scientific patient care as the first goal?

Are you willing to give up religious, political, regional and language discrimination and pharma sponsorship, if you can still get the same secure, clean and ethical income?

Are you willing to stand by every other doctor in India, irrespective of their religion, political affiliation, state, city, irrespective of whether they are junior or senior?

Are you willing to fight for your own and our collective dignity, safety, and human rights for all doctors and patients?

Are you willing to care for the poorest of the poor with the same dedication as for the best affording, if there is no exploitation of your skill and time?

This is possible.

We have great expectations from the younger generation whose blood can still boil, who can still roll up their sleeves, and who can dream of a great future where both the doctor and the patient can be smiling.

I am willing to be in the front seat.

Do you want to start a revolution?

Join my facebook page only if you are a doctor and agree to all above.

https://www.facebook.com/UnitedDoctorsAcademyIndia/

Any political/ religious/ discriminatory activity will permanently disqualify.

Only those with medical council registrations should join.

Let Us Work Together For A Great Indian Medical Establishment.

(c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande