Category Archives: doctor

Thirty Years of Suffering and One Tablet of Gratitude

Thirty Years of Suffering and One Tablet of Gratitude
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

At the age of 18, he started noticing difficulty in falling asleep because of a weird pin-prick like sensation in his calves. He ignored it initially, but later in a few months it grew so severe that he could not sleep. Then started a nightmarish phenomenon of sudden squeezing sensation on the legs, sometimes with other abnormal and disturbing symptoms like gnawing pain, pulling and jerky movement of both legs. A little massage initially helped, but within minutes, symptoms returned, and now came up to his thighs. Many a nights, he could not sleep at all.

Lack of sleep worsened his daily performance, and he started getting irritable, confused and often very depressed because of the ongoing symptoms. There were phases of relief without any apparent reason, but the problem almost always returned with more severity. He went from one doctor to another, was told he had nerve problems, muscle fatigue, deficiency, and even psychological issues. Various tests done did not show any abnormality. In the last few years, his symptoms spread over to his hands and became so severe that he could not sleep at all. He tried many medicines from many pathies but had no relief. Then he started having suicidal thoughts.

That’s when Dr. Lakshman Sathe of Dodaich arranged for a video consultation with me for Mr. Rajendra Badgujar, now 50 years old, resident of Sindkheda. As any learned neurologist will have guessed from the description above, I concluded that Mr. Rajendra was a severe case of a rare disease called “Restless Legs Syndrome”. Although rare and more common in women, this extremely troublesome condition is now increasingly recognized in Indian population. This usually is caused by a genetic predisposition, but may also be associated with certain other medical conditions including iron deficiency. The most common complaints are ‘restlessness’ of legs, due to weird squeezing, pricking sensation or jerky movements. Very good treatments usually in form of tablets are available, but most of these tablets have serious side effects if incorrectly used. Also, only if the diagnosis is accurate and not associated with any other related conditions, patients respond well.

Mr. Badgujar, who had suffered for nearly 30 years, had complete relief within a week of starting the new medicine, and is now not only having sustained relief with only one tablet, but has also slept blissfully over last two months. Still, that is not the reason for my article. This poor man travelled to Pune for 9 hours, daring the CoViD pandemic, with his family, only to personally say thank you to me. This single tablet of gratitude calmed my restless mind instantaneously!

Most neurologists can readily diagnose and treat this condition in the first or second visit itself, sometimes a few tests may be required. If the patient reaches the right specialist for various medical conditions, not only is he /she relieved at the earliest, everyone saves a lot of money and we can thus contribute to improve the reputation of our noble profession.

©Dr. Rajas Deshpande
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PS: Every qualified neurologist can diagnose and treat this condition effectively.

Say, doc!

Say, doc!
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Doc, may I eat fruits?”
“Yes”
“Papaya?”
“Yes”
“Apple?”
“You can eat all fruits.”
“Banana also?”
“Yes”
“But I get vomiting after eating banana..”
“Then don’t eat banana”
“But you just said I can eat all fruits “
“I’m sorry, please eat only what you tolerate well. Anything else?”

Next patient.

“Till the time we finalise and treat the cause of your unconsciousness episodes, please don’t drive any vehicle “ I told the twenty year old girl whose family stood surrounding her dipped in worry.

Since after a head injury during riding, the patient had had fits. She continued to ride her moped to her college inspite of strict warnings by doctors not to drive. This time she was admitted because she had fallen from her bike as she had a fit while riding.

“How will she go to the college then?” asked her angry mother.

“You will have to make alternative arrangements” I replied.

“Can she drive a four wheeler?” asked her father.

“No”. I now understood that they didn’t want to understand the risk.

“Three wheeler?” asked a relative who had the most common Indian OCD: talking without thinking, expressing opinion because it’s a constitutionally granted freedom.

“What three wheeler do you want her to drive to college ?” I asked the OCD bro.

“No. I just asked out of curiosity “ he replied more guiltlessly than your favourite politician.

How many irrelevant questions should a doctor reply to patiently?
Running between emergencies, making crucial life and death decisions for others over 30-40 times a day, with zero allowance for mistakes and facing angry, troubled souls who we genuinely want to help, how much extra time and patience for irrelevant questions is a doctor expected to waste? If relevant and crisp, every doctor enjoys the conversation, effective communication. When that enters the realm of “charche pe charcha”, it frustrates the doctor. Imagine that happening about twenty times a day. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Can a doctor refuse to answer irrelevant questions? Yes, but that risks a bad online review, rating in spite of correct diagnosis and good outcomes!

The consultation charges that a regular doctor charges are meant for a thorough history taking, examination and deduction of possible diagnosis, advice about tests required, and the best possible options of treatment/ management. It also includes a to-the-point explanation and information to the patient and attendant. It doesn’t include the unending “questioning” and expectations that the patient/ relative should grasp everything immediately- medicine is indeed very complicated. We usually give patients the websites to read from, but it cannot be the doctor’s responsibility to make the patient understand everything- it’s like asking the Judges to explain their decisions and law to both parties involved in each case- every day.

Every medical student should learn how to patiently, courteously tell the patient and relatives to limit the conversation to relevant questions only. It is an art. One can also schedule a separate paid consultation in case the family had extended questions and needs the doctor’s extra time.

Just when I was finishing a late day, a patient who had just left returned, panting because he was running.

“Doc, I forgot to ask you- is it okay to smoke a few cigarettes? – I am quite stressed you know”.

I smiled and replied “No you can’t. Reduce stress rather than killing yourself slowly with both smoking and stress”.

That was a relevant question though, as it reminded me of reducing stress in my own life. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Beyond Those Valleys and Mountains..The Story of a Doctor That Media Won’t Tell.

Beyond Those Valleys and Mountains..
The Story of a Doctor That Media Won’t Tell.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Just after admission to a medical college, Rohan noticed that he had a twisting movement of his right hand. He was diagnosed with a common condition called “Writer’s Cramp”, which is sometimes disabling and resistant to treatment. He started changing posture and position of his hand to be able to write well and somehow continued his studies. His complaints kept fluctuating. His father, a primary teacher, passed away when he was in the second year of Medical School. His mother somehow managed with the tiny pension they received and Rohan completed his MBBS.

During internship his left hand started to become weak, he had numbness in some parts of the hand, and could not move two fingers. It was quite painful too. He came to us for his nerve damage. His worried mother had a hundred questions, fears and tears in her eyes. Studies showed that one of his nerves was severely damaged. There are very few reasons why this can happen in young patients. Diabetes, faulty Immunity, Genetic Diseases are common, but upon investigating, Dr. Rohan was found to have the most dreaded cause for his nerve damage: Leprosy.
Dr. Arjun Mapare started treating him for Leprosy.

I reassured them and we started on an unpredictable journey. I explained him the schedule of medicines and advised to continue his leprosy treatment.

Doctors get infected with dangerous diseases every day. However nerve damage especially in the hands endangers entire career of a doctor, and if treatment is not started in time, many develop lifelong disability. Nerve diseases are extremely troublesome, recoveries are rare, delayed and difficult in many.

Dr. Gajanan Bhalerao, my super energetic colleague known for his physiotherapy expertise took the challenge and worked up a strict plan which Dr. Rohan followed. He kept on working after permission from his leprosy expert.

Where there’s no light, faith guides us. Patience is a rare quality. For a few months we did not see much change, but we didn’t want to give up. Beyond those valleys and mountains that scare us, is the Sunrise.

Today, Dr. Rohan visited after many months, completely recovered from leprosy, and told us that his hands have full functionality, his nerve functions were normal and he was able to move his fingers well. His writer’s cramp in the other hand bothers him sometimes still, but what’s a doctor who can handle problems? There are hundreds of such passionate young medical students fighting through adversity right now in India, because they have a common aim- neither money, nor fame, it’s the wish to treat the sick and suffering, to save lives.

The credit of his recovery?
To Dr. Hansen who discovered leprosy bacteria, those who discovered its treatment, those like Baba Amte who spent life fighting the stigma of this disease and the thousands of specialists in urban and rural India who treat this every day …. and some thought Covid was all that’s important!

Dedicated to the memory of Dr. Baba Amte, worthy of Bharatratna and Nobel Prize both!

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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Photo:
With Dr. Rohan (Name Changed) and
Dr. Gajanan Bhalerao

Who Is Guilty Here?A Typical Indian Case


© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Sir my brother is critical. The doctors are not telling us anything about recovery. They don’t even reply to our questions about when the patient will recover. They are so inhuman! They should let the patient die if he is not going to come out of this illness, but they give us false hope that he may recover” said the friend, whose language precluded decency.

Having them seated, I requested details from patient’s friend accompanying the brother.

The patient, now in late thirties, had married against his family’s wish. He was boycot by his family, and started living with his wife. After a few days the couple started having quarrels due to his drinking habit. He frequently beat her up, and she often made a public scene of their private issues. He left her one day and returned to his family. His parents and brothers continued to taunt him. One day he was beaten up by his brothers, and in a fit of anger he drank rat poison.
He started vomiting after a few hours, became unconscious, and was taken to a quack who forced some magic potion in the patient’s mouth. Just after that, the patient had convulsions. “Take him to a doctor” said the quack. That’s when they went to a nearby rural hospital, which had no doctor. When they reached the city, patient was almost comatose. They took him to a low-cost multispecialty hospital. Upon admission his blood pressure was not recordable, breathing was almost nil, and heart was already beating too slow. The doctors there had acted fast and stabilised him, but by then his brain had suffered severe damage due to low blood pressure and very low oxygen.
In a week, he was stable, breathing on his own, opening eyes but unable to recognise anyone. Recovery in such cases is always very slow, unpredictable, and mostly incomplete. He needed supervision and nursing care, that was being done. Doctors were tired of the incessant repetitions of same questions: from relatives, politicians, and many other doctors. There’s a limit to how much compassion can one offer to its abuser. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

I did what was the obvious thing to do: reassured the relatives that the treating doctors were doing a good job, that things were unpredictable in such cases, and that they should have trust in the ability of those qualified doctors to handle a case whom they had rescued from an almost certain death.

What ate my heart away was the blatant, glaring line of facts here: the family was not kind to him, the wife wasn’t kind to him, his relatives took him to a quack and wasted most precious time that could have saved a lot of brain damage, the quack used something that dangerously worsened the patient’s health, the rural government healthcare was inadequate, but none among the family or politicos ever said a word or questioned that. As if they were all exempt from humanity, and nothing about his health was any of their responsibility. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
The doctors at that low-cost hospital, with minimum amenities, had still managed to save the patient, they did an excellent job, but were still labelled inhuman – just because everyone expected a full recovery of the patient, as if it was worthless to save a life unless it was complete, quick and cheap!
Indian doctors are already considered among the best all across the globe, we keep abreast of all advances in our respective fields by studying every day, we are easily available to everyone who needs our skill and opinion, we work far more than our colleagues in developed world, yet we are the most stressed, criticised, villainised and also poorest paid class of doctors, living under threats from one and all. Indian healthcare infrastructure is atleast fifteen years behind the developed world, it is us doctors who carry that burden of patient’s (googled) expectations upon our shoulders. It is frustrating to deal with the trustless, paranoid interactions with the relatives of those very patients whom we are trying to save.
What kills us most is the indecent, aggressive, violent way in which most doctors are abused in our country. Even the patients who do not recover completely speak in a vengeful, angry and complaining way to their doctors rather than any trace of gratefulness for whatever recovery was achieved.

The only way to possibly change this scenario is to change the society. Yes, to prefer a developed society where common sense and decency are not optional.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Victim Versus Victim

Victim Versus Victim

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

He walked in my chamber, trembling and sweating. A typical engineer, cute, nerdy and cultured, he lacked the usual poise, calm and charm that accompanies the true intellectual. Something was wrong.

“Are you ok? Do you need a glass of water?” I asked him, while glancing at the vitals that the nurse had recorded- his blood pressure was high but not in the dangerous range. His breathing was heavy, and his eyes red.

“No, Doctor, I… I .. my head..” he wasn’t able to finish his sentence. I let him relax for a few moments. Taking a deep breath in, he started: “Doc, I haven’t slept in fifteen days. My head is exploding. I feel like I will die. We did a heart check up yesterday as I had palpitations, but the cardio told me everything was normal”.

I examined him, there were no neurological findings except the extreme anxiety he was trembling with. Sometimes the mind is so troubled, it actually causes the body to manifest its suffering- causing giddiness, trembling, headaches, lack of sleep, sometimes even fatal conditions! Stress is indeed a major killer.

“Is someone with you? Are you under some stress? Where’s your family?” I asked, and he started to shake.
“I want to tell you something confidential, doc” he said, and told me one of the most horrific yet increasingly frequent stories of our times.

He is 34, married, and has a six-year-old child. His wife works too, but in a different company. He spilled out what was hijacking his mind:
“Fifteen days ago, on a weekend, my wife dozed off on the sofa besides me. Her cellphone was in the kitchen, and when I went to get a snack, a whatsapp notification appeared on her locked screen, it said ‘I love you too, can’t wait to see you. Wear white, you look beautiful ..”. The sender appeared to be a female name, but I was curious. I had complete trust in my wife and we had a very good life together. I woke up my wife and asked her to open that message, asking for details. She refused. I got very angry as she was trying to hide something. I told her that I was planning to call her father and discuss the issue. Then she told me the truth”. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“She had met one of her classmates in one of those ten year class reunions which have sprouted everywhere now. He started praising her, messaging her, and she said that she had fallen in love with him. She did apologise to me. I was devastated and wanted to run away, kill myself, because I had loved my wife dearly. The only reason why I did not do anything serious was our son, who is attached to both of us.”

“After a lot of thinking I decided to forgive my wife. I told her that I was ready to start again, but she had to completely stop seeing her classmate. I also requested her that I want to meet him once. We went to meet him. He is married too, has two kids, but his wife is not aware about all this. He bluntly refused to stop seeing my wife. He and my wife together told me that they cannot stop seeing each other, and that if I create any problems, my wife will approach various associations and police and tell them that I am abusing, harassing and being violent to her. You know what happens, doc, how law can be misused, how things can be twisted to make someone a villain. I am from a very cultured, educated family, we are scared of fights and legal matters, police cases etc.”

“When we returned home, my wife told me not to worry, and that if I did not interfere with their relations, I could also have the same relation with her as earlier. Now I hate her, I do not want to see her, but the thought of what will happen to our son and his future is killing me. I cannot eat, sleep or even think normally. I had severe headache since a few days, and today I vomited. My friend gave me your number, so I am here”.

Whenever someone is fasting for long, or for any reason dehydrated, the headache that follows could be extremely dangerous. We obtained an emergency scan of his brain and found that he was already developing clots in his veins, a condition that could have killed him if not treated in time. He was admitted and treated. His wife did come and attend him. He improved and was discharged in two days. I arranged for a counsellor for them, and now they are both undergoing counselling. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Besides the facts that I should never judge someone as a doctor, and that I am not a counsellor, I was appalled at the audacious threats (and in some cases a reality) misuse of police, legal machinery and socio-political forces under various disguises to corner and target someone. Recently a big retired police officer has commented “Show me a person, anyone, and we can show you his crimes”. The selective victimization of whoever one wants to target, while playing victim oneself, is the new name of the game: Victim Versus Victim with blurred definitions is the new world we are welcoming, thanks to the umpteen legal and social immaturities.

From gender to religion, from intellectual to financial achievements, anyone can now be blamed by anyone else, claiming to be a victim after using the system to get what one would never have achieved without that very system in place. In short, we are living in a world where a thief can enter your home, kill your dear ones, steal your belongings and if you catch and punish them, can play a victim card based upon anything from gender to caste, religion, nationality or political affiliation. This certainly cannot be called evolution, as survival of the most vicious villain will never favor human race.

Meanwhile we doctors will try and maintain our sanity to be neutral and treat everyone for their best health.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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Who Won Over The Pandemic In India?

Who Won Over The Pandemic In India?
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

As the covid situation improves, now begins the race for looting the credit and masking, twisting the reality. There’s a lot yet to happen, we hope there’s no second peak, the situation is best described as unpredictable at present.
It will be conveniently forgotten that hundreds of doctors, policemen, labourers, many covid warriors like nurses, hospital support staff, ambulance drivers, and government officials died to save millions of Indians. It will be downplayed that hospitals and staff therein were pushed to inhuman tasks for over eight months, some without payment. It will be never recorded that many PG students died due to unfair and unsafe postings during this pandemic, thousands worked without payment for months. It will also be conveniently forgotten that private hospitals- usually treated by society and politicians as “money minded looters” – were the only existing mechanism that could save our country from a much larger death toll.
The reality is that millions of patients went home because our private hospitals, doctors, nurses treated them day and night, without caring for their own family.

It will be comfortably masked that many government healthcare facilities were a failure, that enough manpower could not be found to man jumbo centers, that we lacked any other government machinery to provide healthcare in such a situation except arm-twisting and exploiting private practitioners and hospitals. Let us never commit the mistake of presuming that such a pandemic will be a one-time rare event as some evil countries now know what biowarfare can lead to. While electoral speeches will claim “Success” in defeating covid, the truth remains: that COVID has exposed us, our poor preparedness and arbitrary actions often without estimations of how they will affect millions of poverty-ridden illiterates. While sloganeering and declarations of “Thousands of crores” will be announced for people during elections, no one will question why we have not built any more hospitals, why we are not recruiting more qualified doctors in government set-ups, and why doctors find it impossible to work at govt-run hospitals. The sad stories of big netas getting admitted in biggest private hospitals and getting best of healthcare while the poor people on the street kept dying because they could not find ambulance, ICU, hospital or even family members to support will never be forgotten. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
We will never know who and why was given “Fast-track” certification for the emergency production and sale of huge quantum of PPE kits, masks, gloves, sanitisers, medicines (which were later declared questionable), tests for covid etc. Enormous profits were extracted even from doctors treating covid patients (because we all have paid huge amounts in last ten months for the safety gears, sanitisers etc.). We will never know how many thousand crores were earned by those who sold “immunity boosters” without a FDA validated scientific proof, taking advantage of illiteracy, ignorance and superstition in our country. The profits earned by one and all by the sale of these pandemic-essentials will remain hidden, and the bashing of private hospitals for overcharging will continue.

Let’s get the facts right: the private healthcare has sacrificed bigtime in this pandemic to save the life of millions. The credit of saving our beloved nation from a far more devastating outcome goes to these private hospitals, doctors at both private and government hospitals, postgraduate students, many brave, daredevil police officers, administrators like collector / commissioners, other grassroot covid warriors. Most declared policies were either ineffective or redundant. The courts in some states and even the Supreme court had to intervene and correct some wrong decisions, which itself saved many and eased the life of many more, we will be grateful to the Judges who took the best possible view of a blurred scenario. I must humbly thank certain political leaders, chief ministers of few states and others in the government for their individual hard work and involvement in this fight.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Yet, as our great nation India recovers, there will be proud chest-thumping by some leaders about “I / We defeated Covid Virus”. No. We doctors are a scientific community unblinded by bias. We know that Covid has unmasked the glaring, shameful shortcomings in our system. Covid has shown us our misplaced priorities. Covid has exposed the hollow claims of us being a developed, civil society. The number of maskless literates even during the peak of this pandemic is a proof of how backward we are as a community. India has almost no respectable medical research, we have a shameful federal healthcare infrastructure, we are considering non-doctors as teachers in medical colleges already sinking in quality, we have to rely upon quacks for healthcare delivery to the poorest and the rural, and yet the headlines of us donating nearly two million N95masks, HCQS to other countries gives us a feeling of pride, and we sing songs of a glorified glory.

The entire credit of pulling the country through this pandemic goes to every grassroot warrior, junior doctor, other doctor, nurse, private hospital, administrator, police. officer, and donors of multiple crores who sacrificed their life, family, or lifetime earnings for India.
Let no one befool you to believe otherwise.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Dedicated to the real COVID warriors.

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The Most Dangerous Indian Cancer

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Being invisible, the ability to see others without them seeing you, combined with the inexplicable curiosity about the private businesses of others (for which Indians are world-infamous) makes this an irresistible hobby. Manners and etiquette are the last attributes for which we Indians are credited anywhere, so people think it’s like our birthright to be rude, reckless, abusive and judgemental to others.

Earlier when you criticised others, people questioned your own achievements, showed your own ridiculous stupid past, and what was most feared: often proved that you are a do-nothing hypocrite idiot who likes to relish in being critical and disrespectful of others. People could show everyone what a joke your own life was, how illogical, unreasonable and irrelevant a liar you could be. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Invisibility gave all such idiots a protection. The ability to hide behind a fake social media identity and troll others as a group, mob, media, political outfit or – most dangerously- a system which has access to the private information about almost everyone- has now become the worst social cancer that India has ever faced. This is far more dangerous, ugly, vicious and destructive than religious divides (people now know that’s a politically cultivated poison), class divides or any other social disease that has disturbed human fabric especially in India.

Trolling is a deadly disease fast destroying everyone almost everywhere, but worst in India. The reason- it has support from the highest of people who have the ability and authority to stop it but won’t. The courts and the law enforcement agencies don’t seem to have noticed the cruel havoc this is already causing everywhere. A suo-moto intervention to criminalise all fake identities and trolls doesn’t appear uncalled for.

Shall we just accept this trolling cancer as a reality of our times that comes as a side effect of social media supported freedom of speech? © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Does a coward who hides his / her own identity have that protected freedom of speech? Is it freedom of speech to abuse and denigrate one and all, especially the rich, famous and the respected, to use language that inflicts worse injuries than physical wounds? Is it freedom of speech to threaten murders and rapes, to threaten violence and exposing someone just because they refuse to fall into your traps of expectation and exploitation?

It can NEVER be Indian culture to threaten women with rapes and murders on social media. Which religion, which culture anywhere in the world accepts such treatment of women and kids? Where are the various Indian guardians of regional supremacy, language, culture, clothing, food, festivals etc. when the women and children are abused openly on social media in their land?

Trollers in India reached a new low by threatening a young child of a renowned sportsman recently, and the very country whose who’s who are blabbering about “Beti Bachao” appear all silent. Isn’t it a crime to threaten a child on social media anymore?

Is merely deleting those comments sufficient, is it not required to identify, shame and punish such inhuman trollers?

The idea of being able to express one’s opinion in situations like dictatorships where revealing identity could be fatal is alluring. That’s probably why freedom of speech is protected by many social media platforms. However we now know that many of these social media platforms aren’t the innocent soldiers of an individual’s rights of speech and expression, but (probably sold out) manipulators working for political, international forces which pay them well- or worse- want to spread racist hatred between classes and harbour a supremacy theory, to flaunt numbers, spy upon people and even incite mobs to loot and kill. Many leaders, businessmen, artists, actors etc. have been completely destroyed by such trolling, elections swayed in favour of some, and we boast of an illiterate populace hooked upon free internet as our national pride!

How else do we explain the incessant flow of extreme abuse which has now become a source of income and entertainment? How else do we accept that law, national and international, has kept an option of anyone to open a fake social media account?

This cancer, a “Growth” of wrong practices in the body of every nation, is destroying precious bonds between humans: because everyone has an unseen private life, not essentially criminal, but open for trolling once exposed, and one who owns most trollers will be the King! Unemployment demands increasingly crass entertainment, and the ‘kings’ know this well.

We appeal to the Supreme Court of India to please declare all fake social media accounts illegal, and bring to books the trollers who use lies, abuses and threats online.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

The Hurt Passion Of A Doctor

The Hurt Passion Of A Doctor
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

The recent picture of our favourite cricketer Mr. M. S .Dhoni exhausted and fatigued on the field caused a lot of concern, and we wish him best health with many more years on the field. The passion with which he plays is inspiring, we all love and respect him just like we have loved and respected Mr. Sunil Gavaskar, Mr. Sachin Tendulkar, Mr. Anil Kumble, Mr. Virat Kohli and many other greats that the Indian cricket has produced.

By the age of 40 or so, most of the heavyweight sportspeople usually retire from a competitive life and take over other, less tiring jobs. They have spent their entire youth in working extremely hard, with untiring efforts to perfect their craft. The fields of both sports and films are unforgiving, and exceptional talent is required to make it to the top. On the plus side however is the recognition, fame, and money that follows success.

Where does a doctor stand then?

While we cannot compare any two professions given the different client-base and frustrations of each, we can definitely draw some parallels. Competing intellectually starts from school for every doctor, innumerable hours in studying, applying the best mental effort to performance, and overcoming all temptations of a light-heartedly enjoying outside world are just basic compulsions if one has to excel at least in India. The extreme competition for medical admission is worst in our country.

However, that’s just the beginning, and the real struggle starts after one joins medicine: exhausting timetables, extra work and duties, unending patient loads of an hygiene- illiterate society abandoned on health front by its own government are the basic premises. Add expectations of immediate cures and filmy, miraculous recoveries with best recommended World-class internet treatments but with “Indian Compulsions” of charity treatment by doctors from their own pockets, and a never-ending game of moral-ethical looting, compassionless exploitation begins. In the midst of all that mud, a doctor must still keep studying to be abreast of all the modernities of his science, keep a calm mind and be polite and good to even the worst behaved.

Then come home and see pictures of compassion for celebrities. No we do not envy the celebrities. We love them as much as anyone else. We just hate the hypocrisy that our people have created: that if you choose a career in medicine, you are far less likely to be loved, whatever you do, however hard you work, and even if you lose your life. The whole government machinery which rushes to wish celebs and click selfies with them on every tiny occasion cannot have the list of doctors who died treating covid patients! Has anyone seen any selfie of any minister with the doctors who saved their lives from covid?© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
There are thousands of young and old doctors in India, this very moment, working in covid wards, more exhausted and tired than any cricketer in the world. They cannot retire: 99 percent are so financially dependant on their daily income or monthly salaries, that they have silently accepted the tyrannous, cruel policies of various governments to inhumanly exploit them. They are on the verge of death due to exhaustion, and some are already having thoughts of ending it all. Over 500 have died. But the very same society has no compassion for these exhausted doctors, it has abandoned the very heroes who have stood between them and death. Their salaries are pending, they have to buy their own masks and kits, and thousands are estranged form their families for quarantines.

A society that browbeats doctors and hospitals to convert compassion into acceptance of non-payment of bills (as if doctors do not have basic compassions and humanity that everyone else has!) has money to queue up in restaurants, bars, liquor shops, malls, and bet millions on cricket matches is still completely ignorant about the exhausted doctor. We can build everything else as development agenda, but India can not invest in doctors. It can have the most modern aeroplanes and bullet trains, but it cannot pay its doctors.

The young doctor is now rethinking. Many have chosen to change their preferences and not become a doctor. Most doctors do not want to push their brilliant children into this chasm called ‘medical practice in India’: a dark, exploiting, thankless, violent and vulnerable machinery to suck out the blood of the most brilliant minds of our generation. The most important part of becoming a doctor is to reduce suffering and save lives. No one, however rich, becomes a doctor with a mindset to earn out of the dying and suffering.

That very passion to save lives is being insulted, mocked, and widely abused by our great nation today. I will continue to write to my students, to the next generation doctors to please preserve this passion: that is the most beautiful part of your soul, and please do not let it be scarred by an unevolved, regressive and exploiting society that we live in. Take care of yourself. We have a mission to save lives, without thinking whether they deserve to be saved or not. We will shortly also devise strategies to end this exploitation.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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The Future Girl and Her Message


© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

At about 7 PM, I was about to finish the OPD at Ruby. One last patient was waiting, I could see her in the waiting hall outside.

My N95 was on since 10 AM, and I hadn’t had an opportunity to drink even water since I entered hospital at noon. Fatigued, thirsty and heavy-headed, like most doctors today.

‘This isn’t fair’, I was thinking, ‘I don’t deserve this torture after so many years of hard work. This pandemic seems unending, this stress is piling up on my mind and body now,. The world seems to have come to an inhuman standstill’.

The last patient walked jauntily in, a young girl of 27, her eyes smiled excited. She’s been my old case of epilepsy since last three years. She works in a virology research set up, and had told me six months ago that she’s working on Corona. Her parents are working as labourers in a local government factory.

“How are you?” I asked, mustering a smile she couldn’t see.

“All fine Sir, no fits at all. I just came to share a good news. An American University has liked my virology work and offered me a job for three years. I am leaving in three days. I will begin a new life, I have decided to spend it for virology research. I just came to say bye to you. I will of course keep in touch, but I will miss you there” and she touched my feet.

“God bless you. Stay safe at all costs. I am sure you will reach great heights and win a Nobel. Don’t forget your parents. Let me know if you need anything anytime “. I said what I could.

I was happy and sad at the same time. Happy for her career leap, and sad that such a brilliant scientist was leaving India.

I was startled that she had shaken away my fatigue and the pandemic rust that was accumulating on my mind. A sign of youth, she had taken the burning world around her as an opportunity rather than being cowed down by it. She was going to wear a mask almost all her career life, and the thought didn’t seem to affect her. She had accepted the reality faster than anyone I knew. A mind made for the future, she was travelling to the US (she has reached now) at a time that the world was locked down.

The world hasn’t come to a standstill, I realised. It is picking up. It will thrive again and boom in few months. Till then I must keep all negativity away. Till then I must do whatever it takes to survive and live the best life possible even in a pandemic. She had unknowingly come to deliver that special message before she left.

She left teary eyed and yet with a smile. My tiredness was gone. My spirits felt rejuvenated, I was grateful that she visited. Like every doctor who gets up and puts on his mask every morning for seeing their patients catch on with their life again.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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Standing Ovation, Doctors with Hemlock

Standing Ovation, Doctors with Hemlock
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

It is not new that the world has chosen to torture and kill the right and good. From Socrates to Mahatma Gandhi, the speakers of truth and advocates of good have been punished by a majority addicted to the illusions of both. Socrates, who was declared guilty and awarded death by drinking poison hemlock, had a chance to escape. He chose not to. ‘A true philosopher is not afraid of death’ he said. He chose to drink the poison.

At this very moment, thousands of young doctors all over India have chosen not to run away from the deadly virus: because they believe in the ultimate sacrifice: for saving the life of millions. They are the true heroes of India. If a soldier dies, the whole nation rises to salute the sacrifice. Nearly 400 doctors die, and our administrators said they did not have information about it in the parliament. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Digital India, where there wasn’t a day without messages about Aadhar cards, PAN linking, etc., and so many other messages reached everyone, yet unable to know tell how many doctors died. We can tell exactly how many patients were positive, how many tests were done, how many discharged or recovered, but we cannot tell how many doctors died while treating them. Shame!

Thousands of junior / PG doctors, interns and medical officers are being forced to work not only against their wish, but against all fair constitutional rights. They are being threatened and punished even after overworking. Their salaries have been cut, some have not been paid for months now. Everyday, patients too are frantically searching for good covid care beds.

Hospitals are overflowing, no beds available in some places, many centers are closing down because of lack of resources, but what we really need now is an IPL. We don’t have money to pay the doctors, create more healthcare resources for thousands of dying patients, but we can definitely watch cricket and forget all that. There’s nothing wrong with sports or entertainment, but is this the right time? Will the IPL profits be used for creating more hospitals? All through the economic crisis, I was amazed by the perpetual news of few Indians getting higher on the list of the richest in the world. I do believe that they are good at whatever they do. However, what was most ironical was that yesterday I read the news of people urging one of India’s richest businessman to buy the Man-U team. Mind you, people did not want a hospital for the dying poor, people did not ask the billionaire to pay the unpaid covid warriors, they asked him for buying a football team!

Add to this the new law about Violence against healthcare workers “During pandemic”. How can this be best described? “No murders, crimes, corruption during summer months”? Or “No stupid talking between 10 AM and 10.30 AM”?© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

The point is, dear Covid warrior doctors, please understand that the society does not want you, it only wants your free service without offering either respect or remuneration. The government has not even responded to our petition about human rights for doctors who have been slogging, carrying the pandemic burden on their shoulders as everyone else hogs the credit of recovering patients. Postgrad medical students have been denied education in their own branch for over six months now. They have been denied leave, permission to meet sick parents, or even a quarantine after exposure that is followed world over. They also face extremely hostile relatives and goons every day in hospitals. Many doctors who died just as they started their careers, are not even acknowledged! Just as every responsible institution in the country has taken precautions to safeguard itself from the virus, working online, just as the parliament is mulling over whether to cut short the monsoon session as some members were positive, no one wants to think about those actually dying every day facing covid patients: our doctors.

I have never felt so frustrated about the future of doctors in India. I have carried a proud torch of being an Indian medico and am blessed to have a great connection with most present generations of brilliant doctors, but I haven’t slept peacefully last few months knowing that my juniors, students are left to die in the pandemic. Every effort being made is quashed or falls on deaf ears.

I can only say to every doctor in the covid ward right now: humanity will always be grateful to you for drinking this poison hemlock just like Socrates did: bravely and in service of truth and good. If Mahatma Gandhi was alive today, he won’t have published his own achievements, instead, he would have made the country realize how indebted it is to your sacrifice. I believe in the power of one. Mobs never achieve anything. Each one of you out there is a hero saving lives, even when your own countrymen seem to have forgotten and abandoned you.

My Standing Ovation to every doctor working right now anywhere in the world, especially in India.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Picture Courtesy: By Walter Crane The story of Greece : told to boys and girls (191-?) by Macgregor, Mary, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32804549