Tag Archives: diwali

Which Is The Best Festival Upon Earth?

Which Is The Best Festival Upon Earth?
Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Happy Diwali” said Mr. Abdul as he entered with a box of sweets in the OPD.

Over five years ago he was admitted with a complete paralysis, and had fully recovered as he had reached the hospital within two hours of the onset of paralysis. Since then I had received his Diwali hampers without fail.

A happy gentleman who liked to make funny sarcastic comments (maybe Pune effect), he made me smile every time. “Your fees has increased, doctor, but my feelings of gratitude for you will not change” he said now, silently laughing: “Every Diwali I remember that I was admitted on the Laxmipooja day, and our family was worried if the specialist doctors will be available. My wife was praying that there should be some specialist doctor to attend my case all the way from home when I became unconscious” he recalled. Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Indeed, he was admitted on the auspicious festival day, the junior resident doctor had activated the stroke code, our team had rushed in. I was already in the hospital to see a VIP leader whose headache usually worsened on holidays and then many specialists had to be called in to ego-massage his headache. So I could see Mr. Abdul immediately, and explained to his family that his condition was critical, that there were risks of complications in the first few days. Uncertain with the new doctor, they requested that I talked to their family physician Dr. Feroz. I did.
This is but natural, and there was no reason to feel offended with the anxieties of a serious patient’s family. In the age of trustless relationships where couples check each other’s cellphones like detectives and parents and kids question each other’s intentions, it is hardly possible that a serious patient’s family will blindly trust a new doctor. Even some doctors distrust new (not senior / junior, but the one being consulted for the first time) doctors. The only possible solution is an understanding doctor who takes this in stride, refuses to be offended, and acts in the best interest of the patient, taking an extra step to make the worried family comfortable. There are indeed some who never trust anyone whatever one does to satisfy them, but that is their own cross to carry, one should simply ignore the ugly trait. It is well known that those patients who do not trust any doctor suffer worst, as they don’t take anyone’s advice seriously. Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Three days later, as Mr. Abdul recovered, the family breathed in some confidence, and started believing all that I explained, without having to involve their family physician. Since then, although I have advised that he does not require to see me now, and instead he can follow up with Dr. Feroz, Mr. Abdul visits me every six months for a check up. His wife calls me Rajabhai, a name I would not have allowed anyone to call me with, but couldn’t dare tell this to her!

This is a pretty standard picture across India, most of even the poorest recover well from strokes, accidents, burns, infections, fractures, heart attacks and various other emergencies if they reach hospital in time. While people all over the world wish happy festivities to each other, take holidays, revel and eat and enjoy, while leaders give long festive speeches from their farmhouses to please various voters according to mob IQs, it is the professionals like doctors and servicemen like police, military, etc.who slog and run to save lives. They forget family and enjoyment to be available for those who suffer. The perpetual thankless will immediately say “but this is a choice you made”, but not understand that this choice was made to be respected, to earn well and to save lives, not for the society, the skimpsters and politicians to take advantage of. To see the sick and crying, angry people, to witness death and disability on the very days that your family expects you to be happy with them is not something one can easily come to terms to, and this is lifelong, not a five year term with long vacations. Dr. Rajas Deshpande

The fact that millions of critical patients are attended well during the most auspicious festivals: Diwali, Eid, Christmas, and all other religious festivals included, is conveniently forgotten once the festivals are over, and then the mudslinging about medical professionals starts, with the long speeches advising doctors to work harder with lesser expectations. Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Doctor, this is not about Diwali or our religions” Mr. Abdul said while leaving, “this is to continue the tradition of humanity. There must be so many patients who can be with their families this festival, because some doctor worked hard to save them. This is my token of respect for those doctors”.

As always, I told Mr. Abdul that I was immensely grateful that the superpowers gave me this opportunity to be a doctor. I meant it. Dr. Rajas Deshpande

I often imagine: what if I was born with too much money, son of a rich father, with no worries for earning and no limits on spending, I would so much love to roam around the world in luxury cars and jets, among beautiful people (you understand), enjoying life to the brim, without caring for any suffering around me. In that case, I might have been very happy probably, but I won’t have respected myself as much. Even the most junior, newest recruit of a doctor is far superior to anyone who has chosen to cunningly ignore the suffering around, speaking big words and doing nothing about it.

Therein lies the best festivity in life: being a doctor, with an ability to abolish suffering and avert death.
Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Happy Diwali to all Patients, Medical Students, Junior and Senior Doctors, Resident Doctors, Nurses, Technicians and wardboys, Hospital staff and administrators, and to everyone who cares for others, showing it in their actions.

“Eureka”

photo-09-09-16-12-12-22© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Half day OPD today. Diwali morning. Busy busy rush.

Push ups. Weights. 30 minutes on treadmill at 7 Kmph. Feel the rushing blood. Check out a muscle or two in the bedroom mirror. Count the packs in certain position. Feel the pride of this sweat too.

For some curious reason, take your smartphone to the shower. Not only because you are a doctor, but plain simple addiction. The idiotic fear that the world will stop functioning without your supervision. It doesn’t. Or does it?

Enter the steamy hot shower feeling like a superman. Start philosophical excursions in your mind finding simplest solutions to everything. Under shower meditation is the supreme spiritual ritual of the day. Not because ‘the world cannot see your tears’, but because the world is altogether absent here in the shower.

This new shampoo is great, just takes some more time. Wait.

The phone rings. I will not pick up. I will just see who it is.

Oh my God!

It’s that Professor of mine, known for never calling anyone, never socialising, and in general being a “limited edition”, generally sarcastic. If I do not pick up his call, he won’t call again, and probably will never pick up my call again. Doctors have bombastic egos, the senior the more. He is over 80 now, and still studies a lot. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Pick up the phone. (Thank you Apple for making it waterproof). Come out in the bedroom dripping.

“Good Morning Sir!”

“It’s nearly afternoon, Rajas. Good afternoon! Do you have internet access right now?” Prof.

I am always proudly connected.

“Yes Sir”.

“Okay. You had referred a patient to me. It’s about him” he told me the name.

Yes. I had referred him a case I had doubts about. Things were quite odd, I had never seen a neurological condition like that. I just hope it is not something I missed, otherwise Prof. will skin me alive on phone!

“I examined him. I presented him to our Neurological society, and we concluded that this is pretty rare. There are only two such cases diagnosed with such findings till now. One is in 2004, and the other in 2012. Open your net browser, I will tell you the references”.

Wipe hands dry. Open the net. Check the references. “Yes, Sir!”

“He is going to need some more tests to confirm this condition. He cannot afford. I have written a letter for him to show to his employer, they may sponsor. Or we should look into charity. He will come to you, send me all the reports. Then maybe we will report this”. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Yes, Sir”.

“Okay. Bye”.

Thank God there was no skinning! I must complete reading the reference right now! Done.

Standing there, dripping all over, I realised how much I enjoyed the “Fun” in learning, What a feeling! Eureka!

That whole day, my spiky hair may have offended many who met me, and I had no explanation. Most patients graciously forgive their doctors’ weird appearances, sentences and even some spurts of absent minded stupidity, the senior the more.

Once this very Professor was to be the internal examiner for my senior batch, and I was supposed to present him cases to be selected for the final DM Neurology exams. Terror reigned. Our best case was a Huntington’s Disease patient, and I had studied day and night the whole prior week about that and other cases. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

He sat in the ward side room.

Trembling, I called in the patient. The patient walked in about four steps till the examination bed, and sat upon it. It was less than ten seconds that the patient was in the room.

Just before I opened my mouth, Professor said plainly “Huntington’s is too short a case for DM. Keep him in reserve. Get the next case”. I felt like being shot before even entering the battlefield!

This professor was my examiner too, for my DM final exams. His genius was scary, his comments deadly. Just as I came out after the final viva, I received a money order sent by mom. As I stood counting the money outside the exam ward, this Professor came out. Looking at me counting the money, he smiled big. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Already planning a party haan?” he kept his hand upon my shoulder.

Frightened, I explained that it was just a regular money order from home.

“You will need extra money this time” he said and walked away.

My heart turned into a boombox.

My palpitations stopped only when someone told me after two hours that I had topped the exams. The whole world paused in my mind to salute three years of extreme hard work, the run of umpteen sacrifices: that of youth, food, sleep, life, enjoyment, relationships, and everything that is “normal human need”.

Of all the qualities that make a genuine doctor, the Nerdiness is probably the most undervalued one. What a doctor appears to speak or write or decide on the spur of the moment is actually the product of years of study, research and hard work, with umpteen experiences that add to the thinking process. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

It is this same Nerdiness that saves many a doctors from the depression and other mental stresses that their life offers on a daily basis. I love reading my subject at least two hours every night, and I know many doctors who are “lost” in the quest of knowing more and more. All the humanity, compassion, social service, charity, respect and earnings on one side, it is sometimes only this “thirst of knowledge” that makes us forget the umpteen festivals, celebrations and other happy things of life we keep on missing.

Like the soldiers on the border, thousands of doctors spend their Diwalis and Christmases and Eids and Baisakhis in hospitals, tending to the care of the sick and suffering, drinking the poisons of allegations and anger. One sure-shot medicine for this is studying.

For their Festival of Lights is in the service of the suffering, and their celebration is saving life. The fire comes from their quest for knowledge. They burn colourfully to make others smile again!

Happy Diwali to all the Patients, Doctors, Medical Students, Nurses, Paramedical staff, Pharmacists, Medical Representatives, Technicians, Wardboys, Reception and other staff, Mamas, Mausis, Security staff and all those who are connected to the healthcare industry!

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Did you plan your murders and suicide at 17?

Did you plan your murders and suicide at 17?
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

What were you doing when you were 17?
I know not all questions can be answered fully and truly. But some truth applies to all at this age. At 17, we are full of dreams of a good, respectable and if possible luxurious life. And of course of true love.
Well, what options do we have at 17 for such a rich and respectable life?
If you google-search top grossing Indian careers, you will find management, IT, Chartered Accountants, Law, Data management, Sports, Entertainment, Politics and Medicine. Which option would you choose out of these, if you are intelligent and hardworking?
A 9-5 work life with family time and regular food and sleep and holidays, with healthy, alive people around you, or one with no sleep, highest stress, no family life, always being surrounded by illness, crying and death, lifelong exposure to deadly diseases, having to study every day of your life, lifelong competition and struggle, unsure when some patient or mob or press will end your life or career?

No teenager thinks “I will become a corrupt doctor carelessly treating patients to earn all the money I can by prescribing wrong, unnecessary tests and risking my life with deadly diseases just to earn the title of a doctor, and enjoy harming and killing many many patients all my life, long after my classmates have retired..”.
There is far more money and often more respect in many other professions. Illiterate politicians at age 30 roam in Red-beacon cars, Finance, IT and management professionals at age 30 flaunt Beamers and Mercs, while most Superspecialist Doctors aged 45 drive scooters / small cars in India. Why will a talented, hardworking teenager choose at 17 to spoil his / her life by becoming a doctor? This is not for the mildly intelligent to understand.

Where does the “doctor” class come from? Usually academic, poor, middle class families, rarely from rich class. Which parent will teach their children to do bad to ill patients to earn more money? Do you teach your children at age 17 to “loot” sick people?

The govt. failed to provide enough medical colleges and doctors, allowed private colleges, and decided who will start these colleges and what fees they will charge, the courts agreed to this. How is today’s doctor guilty of this? If paying high fees for the desire to become a doctor and serve sick people and later earning enough to repay that fees is a crime, why not ban all private medical colleges and send all patients to govt. hospitals compulsorily? There always will be those who take advantage of any system where money is generated, how come all doctors are blamed?
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

The govt. made service compulsory after graduation, made bonds, doctors complied in most cases. Those who didn’t, paid fine. After that, they do not remain “PUBLIC SERVANTS”. They become private practitioners, whose service comes under a “consumer law”, thereby the court has decided it is a business. You have govt. hospitals in every small town now. Why don’t you go there and get the cheapest treatment, with usually no tests (because they are not even available!)? No one will force you for extra money or tests or wrong treatment there. That system, where there is absolute guarantee of no “CUT PRACTICE” and referral fees, will never deny service to anyone. Most doctors there are excellent too.

No. You want premium service, best available medical facilities. You want sweet words and better guarantees. You want highly qualified superspecialists in ultramodern A/c buildings with state-of-the-art machines and tests and operation theatres and stents and medicines and catheters attended 24/7 by teams of all experts under one roof, with the best trained nursing staff. Above all you want the freedom to blame and sue someone for everything that may go wrong. “Science is so advanced, doctor, can’t you do something?” you often ask, “My cousin in USA got this same problem, they lifted him up with a helicopter and he was discharged in a week”. You forget one part of the picture entirely: the insurance premium your cousin paid, the treatment charges levied, and the doctor’s fees in those cases. Above all, you didn’t enquire how many poor / compassion / politico/ VIP / govt. servant free patients that doctor in USA sees all his life.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

You want the “USA class” service at “Indian” rates. You want the cheapest treatments by world-class doctors, with the ability to sue for crores. If medical tests are unnecessary, ask the govt. to ban them, or go to the people who can treat you without those tests. Ask the fulminant (google this word, my friend) anti-doctor media for the best options from the various quacks they advertise daily. If medicines / instruments / stents / catheters are costly, please ask govt. to only sell cheaper brands and use them. Why doesn’t the govt. ban all foreign medicines? Have guts to go to the doctor and say in writing “Use only Indian and cheapest medicines, catheters, instruments and procedures, I will accept the outcomes as long as the doctor is technically correct”.

No doctor will force tests or medicine. Choosing the doctor, tests and medicines are all your rights and privileges. Own the responsibility of what you do. If you think the doctor was wrong, do file a complaint with authorities, and follow the legal procedure. If you were wrong, face defamation. Just don’t pretend to be lone saints in a world full of criminals.

About the loose talk that our own brethren / doctors unleash upon social media about “most doctors being corrupt”, I think the medical councils and associations must seriously deal with such defamation of our profession. If someone has an issue with medical corruption or malpractice as a doctor, they must go to their specialty association or medical council, not general or social media, as this is just misleading the public. API / IMA must start filing defamation suits if any media plays judge in medical cases before the courts of law have convicted the doctor.

How does one choose a doctor for oneself? Cheapest or Best? How did the doctor you chose become famous / best? Never by only a degree. Of all the rich careers, the richness of a doctor is the costliest, having to toil the hardest over many years to attain that success, with no support from the society, govt. or media. Corruption may make some doctors rich, but never famous.

Let the govt. publish a book of standard tests and treatment of every medical condition and have every doctor follow it, irrespective of the outcome. Alternatively, have faith in the doctor’s education and opinion.

All malpractices in all fields must go: Political, Social, Government, Educational, Public works, Religious, Media, Entertainment Industry, Judiciary, Police and ofcourse medical.

For all those who missed the Indian medical train, enjoy your journey without jealousy! Believe me, you are lucky to not be a doctor in India. For us, the meaning of “Happy Diwali” ended for life when we entered medical college. This Diwali, put on your new clothes, pack some sweets and visit any casualty near you to know what being a doctor means. Then dare to blame an entire profession.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande