Tag Archives: Fitness

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

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The Braveheart Orthopaedic Surgeon

The Braveheart Orthopaedic Surgeon
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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The stunned auditorium was hijacked by shame. Nearly a thousand paralysed audience helplessly watched the ongoing horrific drama.

It was the annual day function, the only colourful evening in the year that the whole staff, the Dean, all teachers, resident doctors and students from all batches come together in the medical college. Extraordinary talents that the doctors otherwise have to sacrifice for lack of time: Singing, Acting, Music etc. resurface this one night. I was still in my first year.

Midway through, one resident doctor climbed upon the stage. He was a strong leader, a good student when sober, and had a strong political support, hence usually had his way around everyone. He was excessively drunk. He took charge of the microphone. Few of his friends, some also drunk, were guarding the doors.

“Our Dean is a drunkard. He is also corrupt, he takes bribe from everyone for everything. He is having an affair with this professor of XYZ department. I order the dean to come here on the stage and apologise after I slap him”.

This was beyond anyone’s imagination. One of the teachers requested the drunken offender to please come off stage, but received a flurry of obscene abuses. There was a silence that prayed for relief from this situation.

Dr. Devendrasingh Paliwal got up from the audience.
“Chal, bahot ho gaya drama. Main aa raha hun. Karle kya karega. This is not the place for your allegations. Get down”. Devendra was always known for his physical fitness, and had an intimidating personality. Straightforward and kind, he had almost no enemies.

He went to the stage, grabbed the mic from the offending drunk, handed it over to the MC, and brought down the drunken resident. Within a moment some others joined him to avoid the impending scuffle. The dean and many teachers felt the relief of a lifetime.

Those who anticipated fun at the cost of misery to others were of course disappointed, but at the beginning of my medical career I learnt one of the most valuable lessons of my life: It takes one man to be courageous, not a herd. If you have guts to get up and protest the wrong, there is a fair chance you will succeed. A good man’s fear is the bad man’s strength.

That night at 2 AM, after the programme I went with my friends to the hotel near the railway station for tea. Too much excitement prevailed. Devendra was sitting with his friends at a nearby table. I went to him and introduced myself. He smiled as if nothing special had happened, shook hands and told me “Kisike baap se bhi kabhi nahi darne ka (never ever be scared of anyone).”

We became good friends, we also shared a common mess. Studying at night and going to the railway station (6 kilometres away) for a tea break at 3 AM was also common, and Devendra often asked others to race him to run back those 6 kms after the tea. I can proudly say that I reached second, although a good two minutes after him!

He became an orthopaedic surgeon and started his own hospital, but his ‘Gene’ of fighting injustice and standing up for the good never left him. Stress and anger can be a big hindrance for a doctor, especially a surgeon, so he decided to drown his ‘stress-anger’ into exercise. Always a fitness icon himself, even today he does two hours of cycling and an hour of gymming. “It helps me concentrate better during my practice and surgery, and also keeps me totally fit” he says.

Few years ago, a doctor was arrested in a typical example of a hyperreactive populist system. This was illegal, but many a times the system gets away with the illegal more fluently than the citizen. Dr. Devendrasingh Paliwal was the president of the local IMA (Indian Medical Association) chapter. He took the system, police and politicos “Head On” as was his nature always. The city’s hospitals shut down. This enraged the politicos but encouraged the medical fraternity to unite like never before, and the doctor, wrongfully in police custody for 8 days, was released!

Dr. Devendra then worked to straighten out the relations with the system, and formulated a “Modus Operandi” involving the police and local politicians to protect the interests of both patients and doctors so that goons and petty politicos do not blackmail either. If only all the IMA chapters follow this lead (and I must also mention the excellent IMA unity and extraordinary leadership in Goa: Dr. Sam Arawattigi, and Kalyan: Dr. Prashant Patil), half the irregularities and injustice against doctors and patients will disappear.

“I have always kept friendship, professional courtesies and Humanity above my medical practice” Devendra says, “I take it for granted that it is my duty to treat free those who cannot pay”.

It is pathetic today to see many brilliant doctors working in perpetual fear under those who exploit them, by choice or in desperation, accepting humiliating and patient-unfriendly working conditions.. People like Dr. Devendrasingh Paliwal are a hope our profession can look upto.

All other things may change, but the value of fitness, courage in one’s heart and a kind nature that compels one to help others are some things which will never change their place as the best three human virtues.

Medical careers are drenched with excess hard work, stress and anxiety. The one training that the doctors in making must inculcate from the beginning is that of physical and mental fitness. Doctors leading a stressful life and always having to present a ‘pleasant face’ to the patients and colleagues, either suffer their negativity alone or pour it out upon their family. Daily physical exercise is an excellent remedy of many frustrations that accompany medical practice. Dr. Devendrasingh Paliwal not only sets an example by doing this, he goes way beyond his duties to bail out others from difficult situations: medical, surgical and social.

I consider myself fortunate that I met this fearless braveheart fitness icon who infused the right “mantras” of courage and fitness into me at the beginning of my medical career!
Much obliged, Dr. Devendrasingh Paliwal!
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande