Tag Archives: Life

The Untold Slaughter

The Untold Slaughter
(c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande

In my first year of Residency, I was waiting near the hospital elevator, with a colleague, already late at 8.30 AM. The Dean, who is the highest authority in medical campus, on his morning rounds, came with his routine flock: Medical Directors and Superintendents, Nursing Chief, and Assistant Medical Officers, and waited for the elevator. I wished him a Good Morning, he reciprocated and looked at his wrist watch. I understood. “Sorry Sir, I had an emergency last night, I left wards at 7 AM” I said. He nodded and smiled.

He was a respectable odd man out in the system at Government Hospitals then. He was clean and non-corrupt, extremely punctual and active. This reflected in cleaner wards and better services, availability of staff, medicines and devices, although the patients who benefited rarely knew who was the guardian angel behind the service. He had become Dean by a rare chance: there was no one qualified and willing to take on that responsibility, so he was given the charge. However, now those in the “good books” of power were ready to take over, and awaited the right moment.

Like most straightforward and non-corrupt officers with a spine, he was generally hated by the system. He had stopped the bribery and corruption that started from some ward assistant / ward-boy level to all the purchases, appointing committees of different heads. He had stopped the purchase of medicines and devices / catheters from dubious companies which had flourished for years around the town. “Local Cheap Pharmacies” run by the “Well Connected” or aliases of those in power were affected badly, as their whole set-up was designed to run via such government hospital purchases.

The doctors, clinicians and residents like us were happy that the patients got good quality drugs, it is otherwise horrible to witness treatment failures which can never be proven to substandard drugs or catheters. The only face to blame is that of the doctor for a politician or a patient.

Naturally, he was on the hotlist of many in power. The best weapon in politics: the caste card was being used against him. The labour organisations and staff associations that belonged to a different caste / religion than that of this Dean were continuously active to create nuisance, hoping to spread the fire and bomb the press at the first correct opportunity.

Almost all elevators at government hospitals are the basic old re-repaired ones: slow, jerky, unreliable, like many offices. As we waited, few others joined the elevator queue. Among these was a middle aged sweeper lady, who came limping.

“What happened?” asked the Dean to her.
“I fell at home, it’s just a small sprain, I am taking medicine Sir” she replied politely.
The elevator came. As patients rushed in, the Dean held open the door for her, and asked her to get in first.
“Pehle aap andar aao” he said (“You come in first”).
The lady politely replied “Nahi Sir, aap chaliye pehle” (‘No, Sir, You get in first”).
He went in, some staff went in with him, then he asked the sweeper lady to come in too, by a hand gesture.

That was enough. The next day, there was a huge agitation. The allegation was that the Dean said “Aati Kya” (“Will you come with me”) to a sweeper, and made an obscene hand gesture. There were morchas, road blocks in the campus. The sweeper lady declined to comment, her husband who was among the association leaders gave the press interviews. Some student organisations based upon caste and religion were involved, their gusto fueled by those in power. Two of the doctors who accompanied the Dean that day on the rounds also testified that the allegations were true. One of them was in fact the next in line to become the Dean. Everyone sane in the campus felt ashamed.

I was too insignificant then, just as I am today. But I went to the Dean with my female colleague, and we offered to testify what had actually happened.

He smiled through the hell he was going through.
“It was my mistake, Rajas, that I accepted the post. This is how the system works, this is the power they have. It is never any party or caste or religion, it is merely a human tendency and unfortunately, that is in abundance today. We have no chance against the majority, and if the majority chooses to be a mob, we
are helpless. Because mobs are bought and blinded, they have no logic or reasoning. The wisest thing in certain situations is to continue to survive, do your best, till you can help engineer a change”.
“But Sir, those allegations are so unfair and vulgar” my colleague said.
He looked at her straight in the eye, and said “Do you believe all that the politicians say?”.

The change happened overnight.
Disgraced and sent on leave, our Dean did not resign.
“I am the small good that must remain in the system. Twisting facts, making allegations that need no proof, exposing personal lives and relationships, misusing culture, philosophy and wisdom as per convenience are new-age essentials for most political leaders. Illiteracy is a dangerous force. The only hope is those who do not succumb to pressure, keep their eyes open and think with their own brains” he told his friends.

Two years later, when I met him to give him sweets for my passing, to touch his feet and seek blessings, I found the same sweeper lady and her husband waiting outside his office. I told him so when I went inside.

Calmly, he replied “Yes, their son has passed twelfth standard, they need some financial help for his college fees”.
I did not ask him what he would do. Doing good is an obligation with such human Gods, irrespective of what they get back in return.

That places them above every other form of human being dry-blabbering about humanity. I touched his feet thrice that day.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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PS: Some facts changed to mask identity.

Doctor’s Fees: A Taboo Topic

Doctor’s Fees: A Taboo Topic
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
A famous industrialist from Pune recently visited my OPD. My Boss called me on phone and told me to waive off the fees, as he was a close friend of my Boss. The industrialist was not only well behaved, but well-read too. He had a complicated problem, had seen Neurologists etc. in India and UK. He asked many questions, and I was happy to have been able to reply to most. The consultation lasted over 45 minutes. He went out, and was told by the receptionist that his fees was waived off. He knocked my door, came back in, and placed three thousand rupees on my table. My usual fees is half that.
“Doc, I don’t believe in taking advantage. You gave me all the time I needed, and I have paid far more to the foreign doctors for a fraction of that time” he said.
Just a few days prior, a European patient from Mumbai had visited with her Indian in-laws, and after a detailed consultation, when they went out and paid the usual fees of 1500 INR, she messaged me: that this was far lower for the service they received. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Two days ago, on Saturday night at 9 PM, one lady rushed in without appointment, an engineer now working in Pune. Quite lavish in her get up and paraphernalia, she told me she had recently delivered a baby in the USA and then returned to India. After we finished the consultation that lasted over 30 minutes, and included many questions and explanations about her “minor” neurological problem, about justification of diagnosis, every medicine, about lactation, and about her prior medical consultations, I was happy that I had answered all her questions, and was able to treat her without any tests. Then she said: “And yes, doc, your fees is too high. Most doctors in my area charge less than that. I want concession”.
Earlier it was quite embarrassing for me to discuss money with patients. I felt it was below my dignity to have to talk about money, and humiliating to have to explain my fees. When I decided what I charged, it was after a prolonged thought process, and awareness of Indian healthcare scenario and socioeconomic conditions. While being available for genuinely poor patients, I did not want to resort to any backdoor incomes, and also wanted to give every patient the best of my skill acquired over 15 years of education, and enough time. There are clean doctors, far more senior than me, in my branch, who know this well and charge a lot more as consultation fees than I do (some over 5000 INR for a single consult), for they know their own worth. But there also are few who for their own reasons continue to charge far lesser, some with a noble intention (usually at the fag end of their career), some with alternative plans. It is a personal preference of the doctor, especially specialist. A correct diagnosis and honest /right advise is becoming rare and rare, what with the quality of medical education and an admixture of streams, which aim at the fast, cheap, objective and basic rather than specialized, subjective and accurate. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
In absence of any comparable example, (medical service is not comparable to any other, but to quote an example that most should understand), I have to mention this: when one buys land, home, good food or technology, one pays differently at different places, for different brands. No one argues about the rates of foreign cellphones or jewelry, even about cinema tickets, but the most important service of all: health, is considered a bargainable, perpetually low cost charity. Basic and emergency healthcare doesn’t mean attached super-technology, five star rooms and washrooms and air conditioning, best qualified staff and ancillary services. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Used to this question very frequently, I told this lady that my fees was the same as that of most super-specialists in larger cities, that it was based upon qualification, experience, skill and time spent. She wouldn’t listen, and refused to pay. I told her she could avail of the free OPD meant for poor patients if she had a BPL card or if she was a farmer. “I can afford, I am not poor. But I want concession, because some doctors in my area charge only XXX”she said. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
A senior doctor had advised me during the beginning of my practice: “Concentrate on the affordability of the middle class. Manage your time with the patient according to their affordability, people are rarely willing to pay the doctor. If your consultation fees is high, you will turn off many patients, because even the rich opt for the cheapest possible healthcare, including the doctor”. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Of course I did not want to discriminate. But over a period of time I realized that most of the forced free categories keep on repeatedly visiting various specialists / hospitals (a free category patient visits over three consultants for every medical issue) because it is free/ low cost, this is a frustrating scenario. Even the affording class visits many specialists for the same problem because the doctor’s fees is too ‘affordable’.
A doctor must always be kind and compassionate, but in India, he / she also needs to be practical to avoid being exploited. Compare to the availability of a free food service at your home for the poor. Check out for yourself how many misuse it, and how often. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Various pathies and specialties have a different fees structure, and people must be educated that all doctors cannot charge the same. A surgeon or physician with more skill, experience, expertise and good outcomes is definitely entitled to charge more than his peers. After all, what is a few thousand rupees when one’s health is concerned? When filing suits against doctors who commit mistakes, people claim in crores, a fact that must be accounted for when the doctor charges his / her fees.
“Your fees has increased” said a patient, who has paid the same fees for last 8 years. When I asked him to name any commodity whose price hasn’t increased in last eight years, he said “But you are a doctor”. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Among all the inflations happening everywhere, it is only the doctor’s fees that mostly remains unchanged for years. There are excellent charity institutes with great healthcare services , also many government hospitals, but most people want a “Premium / Priority” healthcare service at their lowest rates, refusing to stand in a queue at such hospitals. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
The cut throat competition among hospitals to match society’s low cost healthcare expectations has resulted in a nightmare: most of the permanent staff being hired is low-salary, low qualification overworked, and exploited, many of the consumables used are of a questionable quality. This reflects worst in most critical care units and some surgical units. Very few will understand the true depth of this horrible tragedy.
While all cut-practice and other malpractices must end, while every doctor must compassionately aim at resolving the health problem that the patient trusts him / her with, and satisfy the patient as much as possible, it is also necessary that people understand that good healthcare will come at a higher cost. No doctor should refuse emergency /basic treatment to a patient who really cannot afford. Other than this, “Cheaper Doctors are the kindest and the best” is a devastating superstition we must eradicate.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
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An Ideal Patient


An Ideal Patient
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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“My health is my domain, you are a member on my health team. You have a part to play, and I have a responsibility to imbibe your advice with complete trust, along with that of the other specialists I see. There are so many things in my life that are beyond your control: what I eat, what I do, how much I work or sleep or exercise, how I react, my mentation, and even my spirituality. All these affect my health, and I must assume the responsibility for that. My illness if not your fault.
Rajas, we meet like the tips of two pyramids, with few specific issues to resolve. We cannot know the entire pyramid, and it is unnecessary too. I have strong faith about why we should have met even as a doctor and a patient, I believe destiny has a purpose. The meeting between a doctor and a patient, not only you and me, can be so much beyond only a professional medical consultation: just so long as we have enough trust and shoulder our respective responsibilities well”.

These are the precious words of Ms. Prema Camp.

Once she came to my OPD, and asked me why I looked stressed. I told her my mom was critically ill, admitted at the same hospital. Mom was conscious then, but was quite shocked due to her recent worsening, As a son, I had limitations in counseling mom. Ms. Camp took my permission, went to the room where mom was admitted, and chatted with her a few hours, relaxing her with gentle anecdotes.

My patient and now a friend from last 5 years, Ms. Prema Camp shuttles between USA and India frequently. She maintains a meticulous record of all her health related documents, follows all advice to the last dot, enquires about every doubt that crops up, reads extensively still only asks relevant questions, and manages her side of the responsibility perfectly: researching and finding out the right type of food for herself, following strict and disciplined schedules of diet and exercise, and avoiding all unnecessary medicines. She has a phenomenal memory, but she has never used it to relate any bad experiences from her past, in spite of having many. If at all there’s something negative about her past, she mentions only the good that invariably came out of it. Age does not affect her at all, and she independently manages everything without any assistance (although she has highly placed daughters in the USA who care for her). Her blogs have an enviable readership too!

Every time she comes over, I learn something precious, especially about the effect of mind upon health and life. She brings me books and films related to health, hoping that it will help other patients too.
I do not know if it is entirely due to her growing up with the freedom of thought in USA, the spiritual pursuits which brought her to India, or both, but I find something quite rare in her: the ability to pursue a thought or an idea fearlessly to its conclusion, and to then honestly accept that conclusion. Irrespective of whether the world has yet grown up to it or not. Irrespective also of personal likes and dislikes.

Although I always stick to the professional etiquettes with a poker face, there are patients who crossover to this side of me and become friends. Then the barter system of payment via goodwill and information exchange works best, money becomes so redundant! Needless to say, she has never once misused the facility to call or message in spite of having my personal cell.

When I apologized for being late today, she smiled and said “Oh I enjoyed every bit of waiting here, I could get some time to read”.
I wish I keep learning these things from her!

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Living By The Words ‘Being A Doctor’.


Living By The Words ‘Being A Doctor’.


© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“He is critical, an emergency heart surgery is planned tomorrow morning. The surgeon says there is very little chance of surviving this. I don’t know what to do. I cannot imagine this is happening to us.” Dr. Ranjeeta Joshi was crying on the cellphove, still making an effort to keep her voice even. Her squeezing agony about the sudden illness of her Orthopedician husband Dr. Sudhir Joshi reflected in each word she uttered.

This was a weird coincidence! I was not working that day, attending a court summons because a patient was being divorced for having epilepsy. On the way back I also had had a terrible argument with a very precious friend, we were both hurt. Both these had emotionally upset me badly, and so on my way back to Pune, I changed my route to visit my favourite Ganesh temple, where I usually rediscover my lost calm when life batters my patience and bludgeons my peace. Just as I entered this temple premises, I had received this call from Dr. Ranjeeta.

I knew the couple well because Dr. Ranjeeta is struggling bravely with two bad diagnoses: Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. The fluctuations of both cripple her often, but she stands back stronger every time. I knew she was already using a walker. Dr. Sudhir is one of the most renowned Orthopaedic surgeons in Mumbai, with his own hospital at Dadar. Dr. Ranjeeta looks after the administration of that hospital.

I was shocked. I didn’t know exactly how I could help. I reassured her. I told her I was praying for both of them, and urged her to have complete faith in a good outcome. One of the best cardiac teams, Dr. Ramakant Panda, Dr. Vijay DeSilva, Dr. Tilak Suvarna and their colleagues were to operate Dr. Sudhir in few hours. I prayed for the couple, informed her so, and returned to Pune.

She kept updating me. The surgery lasted over 11 hours. Dr. Sudhir was shifted to CCU.

Dr. Ranjeeta ran the show at their Dadar hospital. The staff of their hospital refused to accept salaries that month, and told Dr. Ranjeeta: “You have always looked after us and our families. Now it is our turn to stand by”.

Every passing day was like a slow mountain of fear heavy upon the shoulders of everyone involved. While using her walker and occasionally a wheelchair, Dr. Ranjeeta successfully managed to attend all his needs as well as home and hospital. Dr. Sudhir gradually came out of critical status, in a few days started walking again, and within two months started attending his patients.

Barely after 10 weeks of this major calamity, this medical phoenix started performing major surgeries again, back to his “Doctor Normal”.

When they came today, I was quite moved to see him all back to normal. Of course the love that the couple emanated for each other is beyond words, and I will refrain from expressing what is more beautiful unsaid!

Dr. Ranjeeta, with tearful eyes and a smile, said “We are so happy and grateful to God that we won! I feel every doctor must decide to be a survivor, strive to keep fit, because so many lives depend upon him / her.” she said.

“You are such a brave motivation!” I told Dr. Sudhir.

“It is my privilege to be a doctor, not everyone is lucky enough to become one. In death no one has a choice, but in life we do. I wanted to live and practice again, because being a doctor is a special ability! I can do so much for so many. I love this so much, that this itself became my motivation to survive and become fit again.” Dr. Sudhir replied.

As I stood mesmerised by his words, a beautiful guide to every doctor, he extended something.

A Montblanc Special Edition JFK Fountain Pen, something I was window shopping for so long!

What I ever did to deserve it, I will never know. But this beautiful pen will always remind me of the great JFK,, and more importantly, how I must make the best of my own life as a doctor .

One of the most famous quotes of JFK reads: “As we express Gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to just utter words, but to live by them”. There are thousands of prayers involved in becoming a doctor, in surviving, in reaching where we are today, each one of us. If only we live by our words, what we promised ourselves to be, never giving up, we can defeat so many adversities that stand between us and our life-goals.

Thank you, Dr. Sudhir and Dr. Ranjeeta Joshi, for this reminder, and being a great example.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Beyond Fear: The Lady Who Defeated Brain Cancer


Beyond Fear: The Lady Who Defeated Brain Cancer

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

About a year ago, a young man came with the MRI reports of his 64 year old mother, 
Mrs. Vijayalakshmi, who was then in Bijapur. She had developed paralysis on the right side of her body, could not speak, and was losing her consciousness fast.

The MRI looked bad, a big tumour was compressing much of the left side of her brain. It looked cancerous, and needed immediate surgery as a life saving option. Otherwise the tumor could damage the heart / blood pressure and respiratory control centres in the lower part of her brain, that risked life. The situation could turn into an emergency anytime now.

The family was devastated. They brought her to Pune. She was sinking fast. Required investigations were done, and we explained the facts to the family. The surgery could risk life or also cause permanent disability, including permanent loss of speech.

Her husband, Mr. Venkat Babladi was always by her side, with his hands folded, and had only one thing always to say every time any doctor visited her: “Please save her doctor, do everything possible”.

She was operated. Her husband, son Mr. Anand Babladi, and his wife all stayed in the hospital, taking turns to attend her. The tumor was sent for analysis.

On the third day, the report brought the bad news: it was a type of cancer called primary central nervous system lymphoma. These tumors have a high death risk, with or without treatment, especially after the age of 60.

“Tell us doctor, where can we do the best treatment for her? We want to do everything” her husband and family kept on telling us. She was still in critical care, but had started now to speak a few words.

Our oncologist Dr. Minish Jain and his assistant Dr. Yuvraj Rangam took over, and started high dose chemotherapy. She developed many complications, some related to the medicines, but her family always stood firm. Every day, her husband sat by her, holding her hand, and telling her that she was going to recover, that he will ensure all was well. Her son and daughter in law arranged for all expenses and logistics, not by staying away and sending money, but by attending her every day after their respective jobs. After few days she was discharged with advice to continue chemotherapy.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Vijayalakshmi had a fall while walking at home, and fractured her hip, she had to be operated. Her chemotherapy had to be stopped. It was resumed after she recovered from the fracture. Then in few weeks, radiation therapy was started. As a rare complication, she developed life threatening brain swelling, and had to be shifted to critical care unit. She lost her speech again. Her husband, who was now on the verge of an emotional collapse, met us outside her room and with tearful eyes, asked only one question daily: “She will be ok na, doctor?”

Medical treatment is mostly standard all over the world, but the affection and care of one’s family is not. Hundreds of doctors treat thousands of such patients, many patients get cured of cancers and other dreadful diseases, a simple statistic that is never made public by those who perpetually talk against medical professionals. Equally unrecognised is the fact that a caring family makes a huge difference in the patient’s recovery, this has become very rare now.

After a year, we repeated her scans recently, and told her the ultimate medical good news: she had defeated brain cancer! Her scans did not show any tumor activity at all. She comes smiling to the OPD now, her husband holds her hand on one side, and son on another.

The most beautiful gift she gave me this time is that she learned two new Hindi words specially for me, because everytime I saw her I asked her how she was, and could not understand her answer.
This time, her husband poked her, then she smiled and said “Achcha hai”.

Those two words were the winning roar of a simple, middleclass woman against a dreadful killer disease!

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

PS: Thank you, Babladi family for the kind permission to share facts.

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Profit and Loss

Profit and Loss
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Case 1:
45 year old man. Many weeks of tiredness, then three days of fever, quack treatment. Developed convulsions, admitted in coma. Blood sugars over 500. The long term past sugar index is very high, suggesting he has had untreated diabetes for months. After stabilizing patient in few minutes, I brief the relatives about critical condition.
His brother asks: Why is his sugar so high? He never had sugar. Is it because of any of the medicines you are giving?
I explain them that he has had high sugars for long, the tests say so. Also that we are giving him medicines to control sugar.
The wife says: “We don’t know all that. I think some medicines have made him unconscious”.
When he was discharged recovered, they fought about the bills saying that wrong medicines had caused delay in recovery. They gave negative feedback because the bills were not reduced to their quotes. “We were duped, we lost so much money” the son kept alleging aloud. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Case 2:
Old man, 82. Lung cancer, under radiation. Two episodes of paralysis, diabetes, blood pressure, now has drowsiness since Tuesday. His son and daughter in law come to opd on Saturday evening. The old man needed immediate admission and MRI. I tell them so.
“What is your diagnosis?”, “Exactly why is he drowsy?” “Why admission??” “Exactly what treatment?” “What will be effect of the treatment?” and many such screwing questions (sometimes I wanna ask back: when will you exactly pee next?) later, they went home. In the interest of the life of the old man, I chose not to lose patience.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

They come back two days later, he had become unconscious.
“Why, doctor, why? He was walking till Sunday” cried the daughter, angrily asking us. “Why can’t you make him conscious? It’s been two days”.
Not only the arrogant tone, but the open distrust was offensive. “What is the exact reason of his unconsciousness?” “When exactly will he become conscious?” “Exactly blah blah?” asked the son, as if he was a Judge, and the doctors were criminals.
I wanted to tell them exactly what they were and where they belonged, but refrained. Patient first.
The treatment was on. Three days later, the old man opened eyes. “He has always had a strong will power. We knew he would recover” told his daughter to us.
Upon discharge, they wrote very bad reviews because the bills were not reduced to their expectation.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Both came for follow up later.
In both the cases, a few years ago, I would have made an effort to spend more time, compromise self respect and continue treating them. Not now. Especially when peacock-fame decision makers decide about the fates of specialist doctors. Now, I tell them to please follow up with whichever doctor they can trust.

What about the probable income from such patients? Let me quote a dialogue that only Mr. Amitabh Bachchan could have delivered, from a film ‘Trishul’ that influenced me much since my college days:
“Zindagi mein kuchh baatein faayde aur nuksaan se upar hoti hain, lekin ye baat kuchh log nahi samajhte” (Some things in life are above profit or loss, but some people don’t understand that)”.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

G-Bhai, The Suicidal Intellect.

G-Bhai, The Suicidal Intellect.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
G-Bhai is an extraordinary genius, and all that he lacks in the matter of manners, culture, and grooming oneself to a neat and clean appearance is compensated for by his superb analytical abilities and internet access. He was so engrossed in Google all the time, that he was nicknamed G-Bhai by his family.
A few weeks ago, he went to his boss, who owned one of the biggest profitmaking multinationals upon earth. The boss was absorbed in his divine meditation about new tricks to lay off more IT personnel in pursuit of that greatest human achievement in today’s world: moolah. G-Bhai, who believed in complete equality, sat cross legged in front of his boss, and scratching his beard, told his boss where all the boss and the company could improve. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
The boss, amused by free entertainment, asked G-Bhai where he learnt it all.
“Internet” said G-Bhai, and showed some Googled statistics to his boss.
“Thank you, you are fired with immediate effect” said the boss
G-Bhai wasn’t affected at all. With his oversized grey T shirt, jeans, slippers and laptop that connected him to all the internet data, he was still the king.
He thought of adventure, and went to the Indo-Pak border. The firing and shelling was full-on. He met an Indian soldier who asked him to hide in his shelter. The soldier, who had spent all his life upon the border, was prepared to even die for this citizen, so gave away his helmet to G-Bhai.
G-Bhai was intensely searching the internet, wearing the soldier’s helmet.
“Don’t fire the gun like that” told G-Bhai to the soldier. “This website says the right way to fire is with the gun aimed at oneself”. The soldier ignored him and continued to defend the border. Just as he held a hand grenade to be thrown, G-Bhai held his hand. “Let me search first if you are doing it correctly” he said. The soldier, now in defense of his own life risked, slapped G-Bhai tight and asked him not to interfere. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
G-Bhai proceeded to write a very critical review of that soldier, saying that in his opinion, all the soldiers were doing it all wrong.
Then he went to the court and tried to teach the lawyers how to argue, and the Judges how to analyse cases and deliver judgments. He showed them multiple websites from which they could learn law. “We are all equals, why are you sitting so high?” he asked the judges and tried to sit on the Judge’s chair.
After six months in jail, upon his release, G-Bhai went to the police commissioner to teach her how to deal with crime and criminals, based upon internet searches from different countries. He came out limping, and refused to tell anyone why. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Due to excess stress, his health worsened. He went to the best of the doctors. He demanded that he wanted a complete check up to reach the most correct diagnosis. He was advised tests. He researched the internet and did only the tests he thought were necessary, because he thought all doctors were corrupt. He reached a very reputed doctor with the test results. The 70 year old doctor examined him, checked the reports and told him: “You are a failure in your own life, you have excess stress, and are unable to handle it. You are jealous of everyone who is doing well, and therefore you have developed a complex that everyone who does well is either corrupt or wrong. Go home, exercise, find your own life and deal with yourself” When he tried to show the experienced doctor what internet said, the doctor smiled and asked “Did you also net-teach your parents how to make you?”. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
G-Bhai then went to many doctors in many pathies. Then he researched and tried many home remedies. But his health kept on worsening. He was very upset and started a blog of criticizing that all the doctors. Here, for the first time in life, he discovered success: he was an instant hit, because there was a huge population who agreed with his views. There are more buyers for poison than for wisdom in this world.
But unfortunately by then, his kidneys failed due to experimentation with various medicines and various pathies. Now he is undergoing dialysis and posts his anti-doctor articles from the dialysis ward. The old doctor recently visited him with his flock of medical students, and spoke with empathy to the bitter G-bhai, who tried to show the old doctor some more internet references about his treatment.
The old doctor then told his students: “This is what I would call a suicidal intellect”.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
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“Everyone who enters our house must be offered water, a cup of tea, and snacks. If it is lunch or dinner time, offer meals. Never differentiate, be it poor or rich, friend or enemy, someone you like or dislike, offer them the best fresh food you have. You will always be happy when you feed someone. Also, never even tell a beggar that you don’t have food, it is already humiliating for them to have to beg for food”, she taught us. She scrupulously followed it herself.

My mother, Dr. Usha Kalidas Deshpande, insisted that no one should ever be hungry.

In spite of herself being a fulltime professor who was much involved in teaching, whenever I returned from school, she was usually available to make hot fresh poli / chapattis and my favourite curries. Dinner, as a rule, was almost always made by her. She remembered the food choices of my father’s friends, their students, my friends etc., and often cooked something quickly for them to eat whenever they visited.

“A man who does not sometimes cook for his family cannot fully understand his woman”, she often said. My father fully supported her views and sincerely attempted to cook till we all told him that he can instead take us to a hotel. He was happy, and so were we! (Although he made delicious omelettes!)

Mom taught me to cook too, right from making chapattis (of course the first few I made were disco chapattis). This immensely helped me in later life as a single parent, as I could often cook things that my kids liked (at least the poor boys said so then). Needless to say, we follow the food / host rules set by mom at our home even today. I loved the “Poli / Chapatti / Paratha” made by her so much, that when she passed away, gave up eating these.

Today is her birth anniversary.
Every year that she was alive, I had asked her “What would you like for a birthday gift?”. From the time that my salary was 1250 INR per month as an intern till two years ago when I could get her anything she could wish, her answer never changed: “I have everything, what else can I want?” with a smile! She was never fond of any jewellery, luxury or show off, so we always wondered what to gift her. Now after she has left us, we have finally found the right gift for her.

We (my sister and myself) have decided to start a new tradition in our mother’s memory: annadaan / food donation, whereby at least one hundred people will be served complete meals on this date at a center near Pune.. My children have gladly agreed to continue this tradition after me. Anyone from any religion / caste / age will be served, the only preference will be for the really poor and sick.

It is said that one should never speak about anything that one does for anyone else. I am guilty of that crime here, but the only reason to write all this is: most of the mothers feed their children along with their friends too with this same love. If this motherly bliss is passed on, also including those who really need to eat well, those who do not get to taste a complete meal every day, it will be a real tribute to one’s mother and a tiny return of what we received from her. One can of course always choose the form in which to remember one’s mother, I have chosen this, and felt like sharing it for my close ones as well as for those who knew my “Annapoorna” mother, Dr. Usha Kalidas Deshpande.

Dr. Rajas Deshpande
16th May 2017

My Earning As A Doctor

My Earning As A Doctor
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
It was an emergency night, and we were trying to cope up with the excessive load that every government hospital must accommodate. One of my early postgraduate emergencies. The living, the dead and those in between were being rushed in continuously, and we were dealing with the emotional ups and downs at an almost impossible pace. In the same moment we were Gods and heroes for some, and devilish villains for others.
Nature, age, illness, delays, illiteracy and poverty are easy to fight with sometimes, but not what people expect from a doctor.
I was writing on the ward desk, filling up the necessary paperwork, an irritating interruption in a clinician’s life. Trying to recall something, I stared for a moment at the long stretch of that huge ward. My senior resident Dr. Sunil was performing a procedure called pleural tap, where fluid is removed from the chest. He was from a very poor and rural background, but had excellent merit. Most people made fun of his looks and language, that made him silent and aloof. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
An old man came out of the toilet, accompanied with his wife. He was about 80, was admitted and had recovered from a stroke. He was scheduled to be discharged next morning.
While walking to his bed, this old man suddenly collapsed, his wife unable to hold him. He was about 10 metres away from me. Sunil and myself reached there immediately, shouting for the crash cart, and started resuscitation. We tried for many minutes, as the patient’s wife stood a few metres away, sobbing.
He was dead. He had had a sudden cardiac arrest.
It was the third death in the ward that day, among the thirty emergencies admitted.
Dr. Sunil went to the patient’s wife. and informed her. He got her some water, and sat with her for some time. Then when he resumed the paperwork, I noticed he was feeling sad and tearful too, like myself. The old man and his wife had both been so nice to us. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Only a doctor knows the traumatic feelings of having to resuscitate someone who was talking to them a few moments ago. Believe it or not, almost every death certificate makes a scar on a sensitive doctor’s mind. The trauma is perpetual, hidden, but also real.
As we arranged for their transport (the couple had no relatives and were from a nearby village), the old lady sat by her husband, touching his face and crying. When she left, she said “God bless you, you people still tried so much. We are both old, what can you do! This is my destiny. I hope God takes me up quickly too, I have no purpose in life now”.
Sunil went to the doctor’s room and broke down. This was unusual. I tried to console him, myself feeling very sad. Then, Sunil looked out of the window and said in a heavy voice: “My mother died exactly like this, in a hospital ward, when I was a child. I was with her. That is when I decided to become a doctor and save lives. At such times I feel very hopeless”.
“Oh”, I said, not knowing how to react, “Where is your father now?”
“He passed away long before my mother, he had fever, but they did not have money to take him to a hospital. He died at home.” Said Dr. Sunil.
In some time, we went for a tea and composed ourselves again. The night was to bring many more who needed us stable, so we returned in few minutes.
The next day, we presented to our professor the forty two cases admitted in emergency, a usual count at most medicine emergencies. Going home after over 36 hours, I could not eat that day. A doctor should not be too emotional, but then no one makes themselves, one can only control reactions. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Fast forward to the future: my father, one afternoon at home, collapsed suddenly and was taken to the nearest hospital three minutes away, but could not be resuscitated. I was in Mumbai, far away from him. That phone call still rings in my ears. Sometimes I have to sit down at the memory of that call, it breaks me.
I did not curse that doctor to whom my dad was taken. I did not blame anyone. I did not go to the press or police. I did not think that the doctor was wrong or was working for money when someone was dying. It is impossible. One who thinks that a doctor will think of money in the face of a dying patient is probably also the one who never fully believed in God, and also questioned their own mother’s love for themselves!
Like almost every sensitive doctor, like Dr. Sunil, the only way for me to forget the agony of losing my dear ones was to prevent this from happening in anyone else’s life.
So what if most of them think I worked for money, so what if they refuse to ever acknowledge gratitude in words or in deed. So what if they only look at the money I earn through my hard work.
My real earning, like that of every sensible doctor, is the reduced burden of suffering in the human world. The tax I pay is my blood and sweat. Those who do not use these currencies will never know their value.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Please Share Unedited

The Music Called Life

The Music Called Life
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“What prize do you want”? My father asked me after I finished my tenth standard exams well.

I was desperately awaiting that question, knowing him well.

“A Sony Walkman” I replied almost instantly. I got one, the most basic Sony model, and lost myself for weeks in the stereophonic effects, collecting songs and recordings that had best quality. Right from the scratchy sound at the beginning, made by the record player needle-tip on the record disc, to the realization of different soundtracks on right and left, with separate sounds of each instrument. One favorite hobby was to select and follow only one instrument from the whole orchestra throughout the song.

Besides the music of MJ, Madonna, Beatles, the Indian stereo effect songs were a pleasure too. Ye bambai shehar haadson ka shehar hai (Kalyanji Anandji) and Pag Ghungroo Baandh, Thodi si jo pee lee hai (Bappi Lahiri) had the best stereo effects from the headphone. Kishore Kumar, Lataji, Lionel Richie, Cliff Richard, and Bee Gees became addictions. The collection grew enormously.

A cousin returning from the USA bought himself a Bose audio system, I was 18 then. I remember arranging the exact angles of the speakers, all directed towards one single chair at the center of the room, then taking turns to listen to “How Soon Is Now” (The Smiths). The strong wish that I must own the best music system for myself, make a music room in my home dawned that day, and is still thriving within me.

Much later, on a birthday, returning after ward work, I found a huge parcel at my hostel door, and the watchman told me that a fan had left it there. I had told some friends how I loved “Experiencing music”. Opening the box, I found the most advanced 8 speaker Panasonic music system, the home theatre one. That was one of the best gifts I ever received. The effectiveness of listening to music as a treatment for one’s negative moods is beyond question. I feel that good singers , those healers of soul, are better doctors than many medical degree holders,as their love songs and happy songs cure many a sad minds. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Recently when I listened to great music all the night with a very precious friend, a beautiful soul who understands that each instrument and even the voice of the singer has a different expression, other than the lyrics, who can feel music imprinted upon blood just as I do, I realized what I was missing in life. With this friend, the hear beats of life have become stereophonically audible again to me!

Technology has started drowning music into sounds, taking out meaning to be replaced by sound effects, we have almost lost the appreciation of the intricate fineries of meaningful music. The true feeling of listening to music is much like being underwater, if at all to compare: unless you drown yourself in it, you don’t feel it right!

Talking to patients, students, colleagues, this thought grew into a major revelation: we are losing our fineries not only about music, but also about feeling out other people: near and dear ones as much as strangers, both can have so much more meaning than the “bodies and words” that men and women have become now! There’s so much beauty in almost every human being who dares to preserve individuality without either copying anything or looking down upon anyone else.

An alert, feeling, self-aware mind that dwells upon the here and now is the best song nature has ever sung to me: and also the highest state a human mind can achieve. Unfortunately, we are lost in the digital-technology jungle, and take pride in either losing ourselves, escaping or running away from ourselves, or searching ourselves outside our own conscious reality. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

I have decided for now: that I want to live this music experience without compromising: I want to to feel every bit and piece of the music that life brings to me, through songs and their lyrics, through the rains and the sun, through eyes, touch and silence, and above all, the resonance that it generates within me.

Only Love can match the beauty of good Music.

For the music called life is never sad, and I want to always walk towards a happy inner peace.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande