Tag Archives: #mbbs

The Colour Of Blessings

The Colour Of Blessings

© Dr Rajas Deshpande

Carefully calculating the dose and mixing it with the intravenous fluid with precision, I told the kind old lady: “I am starting the medicine drip now. If you feel anything unpleasant, please tell me.”

Through her pain, she smiled in reply. Her son, my lecturer Dr. SK, stood beside us and reassured her too. He had to leave for the OPD, there already was a rush today. “Please take care of her and call me if you feel anything is wrong” he said and left.

Dr. SK’s mom was advised chemotherapy of a cancer. It was quite difficult to calculate its doses and prepare the right concentration for the intravenous drip. Just a month ago, my guide Dr. Pradeep (PY) Muley had taught me how to accurately prepare and administer it, so when Dr. SK’s mom was admitted, he requested me to do it for her too.

The drip started. After a few hours, I noticed that her urine bag needed emptying. The ‘mausi’ supposed to do it was already out for some work. Any resident doctor in India naturally replaces whoever is absent. So I wore gloves, requested a bucket from the nurse, and emptied the urobag into it. Just as I carried the bucket with urine towards the ward bathrooms, Dr. SK returned, and offered to carry it himself, but I told him it was okay and went on to keep the bucket near the bathroom where the ‘mausi’ would later clean it. © Dr Rajas Deshpande

Once the drip was over, Dr. SK invited me for a tea at a small stall outside the campus. He appeared disturbed. He said awkwardly: “Listen, please don’t misunderstand, but when I saw you carrying my mother’s urine in the bucket, I was amazed. You are a Brahmin, right? When you were away, my mom even scolded me why I allowed you to do it, she felt it was embarrassing, as we hail from the Bahujan community. I am myself a leader of our association, as you already know”.

I knew it, to be honest. His was a feared name in most circles.He was a kindly but aggressive leader of their community, but always ready to help anyone from any caste or religion, to stand by anyone oppressed, especially from the poor and discriminated backgrounds.

“I didn’t think of it Sir! She is a patient, besides that she’s your mother, and I am your student, it is my duty to do whatever is necessary. Otherwise too, my parents have always insisted that I never entertain any such differences”. I replied. © Dr Rajas Deshpande

“That’s okay, but I admit my prejudice about you has changed,” he said. “If you ever face any trouble, consider me your elder brother and let me know if I can do anything for you”. What an honest, courageous admission! Unless every Indian who thinks he / she is superior or different than any other Indian actually faces the hateful racist in the West who ill-treats them both as “browns or blacks”, they will never understand the pain of discrimination!

As fate would have it, in a few months, I had an argument with a professor about some posting. The professor then called me and said “So long as I am an examiner, don’t expect to pass your MD exams.”

I was quite worried. My parents were waiting for me to finish PG and finally start life near them, I already had a few months old son, and our financial status wasn’t robust. I could not afford to waste six months. © Dr Rajas Deshpande

I went to Dr. SK. He asked all details. Then he came with me to the threatening professor. He first asked me to apologise to the professor for having argued, which I did. Then he told the professor: “Rajas is my younger brother. Please don’t threaten him ever. Pass him if he deserves, fail him if he performs poor. But don’t fail him if he performs well. I will ask other examiners”.

The professor then told me that he had threatened me “in a fit of rage”, and it was all over.

With the grace of God, good teachers and hard work, I did pass my MD in first attempt. When I went to touch his feet, Dr. SK took me to his mom, who showered her loving blessings upon me once again, and gifted me a Hundred rupee note from her secret pouch. © Dr Rajas Deshpande

Like most other students, I’ve had friends from all social folds at all times in school and colleges. I had excellent relations with the leaders of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Association, and twice in my life they have jumped in to help me in my fight against injustice when everyone else had refused. I love the most fierce weapon of all that Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar himself carried: the fountain pen!

No amount of fights will ever resolve any problems between any two communities, the only way forward is to respectfully walk together and find solutions. Fortunately, no doctor, even in India, thinks about any patient in the terms of their religion or caste. (© Dr Rajas Deshpande). Just like the Judge in the court premises, humanity is the single supreme authority in any medical premises. Blood or heart, brain or breathing are not exclusive to any religion or community. Just like the bigger brain, a bigger heart is also the sign of evolution.

I so much wish that the black clouds of disharmony between different communities are forever gone. The only hope is that our students can open any doors and break any walls, so long as they do not grow up into egoistic stiffs. © Dr Rajas Deshpande

I am proud to belong to the medical cult of those who never entertain any discrimination. A patient’s blessing has no coloured flags attached! Even outside my profession, I deeply believe that the very God I pray exists in every single human being I meet. If at all anyone asks me, I am happy to say that:

My religion, my caste and my duty as a doctor are all one: Humanity first!

© Dr Rajas Deshpande

Neurologist

Pune

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The Extinction of Precious: A Medical Horror Story Happening Right Now!

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The Extinction of Precious:
A Medical Horror Story Happening Right Now!
©️ Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Sir, we have come from Konkan”, said the father, “to seek your advice and blessings . My son has passed the medical postgraduate exams with national rank 30. He wants to decide which branch he should choose”.

I congratulated the genius. Passing medical entrances with high merit requires great talent. It does not earn the glamour, claps and appreciation of stage and limelight, for we live in a society that only worships looks, muscles, bhashanbazi, financial success and sports (sorry, one sport. Even if someone wins a world gold in any other sport than cricket, they go home in an auto rickshaw when they return to India!).

Speaking with the boy, I realised that he was very sensitive, compassionate and had an excellent logic and reasoning. Besides having a calm bearing, he was also a hard worker. A perfect blend for becoming a great physician or a surgeon, in a world that is fast losing able clinicians. I suggested him to prefer Internal medicine.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

They looked awkwardly towards each other. The boy garnered some courage to speak.

“Sir, I saw our family doctor being beaten up by a local politician, his clinic was ruined. He was humiliated in the worst language in front of his wife and children, and instead of protecting him, other patients in his hospital kept on recording videos of the incident, which later became viral. He left, we don’t know where he went. I cannot ever think of directly dealing with patients now. I want to choose a non- clinical or para-clinical branch.”

I appealed to the father: “Your son has a great potential and matching talent to become a good clinician, we desperately need many more. It is not necessary that he practices in your own town or even in India. The whole world needs good doctors. Please think about this”.

The father, a simple teacher from a primary school, thought for a prolonged moment. His eyes reddened up.
“I don’t know, Sir. When he said he wanted to become a doctor, his mother and I always thought that he will become a saviour, running around saving people’s lives. We were never interested in only money. But the day that we saw our own doctor being beaten up by a crowd and the local politician, we realised how helpless a doctor’s life is. We knew our doctor for over 25 years, he was like a God for many in our town. All he did in 25 years became a zero in a few minutes, thanks to a hooligan politico and his crowd. We don’t want our son to ever face that. If we had a daughter in his place, we wouldn’t even have made her a doctor, women as doctors suffer a lot more trouble and get no returns, sometimes even from their family. And this is our only son, we want him to stay in India near us.”

Somehow I didn’t want to give up convincing him, he was an ideal candidate for becoming an excellent clinician.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande “Think of the future. Hopefully there will be better laws, he can also consider working in bigger, safer hospitals if he is scared”.

“What would you advise your own son if you were in my place, Sir?” asked the father.

He had bombed my mind.
I was trained by parents and teachers to always do good, be compassionate and kind. My kids had a potential to become great doctors coming from this background. I worry a lot about the extremely critical condition of deteriorating healthcare standards and reducing number of good clinicians that is destined to cause a havoc in a few years. Still, honestly, I did not wish upon my children the insecurities and threats I face. I don’t want them to live under the perpetual fear of being vandalised, defamed, tortured by over-expectation and punished by committees made up of politicians and medically inexperienced judicial experts. I won’t want their lives, work hours and remunerations to be dictated by a corrupt bunch living for votes of free mongers.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

It would be hypocrisy to advise someone else what I wouldn’t choose for myself. That’s how a doctor makes the best possible decision. With a heavy heart, I advised him what I always advised my children:

“I agree. Please choose what suits your heart most, what gives you fearless happiness in your work and also leaves you with some time for yourself and your family, ensures a good income and is not dependent upon jealous people’s expectations of what you should do and for what price. You have so many options for social service other than becoming a clinician. I am sure you will stay a good human being all your life.” I suggested him two para-clinical branches that offer good scope.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

The world indeed will have to suffer the gradual extinction of good clinicians. We need many more excellent doctors in para clinical and non clinical areas too, but the face of the profession is the clinician, and we certainly, desperately need many thousand more. It is a fact that in spite of increasing number of doctors, patients still die travelling in an ambulance to reach good healthcare far away from most homes in India. Many federal orphans who cannot even afford government healthcare die at home.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

The father asked his son to touch my feet. As he did so, the melancholy of my own advice bit my heart. I couldn’t let down the flag of my noble profession.

“Listen, dear. I am speaking this against my own convictions. I am struggling. Think about becoming a good clinician and practising in a safe country, take your parents with you. I will be happy whatever you finally decide, but not everyone has the ability and talent to become a good doctor, it is rarest of the rare traits.”© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

They left. So did a part of my hope for the future of good healthcare.

When the next couple walked in with an infant baby in their hands, I looked at the smiling baby, and forced a smile. She didn’t know it yet, but I had just bought a precious gift for her.

©️ Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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Beyond Ridiculous!

Beyond Ridiculous!
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

A 9 year old child with fits / seizures was taken to a renowned Paediatric Neurologist. He started treatment with one of the most commonly recommended (by almost all textbooks) used medicine in the treatment of seizures: carbamazepine. One of the most effective medicine, used since over 50 years in children, that can cause side effects of rashes in less than 1/1000 cases. Still rarely, the side effects can be very severe, causing extensive damage to the skin.
The doctor explained this to the child’s parents, and then started the recommended doses. Pediatric doctors are the best trained doctors in dose calculation, they are more aware than any other specialty about the side effects in general, because children often cannot even speak and parents may not notice some side effects. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Every medicine has side effects. Even vitamins do. Any medicine can potentially cause life threatening reaction, and that’s why the common warning with each medicine: do not use if you are sensitive to this medicine. How will one know whether there will be any allergy / reaction to the medicine without having used it?

Most medicines can cause side effects at high doses, but some can cause dangerous reactions even with the tiniest dose, or test dose. Some medicines (even the one mentioned above) can cause side effects after many months / years of safe use. While the dose dependent (high dose= higher side effect) side effects are somewhat predictable, the ‘idiosyncratic’ (meaning occurring in individual, not all cases, because of the natural tendency of that person) and “allergic” side effects are totally unpredictable, and can be caused by even such common medicines as paracetamol, aspirin, antibiotics or vitamins. Even deaths have been reported after the use of some common medicines, but even in the highly legalized western world, no court holds doctors guilty for the side effects of medicines, if these were discussed and informed to the patient / family. This is against common sense. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

This child unfortunately developed a rare but well known side effect of this drug, called Stevens Johnson Syndrome (severe skin rashes), had to be admitted and treated, it cost them one lac rupees. While we sympathise with the child and the family, and wish them the best recovery and health, this is hardly the mistake of a doctor.
But the forum, in a regressive decision, held the doctor guilty, fined him 90000 rupees. This is beyond ridiculous. The court observed that “ if the doctor knew that this drug can cause side effects, he should not have prescribed it”. Translated intellectually, that means NO DOCTOR CAN PRESCRIBE ANY MEDICINE! © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Moreover, what will this court advise for the child now? Every seizure medicine has some rare dangerous side effects. There are no medicines free of side effects. Shall the child be left without treatment now? Which doctor will want to treat such a case? Which court will guarantee that the rarest of the rare side effect cannot happen again in this case, and with such ill-informed forums, the next doctor trying to do good to the child will not be held guilty? © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Technically, if using a drug that can cause side effects is a crime as per this court, it should hold everyone concerned guilty: the textbooks / medical bodies that recommend this drug, the pharma which produced it, and even the government which allowed it to be sold. Applying the same logic, if some child developed peanut allergy in a hotel or side effects of pollution and dust by travelling on Bangalore roads, will this court hold the hotelier or the city administration guilty and punish them too? Has this forum/ court banned tobacco and alcohol yet, or will it punish the government for the side effects and thousands of deaths caused by these? © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

The IMA, other medical bodies, Neurological society, and intellectuals should stand by this doctor who has suffered the mental agony. This decision must be challenged in higher courts.
We regret that some patients suffer side effects, no one should, but at the same time, the “side effects of medicine” is not the doctor’s fault, especially in this case where he had explained the parents about such possibility.
We need medically educated forums and judges who can refrain from populist tendencies.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
PS:
I respect courts. I respect higher courts more. But I refuse to believe that every decision made by every judge is correct, that every decision is impartial, that it is not affected by pressures. This article is solely based upon the attached news clip. I must admit that this reporter Ms. Meghna Singhania has done an excellent and impartial reporting. Doctors must please stand united against this decision.

https://medicaldialogues.in/side-effects-of-prescribed-m…/…/

The Cult of Good Blood: Superhero Medical Students

The Cult of Good Blood:
Superhero Medical Students
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

He grew up selling vegetables and fruits grown by his mother. He went door to door and in the village market to sell those. He also walked for two miles every day to catch a bus to a school over 20 miles away. He then enrolled in a private class that waived off his fees, because he had a passion: He desperately wanted to become a doctor.

Atul Dhakne, son of a school teacher Mr. Nivruttirao Dhakne and farmer Mrs. Mandabai Dhakne, with his hard work and merit, got admission in the prestigious B.J. Medical College in Pune.

But he wasn’t satisfied. “What about those like me who are from the poor rural background, those who have no access to good classes and education, but want to become doctors?” he worried.

Good Blood speaks, whichever soul it flows in. Young medical students of different origins, studying with him, decided to resolve this. Ketan, son of a lawyer Mr. Avinash Deshmukh (who mostly handles cases for the non-affording,) wanted to do charity like his father. Farooque Faras, whose father raised a family in one small room, was burning with the desire to give. Many others joined in (names below), and the Cult of Good Blood multiplied. They all wanted to uplift the deserving.

“Lift For Upliftment” was born, formed by the superheroes among medical students.

They printed posters and went to almost all junior colleges in Pune, appealing students from poor backgrounds to join their free tuitions / classes, to prepare for the CET /NEET. In the first round, over 40 students joined. After the medical college hours, Atul and his friends took turns to teach these poor students, give them notes, set question papers, conduct exams, assess and counsel for improvement. All expenses were borne from their own puny pocket-money.

There was no fixed place for the class. One local bakery owner, Mr. Dinesh Konde, decided to help these students. He planned the logistics and took them to the corporator Mr. Avinash Shinde, who asked for only one thing in return of his help: commitment to continue this good work. The Cult agreed whole-heartedly. With him, they approached Mrs. Meenakshi Raut, Asst. Director in the education department in Pune, who helped them get two classrooms in a Municipal school after the school hours. The classes thus became regular, every day, from 6-9 PM.

The cult lacked stationery, the huge backup of notes and question paper sets for 40 students, so they approached Mr. Sanjeevkumar Sonavne from Latur, who runs many educational institutes, helps poor students, and even pays the fees of some who cannot afford college. Mr. Shelke and Dr. Harish from Sassoon Hospitals also joined hands to help.

The results were impressive: from the first such batch, 6 students qualified for MBBS, 3 for BDS, 11 for BAMS and 2 for BHMS.

No one had earned anything, but Good Blood flowed forward. Many medical students from subsequent batches came forward to teach free, imparting their fresh acquired knowledge and skills to those who could otherwise have no access to it.

There is no discrimination while accepting junior college students for their class. They have two batches now with 60 students in each. They have also started weekend classes for poor students preparing for NEET in the extremely backward area of Maharashtra, named Melghat. These medical students go to Melghat with their own expenses, teach the rural junior college students over the weekend, and return to attend the tough schedules of medical college again!

“I learned helping others from my mother. We don’t earn anything, but we learn something precious every day” tells Atul, who has now passed MBBS. Ketan Deshmukh, Abhiraj Matre and Farooque Faras help him supervise the group. Their endless enthusiasm only reminded me of how much more I can do. I came to know of this group “LFU” during the recent “Quest Medical Academy” event arranged by Dr. Sushant Shinde.

They are naturally, perpetually short of funds.
I am not rich, but I won’t feel right about myself if I didn’t contribute. They graciously accepted.

When these students came to meet me today, I offered them dinner at a good restaurant (knowing that they stay in hostels). Farooque said “Sir, we will rather use that money to print some more question paper sets”. Farooque’s father has stopped all celebrations in the family, and sends all the money he can, from his one small room home, for the torch of humanity that his son carries forward!

When they asked for an advice, I had but one small request for them: that a Doctor should be completely free of all political and religious influence at work, in teaching, and especially while treating a patient. They assured me that “Lift For Upliftment” has decided to never be affiliated to a political or religious organization, keeping humanity as their highest ideal.

There is no better lamp than the one which carries the light from soul to soul. There is no better definition of humanity than holding hands of those who need it most. I feel very happy today, that I could contribute to this beautiful, divine cause.

Long Live the Cult Of Good Blood, and may we all find it in abundance within ourselves!
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

The group “LFU” also includes: Esha Agarwal, Shivkumar Thorat, Satyender, Tanvi Modi, Mayank Tripathi, Nikhil Nagpal, Sitanshu, Arvind Kumar, Nagesh Pimpre, all from the B. J. Medical College Pune.

PS: My heartfelt appeal to all medical students and doctors to contribute by starting similar activity in your region, by teaching poor students who want to become doctors, by joining this group and / or by donating for this cause.

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Convocation Speech at KEM Hospital and SGS Medical College Mumbai Dr. Rajas Deshpande.

Guest of Honor at KEM Hospital & SGSMC
Batch 2011 Convocation 28thFebruary 2017

Convocation Speech Dr. Rajas Deshpande

a

Respected teachers and

My dear friends,

This prestigious institute, KEM Hospital, has given me two identities: that of a Neurologist and also as a Medical Activist as a MARD President. This is my home away from home. I am glad that my most beloved professor Dr. Pravina Shah is here today, she had dusted and polished many fortunate students like myself.
This is the same campus where I waited with my father over 25 years ago, he was very anxious then whether I will get my MBBS admission or not. I desperately wish my father was here today to witness this event. The point is, my dear colleagues, never forget the sacrifices of those who marched you here. In the race for making a glorious medical career, many sacrifices are required, but parents, spouse and children are an equal duty, never to be neglected.

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Evolution in our field will require you to stand up to extensive digitalisation and explosions of information. Rather than drowning yourself while coping up, please make sure you don’t retain the unnecessary information or statistics that can be easily pulled up. Instead, we must regularly update the most necessary skills and tools of every successful doctor: a perfect clinical examination, surgical skills, communication, correct documentation and medico-legal awareness. It is also wise to check drug interactions and adverse effects of every drug you use, and obtain a second opinion in every doubtful case.

Students often ask me what is the number one essential of a good doctor: the undoubted answer is concentration: upon studying, listening, upon examination, analysing and concluding. One of the greatest threats to our profession today is the disturbance created by cell-phones. Please take care that your practice is not polluted with such digital disturbance.

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Friends, now a days patients are helplessly prejudiced about our profession. We must take this situation in our stride and start each consultation with an aim to change this pseudo-perception. We must understand the extreme anxiety of a patient in waiting room, an anxiety not only about a bad diagnosis but also about the expenses, time, loss of career and family that often pushes the patients and relatives to the brink of a breakdown. Add a callous doctor, and things deteriorate. Even if your prior patient has been insulting, aggressive or trust less, the next patient still deserves the best doctor within you. Patients often complain about doctors not having simple manners, this can be easily corrected. As for the continuous questions about malpractices and cut practices, I know that no one here has entered this profession with a bad aim, we just need a strong willpower to stay away from wrong lanes. Here in front of us are the glorious examples of spotless heights in medical careers.

Each one of you has already proven his / her intellectual mettle. It is indeed divine and rewarding to be a doctor, but you must also have a diversion that brings you immense peace. That avoids piling up of stress and routine which is so inevitable in medical practice. I found my solace in writing which brought me here today, in Fountain pens, in music and in teaching. Please make an effort to find your solace to overcome stress.

My worst pain about our profession today is that we neither have a strong unity nor a strong face. I urge this batch to please start a new tradition: to stay united, connected and to always stand for each other. In a poor and illiterate society jealous of anyone earning well, especially doctors, we must know how to present and explain the functioning of a doctor and hospital, the hardships, sacrifices and the emotional drain involved. I have attempted that in my book, ‘The Doctor Gene’.

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My friends, I congratulate and thank you all for having me over here. I think that during the convocation I should be sitting there in those chairs: and listening to your thoughts, because you have more dreams today than me, you have more opportunities to learn, more years with in this glorious tradition called medicine, better technology, better treatments and cures cures, and above all more success waiting for yourself in future.

I will gladly trade all my earnings and success to dream like you again, to sit once more in those chairs today, and to hold that super-precious degree in my hands with a pride that has no equal.
Take care, stay united and God Bless You All.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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Thank you, Life; Thank You, God!

Thank you, Life, Thank You God!
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This was my first birthday without either parent, and I woke up feeling sad about it. Who knew, by the end of the day, God will have set things right, as He always does! Add to that an important message that the day left..

Knowing myself, I cannot understand how someone can like or love such an asocial reclusive loner who is obsessive, over-expectant, irritable, slightly egoistic, sarcastic, does not party or gossip, and cannot understand many people around himself.

Somehow though, the friend list is full, thousands of wishes pour in from across the world, and personalised messages and calls and prayers for happinees, health and everything good keep resounding the day with God’s grace. I did not know how many souls I am connected to, and my heart is full of joy today that so many people actually think of me!

Many colleagues dropped in to wish (in fact since two days prior!), bringing gifts (Oh I love them!). And at the end of the day came the family: my beloved students, who come with the sole aim of make me laugh, become a child again.

To deserve this love over and over again, for this is my only treasure and achievement, I must now make an effort: to be less sarcastic, irritable, obsessive, and to be always thankful for these beautiful people in my life. I will make an honest effort!

I can never forget what my friends and students love me most for: my effort to imbibe kindness and humanity and to live a life drenched in an honest culture of creative intellect and equality. On this birthday, I have promised myself to try and improve myself every which way possible, to deserve this love and affection.

Thank you, everyone who wished me today!

Thank you God, Thank you Life, for today!
(c) Dr. Rajas Deshpande


The Wrong Sacrifice

The Wrong Sacrifice
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Come home this weekend.. I feel like seeing you” my father said. He was already feeling sad, missing my sister who had married three months ago.

That was 14th October, a day prior to my sister’s birthday. I had taken a week’s leave for her marriage and preparations.
I felt sorry for Baba and desperately wanted to meet him. I was quite attached to him.

I asked my professor, and was reminded that there was a shortage of resident doctors, we had a ward full of 50 patients, 10 more than the capacity. “You have to sacrifice some things once you become a doctor, Rajas. I am sorry, but you cannot get leave at present” my professor said.

Late that night I called Baba and told him so. I could feel the heaviness in his throat as he replied “Ok. I am proud that you value your duty and responsibility above me. Take care. And yes, don’t forget to wish your sister tomorrow for her birthday, and get her some good gift. She must be missing us too”.

I had had one of those cruel “brother-sister” fights with her, and we weren’t talking. Another carefully protected window to our childhood, we enjoyed those fights which multiplied our love.

“You have always sided with her, Baba. You are partial to her” I replied with pretend-anger.
He laughed “That’s because I have made you tough enough to take care of yourself in any situation. She has a delicate mind” Baba said.

I assured him I will call her. I did, and wished her a Happy Birthday. She was ecstatic. That evening on 15th October, I called up home. My mom picked up. She told me that both of them were feeling very sad about being away from us especially because it was sister’s birthday. “Baba has tears in his eyes all day” she said.
I tried to cheer up Baba. “I have called your laadli daughter and wished her. I have also sent her a nice dress from Mumbai. Now you have to buy me something when I come home okay?”
“When will you come?” he asked again.
“As soon as my professor allows” I replied.

The next afternoon, on 16th October 2000 at 2.30 PM I received a call that Baba had had a sudden cardiac arrest and passed away. I suffer that call till this minute. I will never recover from the trauma of that moment.

Now, whenever someone questions the integrity of a doctor, the honesty and hard work of genuine doctors or accuses them of working only to earn money, or high-handedly suggests that the hardships and sacrifices involved in this field are ‘chosen’ and mandatory, I feel I made a wrong sacrifice for an undeserving society.

There are sayings in every religion about some animals not understanding their holy texts. Medicine is my religion and I will not explain its holiness to the donkeys who refuse to understand it. Be it the corporators, MLAs or MPs from ruling parties who attack doctors, Journalists or reporters who spew poison against every doctor, or the perpetually “cheap and free” demanding class.

There are thousands of doctors who have gone through this situation: sickness, marriage, rituals and even death in their families which they could not attend just because they were working to save someone, attending other patients. I know of umpteen doctors who got one day leave for their marriage, when their child was born, or their parent was sick.

Before you question a doctor’s intent and integrity, before you talk loose about this profession, please do search your soul.
© 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

The Epic Struggle Against Epilepsy

The Epic Struggle Against Epilepsy

(C) Dr. Rajas Deshpande

In a war-torn city, she kept on having fits almost every other day: convulsions and seizures of different types. 21 years old and home-bound, she had suffered with epilepsy since childhood. Dreams of a beautiful life that must adorn the life of a young woman were shattered due to a devastating and humiliating illness.

Her elder brother could not bear to see her suffer. He decided to take risks and enquired. Someone told him to take his sister to India for treatment. The airports in his country were destroyed or closed. All doors to India appeared locked.

Without any clues about future, he took her by sea to a nearby country Djibouti, a small African country. From there they traveled to Ethiopia. Then to Kenya. Finally they reached Mumbai and searched for the lone contact they hoped to meet: Mr. Abdul Aleem Alakeli, who works free to help patients. That was two months ago.

She reacted badly to two of the best medicines used for treating epilepsy, but their faith and determination were extraordinary. The brother and the sister had made a final decision: come whatever may, they wanted to defeat epilepsy.

Today as they left with complete control of seizures, I told the sister what she already knew: that she had an extraordinary brother. I congratulated her for her strong will power too.
Her brother was smiling after a long time, and her pride was obvious.

We wish her and her brother the most beautiful and healthiest life ahead. May God bless them and ensure their safety on the way and back home.

(C) Dr. Rajas Deshpande15622112_1172439906184669_2495525607074222032_n.jpg

The Pride Principle

The Pride Principle
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“Sir, we are screwed. The Chief Minister and other ministers have closed all doors, they won’t respond. Our careers are in grave danger. Can you please help us?” I frantically spoke.
From the other end of the phone, the Don, Dr. Nitu Mandke answered: “See me at my home at 12 midnight”.
The Maharashtra state resident doctor’s agitation for dignity, national pay parity and better living conditions was on, and I was given the responsibility of coordinating and being the face. For once, there was excellent communication amongst all medical colleges, thanks to the cellphones and fax machines. The divide and rule weapons of most governments which had crushed many of the earlier strikes were not working here, as we had established a multilevel network.
When students go on a strike anywhere in any field, it is almost always out of desperation, and either for dignity or rebellion against some sort of suppression and humiliation by the system. This raw power is almost as mighty as the army, and although it falls prey to political misuse sometimes, it has tremendous capacity towards achieving intellectual evolution of the society. Students never rebel for money or power. The government always treats any unrest as an offence to its ego, and uses everything at its disposal: CID, Police, Administration, Force, Threats, Caste Politics, Cheating and Legal torture to mow down student agitations. Students have no money, no experience and rare political or social backing, and must unite and stand up for themselves. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
On the fourth day of the strike, a big politico from the ruling alliance came over to our office at Mumbai KEM. Except the party batch and stickers on the luxury SUVs, there was no telling between him and a mafia goon. The members of student’s central committee: Dr. Sanjay Singh, Dr. Dinesh Kabra, Dr. Narender Sheshadri, Dr. Pramod Giri, Dr. Nilesh Nikam, Dr. Kuldeep, Dr. Vishal Sawant, Dr. Noor, Dr. Shahid, and few others were with me. The politico did not have any scruples using an arrogant, raw and filthy language to threaten that if we do not stop and withdraw the strike, our careers and even life will be in danger. As he was from the ruling party and threatened us in presence of the police, there was nothing we could say.
There are angels everywhere. A senior police officer who was supposed to “keep a constant watch” upon us ‘student leaders’ was quite fatherly. He told us “Do what you must, but don’t declare. Dumb people cannot interpret silence. Stay away from any violence”. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Next day, we got a message from government that almost every silent agitator gets: you have been cut off (you don’t have enough nuisance value). Unknown calls kept threats alive.
That is when a resident doctor suggested we meet the Don: Dr. Nitu Mandke, the famous heart surgeon who was known to be a fearless, straightforward celebrity doctor. He had already watched the TV news of our agitation. One Resident Doc could contact him.
He returned home past 12.30 AM. We waited, hosted by his extremely courteous family. We briefed him the details. He asked a few questions to assess our determination and strength. He asked us to stay united and avoid any misbehaviour during the agitation. To our surprise, he picked up the cellphone and called the Chief Minister’s PA. The CM was fortunately available, and talked to Dr. Mandke. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“CM is going out of the state tomorrow. He has advised us to meet the Deputy CM tomorrow. Two of you come to Leelawati Hospital tomorrow at 2 PM. I will take you to the DyCM.”.
At Leelawati hospital, Dr. Mandke’s chamber was intimidatingly clean and posh, yet simple. He checked our applications for the CM and corrected them with his beautiful pen. His briefcase had every essential of writing stationary, the mark of a perfect man.
As we waited, I asked him cautiously: “Sir, shall we start?” He replied that he was waiting for someone to carry the bag on his table. I offered that I will carry it.
He laughed his thunderous laugh, and looked at us as if we were small puppies. “ Deshpandyaa, that bag has two and a half crore rupees cash for my hospital. A professional bodyguard will carry it. People kill for that. Do you want to carry it?”. I shut up.
In his big car, for the 45 minutes that his bodyguard drove us to the DyCM, I asked Dr. Nitu Mandke questions about what was going through his mind when he was actually operating the Shiv Sena Supremo Mr. Balasaheb Thackeray. Such an enormous pressure it must have been!
“Oh yes, it was stressful. But he is a gentleman, and he had assured my safety. His word is enough”.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
That’s when we told him how some politicos had threatened us recently. He laughed and replied something that has been tattooed upon my cortex permanently:
“Rajas, a doctor is a doctor and king of lives forever. Politicos come and go. Idiots misbehave with others when the have any post or power, in any field. You should not budge. It is pathetic to see doctors licking shoes of those in power, under various pretexts. It is up to you to maintain your dignity and pride. That is the true luxury, everyone cannot afford it. So long as you do the right thing, fear nothing. The few crores in that bag is nothing compared to how I feel about myself”.
We entered the VIP zone and bungalow. His car was not stopped anywhere. The DyCM offered us tea, and gave us a patient listening.
“These junior doctors and students are my boys, our own boys, they will look after the health of our people tomorrow. You must help them” Dr. Mandke insisted. The DyCM assured he will. The spell was broken, talks resumed.
Many twists and turns later, one of the most memorable strikes was called off. There were those who never physically participated but went home during the entire struggle. They came back dissatisfied, alleging. Those who participated knew they had fought well and won.
A year later, I saw a white Lexus car in our KEM campus at Mumbai. Fond of cars and having never touched a Lexus, I went to see it from a close distance. Just as I tried to touch it, the driver’s window rolled down, and I heard “Deshpandyaa, open the door and come in. Do you like my new car?”
And I sat besides he King of proud men, one of the most proficient Cardiac Surgeons, Dr. Nitu Mandke, in his Lexus. The feeling is unforgettable, not only for the Lexus, but for his simplicity, love and affection for a nobody of a junior doctor like myself!
Needless to say, then onwards, I have guarded my pride as a doctor more than any other possession I have. That took away many opportunities and huge finances, still I am doing quite well by God’s grace, and Dr. Mandke’s blessings.
How I feel about myself is more precious than anything I can earn. The luxury of pride is mine.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Dedicated to all students, resident doctors, proud people in every field, student unions and their apolitical fearless leaders.
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