Tag Archives: police

“If I don’t set an example, who will?”

photo-23-02-17-18-56-00“If I don’t set an example, who will?”
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
One fine late morning, a phone call woke me up. “Hullo?” I used the trained professional cautious voice that does not encourage further conversation, hoping to not let go of the sleep stage.
“Good Morning. I am Rashmi Shukla, Commissioner of police, Pune. May I speak to Dr. Rajas Deshpande?” the lady on the other side said.
My heart missed one middleclass heartbeat and performed five higher class somersaults. Sleep ran away like a signal jumping two wheeler pursued by a traffic cop.
“Yes mam, speaking” I sat up in bed.
“I want to show my aunt to you. When can I get an appointment for her?”
This was unusual.
Usually most bigwigs just walk in without any warning and want to be seen immediately. Some soft-threaten an appointment via their secretary. Some come with the hospital owners, some hassle the boss to get the doctor rush for them whenever they want. There even are netas and officers (not only police) who ask doctors to “hurry up” with the patient in the chamber and see them first. If you make them wait, your boss usually would remind you many unpleasant things in chaste English.
So, about this call, I felt very respectful.
“Anytime you want mam. What time is convenient for you?”
“You say doctor, you people are always so busy. I will arrange my schedule accordingly”.
“4 PM today?” I asked
“Ok. We will be there” she said.
At sharp 4 she came with her aunt and waited patiently for their turn. Inside the chamber she behaved like a common citizen, and politely narrated the details of her aunt. She listened to the instructions and prescription details, and asked a few questions. She made me laugh with some puns too. Then she thanked me and left. We kept on reading about many new initiatives and improvements she implemented in Pune.
When she followed up today, again with similar polite call for appointment and then a punctual visit, I told her how admirable and respectable her politeness and etiquette was, and how rare it has become among the highly placed.
She smiled: “Doc, If I don’t set an example, who will?”.
Huge Respect, Commissioner!
May all police and government officers be like you!
Then when I requested her permission to write this and also for a a pic, she said “If you don’t smile in the photo, I am going to have you arrested immediately”.
Thank you, Mrs. Rashmi Shuklaji, Commissioner of Police, Pune, for making a common doctor like me feel great again about my choice of this profession!
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

A Policeman’s Tears

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“She was found unconscious and naked lying on the road. The baby was near her, moving when we found her, now she also looks unconscious” said the police constable. “Actually I had my civil dress in my jeep, I covered both with my clothes and got them here. Most likely an orphan roadside beggar”.

It was early morning, I had gone to the casualty for a call as a medicine resident, and was chatting with the CMO when this police constable had rushed in the mother and the baby, probably less than a year old. He and his colleague completed the formalities and left. The CMO was alone, so I stayed on to assist.

The lady had high grade fever and some bruises all over her body, only one on the thigh deep enough that it bled. She also had a contusion upon the head. Needless to say, unclean and unkempt, visibly quite weak and poorly fed body. There was a traditional tattoo on her forearm that said “Seeta” in distorted devnagari script. The baby was dehydrated and had fever too, with only minor contusions.

“Sending her to female ward, and the baby to paediatric” said the CMO. We completed the police information and Medicolegal form, the nurses had started the IV line for the lady. I accompanied the baby to the pediatric ward, handed her over to the resident doctor friend on duty and went to the female ward to attend the other admissions. Basic medicines for fever and head injury were started for Seeta. There was no CT scan facility in the hospital. Blood tests were sent.

In absence of relatives, it’s the interns, resident doctors and nurses who attend to the necessities of such patients. Administration mocks everyone sympathetic and compassionate to such patients, be it a government, private or corporate set up. My professor advised some more blood tests. Some tests were not available in the govt. hospital, we had to send them outside. As we had just received the stipend, money was not a big problem.

Next evening I went to the pediatric ward to find out what was happening with the baby.
“She has had convulsions”, the resident colleague told me. We have loaded her with anticonvulsants, but she still has fever. Dr. Jain madam (new lecturer in paediatrics) has advised lumbar puncture, but there’s the consent problem”.
I went to talk to the lecturer, she was all insulting. “Don’t teach me what to do. We will send a request to the dean, and if he allows, then the resident will do the lumbar puncture” she said, “By the way, what’s your interest in this baby? Why don’t you mind your own business? I have heard about you.. you are in the student’s union na? Don’t throw your weight around me.” She said.

The dean consented to our request, and a lumbar puncture was done. The baby had probable tuberculous meningoencephalitis (infection of the brain and its coverings). Antituberculous medicines were started.

The comments of the pediatric lecturer made me extremely angry. Most of her resident doctors hated her attitude too. Those remarks soon spread and various sick, exaggerated and vulgar jokes about me caring for that orphan baby made rounds among my colleagues. But one good thing about wanting to do good is the shameless pride and courage that comes ingrained with it.

My colleague Dr. Madhu stood by me. She often reminded me: “There are five percent good people in the world, and 95 percent bad, Einstein has said, but it is the five percent good who take the world forward, they represent human race”. That has always pumped me up against all the mockery that I ever faced for being “too sensitive and compassionate to be sane”.

The best support for the poor and helpless always comes from the poor and helpless. The pompous, actionless “blah blah” of advising others to be more kind and compassionate is usually the trademark of those who themselves rarely help anyone. The mamas and mausis (wardboys and helpers) of the ward came together to attend Seeta during their duty.

The pediatric resident told us on the third day that the baby’s health had gone bad, and she was unlikely to survive. Dr. Madhu stopped smiling. “At least can we shift the baby near her mom?” we discussed. It was of course not possible.

Dr. Oak (real name), one of our ophthalmology genius professors, learnt about this. He came over and told us in his royal tones, to tap him anytime for any help. He also left some money with us.

On the fourth day, the lady started having convulsions too. We ran around, trying to arrange whatever the professor suggested. She was gradually sinking. Tuberculosis neglected and untreated is one of the most cruel diseases. It takes over ten days for the action of Tb medicines to kick in.

On the fifth day, the baby passed away in the morning, and the lady shortly after. That coincidence was less tragic than their trolleys being rolled into the mortuary together.

“What happens now?” we asked the mortuary in charge.
“They will be cremated as orphan, unclaimed bodies after the post mortem” he told.

In a world of billions, ruled by religious, powerful and rich, a young mother and a baby girl would be cremated as orphans! We told the mortuary assistant to please keep us posted, and came out. Of course we could not sleep.

Next day we took special permission and went to attend their cremation.
On the way, we bought some flowers, a tiny dress for the girl and a saree for her mom, probably the first new clothes ever for either of them. Dr. Madhu had already brought a few bangles, a necklace and two bindis with her.

Dr. Madhu was sobbing as we returned. The rowdy looking policeman with us also wiped his eyes. He dropped us back to the medical college in his jeep.

He said in a heavy voice as we parted:
“Doctor, we see all the worst things in the society. We meet criminals day and night. But when such young girls and babies die, I feel like shooting everyone who didn’t come out to help them. People just talk, nobody helps. God bless you. You have what it takes to be a doctor. Don’t ever change.”

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

P.S.
Years later, I read about a divine human being from Chennai, one Mr. S Sreedhar, who collects unclaimed dead bodies from various hospitals, and performs decent and respectful last rites for them. Planning to meet and touch his feet one day.
Please share unedited.

The Curse of Real Heroes

The Curse of Real Heroes
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Two boys, 15 and 18, wheeled in their mom, a spinal case who can’t walk. They had lost their father guarding the Indian Border. They care for their mom in turns.
Both want to join the army asap.
“How much do we pay?” ask the elder, proud son after the consult.
“I should pay you with my blood, son!” I wanted to say.
But I didn’t want to weaken in front of those bravehearts.
“It is my pleasant duty, dear, you don’t have to pay” I told him.
“But this is a private hospital.. we can pay. We paid elsewhere we went. We want the best care for our mom”.
“That I promise, and this is in honor of what your Father did for all of us”. This made them smile proudly, albeit with a wet twinkle in all eight eyes.

“I was a Black Cat Commando, Sir. I served as a bodyguard to PM Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Sir” said this huge, intimidating gentleman, now a sufferer of Parkinsonism. What an irony, that the one known for speed, strength and accuracy is forced to a life of the opposite! He guarded our PM once! He has to go to apply for some medical concession today.

“I loved this beautiful girl” said the 75 year old Punjabi gentleman pointing at his 72 year old wife, “but her father said I was a nobody, so he didn’t allow us to marry. Then I won an enemy tank, sent him my picture with it. Then he agreed. I fought three wars for India, Sir. But I still cannot dare to fight her, Sir.” You cannot compete Punjabi humor. He is also applying since last one year to get an accommodation with elevator facility, as he is on third floor, and has to be lifted up by wife and an assistant as he can’t climb.

He has roamed some hospitals, in search of relief from a recent illness. Admitted at many places, lost a lot of money in this process. He feels it is “abuse of the system” to claim any concession, as the military hospitals provide adequate healthcare. Naturally, not all patients can be happy with a “fixed” doctor. They do not have a choice, and if they go to a private hospital, they must pay.

Young stroke at 32, from Pimpri-Chinchwad. Fighting terrorists in Jammu Kashmir this moment. After recovery from stroke, joined back in anti terror squad in Assam within four months.

It is a huge, sticking-out red shame that the very people who endanger their lives for their country without a second thought, who stand in the line of genuine fire, have to live a life of “requesting, begging and applying” for favors for basic living: accommodation, transport, food, medicines and even healthcare of choice, while blatant corruption by many erodes the nation’s treasuries.

We live happily at the cost of their risking lives, complacent with garlanding their memorials twice a year.

Even the policemen hurt, injured on duty, and those who suffer heart attacks, strokes and other health problems due to an excessively stressful life who have to stand in line to get memos and recommendation favors from clerical staff to get healthcare concessions. Whatever their level of corruption, it is pathetic to see traffic police at most polluted junctions standing for entire day, literally “giving away” their life.

All healthcare at ANY center of their choice must be made free for those in the Indian Military, and policemen who are injured while on duty. Most doctors and private hospitals will agree with this, if the other affording “free” class is brought to the account book : the rich and affording litany of various political leaders, their whole personal staff, ministers and their staff, influential rich, and many undeserving govt. officials who take immense advantage of the system for self, family and relatives. These number in millions.
There will be some among the military, police who may try to take advantage, who may ill-behave, but that can be dealt with if a common healthfile is maintained for each one, for the doctors to remark so, and deny further care in that case.

In honor generations of soldiers who have taken upon themselves to protect a country which will deny them even the basic care in the hour of their own need. I know most doctors ensure best care for these Heroes, but we must make it officially so.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande