Tag Archives: Religion

Can Anyone Solve The Mystery of Atmaram’s Courtroom Death?

Can Anyone Solve The Mystery of Atmaram’s Courtroom Death?

©️Dr. Rajas Deshpande

A hungry poor man named Atmaram went to a big hotel, had a nice big meal, and told he had no money to pay. He was beaten up and handed over to the police. He was released after a warning and a slap.

Next day he filled up petrol in his bike, and said he couldn’t pay. He was again beaten up, handed over to the police. Then he went to the medical shop, bought medicines and mineral water, ate the medicine, drank water from the bottle, and again said he couldn’t pay. He was now jailed for a week.

Next week his house was damaged by heavy rains, so he went and requested to be allowed to sleep in the house of the chief minister. He was arrested again, thrashed up.

As angry Atmaram shouted at the police, he was beaten up by them, another crime was added to his offences. In the court, Atmaram insulted the lawyers and judges and accused them of accepting bribes and charging too much. The judge punished him extra for his behaviour. Atmaram was angry and threw his shoe at the judge. His punishment was extended.

“You must respect the authority “ the court said.

“But I am poor, I need free food and petrol and medicines. I need sympathy too” Atmaram argued.

“You should have begged and applied for favours and eaten in places that provide charity meals. Petrol, however essential, has the same price for everyone. You can sleep on the footpath, and above all, you are not allowed rudeness and violence because you are poor and needy” The court said.©️Dr. Rajas Deshpande

When released from the jail, Atmaram drank a lot of desi alcohol, had an accident and fractured many bones. He went to the best private hospital, got operated and refused to pay his bills that crossed one lac rupees. When the hospital insisted, the operating doctors were beaten up by Atmaran’s relatives, the hospital was vandalised, the police arrested the doctor who saved Atmaram’s life, the government closed down the hospital, while the media and the society kept villainising the entire medical profession.

The headlines next day reported the sympathy expressed uniformly by wag addicted tongues: some said the entire profession was tainted, some blamed the greed of the doctors, even some doctors desperate for attention shed crocodile tears about the ethics in this profession. ©️Dr. Rajas Deshpande

In the courtroom, during the trial, Atmaram sat facing the doctor, still heavily bandaged.

The hon’ble judge, kind but surrounded by security, told the doctor accused of negligence and malpractice in the court: “You as a doctor carry more responsibility for ethical behaviour upon your shoulders. You should never turn away the poor”.

The doctor, defending himself, asked “but Milord, doesn’t our constitution insist on equality? Why do you yourself or ministers get security but not the doctor? Why isn’t everyone supposed to stick to ethics in every profession including politics, police and judiciary? Why are others exempt? How do you explain beating up of doctors while also saying that the society treated them like gods?”.

There were no answers. The kind court asked if the doctor had to say anything else in his own defence.

The doctor said

“Yes Milord, but the real answers will hurt:

Jealousy against medical professionals across society and many other professions is a reality. Why else will anyone who couldn’t qualify to become a doctor try and teach the qualified doctors what they should do?”©️Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“A culture of exploitation of non-votebank groups

and a complete failure of government healthcare with no one accepting responsibility is well known to everyone, but even judges have no courage to suo motu question this and correct it, even when they see the poor dying”. ©️Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“In a country with never ending poverty, how much free can a healthcare facility provide? For how long? This is already forcing closure of hospitals and exodus of good doctors out of the country.”©️Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Milord, can you assure that every doctor will get his/ her fees as per his service to every patient, and if the patient can’t pay, that much charge will be exempted from the income tax of that doctor? How else do you except a doctor to meet his needs and dreams? Just because there are millions of poor patients, is the doctor’s life and hard work taken for granted? If there has to be financial sacrifice, why not have everyone contribute to it by creating a national health tax fund for treatment of poor patients? Why healthcare is subsidised only at the cost of a doctor?”

Just at this point, Atmaram, who sat in front of the judge, collapsed unconscious, almost blue black.

The shocked judge requested the doctor to examine him.

“He is no more” said the doctor.

“What could have happened ?” asked the kind but sweating judge.

The doctor told the court about three possible reasons. Two of them were scientific and medical: a sudden cardiac event or a large blood clot in the lungs common after fractures and trauma.

The third non-medical, unscientific cause made the Judge seriously ponder.©️Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Will this court be now closed down, Milord? Will your efficiency be questioned, will you allow the relatives to attack you and understand their sad situation at the cost of your murder?”

“I understand what you mean” said the kind judge.

Needless to say, the doctor was released without a blame.

Can anyone please solve the mystery of the third non medical, unscientific possible cause of Atmaram’s death?

(C) Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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“Why Don’t You Marry Her, Doc?”

photo 19-09-16, 22 52 52
Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Sir, she cannot walk, she is paralysed below chest since last few days. Her husband doesn’t care, he has abandoned her. She has no money or insurance for tests or treatment. I want to help her, I don’t know what to do” I told my junior consultant, who was having his coffee break with senior consultant and the departmental secretaries. He looked at me in a nasty way, and said “Why don’t you marry her?” and they all laughed aloud. However, although my professor smiled with them, he asked me to get the patient’s papers.

She was a case of Multiple Sclerosis, in her early thirties, and had lost ability to walk. Her sensation below the waist, control over urine was also lost. This ghastly illness of the brain and spine often cripples the young. In many cases, when such disability develops, divorces follow. The world as we doctors see it is far more cruel, deceptive and dangerous than most illnesses humanity knows. She was left with a small daughter and no income. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

I felt insulted, but I was in a foreign country. The junior consultant was known for his sarcastic humour and enjoyed impressing women around him, often at the cost of others, like so many dwarfs who take advantage of their chair to achieve what they otherwise cannot. I chose to ignore him, and got the papers to our boss, who called a colleague to enrol the patient in one of the upcoming research trials. That would ensure her free tests and medicines for a few years. I told her the good news. She started sobbing, then handed me a note written by her:
“I am killing myself as I have nothing left except my daughter, I cannot look after her with my disability. I have no complaints against anyone. Please look after my daughter”.
In some time, after she stabilised, she said “Doc, I had come prepared to kill myself today. My daughter is sitting in the cafeteria. If you had not told me what you did just now, believe me, I was planning to drive my wheelchair off the roof today”. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

We called her 10 year old daughter from the cafeteria. Little did the cute child know how lucky she was to see her mother again that day.

That evening, my boss, the senior consultant, took me out for a dinner. Once the red wine loosened strained faces, he started to speak: “Rajaas, I know you are kind and you want to help others. I know you feel for your patients. But I must caution you, don’t get carried away. Your job is clear: to listen, to advise the best line of investigations and treatment, to explain, and to compassionately guide. Don’t carry too much weight upon your shoulders”.
“Why, Sir?”I asked politely, “I feel inner peace when I walk an extra mile to help my patient. How can that cause me any harm? Didn’t this lady survive just because you helped her today?”
“Because it is a never ending burden. To be able to effectively help everyone coming to you, you must have too much money and too much time. Doctors seldom have either. I lost a lot of time and money, to realise that this cycle never ends, that newer and more people need your help every day, all your life. I almost went bankrupt, collapsed and quit under stress. Then I realised that I must limit this so I could serve them best the next day”. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

It felt like dry reasoning at that moment. However, boss continued to help patients beyond duty whenever I asked him. Over years, I realised how correct Boss was!

My dear british colleague Dr. Mindy was trying to help a patient through her divorce, I accompanied her. As the patient opened up, she revealed to Mindy that although she enjoyed marijuana, her husband was involved in the sale of other illicit drugs, and that was one reason that she wanted to divorce him. Dr. Mindy involved a counsellor to help her out. However, after they decided to patch up their marriage, the patient told her husband that she had confided in Dr. Mindy. The husband came over and politely threatened her to keep all the information only to herself, otherwise be prepared for dare consequences.
We all spent many a restless nights after that.

Emotionally disturbed, helpless patients, those who are treated unfair by family often depend upon a kind doctor. They get quite restless at times, worry a lot and then expect an immediate hearing and resolution from their doctor. From suicide threats to blackmails, there are messages that pour in once that channel is opened. This sometimes wreaks havoc in the doctor‘s life, because being disturbed affects clinical practice and decision making. The small time left for self and family is thus shot dead. A patient who becomes emotionally dependent upon the doctor can turn into a nightmare for the doctor. Over years, I learnt to balance this, going out of the way only for the few truly deserving patients.

Thousands of patients have survived just because their doctor emotionally supported them in time, otherwise they would have died of lack of will to carry on. No one ever credits the doctors who become emotional back-ups for their patients: a service that costs them time and stress, without any income. That is unfortunately considered a “duty” of the doctor, to be kind and available at bad times, but to be forgotten in good times. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande. Many actually think that good words, compliments and “a satisfaction of serving” should be sufficient compensation for the doctor. Nothing fully compensates, although kind words do sometimes make one feel good.

However, what caused worse hurt to me was some of my own colleagues who made fun of me and many other doctors who went out of their way to help patients. “Impractical, unnecessary, worthless, drama”, and so many other adjectives are used by colleagues and even seniors/ some teachers for doctors, students, residents who walk an extra mile to help their patients. I was extremely fortunate that I met some good teachers who supported my efforts without mocking me, and I continue to meet students who carry on this noble trait forwards.

When I was leaving, the junior consultant came over for the farewell too, and told me in too many words how I must learn to be “Practical”. I gave him a reply that one teacher with advanced genius had taught me years ago, for people who do less themselves and advise others a lot. This reply saves a lot of time and energy, my teacher had told me, and its beauty is that people don’t even understand that you are saying ‘those two useful words’ when you reply like this:

I just smiled at him.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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एक आशीर्वाद का रंग (डॉ. बाबासाहेब आंबेडकर की स्मृति को समर्पित)

एक आशीर्वाद का रंग
(डॉ. बाबासाहेब आंबेडकर की स्मृति को समर्पित)
© डॉ. राजस देशपांडे
न्यूरोलॉजिस्ट पुणे

दवाई की मात्रा को सावधानी से गिनकर मैंने इंट्रावेनस सोल्यूशन तैयार किया. सुई पहले से ही लगाकर रखी थी. “मैं दवाई का इंजेक्शन शुरू कर रहा हूँ. अगर कोई भी तकलीफ हो तो तुरंत बताइये, मैं यहीं बैठा हूँ” मैंने उस बूढी औरत से कहा. अपने दर्द की परतों के पीछे से वह मुस्कुराई. उसका बेटा, मेरा लेक्चरर डॉ. एसके , वहीँ खड़ा था. उसने अपनी माँ के सर पर हाथ रखा, और कहा, “ये मेरा विद्यार्थी यहीं रुकेगा. मुझे बाकी पेशंट देखने हैं, आज काफी भीड़ हैं. तू चिंता न कर माँ, अगर कुछ जरूरत हो तो इसे बता देना”. वह चला गया.

डॉ. एसके की माँ को कैंसर के लिए कीमोथेरेपी दी जा रही थी. इसमें से एक दवाई का सॉलूशन तैयार करना और उसे इंट्रावेनस (खून की नसों में से) बराबर मात्रा में देना काफी मुश्किल काम था. मेरे गाइड डॉ. प्रदीप (पिवाय) मुळे ने मुझे कुछ दिन पहले ही इस दवाई के बारे में सिखाया था, इसलिए डॉ. एसके ने मुझे बुलाया था. मैं तब एक सरकारी दवाखाने में अपने एमडी मेडिसिन के पहले वर्ष का रेजिडेंट डॉक्टर था.

कुछ समय के बाद मैंने देखा की उस पेशंट की यूरिन बैग (पेशाब की थैली) पूरी तरह से भर गई थी. वार्ड में काम करने वाली मौसी किसी और काम से बाहर गई थी. ऐसे हालात में एक रेजिडेंट डॉक्टर को हर काम करना पड़ता है. मैंने ग्लव्स / दस्ताने पहनकर नर्स से एक बाल्टी मांगी, और यूरिन बैग से उसमें पेशाब निकलकर वार्ड के बाथरूम की तरफ चल पड़ा. तभी डॉ. एसके वापिस आ गए. उन्होंने मुझसे वह बाल्टी मांगी, कहा “मैं ले जाता हूँ” पर मैंने कहा के मैंने ग्लव्स पहने हैं, मैं ही रखकर आता हूँ. मैंने वह बाल्टी वार्ड के बाथरूम के बाहर रख दी, मौसी बाद में उसे साफ़ कर देती. © डॉ. राजस देशपांडे

जब दवाई ख़त्म हुई, तो डॉ. एसके ने मुझे चाय पीने के लिए साथ चलने के लिए कहा. हॉस्पिटल के पीछे ही एक छोटी सी चाय की दुकान थी. थोड़ा हिचकिचाने के बाद उन्होने कहा : “सुनो, ग़लतफ़हमी न हो, लेकिन जब मैंने देखा कि तुम मेरी माँ के पेशाब की बाल्टी लेकर जा रहे थे, मुज्झे अचम्भा सा हुआ. तुम ब्राह्मण हो ना? जब तुम बाहर थे, तो मेरी माँ ने भी मुझ पर गुस्सा किया, और कहा, क्यों मैंने तुम्हे वो बाल्टी उठाने दी. हम बहुजन समाज से आते हैं. तुम्हे पता भी होगा, मैं अपने समाज के एसोसिएशन का नेता हूँ.”.

मुझे पता था. डॉ. एसके के नाम से काफी लोग डरते थे. पर एक निहायत बेडर और आक्रामक नेता होने के बावजूद वो एक अच्छे दिलवाला इंसान भी था. जब भी किसी पर अन्याय होता, तोह बिना जाति-पाती के बारे में सोचे वो उसकी मदद करता. गरीबों के लिए उसे विशेष प्रेम और सहानुभूति थी. किसी तरह का भेदभाव उसे पसंद नहीं था.

मैंने कहा “सर, मैं ये सब नहीं सोचता. पेशेंट तो पेशंट ही होता है, पर यहाँ वो आपकी माँ भी हैं, जो भी उसके लिए करना पड़े मेरा तो कर्त्तव्य बनता है. मैं अपने मन में कभी जाति-पाती का विचार न करूँ, न ही कभी किसी से भेदभाव करूँ, ये ही तालीम मुझे मेरे माता पिता ने मुझे बचपन से दी है”. © डॉ. राजस देशपांडे

“ठीक है”, उन्होंने कहा, “मेरा तुम्हारे बारे में कोई पूर्वग्रह / प्रेज्यूडिस था, वो अब चला गया. अगर तुम्हे कोई भी विपत्ति कभी भी हो, तो बड़ा भाई समझकर मुझे बता देना.” . कितनी ईमानदारी और धैर्य से उन्होंने एक कठिन बात को सरलता से कहा था!
जबतक अपने आप को दुसरे भारतीयों से ऊंचा या अलग समझने वाले हर भारतीय को कोई पश्चिमी जातिवादी (रेसिस्ट) “ब्राउन / ब्लैक” कहकर नीचा नहीं दिखता, उसे भेदभाव का दर्द नहीं समझ सकता.

संयोग से, कुछ दिन बाद ही, मेरी अपने एक प्रोफेसर से कुछ तू तू मैं मैं हो गई . उन्होंने मुझे अपने चैम्बर में बुलाकर कहा ” जब तक मैं तेरा एग्जामिनर हूँ, तू पास नहीं होगा”. मैं परेशान हो गया. मेरी आर्थिक स्थिति तो खस्ता हाल थी ही, पर मेरा बेटा अभी छोटा सा था और मेरे माँ-बाप मेरे वापिस आकर उनके पास रहने कि आस लगाए बैठे थे. फेल होना मेरे लिए बहुत बड़ी मुश्किल खड़ी कर देता. © डॉ. राजस देशपांडे

मैंने डॉ. एसके से मिलकर मेरी परेशानी बताई. वो मुझे उस प्रोफेसर से मिलने ले गए. पहले उन्होंने मुझसे कहा के मैं उस प्रोफेसर से माफ़ी मांगू, बहस के लिए. मैंने माफ़ी मांग ली. फिर उन्होंने उस प्रोफेसर से कहा “राजस मेरा छोटा भाई है.इसे कभी कोई धमकी न देना. अगर ये परीक्षा में अच्छा परफॉर्म करें, तो इसे पास कीजिये, अगर नहीं, तो आप इसे भले ही फेल कीजिये. लेकिन अच्छा परफॉर्म करने के बावजूद भी अगर ये फ़ैल होगा, तो मैं जरूर आप के खिलाफ आवाज उठाऊंगा. बाकी तीन परीक्षकों से मैं पूछूंगा”.
प्रोफेसर साहब ने तब कहा के उन्होंने ज्यादा गुस्से में मुझे धमकी दी थी, उनका मुझे फ़ैल करने का कोई इरादा नहीं था. बात यहीं मिट गई.

परमात्मा कि कृपा, अच्छे गुरुजन और कड़ी मेहनत के कारण मैं अपनी एमडी मेडिसिन कि परीक्षा पहली ही बारी में ही पास हो गया. जब मिठाई लेकर मैं डॉ एसके के पैर छूने पहुंचा, तो उन्होंने मुझे अपनी माँ से भी मिलाया. उस ने अपने बटुए से सौ रुपये निकलकर मुझे दिए ही, पर बहुत प्यार से ढेर सारे आशीर्वाद भी दिए. © डॉ. राजस देशपांडे

अपने स्कूल और कॉलेज के दिनों में मेरे बहुत सारे दोस्त थे, समाज के सारे वर्गों से. विद्यार्थी कभी जाति के बारे में सोचकर दोस्त नहीं बनाते. कॉलेज के दिनों में मेरे डॉ. बाबासाहेब आंबेडकर एसोसिएशन के कार्यकर्ताओं से बहुत अच्छे सम्बन्ध थे, क्योंकि दो बार जब मैं किसी अन्याय के खिलाफ अकेला झगड़ रहा था, कोई साथ नहीं दे रहा था, तब उन्होंने मेरी बहुत मदद कि, उन्ही के कारण मैं अपनी ज़िन्दगी कि दो बड़ी लड़ाइयां जीत सका.

डॉ. बाबासाहेब आंबेडकर के पास दुनिया का सबसे प्रभावशाली अस्त्र था: फाउंटेन पेन. यह भी एक कारण है जो मुझे उनके प्रति बहुत आदर है. किसी और शस्त्र-अस्त्र कि जरूरत ही आदमी को नहीं है! समाज के दो समुदायों के बीच का कोई भी वाद-विवाद कभी भी झगड़ा या हिंसाचार से खतम नहीं हो सकता. एक-दुसरे के प्रति आदर और प्रेम दिल में रखकर साथ चलने से ही हम सारे समाधान खोज सकते हैं.

भाग्यवश, भारत में कोई भी डॉक्टर किसी भी पेशंट के बारे में सोचते हुए जाति-पाती का विचार नहीं करता. जैसे कोर्ट के आँगन में एक जज का अमल सर्वोच्च होता है, वैसे ही भारत के हर मेडिकल कैंपस में इंसानियत ही सर्वोच्च मानी जाति है. ह्रदय हो या खून, दिमाग हो या सांस, ये किसी भी जाति के अलग नहीं होते. बड़े दिमाग कि तरह ही एक बड़ा दिल भी मानव कि उन्नति का एक प्रमुख मानदंड है. © डॉ. राजस देशपांडे

मेरा सपना, मेरी प्रार्थना है कि समाज के विभिन्न घटकों के बीच में विभाजित विचारों के ये काले बादल हमेशा के लिए नष्ट हों. हम सारे एक दुसरे को अपनी जैसा ही केवल एक इंसान समझें, कोई भेदभाव न रहे. विद्यार्थियों में हर दरवाजा खोलने की, हर दीवार तोड़ने की क्षमता होती है, उनसे हमें बहुत उम्मीद है.

किसी भी भेदभाव को न मानते हुए हर पेशंट कि ज़िन्दगी और स्वस्थ्य के लिए दिन रात काम करने वाले वैद्यक समाज में से एक होने का मुझे गर्व है. अपनी प्रैक्टिस से बाहर भी, मेरा ये मानना है के जिस भी भगवान कि मैं पूजा करता हूँ, वही मिझे मिलने वाले हर व्यक्ति में मौजूद हैं.

एक पेशंट के आशीर्वाद का कोई रंग नहीं होता, दुआ कि कोई जाति यही होती. एक डॉक्टर होने के नाते मेरा धर्म, मेरी जाति, और मेरा कर्त्तव्य सारे एक ही है: सिर्फ इन्सानियत.

डॉ. राजस देशपांडे
न्यूरोलॉजिस्ट
रूबी हॉल क्लिनिक पुणे

जरूर शेयर करें.

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

Please Share Unedited

Which Is The Best Festival Upon Earth?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Remedy of Trust

The Remedy of Trust
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
 
I entered the ICU in a torn and angry frame of mind. An old patient had had fluctuations in heart rate and blood pressure all night, and was on the thin line between life and death. Irregular heart beats had clotted his blood and he had developed a paralysis.
 
I had had a terrible argument with family that morning, and had left home without a breakfast, thinking that I will catch up in the canteen if hungry. The traffic on the way was as usual bad, it further worsened my mood. Messages kept pouring in: pending bills and health enquiries that were an attempt to avoid a proper consultation. One can ignore, but sometimes ignoring is stressful too!© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
 
As I entered the hospital, I was told about some machine not working. The technician had commented that it was beyond repair now. New one would cost over 30 lacs minimum, and this machine was required on a daily basis. My head started pounding. Another loan now, another recovery period!
As I passed the billing counter, an imposing rogue with a group stopped me. “Sir, the bill is too high, do something”. It was an open threat worded technically as a request. The relatives who folded hands to save the patient till yesterday were standing behind that rogue, looking unconcerned, not even happy that the patient was alive and being discharged after a life threatening illness. I sent them to the charity cell.
I entered the ICU, staring into my cellphone where angry messages of argument kept pouring in, a dear friend was upset that I was not available to see his relatives in another hospital immediately. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
 
The old patient was sleeping. A glance at the monitor revealed that the patient’s BP was now stable. His heart rate was regular too. What a relief!
The patient’s wife got up, she was in her 80s. Fair, all white hair, and the confidence of culture upon her face, she smiled through her wrinkles and troubles. The Kumkum on her forehead was bright and fresh. She wore a torn saree, and had no ornaments except a thin thread with black beads that made her Mangalsutra. She was bending forward due to age.
She then said “He spoke to me this morning. He is feeling better than yesterday. I know he is old, but please give him the best treatment. We have been together since childhood.” Her eyes became wet.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
 
Then she made an attempt to touch my feet, something that woke me up with a shock. A tingling feeling ran through my body. I held her hand and asked her it was ok, and returned the gesture by touching her feet too. I told her I will try my best, and her husband appeared out of danger at that moment.
She gently prodded the patient: “Look, our doctor is here. He says you are getting better. Do you recognize our doctor? Say Namaskar to him”.
 
Confused for a moment, the old man stared first at his wife, then at me.
 
He then tried to lift both hands, but only one went up, which he raised to his forehead and whispered “Namaskar”.
 
The old couple, the age of my parents, was saying Namaskar to me and touching me feet, many decades younger to them, because I was a Doctor. They never knew me until two days ago, but had trusted everything I said. They did not question my ability or intention. I like to be professional, but that should never compromise my manners.
I switched off my cellphone.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
 
I suddenly felt ashamed of the mood that I was in. They did not deserve it. Their complete faith was to me the best return and reward of my efforts of so many years to become a good doctor. No amount of money ‘thrown at me’ by those who think of ‘buying me services’ would actually be my interest or aim. This was.
 
I smiled at the old lady, and told her that should she have any concerns, she can ask the staff to call me anytime, I would be glad to come over. Then, to repay her for bringing my smile back, I wrote on the billing sheet: “No charges for me in the case”.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
 
When I walked out of the ICU, I was feeling proud and smiling. The faith of this patient and his wife had cured me of my bad mood too. I was prepared again to forget my personal woes, to take over the faithless hundreds, still do them good, in an attempt to reach out to the really deserving faithful, who knew their doctor would only do them good. That is the essence of my profession, my education, and my intention.
 
A patient who trusts a doctor earns for himself the best in that doctor. Always. Although we do not expect it to be understood by everyone.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
 
 

Gods of Humanity

Gods of Humanity

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

About four years ago, this brilliant young man entered my chamber. He introduced himself as

Dr. Amod Kale, veterinary practitioner, and said:

“I have a different favour to ask. I have a dog patient with a neurological problem, and am not able to find any references. Will you help me treat this dog? I am not charging anything to the owner. I am doing this as my own hobby” He showed me some videos.

The doggy had some jerky abnormal movements of both hind legs. Some human medicines helped the doggy, and I became friends with Dr. Amod.

Since then, he came with many more cases: rabbit, parrot, cats and dogs who had neurological problems. These animals were either abandoned or orphaned. Dr. Amod not only helped them find a home, but went out of his way to solve their medical problems, mostly spending his own money for everything.

This time he came with a new friend, Mr. Tushar Kale. On 9th March, Mr. Tushar was riding his bike near his home, when he witnessed that another bike ran over a stray dog. The biker who had hit the dog ran away, as the dog lay there in the middle of the road, unable to move.

Mr. Tushar Kale lifted up the injured dog and took him to a government veterinary hospital. As they could not offer much help, he brought the dog home and contacted Dr. Amod Kale. Dr. Amod examined the dog, started with basic treatment, and recorded some videos to show me as he thought that the dog’s spine was broken.

The spinal cord appeared to be severely damaged, there was no movement in the dog’s hind legs. The dog was never going to be able to walk normally again, although some effort could be made for improvement, it would take months. I told the duo so.

Mr. Tushar replied: “My mother said she will take care of this dog, whatever happens, because we cannot abandon the dog in such a condition”.

We started some medicines and supplements.

Mr. Tushar’s mother, Mrs. Mangal Kale, although not educated beyond primary school, has a heart of gold, so rare in today’s world. She has taken such excellent care, that the doggy has shown remarkable improvement now, in spite of some complications like a bedsore, which also is healing now.

In a world where many choose to abandon even their parents, where highly educated brothers and sisters fight for properties but not for taking care of parents, this example of a doctor and a middleclass family caring for a stray dog is so reassuring! An example that Gods of humanity still exist and thrive right in this desert of deteriorating civilisation, mothers like this is what the Earth needs most desperately right now!

Thank you, Dr. Amod Kale, Mr. Tushar Kale and Mrs. Magala Kale, for carrying forward the one tradition that differentiates humans from animals: Humanity.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Worse than Death

Worse than Death
(C) Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Doctor, I have started to die. Can you help me somehow?” he asked, calmly.
In his late twenties, a handsome young man, well dressed, but with a certain painful gloom upon his face that was a mismatch to an overall nice and clean appearance. What could this be? I started thinking, hoping he was wrong.

Then his shoulder twitched, and arm had a slight jerk. A pang of suspicion bit my heart immediately. He confirmed it in few seconds. Those who take life for granted are often so full of anxiety, and here he was, who had initiated a countdown to his own death, talking to me in a low but clear voice.
“Doctor, I have been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease over 7 years ago” he said, “Till now I had only these jerky movements. Now I have started having some mood problems and also memory issues. My parents died in an accident when I was three. My uncle’s family cared for me till I could go to a boarding school. I stay alone in a rental apartment, I work in an IT company”.

Examination and review of reports established that his diagnosis was correct. There is no treatment.
This illness of brain degeneration starts with abnormal movements, then causes loss of memory and other cognitive functions, mood swings, depression, finally causing complete immobility and usually death ensues due to blockage of windpipe because of food while swallowing. A patient usually survives less than 13-18 years after the diagnosis. Some commit suicide.

What do I tell someone aged 28 who knows he will definitely die soon?
Yes there are research options and support groups. Yes I can send him to a professional counsellor. Yes I can use some mood stabilising medicines and antidepressants.
But can I emotionally detach from this event as a doctor? (C) Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Diagnose and treat with empathy, educate and move on. Don’t take home the burden of your patient’s illness. Don’t get emotionally involved in your patient’s lives and problems. Never. But is that possible?

Shall I ask him if he has any bucket list of things he wants to once experience, before he forgets who he is? Is there something there that I can help him with? Has he planned anything about his life when he is mentally or physically disabled?

I told him that some medicines can help him, and wrote a prescription. Also referred him to an expert counsellor.

What would I do in such a situation? What is it that I would like to hear from the doctor, knowing the obvious too? What is so important in life when one knows that there are only a few years remaining?

Those who have the luxury of ignorance can laugh and superficially answer. Those who answer immediately have seldom used thinking. Those who are assured of their health have changing answers.
But those who know it?

I decided to ask him. (C) Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Next time he visited, he told me that he has resigned from his job, as he had problems dealing with the responsibility. He could not ride his two wheeler too, he had sold it off.

“I am going to my ancestral village, doctor. A dharamshala (religious sanctuary) has agreed to allow me stay and food, and help me as much as they can. I am also willing to donate my body for research, so at least others don’t suffer this. But I have to finalise yet”.

In India, just as there is no scope for genuine research, there also is complete lack of any infrastructure for the care of such patients.

I decided to ask him what troubled me.
“Is there something you wanted to do?” I could not bring myself to say “before you go”.

He tried to smile. His eyes welled up as he thought about the question.
“Yes, Doctor. I wanted to feel someone loving me madly at least once. In fact I had a girl in my office whom I liked. I think she liked me too. But then my diagnosis was confirmed and I didn’t want her to suffer, so I never told her. I met her before resigning, and told her the truth”.

“Everyone will only degenerate,” he continued, “I am ready to see myself degenerate early. But the one purpose, the one good memory of life that one can wrap himself with when facing the decline, is love. Everything else only reminds of loss”.Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Then, wiping his tears and sobbing, for once, openly, without the restriction of pride, he held my hand, and said, “Thank you doctor for all your help. I came to know just now, that not having loved is what I regret most. It feels worse than death. Even if I had felt true love once, I won’t have regretted this early death”.

He had only echoed what every particle, every corner and every breath of life always reminds us of, while we keep on searching for everything else.
Dr. Rajas Deshpande