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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

Please share unedited

The Babaji Doctors

The Babaji Doctors
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Today’s young doctors of today don’t know anything” the famous Senior Surgeon told her, smiling bitterly, “You have nothing wrong. Go home and take a pain killer, you will be fine tomorrow.”
The next day, at 2 AM in the morning, she was comatose, as my Neurosurgery professor in Mumbai prepared to operate her brain. She was found to have a huge tumor in her middle part of brain, that was about to kill her in few minutes.

This student, a girl aged about 21, came to me with a severe headache and mild imbalance. A senior physician was accompanying her as a local guardian, as her parents were in Mumbai. I had found that she had some warning signs, and told her to go for an urgent MRI. This is a standard protocol for any headache with neurological dysfunction. The accompanying physician told her in front of me “We will go and have a second opinion from the famous senior doctor. He is my friend”. I was not offended at all, this is the right of every patient. A senior doctor would definitely have better experience if not knowledge or specialty training. But I did feel sad about the ease with which this senior physician had underplayed my opinion. That he didn’t understand something did not give him a right to challenge it. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Next morning the girl messaged me that the F.S. doctor had told them “Nothing was wrong, that new doctors advised unnecessary tests, told her to take a painkiller and go to college next day.’

She went home and rested that night. The headache was a little less by morning, she texted me so. By afternoon, in the college, she started feeling drowsy and had a vomiting. Her local guardian physician asked her to travel to Mumbai to her parents and take rest. On the way to Mumbai by car she became unconscious. Her friend accompanying her called me (the F.S. did not pick up their call). I advised them to immediately contact my Neurosurgery professor in Mumbai for further help. I called him and informed so too. They reached Mumbai late evening. Her MRI showed a large brain tumor that was blocking the flow of fluids around the brain, and causing compression on the lower part of the brain. She was minutes away from death. My professor decided to operate her immediately.

Starting new practice, in the beginning weeks in India after three years of fellowships in Canada, I had far less patients, and more time to spend with each one. Very proud, I was also somewhere pleased by the brilliant competition I faced, and the fact that malicious bitterness was usually a certificate of good work. According to a saying, critics help one thrive. So long as I set my practice standards high and respected them myself, I wasn’t interested in any competition, nor feared any. Silence was the best weapon and I used it freely in many situations especially when refusing to be dragged in low level gossips and backbiting, not uncommon even in the medical world. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Say what you must. Make your point twice and move on. Don’t argue, because then you presume everyone is equally intellectual. The greatest rule of all is that truth will prevail.” Dr. Sorab Bhabha, my professor had taught me. I follow that to date, but I fail in the test of tolerance sometimes.

Many times, to impress the patient more than one’s competitor, some doctors resort to quite unfair and unethical means. To cunningly use patient’s dissatisfaction, reluctance and doubt about medical expenses and to say ‘immediately pleasing and gratifying’ things to make the patient happy is an art which some (senior and junior) doctors wisely incorporate into their practice.
“Don’t do surgery that the other doctor advised you, Those tests were all unnecessary, We will take a second opinion because I am not sure about this doctor, etc.” are the common tricks used. This gets them the instant faith of the unsuspecting frightened patient. This can then be gradually used to drive home the same advise as of the first doctor, but in different words that please the patient. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

I am not against unnecessary sweet talking, although I don’t want to ever do that. Most doctors of my generation don’t believe in it. The patient must be told the truth compassionately, in the least hurting, non-frightening way, and any queries / doubts that may arise should be realistically addressed. Patients should be told the good and bad of every treatment option, and they should be encouraged to make informed decisions.

A doctor is a scientific, intellectual and compassionate service provider, and should refrain from being a pleasing-gratifying, patronizing or clownish entertainer at the cost of patient’s health by making compromised healthcare decisions, just to keep his/ her “Famous and beloved” status.

Some doctors also think of patients as their “personal property” and when they refer such patients to the specialist, they send a list of instructions and interfere with the specialist’s planned strategy. Some admit under their care patients who do not belong to their own specialty, then pay a good specialist for the correct diagnosis, and then google-treat the patients from standard treatment protocol sites (harmful, because the same treatment protocols do not apply to each patient). This unhealthy practice, mainly based on referral / cuts, will hopefully reduce with laws against cut practice.

Any intellectual will understand this: that with the vast expanse of medical field and research, no doctor can claim to “know it all”. One can only be proficient in one’s own specialty. Where a specialist is not available, or in emergency (this is the term most misused in such cases) one can use the best of one’s knowledge to treat the patient. Unfortunately, India is full of illiterate and poor (and also educated paranoid) patients who will only believe what is most financially suitable to them, will easily fall prey to the magical sweet talking abilities of a doctor, and blindly follow what is told, without ever knowing right or wrong. That is the reason of a rise in the “Babaji Doctors” in this country with so many Godmen in almost all religions! © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

These medical equivalents of “Baba”s will have a benevolent smile, talk very reassuringly, speak only what the patients like to hear, and wisely try to convey that they know better than any other doctor, even the best specialists who have had excellent training in very specialized areas. Quite fortunately, younger generation patients are far wiser than to be affected by these pseudos: sweet talking without a reason is an immediate turn off for most intellectual young.

The hierarchy of education, qualification and specialised training is always superior to the hierarchy of experience. An MBBS passed out 50 years ago cannot be better than a MD passing out today. The ones with higher qualifications and training, even if far younger / junior, must be treated as above one’s expertise in their respective field. Yes, if the degrees and training are equal, then experience matters. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“ I don’t agree with your diagnosis, I don’t think that this patient has Parkinson’s disease” a senior surgeon once told me in front of a patient he had referred.
I know no one can be perfect, and I can be wrong. But I also know who is qualified to say that I am wrong.
“With all due respect, Sir, you are not qualified to comment in this specialty, just as I cannot challenge your diagnosis in yours” I replied. Age that does not match its behavior need not intimidate me, especially where a patient’s diagnosis is concerned. A doctor’s first duty is to tell the truth to his patient, and a part of that truth is what the doctor does not understand.

Pretending expertise in medicine may be fatal for a patient, no true blooded doctor can accept that.

As for the girl who was operated that midnight, she is now married and has two kids. She called a few months later to tell me she was doing well.

I continue to meet patients every other day, who have visited the F.S. doc, and tell me how he told everyone else was wrong.
Unfortunately, the only treatment in such cases is awareness.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

PS: Most doctors follow the ethics of not criticizing other doctors, which is required by the Medical Council. However only very few senior doctors have a heart big enough to welcome competition. This causes immense difficulty to the newer generations of specialists. Hence this article.
Please share unedited.

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

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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A Medical Lesson That Still Hurts

A Medical Lesson That Still Hurts
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Can’t you see I am with a patient? We can talk later. Or may be tomorrow” snapped my lecturer at Pallavi.

Pallavi was 26, had epilepsy herself, but used to sit in our OPD to help other epilepsy patients. She came from her home by local train, travelling over two hours, and went back after OPD to attend her father. She was on many medicines to control her fits and depression, still used to have frequent fits. An epilepsy surgery was not possible, my professor and lecturer who were her caretakers had explored almost every avenue for her. Some unfortunate patients do not respond well.

Obviously she could not get a job and sitting at home worsened her depression. She was quite good looking and kind. However, her father was bedridden with a paralysis attack, and had many problems, even bedsores. That stress made Pallavi cranky and always worried. With no source of income, she was dependent upon help from the staff at our municipal hospital. As she was too proud to accept money without working, my professor had eased her ego by requesting her to help other patients: OPD paperwork, forms, getting medicines, patient education and restrictions etc.

She would either consult us resident doctors or our teachers if there was anything wrong with her or her father. Sometimes her anxiety was too much to deal with, she often asked repeated questions. Some epilepsy and psychiatry patients have worst symptoms around menses, and even get combative.
Most government and corporation hospitals have a never ending line of patients. In that rush it became impossible to answer her repeated questions patiently, and someone or other usually had to either snap at her or prescribe her an anxiolytic. Sometimes being too kind or available results in more attention seeking.

“See if Pallavi is OK” my lecturer told me after a few minutes.

Sulking, Pallavi had gone to the pantry near OPD and sat alone. During our tea break myself and my colleague Dr. Sachin went there too. My thesis / dissertation submission was in final stages, where everything about it seems so pointless and meaningless. I had to submit it within two weeks. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Tea, Pallavi?” we asked her as she sat in the corner.
“No, Doctor. I’ve had it. Thank you” she said. We drank our tea in an invaluable silence.

She suddenly said: “Doctor, my father has started continuously calling me names. He uses very bad language. My headache becomes unbearable when he starts shouting.” She became tearful.
While having tea, I wrote her prescriptions for herself and her father too.
“Doctor, I want to talk” she said, “I need to sort out things in my life” she said.
“Pallavi, the OPD is still heavy, we will talk after lunch, ok?” I replied. It was 3 PM already. We finished tea and returned to the OPD.

A few minutes later, I heard her crying in my teacher’s cabin. “You must learn to be patient” my teacher was trying to pacify her while attending other patients who kept angrily rushing in, demanding their own time. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Pallavi got a call from home and left the OPD before it was over.
I went straight to the printer after OPD for the final corrections of my dissertation.

That evening we got the news that Pallavi had fallen off a local train, killing herself. No one knew if it was a suicide.

I have never been able to overcome that till now. What if I would have spent few more minutes, talked her in kinder words, pacified her better?

I learnt one of the most important and precious lessons that every doctor learns eventually: There’s no afterwards. Answer the patient in front of you NOW. Never deny time to one in genuine trouble. A minute of a doctor’s patience can save lives.

This became clearer later, this is true about everyone, not only doctors or patients; no one ever knows which one is the last meeting between any two. Now I make sure to only part with a proper goodbye, a smile and no bad feelings: apologise if I am wrong, forgive if the other one is. Some say that feels too formal, some think it is a way to impress others, or being excessively unnecessarily mannerful. But I know what I mean. There are no guarantees in life: about myself at least. Every goodbye is potentially final.

Patients never seem to stop. Everyone is in their own hurry, tired, pissed off . The doctor is the common point of venting problems, frustrations and also anger. Most doctors acquire the saintly art of not losing patience, raising voice in the worst of situations, but it is at the cost of being inhuman to themselves. To spend 12-16 hours every day (18-20 in case of resident doctors) among the angry, suffering and accusative without losing patience is not a joke. This is one reason why patients see irate/ less interactive doctors commonly and misinterpret it as “ego / pride / snobbishness” etc.

That said, since that incidence in our OPD, I do not refuse any question from any patient in front of me. I do not end the consultation unless I have answered their last question or the patient starts taking advantage by asking repeat or unnecessary questios.

Pallavi, I feel very sorry.
Patient First, Patience Highest, Always, for Every Doctor.
Thank you for the lesson.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Real Story. Identities masked. Please Feel Free To Share Unedited.

The Extraordinary Winner

ptjThe Extraordinary Winner
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
If stories like this do not change your life, nothing will.
He was born to a poor farmer couple in a small backward village. He attended school in the morning, came home by noon, and carried lunch for his parents to the farm, where he stayed to work with them till the evening. People and friends asked him to give up school, as they thought a certain basic education was enough to be a farmer.
Dr. P. T. Jamdade had other plans. And most importantly, confidence about himself. He preferred to win over the situation.
He secured admission in medical college with great hard work and merit. After MBBS he chose surgery for specialisation. “All along I wanted to be a surgeon, I knew I would do best justice to my life by becoming a surgeon. I am glad I made the right choice of following my heart” he says.
He went on to become the Dean of the Government Medical College at Nanded, and after a while decided that he felt better with his surgical work rather than administration, hence continued to develop one of the best laparoscopic surgery units at the same institute.
I was posted under him many years ago: both as an intern, and later as an assistant surgeon. He taught me basic skills like different types of stitches, intubation, dressing, venesection and many other techniques.
Always ready and willing 24/7 to attend a patient, he was extremely strict, and I was scared of him. But he was equally loving, and taught me many surgical skills that helped me become a better doctor.
During the infamous riots in December 1992, I was posted with him, and I remember how he and two other surgeons kept on operating for over three days continuously, saving many lives from both warring religions. This found a mention in a chapter in my book “The Doctor Gene” too.
I was honoured today when he came over to bless me. Good teachers elevate your life every time they meet you. After we talked about some dark phases in my past, he got up and hugged me.
“What happened does not matter. Where you are is all that matters.” He said.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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.
Please share unedited.

“Eureka”

photo-09-09-16-12-12-22© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Half day OPD today. Diwali morning. Busy busy rush.

Push ups. Weights. 30 minutes on treadmill at 7 Kmph. Feel the rushing blood. Check out a muscle or two in the bedroom mirror. Count the packs in certain position. Feel the pride of this sweat too.

For some curious reason, take your smartphone to the shower. Not only because you are a doctor, but plain simple addiction. The idiotic fear that the world will stop functioning without your supervision. It doesn’t. Or does it?

Enter the steamy hot shower feeling like a superman. Start philosophical excursions in your mind finding simplest solutions to everything. Under shower meditation is the supreme spiritual ritual of the day. Not because ‘the world cannot see your tears’, but because the world is altogether absent here in the shower.

This new shampoo is great, just takes some more time. Wait.

The phone rings. I will not pick up. I will just see who it is.

Oh my God!

It’s that Professor of mine, known for never calling anyone, never socialising, and in general being a “limited edition”, generally sarcastic. If I do not pick up his call, he won’t call again, and probably will never pick up my call again. Doctors have bombastic egos, the senior the more. He is over 80 now, and still studies a lot. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Pick up the phone. (Thank you Apple for making it waterproof). Come out in the bedroom dripping.

“Good Morning Sir!”

“It’s nearly afternoon, Rajas. Good afternoon! Do you have internet access right now?” Prof.

I am always proudly connected.

“Yes Sir”.

“Okay. You had referred a patient to me. It’s about him” he told me the name.

Yes. I had referred him a case I had doubts about. Things were quite odd, I had never seen a neurological condition like that. I just hope it is not something I missed, otherwise Prof. will skin me alive on phone!

“I examined him. I presented him to our Neurological society, and we concluded that this is pretty rare. There are only two such cases diagnosed with such findings till now. One is in 2004, and the other in 2012. Open your net browser, I will tell you the references”.

Wipe hands dry. Open the net. Check the references. “Yes, Sir!”

“He is going to need some more tests to confirm this condition. He cannot afford. I have written a letter for him to show to his employer, they may sponsor. Or we should look into charity. He will come to you, send me all the reports. Then maybe we will report this”. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Yes, Sir”.

“Okay. Bye”.

Thank God there was no skinning! I must complete reading the reference right now! Done.

Standing there, dripping all over, I realised how much I enjoyed the “Fun” in learning, What a feeling! Eureka!

That whole day, my spiky hair may have offended many who met me, and I had no explanation. Most patients graciously forgive their doctors’ weird appearances, sentences and even some spurts of absent minded stupidity, the senior the more.

Once this very Professor was to be the internal examiner for my senior batch, and I was supposed to present him cases to be selected for the final DM Neurology exams. Terror reigned. Our best case was a Huntington’s Disease patient, and I had studied day and night the whole prior week about that and other cases. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

He sat in the ward side room.

Trembling, I called in the patient. The patient walked in about four steps till the examination bed, and sat upon it. It was less than ten seconds that the patient was in the room.

Just before I opened my mouth, Professor said plainly “Huntington’s is too short a case for DM. Keep him in reserve. Get the next case”. I felt like being shot before even entering the battlefield!

This professor was my examiner too, for my DM final exams. His genius was scary, his comments deadly. Just as I came out after the final viva, I received a money order sent by mom. As I stood counting the money outside the exam ward, this Professor came out. Looking at me counting the money, he smiled big. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Already planning a party haan?” he kept his hand upon my shoulder.

Frightened, I explained that it was just a regular money order from home.

“You will need extra money this time” he said and walked away.

My heart turned into a boombox.

My palpitations stopped only when someone told me after two hours that I had topped the exams. The whole world paused in my mind to salute three years of extreme hard work, the run of umpteen sacrifices: that of youth, food, sleep, life, enjoyment, relationships, and everything that is “normal human need”.

Of all the qualities that make a genuine doctor, the Nerdiness is probably the most undervalued one. What a doctor appears to speak or write or decide on the spur of the moment is actually the product of years of study, research and hard work, with umpteen experiences that add to the thinking process. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

It is this same Nerdiness that saves many a doctors from the depression and other mental stresses that their life offers on a daily basis. I love reading my subject at least two hours every night, and I know many doctors who are “lost” in the quest of knowing more and more. All the humanity, compassion, social service, charity, respect and earnings on one side, it is sometimes only this “thirst of knowledge” that makes us forget the umpteen festivals, celebrations and other happy things of life we keep on missing.

Like the soldiers on the border, thousands of doctors spend their Diwalis and Christmases and Eids and Baisakhis in hospitals, tending to the care of the sick and suffering, drinking the poisons of allegations and anger. One sure-shot medicine for this is studying.

For their Festival of Lights is in the service of the suffering, and their celebration is saving life. The fire comes from their quest for knowledge. They burn colourfully to make others smile again!

Happy Diwali to all the Patients, Doctors, Medical Students, Nurses, Paramedical staff, Pharmacists, Medical Representatives, Technicians, Wardboys, Reception and other staff, Mamas, Mausis, Security staff and all those who are connected to the healthcare industry!

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande