Monday, December 29, 2014

Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation

So I continue to be amazed by the responses I get from the bunch of students I am trying (mostly unsuccessfully) as it turns out to teach the basics of surgery. So this happened last week

Student: Sirrrrr (in a loud panic stricken voice)…this patient is bleeding.

Me : hmmmm, ok, when you cut into  human flesh with a sharp pointy thingy, you expect to see a little blood missy, you should only call me when you see no blood coming out when you cut in, then I will come running with a crucifix or stake.

Student : Blank Look

Me…Should can the vampire/zombie references, poor students musta been studying so hard they don’t watch twilight or go Goa gone.

And again this happened this week.

Student : Sir how can I treat this patient, he is already very sick.

Me : Ok then we should chase away the sick patients and treat healthy people only. Why don’t you go out into the corridor and drag in one of the patients attenders, they should be healthy enough for you to treat.

Student : Blank Look

Me : Sarcasm is so lost on this modern generation.

End result is I realize that they would rather do anything, cook up any excuse just to get out of seeing a patient that they have have been allotted to treat and would instead prefer treating only those patients they find interesting or easy to manage. But how will they ever learn if they don’t tackle the difficult patients now with us there to guide them and prevent any mishaps? Or maybe I am too severe on them and expect higher standards than they are used to? Beats me.

P.s. Just wondering if its true about what they say- that those who cant do, teach. Maybe I am the opposite type, can do but cant teach?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Eulogy To My four Legged Friend

A Eulogy To My four Legged Friend

So my friend died yesterday and I never even knew its name. Yes, you guessed right. My friend, who died so suddenly, pushing me into shock, was of the four legged variety. He was a stray, an abandoned mutt who made our street his own. We made friends by being the only two persons who walked about that street at all times of the day. The other residents usually saw the street from behind the tinted windows of their cars. Only I and the dog I mentally labeled as that brown mutt were the two souls to regularly walk those streets. Me, I did it for my health and to try and lose a few grams after gorging on kilos of food. He, well I guess he walked just for the sheer joy of giving me company. In fact he didn’t walk, walking is such an inadequate term to describe what he did- he usually gamboled along joyfully, sometimes in front of me, sometime behind me pausing to investigate every interesting thing in the road but usually managing to catch up with me even if I took a turn into a neighboring street while he was busy with his detective duties. With a whoosh he would go past me, then stop turn around and give me that look accusing me of not waiting up for hi patiently while he was a bit busy. I don’t remember when he attached himself to my person like this, I don’t remember how it all started, but for some time now I have developed the habit of going out to walk with a mandatory biscuit packet (tiger biscuits only- for so odd reason I could never find out) for my walking companion to give at the end of our walk. He would accompany me till the end of our gate, happily wolf down the biscuits and scamper off to sleep at his usual place below the street lamp right in the middle of the road. He was the boss. He owned the street and he was never shy of letting others know about it- humans or animals. There were many people on the street who didn’t like him and one or two even tried to pick a fight with me for feeding a starving stray animal. They wanted him to be destroyed by the authorities. Someone even phoned up the governmental dog catchers to have him caught and electrocuted like a criminal, but he was wiser than they thought and somehow escaped his fate that day. There were also a few who puzzled over how I had the guts to approach him and spend time with him (even pet him on the head) when he was such a stinking sorry mess. To those I replied that love knows no stench. And I meant that. 

As time went by I even had to force myself to go for a walk on days when I didn’t feel like doing so (lazy bugger I am) because I knew he was waiting for me and would starve if I didn’t feed him those biscuits. He became my responsibility weighing on my conscience even if he never stuck to me beyond those times when we went for a walk. In fact, the clothes-ironer opposite our house told me once that I was the only person he allowed near to touch, to pat him on the head while he barked the hell of anyone who tried to get near him. I must say I was both pleased and exasperated by this unlooked for privilege. Then last evening I went out on my regular round and he was missing. I asked around at the clothes ironing shop and learnt that my friend was lying dead inside the garbage unit at the end of the street. The ironing man hinted that someone had poisoned him. In fact he more than hinted and accused the person who lied in the house opposite the street lamp as the one who did it to off the dog as the dog spent all its time lying in front of their gate, even if it was on the street. If so, I couldn’t help thinking it’s the worst possible of all crimes. Poisoning someone who is just trying to satisfy their hunger cravings, poisoning someone who trusts you. Such a kind of cold blooded killing shook me to the marrow. I wanted to go over and fight but what could I say? Who would support me for fighting over an abandoned stray dog that lived on the streets? Anyway I had more important things to do; I rushed home, changed, took some money and a sack and went to the body. I retrieved my friend’s corpse and took it to the nearest burial ground where I paid to have him buried. I shed a few tears standing there and promised to come back with a sapling to plant over his grave and came home. And that night I couldn’t sleep much because I was thinking of four legged creatures who were gentlemen and two legged creatures that are monsters. This world is indeed a scary place if people can use others trust to murder them with food. And such monsters walk among us dressed decently and pretending to be persons.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Déjà- You? Based On A True Story.

Déjà- You? Based On A True Story.

And so this happened a few minutes ago.

Standing alone at one (hidden) corner of a rocking anniversary party of a famous institution, my seventh sense alerts me to someone else standing alone in an opposite corner. The sight of a well endowed backside encased in a tight and short mini skirt drags me over almost involuntarily and so I sidle up there to strike up a conversation. And as she turns over to face me, it’s a déjà vu moment…

Me: Hi, you look familiar. Have I dated you before?

She: Uh, no…I am a famous actress. My name is Ca….....

Me: Really? Famous uh? Sorry I don’t remember you …

And I carefully sidle out of there.

P.S. If it looks like an ex, talks like an ex, it probably is an ex and a sign for you to make a fast ex-it….

End of story

Moral of the story:  If you keep dating enough women, you are bound to forget one or two as time passes and start asking them out again. Its just age related senility and loss of memory- no insult meant to the ladies.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Fat Shaming And Scare-Mongering

Fat Shaming And Scare-Mongering

So the other day I was on a visit to a friend working at a large (lets leave it unnamed) famous corporate hospital where I was waiting in the reception while my friend was busy with a patient in one of the consultation rooms – professional courtesy requiring that you did not disturb a man who is busy earning his living and just by happenstance I managed to overhear what seemed to be a doctor couple counseling a patient in one of the adjacent consult rooms – telling him candid stuff like “you are too over weight, don’t you know that obesity kills?” and such stuff. While I waited for the hither though unseen patient to exit out of the consult room curious as I was to see such a morbidly obese patient on the verge of getting a coronary, I was shocked to see a pretty normal looking guy in his mid thirties with a mild paunch walk out of that room with a dazed expression clutching a bunch of sheets full of tests to be taken. I was shocked to say the least and I couldn’t wait to discuss this with my friend in the privacy of his consult room. But he was largely dismissive of my concerns with “it’s just the practice around here to get people to sign up for regular screening programs”. By then I was seriously wondering whether I too should sign up for one of their screening programs since I was way too over weight compared to the guy who had just come out of the adjacent cubicle. In fact if I had even accidentally popped my head into the other consult room- the doc’s there would have taken one look at me and immediately admitted me into the ICU for a heart surgery. I guess I am just exaggerating here or maybe not.

The thing is, ever since- for the last six months or so- I moved out of doing cosmetic surgery and into working with a surgical oncology group doing facial reconstruction for cancer patients I have achieved a far better perspective of life and my profession than what I used to believe in my younger days. Treating real patients with real diseases- life threatening diseases made me realize the kind of stress I was dealing with in my past practice- suppressing it with sweet words directed at clients who were never satisfied and always wanted more –even if they (or their husbands/parents) were paying for it through their noses. I feel such mental relief that I don’t have to think anymore naughty thoughts about paying clients like “madamji,  all that botoxing and firming of your upper back and arms to fit you into that sleevless, backless, strapless dress is still not going to change the bitch you are basically”. I wish I had never thought of such things but once the thoughts came in I wish I could have detoxed them earlier from my consciousness. Pardon if I sound like an asshole but I am, again, detoxing here.

Anyway to get back to the topic in question- dealing with death, real death row patients just living out their lives raises uncomfortable questions in my mind about the practice of the medical profession to use scare mongering and even death mongering to make a living. Haven’t we all – basically all doctors including me, been guilty of saying at some point or the other of “oh, you are over weight? You are obese? You have diabetes? You have hypertension (high BP)? You are going to die- you are going to have an heart attack you are going to have a stroke or you are going to have a so-and-so” just to get a patient to agree to some test or treatment which we feel that they may hesitate to commit to? Even though we may justify it as being in the patients best interests surely we alone know the truth if it really was for the benefit of the patient or if it was a tight month with a lot of unpaid bills piling up for us. I am not pointing fingers but just throwing up some hard truths here.

Besides, the worst culprits in such scenarios are not even the doctors themselves who know when not to talk too much but the support staff - especially in the corporate hospitals who prime the patients with fear before unleashing the doctor on the frightened patients. Naturally people who cannot make the distinction between causal and casual take association studies seriously enough to believe that they are going to die soon and hence sign up for whatever unwanted treatment fads the corporate hospital is pushing currently. At least when I was practicing cosmetic treatments the most I could do was appeal to people’s vanity “I can make you look as young as your daughter, madam, so that on her wedding night people will wonder who the actual bride is” and such marketing spiels. But people who throw words like heart attacks, strokes and deaths so casually frighten even me into believing that a little bit of weight around the waist and you are a walking corpse who doesn’t know it yet. Seriously dudes (fellow docs?) do we have to resort to this level to make a living? Why don’t we tell those corporate receptionist/front office types where they get off and stop scaring our patients? After all the real judge of people’s lives are they themselves and if they do feel they don’t mind, who are we to predict death for them?  After all we live in India- a place where death is a constant companion- your building may collapse on your head any day you sit relaxed at home, a rich young brat may plough his jaguar into you any minute on the road and even the police may do an encounter death on you if they don’t find anyone else to fill their caseloads by the end of the month- shit happens in India naturally so why add to it by scaring people?

All I am saying is lets advice and counsel our patients to our hearts content but lets do it in a postive way stressing on the benefits of healthy living and being fit. Lets not use the threat of impending death to make patients take notice/care oftheir own health. After all if it for their benefit shouldn’t they invest in it? As someone once said, the truth shall let you free- so lets all tell the truth and hope our patients take care of themselves because they want to and not because they are afraid. Lets trust our patients to make the right decision for themselves, ok?