I am sitting in the empty operation theatre and pondering over the direction which my life has taken.
Nearly 30 years ago, I joined medicine feeling a sense of pride, knowing that I was doing the right thing. I was meant to be a doctor; I remember wanting to be a doctor, throughout my life, from age 4. My school, college, and undergrad days had 90%studies + 10% fun. There was always a sense of responsibility. There was always a clear sense of direction. I knew how much my parents were sacrificing to pay for the fees. I felt their prayers, their blessings. All they ever wanted was for me to become a good doctor. So my first priority was always my studies.
Undergrad was soon followed by postgrad, where work was high and sleep minimal, I gave it my best shot, in order to gain as much experience as possible. During the training, I slept on mattresses filled with bed bugs, food was pathetic in the canteen, lunch and dinner timings were unknown. I was lucky if I got to either one. I don’t remember having a personal life on those days, just work and home. After the 48 hours on-call days, going home was a bliss, but I used to be so damn tired. I remember sleeping in the bus, till I reached my stop. The driver and the bus employees soon got to know me, and they were kind enough to wake me up, closer to home.
The years sped by. I only remember working, giving 100% to all my patients. I don’t remember, even a single episode when I have not stayed back at the hospital till the patient recovered from all the complications. I have spent 20 years of my life as a free lancing anaesthesiologist, never ever worried about my financial stability. My policy was always, (I still follow it) do good to patients, at all costs, the rest would follow. I believed, good always follows good. Till I came face to face with the reality of the situation…
Now violence is prevalent at every nook and crany of a doctor’s life. Doctors get threatening calls, they are exhorted for money by hooligans and politicians alike. If the patient dies of complications, then the nursing home or hospital is vandalised, doctors are beaten black and blue. Female doctors are threatened with rape. Power-makers are unsympathetic to our condition and our fear. The police do not think twice to arrest us just on a complaint of an unknown relative of patient. We are given no time to defend ourselves. We are sentenced without a defense, without a chance to put forth our points in the media. Movies, plays, YouTube videos, enjoy their popularity and days of glamor by criticising us.
But all of us are not alike. By generalising and crucifying doctors, am I just paying the price for a few bad ones? Am I just a collateral damage??
With the threat of death, with the threat of violence and abuse, do you think I can give my all to my work? I still have pride in my work, but it comes at a very high price nowadays, it does not give me mental peace anymore.
I have spent nearly three-fourths of my life, in the hallways of the hospital, the operation theatre being my second home. Yet today, it has become the place where I am most scared.
I do know that there are good and bad doctors, just like in any other profession. I have undergone surgery which has been botched up by a doctor. So I really do understand. But to coat all of us in the same color is unfair. To threaten us with violence is unfair. I became a doctor to do good, at the same time, to earn an honest living.
But, now I think, it’s time to move forward. The most noble profession has become ignoble. Whoever or whatever is the root cause of it, I don’t even want to know or debate on.
All I do know is, I can’t work where there is fear, fear for my life, fear for my mental peace. How will I ever be able to save a life in this state?
I think it will soon be the time to bid goodbye to the childhood dream, I worked hard to fulfil it. But now it is just too difficult. So I have to, yet again, take a decision of starting life anew, of looking at life in a different way, of finding something else I would love to do.
Maybe it’s a good thing… But it’s a sad thing too… To bid goodbye to all that I ever wanted to be… To bid goodbye to all that I was… To bid goodbye to all that I thought I would always be…
My first love, my first toy
Doctors are human, it is high time that humanity treated us humanely…
(all pics credit : pixabay)