Being me and being doctor.

Like every other person, I would like to leave behind my professional-self once I leave my office (yes, I prefer to call hospital as office for professional touch). You may ask why you make a big deal out of it. Well, when I am not playing doctor I want to be myself.

I am a nagging crazy friend, stupid sister, pampered daughter, a never-seem-to-grow-up-kinda-kid and at last just I, me and myself. Despite these, I am serious doctor when it comes to managing patients health condition. I have drawn the line between my personal and professional life. But, it’s seems to fading gradually thanks to relatives, neighbors and so called family friends. These are few situation outside hospital where I am perplexed whether to be my normal self or a doctor.

Relatives asking medical advice:

Well ethically a doctor should not be treating his family or close relatives. Well that doesn’t hold good in India, does it? On an average 3-4 calls per week from my relatives and friends asking treatment for common cold or hemorrhoids or lump in breast. The regular me wants to tell them that the symptoms could suggest anything benign condition to grave conditions like cancer. But, a concerned doctor in me spends an hour or more convincing them to see a doctor in person for better diagnosis and treatment.  Nowadays, my internet savvy relatives come with a list of diagnosis for their complaint and call me up to get clarification that they are not suffering from the gravest conditions in the list. I so want to shove their head in the LAN port and spank their smart ass but a polite doctor in me patiently explains them to ally their anxiety.

Eating out:

By society norms, I am a doctor and I should be very health conscious, eating healthy food and exercising regularly. God!! give me a break, that sounds so saint-ish (this is going to be declared word of the year like ‘Selfie’ someday). I hate those glares and questioning look from my aunts, cousins and some friends every time I order Dominos double cheese burst pizza or butter-naan with paneer-butter-masala. I am like, I have functioning taste buds that need to be satisfied with occasional indulgences, so please excuse me. These kinda reactions have a taken a toll on my craving for high fat diet. Now, I take caution to order dishes with less % of fat to enact as a good Doctor in front of people, who see me more as a doctor than friend or family. But, whenever I advice on cutting calories especially those obese aunts/uncle, they say “This doctor will advice against eating anything and let us starve. LOL”. Seriously! I dont get it.

Not keeping up with my circadian rhythm:

Though a doctor emphasis on importance of eating at right time, early-to-bed-early-to-rise policy and not to be stressed, he/she is the last one to follow these advice. I sleep at odd ours and get up very late when I have a day off, so my eating schedules are equally disrupted and my stress shows up as under eye bags all the time. That is something as normal as pissing for we doctors. But, others blame my lack of regular naps and food intake for my pitiable avatar. I am in position to explain them about the poisoning case I attended the previous night which kept me up till 7 in the morning and I so want to pull my hair. But, I simply smile and say ‘I had a busy and tiring night duty. So, I skipped my breakfast and overslept.’

That moment when I am introduced as A Doctor: 

I don’t know about other doctors how they feel or were made to feel, but there have been times I dread, inwardly, being introduced as a doctor; specially at weddings. Thanks to the extra attention, raised  eyebrows and awkward on the spot marriage proposal of their son/nephew/son-of-a-friend who is a doctor etc, I have received. I do love the extra recognition and respect I get vowing to being a doctor but, that should not stop me from being me right? Recently, I attended a function held in our locality and I bumped into a lady, a family friend, whom I met after few years. I laughed and spoke to her as I used to before with same warmth and affection. Suddenly, she remarked that I have become doctor but I still talk so casually. I was taken aback. I have been a chatter box and I laugh out loud since I am a kid. I know this lady from my school days and she expects me to be serious and talk less just because I am a doctor. This instance made me realize why most doctor choose to be contained- in spite of being jovial with those from medical fraternity- with non-medicos. It in not that they have changed but people expect them to.

Non-Medical friends:

I have more non-medical friends than medical friends who are quite close to me. I have been good at maths, quite good with knowledge about gadgets and keep myself updated with recent technological advances. While discussing with my non-medical friends, especially some tech-related stuff, if I say I am aware of the gadget they will be surprised and ask how do I get time to read  something outside my medical books. I have to remind them that I was into gadgets way before I entered med-school.

First encounter with non-medicos:

Most refrain from dwelling into my medical life but some take all the liberty to dwell into the depth of it. There are certain cliched question which every medical student or doctor is fed up of answering and most FAQ are :

They:Dissecting dead bodies(I want correct them saying ‘Cadaver’ then I stop myself)  must be awful right ?

Me: Aunty(we Indians address any elderly female as aunty), it was only during 1st year. Fainting episodes are highly exaggerated and happen more commonly in movies than in reality.

They: Ayyo look at those huge books. There is so much to study-na ?

Me: These are my medicine books only and the rest are here. *I point at the stack of books filling my shelf*

They: O_0 So, Which specialization are you doing ?

Me:  I am doing MBBS and it is a  Bachelor degree in medicine. Masters and specialization will happen later.

They: Oh, then what specialization you want to do?

Me: Internal Medicine or Pediatrics.

They: You mean Physician??  why don’t you become gynecologist? I will come to you only and it is good for girls too.

Me: (that is why I am not becoming one) No, I am interested in Internal Medicine.

They: You know what my husband’s-brother’s-wife’s-sister’s nephew is doing medical in XYZ medical, in ABC place. He was a topper in his 12th

Me: Oh great.  (I hope his parents don’t badger him to score 90% marks in  MBBS exams and get used to 60’s or even settle for a pass )

They: Finish your exams and become a specialist doctor ASAP. We will come to you for treatment.

Me: I hope you don’t get ill in first place aunty.

These are my testing times and they test my patience the most. Well, there have been countless number of social interactions when I get confused of whether to be myself or a DOCTOR . But, both aspects get so mixed up that I just try to handle such awkward situation without making it more awkward.

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DEDICATED TO ALL Medical Students.

Below is a post I came across on Doctors Hangout. Worth a read:

The arduous journey begins somewhere when we impulsively get hooked on to Biology in spite of being good at Physics, Math and Chemistry. You begin to nurture the dream by juggling hard with P, C, B….
A good CET rank is the first step in the murky, uncertain waters of Medicine. Medical college is like the quick sand that engulfs you and sucks you into an unknown void even before you know what is happening. Deadlier than the most poisonous asphyxiant it squeezes the life out of you by suffocating you with vigorous pressure.
If Anatomy or Biochemistry fails to scare you, Clinical medicine or viva shall surely blow the sail out of your winds. If you thought passing the exams was a relief, wait till the work load of internship consumes you.
If you thought internals and exams caused you loss of sleep wait till the frenzy night duties make you a nocturnal zombie. But the worst frustration begins even before the joy of being a graduate of medicine sinks in.
If you thought you realized your dream of being a doctor and you deserve adulation, you will realize only after being hurt incessantly by pestering relatives that a MBBS degree is like a baby babble, a toddlers first step- nobody listens to you and you are still not strong enough to stand on your own feet.
You’ll soon realize that the world doesn’t care about your self-esteem of being a MBBS doctor when every tom, dick and harry that is unworthy of a simple degree tells you that only MBBS is useless; Or when unrelated strangers ask you ’when will you do MD?’
The first sign of frustration sets in when you realize that all your strenuous and perseverant efforts all these years haven’t been able to get you respect, lucre, position and glamour-the things you had long since attached with being a doctor.
Seeing your nerdy seniors struggling with various entrances, their various agendas, and methods of preparation and numerous coaching classes that treat you like a nursery student, you now get really scared of the long journey ahead.
Peer pressure makes you believe getting a PG seat is all that matters. If you can sustain the combined efforts of frustration and stagnation to subdue you and show resilience with each failure you may succeed in getting a PG seat after at least a year of intense struggle.
The hectic schedule, the lack of a social life, continuous subservience to seniors and professors, coordinating between two hotheaded consultants and over-burdening academics takes away the charm of long cherished PG life. If you learn to pull yourself smoothly out of tricky situations and maintain good rapport with your HOD and books simultaneously, you may pass your final exam without any hassle. No, the life is not settled yet.
You just sailed through one of the rough tides of this turbulent sea. The politics in professional practice, the cut-throat competition, the bickering and back-stabbing show you the ugly face of your profession. Although appointed as a consultant, even now you are just a kid that recently graduated from boyhood.
After all these struggles you now realize people seek experience. And now you wait for your hair to turn grey if the life’s friction hasn’t bleached them already. But even in this demoralizing list of endless struggles, if you are a good and humane doctor, once in a while you will encounter a situation that erases all your frustrations in a moment; that eases out all your tensions for a moment; that makes you feel worthy of your life full of struggles.
That is the momentous occasion when a patient who presented in a critical state and was revived back to normalcy thanks you profusely and says with folded hands and teary eyes “you are a veritable god for me”. The contentment you feel within is probably more worthy than anything money could buy !
Thank you God for making me a doctor !!
— Dr. Subrahmanyam Karuturi