Personal blog

The day I saved a life….

Its almost the end of 2017. I had one of my usual brooding moments, introspecting everything I have done and failed to do. Thinking hard about a bucket list I had stashed away.

I jogged my memory to find some adventure that I accomplished. Somehow even river rafting did not quite fit the bill. To be honest I have not travelled much except for education or work. And then it came to me.

So the most exciting and fulfilling thing I ever did was, I saved a life!

I was into my second year of training. Was posted in the cardiac catheterization lab. Routine cardiac stenting was going on. I was hungry and desperately waiting for my lunch break. Thats when I heard the code blue.

As I rushed into one of the suites, a woman in her 40s was on the operating table, gasping for breath. Clearly the procedure was complicated and one of the blood vessel supplying the heart had been punctured. There were no seniors around. As an Anaesthesiologist I immediately stood at the head end. I was terrified. The cardiologists immediately started chest compressions.

I had an adrenaline rush. And being newly ACLS educated, I started what I supposed to do. I supported her with oxygen. After 3 rounds of chest compressions there was very little hope. And then her venous line access came off. We had no way of administering drugs. I decided to take charge. I handed the airway management to one of my colleagues and immediately established an access on her foot.

Once access was in, drugs given and I could intubate her. So she was adequately oxygenated. And meanwhile we got a pulse. So we attached inotropes (medicines to increase heart activity and help maintain blood pressure). Cardiologist decided to shift her to ICU, and on the way she dropped her blood pressure again. I rushed to the foot end and lifted both her legs up. (To increase blood flow to heart). It kind of helped.

We came back and resumed rest of the cases.

A week later I went to the ICU to check on some other patient. And there she was, sitting upright on the bed, having her meal and talking to her son.

It was that moment, one of the greatest moments in my life. I contributed to saving a life. I was part of the team. Nothing can beat that feeling.

Its our job profile. I know. But I feel blessed to be a part of this process.

No matter how many adventures I embark upon in the future, it will always be one of my greatest.

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Residency longus vs brevis ??

Residency should be long enough to be well trained and short enough to keep me sane!

I have transitioned from completing my residency in three intense years to now pursuing fellowship in a country which allows me to be relaxed and put in 48 hours a week. It has been quite contrasting in terms of work pattern and learning experience.

Medical education is not universally standardised. It is tailor made for each country. And hence while it may easier for people working in other fields to move to a different place for work, doctors often have to clear licensing exams to prove that their training so far has been upto acceptable standards.

I am not an expert on residency programmes world wide. Just my personal experience having worked in two different countries.

Residency brevis: short and intense!

Well having completed MD in India, I have been through the standard residency programme. 3 years, no working time limits, alternate day on calls which include straight 36-48 hour shifts, alternate weekends on call.

Pros:

1. Completion of training in 3 years.

2. High volume of cases seen and hands on experience.

3. Variety of cases due to high numbers.

4. Gaining experience to work in acute scenarios.

5. Seen many complications and learned from mistakes.

Cons:

1. Stressful and may affect health.

2. Less time for academics and Research.

3. Personal life is affected.

Residency longus: long and relaxed.

7 year residency programme with structured module based learning. 48 hours a week to be completed which includes on call rota.

Pros:

1. More structured approach to learning.

2. Time well spent of each module.

3. Personal and professional life can coexist!

4. Academics and newer research can be incorporated during training.

Cons:

1. Trainees can leave at the shift end irrespective of whether the case is completed or not.

2. Less number of cases.

3. Too stretched out residency programme.

Personally for me, I would say I loved the 3 years intense period, however I do not miss it! It made me more confident and pliable. Having learnt basics now I can concentrate on refining my skills and techniques.

Which kind of residency program would you like to be trained in?

 

 

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Relative(s) rebellion

My tryst with social norms.

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I have grown up in a fairly modern Indian family. Having completed my medical school and specialist training in India, I moved abroad for further fellowship exams. My parents have been very supportive of my journey so far although my mother does worry about her ‘29 years old single daughter’.

My relatives and friends have always been very concerned about me. Well sometimes their concern overflows!

When you show up for a family event;

1. Everyone is surprised that you were able to make it inspite of your busy schedule. (Other people have jobs too, not just doctors!)

2. You are very pleasently questioned as to what have you contributed in this particular family event eg. cooking, decorations, shopping etc etc

3. Why do you have to go back to work the very next day?

4. The advice: being career oriented is fine, what about family life? Date a nice guy and settle down soon and have lots of kids before your biological clock ticks.

5. You can put in a central line, but can you cook as well?

6. The comparisons. When your cousins are married and well settled. Why can’t you do the same?

When you don’t show up;

1. She is always working. She never has time for the family. No respect.

2. She gives her job way too much importance.

3. She has crossed her ‘marriageable’ age.

4. Her parents are not bothered about her.

I do miss out on family events. I am never updated on family front. But I do try my best to be as involved as possible. Medicine is not about money or just a job to me. Its my passion. I am yet to strike the right balance.

They love you when you are gone, yet hate to see you leave…..

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The good, bad and ugly of medicine!

5133CD42-91A1-43C8-9013-2365FE6586FE.jpegIf only studying and practising medicine was enough to be appreciated for all the hard work and unsocial hours that go into it! Here comes the good, bad and ugly of it.

Well to summarise my journey, graduated medical school and followed it by my dream to specialise further. Too many many options to choose from, however limited by the entrance exams and rank based allocation of specialities. So I settled for my second favourite, Perioperative medicine.

As I entered into a tertiary care centre to start my residency, I met my new colleagues. All brand new medical school graduates. I was so thrilled to be a part of that group. So we go out as a group for dinner and introductions begin. Well if only names and native places were enough! We all had to be introduced as, myself so and so, scored these many marks in entrance exams, chose this speciality and graduated in this specific year. Well to be precise what that introduction meant was, “I am Ms Abc, I am intelligent enough to clear exams on my 1st attempt and smart enough to get into this speciality and that gives me a right to lord over all you less intelligent people”. Cool, isn’t it?

All throughout residency We learnt to prove how our respective specialities are better than others, how we contribute the most to patient care and so how we should earn more than others. And this attitude continues in professional practice as well. I am sure many will agree with me.

And I dared to learn intensive care and as predicted I was shot down by them as well. As if I wasn’t qualified enough to handle emergency patients ( well I specialize in acute perioperative medicine!) I had moments when I doubted myself whether I have turned out to be a good physician.

Eventually I struggled and achieved my dream job. And couldn’t be happier.

There is no good, bad or ugly in medicine. Every person involved in patient care contributes a great deal. Every speciality is designed to deal with specific aspects. We should all learn to respect that.

“Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love for humanity” – Hippocrates.

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Love and Medicine

A baby step towards medicine….

Long day shifts and 5 coffees later here I am reminiscing my journey.

Alright so continuing with my story, so as I mentioned I fell in love. And oh yes! unconditionally and irrevocably (movie love, movie dialogues).

I believed I possessed super powers, a switch in my brain which could be turned on and off. On and go! Study time. Off and  time for romance. It was one of the delusions associated with sweet sixteen.

Turns out doesnt really work that way. I wanted to fly but had to be grounded too. I wanted to have it all.

Exam and my boyfriend moving abroad for studies, both events happening on the same day. So a night before those life changing exams, when the pre meds are cramming, I was visiting my boyfriend for the goodbye hugs and kisses. I don’t remember whether I was feeling guilty or sad. (P.s. the same guy would go on in the future to break my soul)

Moving ahead to the aftermath of both events, I was pinning for my boyfriend the results were declared. I was on the waiting list. 30 percent chances of making it as a first year medical student. It was one of the most uncertain time of my life.

At 17 I was a girl, who couldn’t drive, couldn’t swim, had zero social life, no hobbies, not ever travelled outside hometown, sheltered by parents. And all of these sacrifices were to ‘focus’ on medical school and the chances of getting into one were pretty dim.

However, what’s meant to be will be (couldn’t think of a better phrase!)

After 4 months of being a nomad (college wise) I finally got into medical school. I remember that moment clearly, its like a handsome prince on a white horse coming to escort me to medical school. As if I had fulfilled my purpose in life. As if I had finally discovered Amelia Earhart. But the most happiest was my dad.

Little did I know, what I was stepping into!

To be continued……