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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Laws of attraction…

Its been a long long time since my last post.. Got busy with a few presentation and emergency duties…

Well this topic is not very ‘enlightening’!

To begin with the story, I met Sam (not the real name, of course!) when I was working last year. He was senior to me. The day I met him I was blown away. Not by his looks, by his personality, intelligence, style, nature and yes his looks. Sam has that kind of effect on everyone around him.

To me he was a greek god, whom I admired relentlessly. And hello! I am a Leo, headstrong and not so easily impressed! Also I am 29, so not so dreamy about guys. And to top it off I was in a relationship with a guy I love to death.

All my colleagues used to surround him every single day to chat about patients and everything else. And I desperately wanted to be a part of that group. I tried to initial resist the charms, but eventually gave in. People used to often ask me as to why do I blush around him, but then every female did the same. Oh god when he used to walk in the hospital every morning, so radiant, with a big smile on his face. On rounds, he used to teach us and explain all our doubts. He was the only person interested and capable of teaching us. So basically I admired him.

And sadly he left our hospital in 4 months. That was the last I would see of him. We bid him farewell with a heavy heart.

So then it began. We started texting each other. Just normal routine stuff like hospital gossips initially, later our likes dislikes. I didn’t quite realize when I developed an attraction towards him. To be very honest it was more of an intellectual attraction more than physical. I started texting him more often and he reciprocated as well. He began sending me his pictures and I bombarded him with compliments. He did reveal a little bit of his emotional side as well. I was happy to have him talk to me on a daily basis.

And then suddenly it stopped. Like it just came to a halt. I was puzzled. I was too proud to text him and ask. I was too proud to ask an explanation. I tried to forget him. But to be very honest he was stuck in my mind. He was always there in the background.

After a few months he spoke to me on social media, and these thoughts just came all back to me. Why did he stop talking? Why do I have this insane attraction even after 9 months? Why do I obsessively keep checking his social media?

I am not in love with him and I am sure of that. All I need is some closure….

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Doctress in distress

The dating dilemma…..

 

blog pic    Dating disasters! We all have faced a few.

Well this is my perspective of it. Perspective of a 29 years old, female physician, belonging to a moderately conservative family.

When my friends talk about guys there are various categories to pick from. Funny, smart, cute, handsome, intelligent, rich, tall, physique etc etc etc. Permutations and combinations that lead to so many choices.

However I have just three….

  1. Medic
  2. Non medic
  3. Perfect family approved guy

The third type almost never exists. Well many of my female colleagues would agree to this.

So having dated the first two types let me get into details.

The Medic……..

This is the most common type I meet. And would you blame me? Having spent most of my time studying to be a doctor!

Pros:

  • Comfort zone. You always have something to discuss about.
  • Medical advice. You always have someone to discuss cases and seek solutions.
  • Nerds. Well who doesn’t want to spend some nerd time?
  • Compatibility. Working nights and weekends. You do not have to explain these crazy work hours.
  • Confidence. They do not get intimidated by your education or the money you make.
  • Degrees. You can always study and get the extra experience you want to pursue.
  • Love stories. Well spending most of your time working or studying, you are bound to fall in love with someone at medical school or hospitals.

Cons:

  • Familiarity. Work, personal and family somehow gets merged into this endless medical saga. Its all you talk about at times!
  • Egomaniacs: Don’t get me wrong, you may end up finding these fine specimen who put their career above yours and expect you to take a backseat.
  • Debts. Both may have huge medical school debts. It may slow down the settling part.
  • Social life. Well both working shifts, you may end up missing your social outings and fun dates.
  • Medico kids. Hahaha, you may end up wanting your kids to pursue medicine.
  • Long distance. Works well with medics.

The non-medic……..

Pros:

  • Novel: Its outside your comfort zone. Its a fresh twist to the usual drama.
  • Socially better. You tend to make time for dates.
  • Knowledge. You learn a thing or two about his job profile. Something other than diseases!
  • Popularity. Well his friends and family may refer to you as the smart one. (Everyone likes to be praised. Lol.)
  • Family time. He may be able to accommodate family events when you have to work late.

Cons:

  • Availability. Where would you meet these guys if you are always working?
  • Age. Well by the time we are done studying and think of finding ‘the one’, its usually the late 20’s or early 30’s. So we are the older women!
  • Insecurity. You may tend to earn a bit more than you man. Its not always perceived well.
  • Ambitions. Sometimes your zest for education comes across as prioritising career over family.
  • Snob. We are considered uptight. (Never could understand this aspect)

Perfect family approved

Well honestly, I am yet to meet one. But I feel he would be the perfect mix of all the pros from above categories.

P.s. He doesn’t exist!

Well these are just my experiences and thoughts. Just a few things I learnt in my quest for the ‘ONE’.

‘What you seek is seeking you’ – Rumi

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Medical school; my bitter chocolate

Dressed smartly in my new white apron, pride in my heart, head full of hopes and dreams I managed to find my first class.

The anatomy dissection lab. Eight cadavers bathing in formaldehyde, groups of students around each and professors hurdled in a corner. I made my way to the assigned table. Eager to meet the people with whom I would be sharing classes for the rest of the year. Now being from the most happening city in my country, I was astonished to meet these people. Don’t get me wrong! I wasn’t the Lindsay Lohan of my school before, yet I felt like one. I mean these people were from all over the country! Small towns, villages, districts etc etc. It was a realization, maybe a good one, India is not just Bombay but a mix of so many different regions and languages.

Anyway moving on, after the initial shock of having to poke knives into a dead body I faced yet another, ragging. As I was walking back to my hostel, a large group of senior boys surrounded me. “You have attitude problem”, “how dare you wear jeans for classes”, “you think you are special because you live in a city?”, “lets show her how to respect seniors”. Guys, I was 18, a nerd, naïve and terrified to the core. All I could do was cry and run towards my building.

I reached my room all upset and terrified. Far from home. In a new place. Well let me explain the irony. When being the only person in the class to make it into medical school, u suddenly expect things to get better. Well they don’t! My friends pursuing a career in other fields went on to study in London, Melbourne and New York. And where did I land? A small village in a rural district, in the interior parts of my state. Amazing right?

Anyway, as I paced in the hostel corridors on my cell phone talking away my sadness I stumbled upon a door. Just like the one in chronicles of Narnia, it opened to something awesome. Well beyond the door were people with whom I would go on to build the most amazing relationships in my life. My friends. (will talk about them in my later posts).

Like Moses, we all received a few commandments.

  1. No jeans to classes. (salwar kurta with shawl that covered all lady parts).
  2. keep your hair tied up at all times.
  3. Greet your seniors every time you pass by them.
  4. No girl-boy interactions.

Well I cannot remember the entire list, but these were some of the rules.

Weird right? Yeah it took me quite a while to adapt to these. Though it lasted just for 2 months.

Well these were just a few highlights from my first month at school.

So I shall continue some more later…………