Category Archives: Doctor’s diaries

Weekend Getaway: The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon. Who hasn’t heard of it? Everyone has. But you need to go there for yourself to realize it’s awesomeness! Grand doesn’t come close to describing it. I’ve been there a few times–still I catch my breath each time I lay eyes on it. Over two billion years of earth layers were cut by the mighty Colorado river and it’s tributaries.

My last trip there a few years ago was my most memorable one. It was part of a school trip– with my daughter and some of her classmates. We stayed in the Grand Canyon village at the South rim for two days and even hiked down the South Kaibab trail— only part of the way (it’s extremely steep and strenous). We also saw a mule train, the once almost extinct California Condor which the largest flying bird in North America with a wingspan reaching 10 ft—brought back by a dedicated captive breeding program.

As I have mentioned before I am inspired by my travels and the places I visit. I try to bring them into my writings whenever I can. You will find some of my experiences of the Grand Canyon in my books– Inconvenient Relations and its sequel- Now and Forever. You can check them out here.

 

HealthWise: COVID 19 Overview

Coronavirus Disease 2019 Rotator Graphic for af.mil.

Disclaimer: This is a general overview of COVID 19. A lot of the information is evolving therefore kindly refer to the CDC or your country’s public health agency. 

I am a practising physician, an Internist and hospitalist working in the USA and this is my small attempt to raise awareness about this virus.

What is COVID 19 or SARs COV 2?

COVID 19 or SARs COV 2 is the virus (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2)  which is responsible for the pandemic across the world. It originated from Wuhan, China. We first learned about it when a cluster of cases with severe pneumonia was reported around New Year’s Eve 2019. 

Some facts: As of today:–

World over 12.9 million cases and over 571 thousand deaths. 

Equally important! Over 7 million recoveries!

US: over 3.3 million cases; 137,000 deaths and over 980,000 recoveries. Curve going up again. 

India: over 878,000 cases. Over 23000 deaths 553,000 recovered- cases still rising

UK: 290, 000 cases. Over 44800 deaths. 

China 85,522 cases. Reported Deaths: below 5K 

Italy: 243,000 cases Deaths: 34,954 and 1.9 million recovered. Less than 300 cases are being reported everyday now. Lockdown worked!

Spain: 254,000 cases. Deaths 28,403. 150K recoveries. 

South Korea: 13,479 cases. 289 deaths. 12,204 recoveries. Over 90% recovery rate!

Japan: 21,500 cases.. Below 700 deaths.

Hongkong: 1522 cases. 8 deaths. 1217 recovered! 

One death is too many. Yet it is important to know that most people who get the infection recover. 

Overall death rate is probably less than 1% (as many cases are asymptomatic and undiagnosed). It’s also important to keep in mind that this rate is considerably higher in the at risk population. 

The mortality (death) rate in India is much lower than other countries – (why?- unaccounted deaths (doubt), underlying resistance/immunity which ‘protects’ against severe illness?)

Besides the above the cost of the infection has been much higher- people have lost their livelihoods, their jobs and businesses have been shut down- some permanently. It has also had a huge mental health cost– such as isolation, lack of contact with your loved ones and dying alone from the disease. 

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The Fickle Mind

the mind is a strange thing it can be brilliant and irrational Often generating senseless chatter Don't take to heart Ignore it.

 

The mind is at the center of the body. It controls/ influences every organ. Yet, a lot of its workings remain a mystery. How it does or doesn’t control or manipulate our thoughts and emotions. How things long ‘forgotten’ manifest in our subconscious in our dreams and influence our health and behaviour. How we carry our trauma with us like a back breaking burden.

There are many ways to heal- nature, meditation, mindfulness, counseling, etc. But first we have to recognize and be aware that sometimes we are our greatest enemies.

 

A Woman is to be Seen not Heard.

Bust of a woman by Picasso

It may sound cliched yet nothing could be truer. A girl who goes on to become a woman has always learned to lead an inferior life. She has learned to be a perennial serf, who lives in the shadows. Who is seen and not heard. If she speaks– it has to be in soft tones or whispers. She has to align her opinions with those of the society — she has to be uncontroversial, motherly, generous. She has to live for her family and the world at large. She is ‘weak’ thus needs to be protected, yet she is also taken advantage of. Hypocrisy much? 

If she rebels and asserts herself even in the slightest she at once surrounds herself with frowns and draws rebuke and criticism. How dare she? She is labelled a vixen, a mad woman and cast out or burnt at the stake.

Hence since the birth of time (with a few notable exceptions) she has learned to clip her wings, succumb to the pressures, curb her desires, even censor her thoughts. What a tragedy isn’t it?

Do read ‘The Awakening’by Kate Chopin.

Image is of a painting titled Bust of a Woman by Pablo Picasso– Oil with fixed black chalk on canvas. Displayed at Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California.

I Can’t Breathe!

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Three simple words but very powerful. It’s a primal cry of agony and fear. A SOS call transmitting tremendous distress. An urgent appeal for help. Anyone can understand it. Be it in any language. In my profession I hear it all the time and I leave everything and run (literally). I try to alleviate and ease (if not remedy) at least make the situation better.

I can’t get why anyone wouldn’t. There must be a reason.

Is it ignorance or hate or lack of respect for a fellow human life?

Which begs the question– are some lives less worthy than others?

 

 

 

A Silent Cry for Freedom

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A few summers ago, on a tour to the UK, I happened to be in Edinburgh, spending the evening in a hotel next to the well known zoo. So, in order to kill time, I decided to pay a visit and came across the enclosures with the usual occupants in various states of animation. I went inside the primate enclosure and saw this particular individual sitting in this state, and it made a great impression on me. It was as if I was seeing a human being, an old wise one, pondering on the sad state of life and it almost reduced me to tears. I wish I’d known what he was thinking. Was he contemplating on a happier past?I’m not sure if he was ever free or was born in captivity. 

Now that we are in the midst of the most unusual situation of our lives — when people are rebelling, crying for freedom, even when we are living in our homes and have freedom of movement and the internet do we spare a thought for our fellow sentient beings? What have they done to deserve this awful treatment? That we go to gawk at them, even tease and instigate them. What right do we have to shut these beautiful creatures up in cages so small they can barely move. We jail them like criminals and sometimes even abuse them. I also speak of circus animals. And when they turn around on us we call them rogue– take for example the case of Tilikum, the killer whale, who was captured at the age of two and spent the rest of his life performing at SeaWorld. He was responsible for the death of three people allegedly as a result of psychological trauma he suffered. Please watch (if you haven’t already) the wonderful documentary Blackfish, available on Netflix to know more. It’s an eye opener. 

Fortunately, nobody can enslave humans (at least by law), but slavery of animals continues unchecked and we lack the basic quality of humanity that defines us. 

 

Introducing The Med Bag

 

I’m excited to announce my new blog and website called The Med Bag. It’s a place where people from all walks of life can share their experiences and insights related to the medical field– sort of like medical reality TV but in the magazine form.

Do check it out, share and subscribe. Contributions are welcome! You can also click on the link right above this blog.