Category Archives: Doctor’s Diary

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.

You Will Always be My Mother

 

Our bond transcends Time, Worlds and Space. 

Our relationship doesn’t need a ceremony, or an oath, or witnesses, or a piece of paper.

It doesn’t need a special day, a reminder, or a note on the calendar. 

It doesn’t need talk, work, gifts and or constant reassurances. 

It is there when I need it, and I know it’ll always be there.

I can count on it at any time, I can make demands of it.

I can ask you to lay down everything else for me and you will

Because

I will always be your daughter and you will always be my mother.

Thank you, Mom!

 

An Unprecedented Time

corona-4983567_1920

Okay I get it. This is real. For a while I thought it was a farce; a dystopian narrative like in a movie or a book that are so popular nowadays. Unfortunately, I was wrong. 

I never thought I’d live through a time like this when everyday is worse than the day before and there’s no end in sight, at least not for the foreseeable future. My training never prepared me for this. But fortunately, I’m a rational being and I’m not scared easily. Plus, my work gives me succor because I feel I’m making a difference.

The very nature of my profession (I’m a physician) has taught me to be calm, and do my job. The problem though is the uncertainty. What was ‘the norm’ yesterday is taboo today and who knows what tomorrow will bring. This is a new disease and a new virus. There’s no actual cure though there are multiple potential cocktails being flaunted and used. They haven’t been diligently studied or tested but have brought vital hope. 

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Changes–Excerpt from ‘Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree’

As a physician working in acute care I’ve seen many things that few others have and which are perhaps beyond a lay person’s imagination. Among these are few encounters that are etched in my mind. They have moved me, exposed me to my vulnerability and changed me permanently. I’ve learned so much.

I share a few of those encounters in my upcoming book ‘Under the Shade of The Banyan Tree’. Here’s one of them :–

Changes

Yesterday I met a young man in the hospital. I had seen him before, maybe a few months ago. He had an odd name, a name you don’t expect to forget easily, but I did somehow. I must be getting old, I think.

His name didn’t strike a bell when the ER doc told me about him, but I remembered his face.

“He’s a nice guy;” the ER doc said. “He really is,” he reiterated.

That had me curious. We don’t speak like that often. We physicians are a cynical bunch, you see.

I recognized the young man right away, and it was a shock. He didn’t look at all like he had just a month or so ago. He had shrunk. Literally deflated by several pounds and he had grown a beard to disguise his gaunt face.

He had been a young man in the prime of his life. Big, muscular, strong. Still hopeful and smiling, even after a heart attack at thirty-two. Still hopeful and smoking.

He was still smiling now, but it was a different kind of smile. There was diffidence in it and fear and uncertainty. There was also hope, but it was fading fast. It’s astounding how clearly I perceived it without him having to say a word.

Instinctively, I clasped his hand. It was perhaps the most spontaneous thing I’ve done. It was the best way I could express myself other than crying for this man’s life. That’d be a terrible thing to do.

He had given up smoking after the surgery. Ever since they told him he had cancer. We talked some more. I explained why he was here. The spots in his lungs could be pneumonia.

“Maybe they are,” he said and smiled. He’d become adept at dealing with bad news. He had aged beyond his years in such a short time. My heart wept for him.

White Room

 

The Self Portraits of William Utermohlen

I lie on the bed

They sit around me

These strangers with familiar voices

In the white room

I think we are waiting for something

Or someone

These strangers, they look at me

They mutter words I don’t understand

A man wearing a white coat walks in

He stands next to my bed

He speaks not to me

But to these strangers

They are talking about me I know

But what I don’t understand

Irritated, I kick off the covers

Mother! They chide me and pull them back

 

About the poem: This is a poem about dementia, the hallmark of the disease being loss of memory. I write about a scene I came across during my rounds in the hospital–an elderly lady in the advanced stages of dementia is lying on the bed surrounded by her caring relatives.

About the image: These are a series of self portraits that William Utermohlen, an American artist embarked on after learning he had Alzheimer’s disease.