Tag Archives: doctor’s diary

Point of View (P.O.V) #shortstory

I couldn’t believe it, I was living a nightmare. 

Was it fair? All this talk about mental health but what about us? Our mental health? We, who are constantly surrounded by sickness and death, who work our asses off trying to save others, who don’t have a life. 

“Then why do you do it?” pops the inevitable rejoinder. 

“Why did I do it?” I’ve actually asked myself this question several times. And each time the answer is the same. Because I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.  Sounds cheesy but it is true. 

I cried when I saw that miserable creature. It is not easy for me to break down because of the wall I’d built around myself but I couldn’t help it that night. Her body was tattooed with horrendous scars. She was a heroin addict who had been in recovery but the pandemic had made her relapse. She had lost her job and her house. She flinched at the slightest touch. Her body was dotted with pockets of pus where she had injected herself. She asked me not to judge her. I didn’t. I wept instead before steeling myself and moving on to my next patient. 

Work, work, work. No chance to get a snack, even to pee. Phone going off constantly. What I wouldn’t have given for a five minute break. But no. Keep going, I told myself. Just keep a couple more hours then I can have a break- a break of three whole days. 

I’m done finally. I get to go home and then the fatigue hits. Music helps. I drive on autopilot, the route is imprinted in my subconsciousness and the sun is directly in my eyes. I feel discombobulated. I turn up the volume. Oh no, I drove through a red light. The streets are empty though, it is the weekend and everyone is sleeping in, while I… 

I hear that voice, that magical voice. His voice. My serotonin. What keeps me going. I’m okay, I tell myself.

I make it in one piece. Three dizzy flights of stairs then I stumble into my apartment.  I’m greeted by the drooping fronds of my fern, my faithful companion of five years, ever since I’d moved in. I dump a whole jug of water in it. No way was I going to let anyone die on my shift, human or plant. 

I open the refrigerator. Nothing looked remotely appealing, anyhow I didn’t have the energy to heat anything up. I just needed sleep. Just a few hours then I’d be fine. I took a shower (it’s a must, I could skip food but not a shower) then passed out on the cold bed. 

I was choking, fighting for air, struggling against this heavy weight pressing on my chest. Help!!

I sit up with a start. 

“You okay? You were screaming,” mutters a low husky and very familiar voice. 

“Whaaa ..” my chest was pounding. No.. no it wasn’t.. isn’t.  I blinked and kept blinking. He laughed– his trademark soft rumble that made me love him so much more. 

It’s him. The man in my dreams. I raise a trembling hand to his beautiful face. I can feel his skin. It is soft, silky; his honey eyes droopy with sleep and he is smiling. 

“I.. are you… ?” 

“Yes, I am,” he nods. “Remember we met at that party last week? The one that you hadn’t planned to go to but your friend forced you to come along? I need to thank her, I haven’t done that yet.”

I still didn’t believe it. “Pinch me,” I said.

“Enough, now just Stfu!” Then he pulled me down and kissed me.

Keepsakes for Old Age

I’m not old, I think. Not yet. But I’m getting there. Everyone is getting there. Maybe I’m a little ahead in the line because I’m thinking about it. About getting old. 

Am I sad? Not really. Maybe, just a little disappointed. Because I really didn’t have much of a youth. Because I spent most of it preparing for the future– for getting old. 

I don’t think I’m old because I’m still a productive member of society. People still seek my opinion and try to take it seriously (I hope). My opinion still counts for something. I’m not just someone to be tolerated. But then what is ‘old’? It is a state of mind. There are people who are old in their youth and others who are young when they are old. 

I think I’m at the best time of my life. There is still a skip in my step and I’m not preoccupied with the condition of my joints. I still get excited to see new things, experience new places.

I don’t have any regrets. I’ve dealt with them all. In fact, I’ve dealt with them so well I don’t even recall what they were.  My desires are limited to traveling, reading, assimilating new ideas, and perhaps guiding others to live a better, more informed life. I’ve reconciled with my ambitions and disappointments.

But a day will come when I won’t matter any more; my opinions will be just that–opinions. So, I’m collecting keepsakes. Little memories– that’ll keep me company and help me pass the time. It could be anything– like the flavor of something delicious– from a long time ago–that perhaps I’d never get the chance to taste again. It could be a bird call; a chance conversation with a stranger; timeless streets through which I walked and walked but wasn’t afraid of getting lost because I had wonderful company. It could be the brilliant blue of the sky, the soothing silence of the forest, the dust on my shoes as I embarked eagerly on a different trail.

I hope that time will be short. I hope I won’t become bitter. I hope when you think of me it’ll be with a smile.

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.

 

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?

 

 

 

An Unprecedented Time

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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.