Conundrum

Have you met someone you really really admired or respected and then after they said something, you couldn’t get past that?

I experienced that recently. It was quite a turnabout and I couldn’t see that person in any other way.

My obgy teacher was teaching us the basics about obstetrics. It was a fun lecture. He was hilarious and knew how to get our attention in class.

In the middle of the lecture, we were learning about a D and C operation ( it’s used for abortions) when he revealed to us that he works in a Christian missionary and as a general rule they turn away women who want abortions at the gate. He went so far as to tell that he doesn’t believe in doing that procedure and insisted that people should get married if they don’t want children out of wedlock. To his credit, he did say that he supported abortions in case of rape or life threatening cases.

That was it for me. His respect in my eyes took a nose dive and I couldn’t concentrate in the lecture anymore. Nobody around me was affected. I couldn’t understand it. This has never affected me before. Usually all those anti abortion people I see are those for whom I don’t have respect anyways so it never unnerved me.

But this was something out of the blue. This man was a fantastic teacher. I loved the way he explained concepts, an excellent doctor and very polite with patients.

I never realised how strong my stance as a pro choice person was before.

He did say he supported abortions in serious conditions but he still worked in a missionary hospital which didn’t allow him to do any abortions. So was he not fooling himself?  Those hospitals have been known to turn people away unless they are dying. 

In a country where people are uneducated about contraceptives and religious customs forbid them, it’s a boon for the mother. She can in secret have an abortion even though she is pressured by her husband and inlaws.

Refusing her such a service should be a crime. 

And that is why I hate mixing religion with health care services or science for that matter. Because science may change but religion always has to impose it’s laws on people. Many of these religion oriented hospitals have been known to daily force the teachings of their saviour on the patients while they admitted in the hospital.

 Otherwise why would there be any need to announce the religion of the hospital? If you want to pray, then go to a place of worship. Hospitals are not the place for that. Here hard science is taking place and healthcare should be given to all without any restrictions or religious sermons being delivered.

As for my teacher, I realised that what he did was his own choice. I could be angry at him or learn the good things from him and implement them in the future so that atleast I never turn anyone away in the future.

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Needy baby, greedy baby

Some days being in the field of medicine feels a lot like taking care of a big needy baby. 

It doesn’t care what your needs are. It just wants you to pay attention to it and feed it and take care of it.

It’s increasingly beginning to feel like I’m investing my time into a greedy infant who is basically sucking my soul and just takes and takes. Nothing I do can make him stop crying.

Why do I say that? 

Final year of medicine is here. Dun dun dun!!!

It’s been three days since it started and I’m already falling behind. I don’t know how this is possible.

Much like taking care of a baby, I’m thinking constantly about it, have dark circles under my eyes and feel sleep deprived.

Wish this baby would just grow up and leave me alone!!!

Oh doctor! My doctor!

How many of us have heard the phrase “he’s not a good doctor”, “the doctor is so rude”, “he has no bedside manners”

In today’s world we demand so much of our doctors. We expect them to be 

  1. brilliant at diagnosis, 
  2. infallible, 
  3. non judgemental
  4. Kind
  5. Able to hold our hand
  6. Incorruptible
  7. In prime of their health (after all who wants to take health advice from an unhealthy person?)
  8. Neat presentation with no tattoos and flashy haircuts.( Because that’s something only teenagers do right?)

Whew! There’s so much we expect from them never mind the fact that an ideal doctor is yet to be found.

But the biggest thing that irritates people is lack of bed side manners. The lay public can never grasp the true intelligence of a doctor. Only those working with them can assess them fully.Hence these people skills are the only deciding factor used in judging the ability of a doctor.

Often what I find is that the good doctors( as said by people) are not intelligent ones while the ones that are universally acknowledged by their colleagues as genius have very bad manners.

People’s perceptions of what an ideal doctor looks like is far fetched from reality. The truth is people are hypocrites.

They all want a doctor like Gregory House but on encountering him in real life, they rather sue him for misconduct.And I agree, no one wants a doctor like him. He is rude , obnoxious and basically everything not in the list.

So why this there such a big communication gap between people’s expectations and physicians?

The obvious answer would be that those skills are considered secondary. And no matter what people say, the main job of a doctor is and is only diagnosis. In fact medical studies comprises an ocean of knowledge. Doctors spend their youth in chasing that knowledge. There is really no time to learn how to deal with people.

It does not help that even mentors and people they work with daily, do not give this topic much importance. They are sometimes encouraged to act a certain way.

Dealing with patients is an art. It needs to be developed and nutured. Unfortunately when there is no one there to guide you, it can be tricky. I myself being a student have committed many blunders ranging from mistaking the patients mother as her grandmother to asking a patient how she got pregnant as opposed to when did she know she was pregnant ( the poor women was quizzically wondering whether she would have to give me a talk about the birds and bees!)

Most people I know, are drowning in  a pile of studies to bother about refining their manners. Learning some bedside manners does not help you score brownie points with the examiner. 

The solution to this problem at this point requires compromise on both sides.

Patients need to lessen their expectations and doctors need to take a little more effort because sometimes medicine just isn’t enough.

This quote perhaps best summarises my long rambling post. As a future doctor I can only try from now on to stop looking at the disease and instead look at the person as a whole.

And as for the readers, please bear with your doctor. He/she too deserves some kindness in their lives just as you expect from him.

A day of reckoning.

Bright light floods my eyes. My pupils constrict and I raise my arm trying to catch the light source. But suddenly a man’s head block the source. Before I can wonder what he is doing, he shoves his tool inside my mouth and stretches it wide open.

He probes inside me deeper and deeper and surprisingly I don’t do anything about it. I lay back and let him do what he likes. At the end he finishes, retracts his tool and whispers in my ear, it’s all over now. I lay back with relief, glad that it’s over.

Hold your horses people! And the dirty minded people in  the audience, stop smirking! 

I was at the dentist! Getting a root canal done. The shame that has befallen my family! My parents who have both been given the perfect specimen of pearly whites, choose to pass on the best to me. And what did i do? Spoil it rotten with sweets and chocolates and what not.

Nothing is more of a wake up call than your teeth falling apart. Going to the dentist is something I hate and even more so when I saw the bill.

My parents haven’t stopped giving me shameful looks since I returned from the dentist. They have never needed a root canal but sadly their daughter at the mere age of 21 does. 

After giving an apology that mostly consisted of the words teeth, brushing and sorry, I hope I don’t have another appointment with strange men digging inside me! 

Jump outside the box.

Expectations are the bane of our existence. I’m not talking about the expectations that people have for us regarding our careers or our lives.

From the moment we are born, or even before that, our gender guarantees some expectations being placed on us.

Boys and girls  have to behave a certain way. 

If you are a girl, welcome to the world of self preening and self care. Your world is pink and filled with frivolous things. You are judged by your ability to be a “good girl”. Your value is determined by your beauty. Rarely by your intellect.

As a boy, manly characteristics are your defining feature. The ability to grow a beard or mustache is the first trial to proving you are a man. The commonly heard phrase “don’t cry like a girl” and “you fight like a girl” are taken as an insult to your manhood.

Recently my friends commented on looking at a young actor’s physique, that though he was handsome, he was clean shaven and that made him look gay and unappealing. They laughed at the idea of that guy being a “real man”

How is being gay equated with being less of a man, i do not understand. And what is the definition of being a real man? Is it the one who still thinks he lives in the 80s, is a misogynist and thinks it’s okay to dominate his wife and beat her? Is it the one who has muscles popping in every direction and is a real Casanova?

On that note, the term being a women has also many connotations. You are expected to be hairless, fair, dainty. Tell that to girls who suffer from PCOD. They didn’t choose to have that disease. It doesn’t make them any less of a girl if they have hair spouting from their face, or that they are overweight. And yet they have to face taunts everyday because people cannot understand them or box them in a category. 

Gender is a fluid term. It is a happy accident that determines our gender at birth. Even then there is no guarantee that you will fit into your assigned box. There are numerous examples of transgenders who switched because they felt trapped.

And trapped indeed you are. It can be horrifying when you feel you don’t fit in with people of the same sex. Depression can even occur when you are born in a religious society that expects you to stick to what God gave you.

People need to stop saying things like you are a boy/ girl, you should behave this way. A person shouldn’t be forced to be anyone he/ she does not want to be.

So stop telling your little boy that pink is a girly colour or shoving in your little girls face, Barbies when all she wants to do is play with cars and robots.

Let children be who they are without unnecessary expectations. As such life ensures that we have other burdens placed on us anyways. Maybe you can give them this small mercy.

I envision a future where any boy can wear dresses and any girl can be whoever she wants without anyone telling them they should conform or stick to something. Maybe that will be possible in the future. Till then, keep this quote in mind and watch your actions accordingly .

Tis the season


Today is one of those days where I would like to sing Beyonce’s song “if I were a boy”.

Really being a girl is a pain sometimes. And why would I say that?

Tis the wedding season darling! Nothing makes you realise that you are a girl faster than the wedding season.

Disclaimer: I hate shopping for clothes (I can hear the gasps of disdain from other females who agree I’m a shame to their gender. My mother and sister included.)

My ordeal begins four months before the wedding.  Traipsing across town I try to keep up with my excited mother and sister who are determined that people never doubt my gender again.

Colours and materials are thrown at as at various shops while eager salesmen look to feed their family at our expense. The Indian mentality of ‘aur dikhao’ is fully seen here. No one does it better than two females determined to wear only the best (at may I add, a wedding that isn’t even theirs).

Trying out clothes is a funny thing. There is no faster way of becoming more self conscious of your body. The dresses that fit you, don’t suit you and those that don’t, make you regret eating that entire chocolate bar while you were binge watching on Netflix.

After many grunts and sighs, you finally find a dress that looks nice. Now when you come out of the dressing room you are subjected to judges aka your family, the salespeople and random strangers.

You think it’s over? No! After this you drag your tired and hungry self to buy matching jewelry. Here again this entire process repeats making you wonder why you aren’t a guy. 

Life is much easier that way. You show up it’s done. No plethora of clothes, jewelry or makeup thrown at you. Just showing up is enough.

My conspiracy theory is that all this choices are there to distract women from one main thing: education. The time I spent doing all this shit ( pardon the language) could’ve been spent in doing something useful.

But I digress.

 As a parting note, who says it’s a man’s world? Going by the sheer choice and the number of people who’s livelihood depends on women’s clothes, I can only sing another of Beyonce’s songs

Who run the world? Girls!!

To cut or not to cut? 

When was the last time you had a haircut? My hair stylist asked me.

Sheepishly I told him it had been over a year. Tsk. Tsk. He looked in disdain and waited for me to give him an explanation.

I didn’t know what to say. As a medico, haircuts are least important to you in your day to day work.

The look of horror on his face said it all.

And indeed as a young doctor, you are expected to make sacrifices. No tattoos , no fancy outfits, no nail polish, no makeup in college,no highlights or fancy haircuts. The list is long and nonsensical just like the people who make them.

It’s not as if young medicos don’t take care of themselves. They do. But it’s usually at the cost of either studies or sleep and I love both of them too much to give them up. Indeed all the toppers I know take little or minimal care of themselves. One girl I know, cut her hair very short just so that she wouldn’t have to maintain them and waste time. 

Old doctors, certainly derive fun in ensuring that their juniors experience the same rigid traditions that they were forced to endure never minding the fact that even medicine has changed with the years while these rules haven’t.
My stylist insisted that as a ‘young’ girl, I get a highlights or even a fun bob as I quote ‘these are your golden years’

But is it? A doctor’s golden years only start in their 30s. Till then you are expected to adhere to those rules.

When you think about it, many people spend their 20s discovering themselves, committing mistakes,going on travels and settling down in life. But me? I have to learn how to be an adult since the time I entered this field.

There is no time to do things that normal people do. I cannot take time off to take a gap year or discover myself. I’m not unhappy about my choices but merely wonder what could have been had I not been forced to grow up so soon.

We give our 20s for saving people’s lives but unfortunately no one talks about the sacrifices we make. I certainly don’t expect any one to understand them

And as I listened to my stylist ramble on about the poor way I took care of myself, I realised with a heavy heart that he, like other people would be unable to understand my side of the story. The sacrifices I make are mine alone.

So after promising that I would take better care of my hair, I went away with a new haircut wondering when my next lecture with him would be.

Alone and Lonely have two different meanings.

She could hear the faint laughter in the background. People, her own family enjoying themselves.

Where was she? On the floor of her bathroom wondering what was wrong with her.

Through tear glistened eyes, she watches an ant crawling on the floor. An ant she thought. It just obeys orders. Without thinking too much. Exactly the opposite of her.

Loner. Misunderstood. These words she was very familiar with. They defined her life. Never fitting in anywhere.

Her first childhood memories come rushing to her. How she had trouble making friends. Untill her sister rescued her. She had amazing people skills and still did. A large bunch of her friends were only due to her sister.

It continued like that throughout her life. But she was so busy studying, she didn’t let it affect her. She was studying to be a doctor and kept herself satisfied with the thought that med school would have more people like her.

But her bad luck continued. Her intj habits made people seem she is aloof or arrogant. She found people superficial and shallow. That is not how doctors are supposed to be she thought.

She felt like the same scared school girl again. Now it was even worse. There is pressure to get liked by the opposite sex also. Fat chance she thought. I can barely make girl friends.

She wished she had someone who understood her. At times she thought she was weird or that something was wrong with her. Maybe she was a defective piece. Other people didn’t find it so hard.

Pressure of studies in med school caught up to her. But no one to talk to about it. She had a few friends but still felt an invisible barrier between which she could not cross.

Her family was supportive but also thought of her as arrogant and rude. This feature of her personality compounded by her journey in med school. So after an argument with them, where she knew she was right, she slinked away quietly to the bathroom.

The one place that was truly hers. Over the years she had learnt to cry silently without anyone knowing what she was up to. She hated showing her emotions. This was her safe space.

Wiping her tears, Tomorrow is a new day she consoled herself as she always did. Her stress was released and she was relaxed.

Putting a smile on her face, she walked out and joined her family who didn’t notice her absence but were happy to have her all the same.

Happiness: the elusive unicorn.

What does it mean to be happy?

According to dictionaries, it means to feel glad or delighted. It’s the feeling you get when you see your family after a long time or when you see the waiter bringing your food.

It’s such a pleasant feeling that people naturally ask why can’t you experience it all the time? Is it too hard to ask to be happy all the time?

Certainly being happy has health benefits like improved mood and increased productivity. The loss of happiness is also called depression. People in everyday life experience unhappiness which is different from depression. Depression is a constant state where everything in life seems difficult to do and you loose the will to live.

So you would think that people would strive to be happy all the time. And indeed everything we do in this world is for that purpose only.

Earning money to buy better things, sleeping with multiple people, or marrying. Even getting a job or a degree is equated with happiness.

But all these things are temporary and so are the feelings of happiness attached to it. Once we have what we want, we are again sad, looking for the next thing.

For me feelings of happiness come but sometimes. It’s rare and mostly ruined by over thinking stuff making me unhappy when I realise everything I do is futile.

Once after a particularly disappointing test, I noticed that while I was unhappy, the people who I considered less than, were actually happy. They were glad that the test was over rather than worry about the future affected by test scores.

Maybe that is the secret. To think less. That is why the intelligent people are seemingly less happy than others. They see something in the world that others cannot. Less thinking may be the key.

So I wondered then, is it possible to be happy and all the time?

Inside out, the movie brilliantly explains this concept. Joy the feeling thinks that people should be happy all the time. She thinks that Sadness the feeling that also lives along with her is not needed.

Only in the end of the movie does she realise that both feelings are needed. Without sadness, you cannot experience happiness or feel it’s importance.

Maybe my sad days have some function after all. They maybe there to remind me that it does get better.

The underdogs

What is something that you can never respect? I asked my sister this question that I came across on Quora.

Prostitutes came her reply.

I was shocked that someone as educated and smart as her could say something like this. She was adamant in her belief and even though she knew that most people had no choice or were even forced to do this kind of work she still wouldn’t respect them.

I attempted to prod her and know why she thinks like this and she reasoned that she thought that prostitution is like selling your dignity. When I pointed out to her that some women that no choice and some children were forced into it by pimps, she still refused to change her mind.

That got me thinking.

Is it so ingrained in our culture that sex is the only defining value of a women that by using it for monetary gain, we acknowledge them as less than?

Even though some of them are chained in a room and not allowed to escape ? My sister’s opinion was that there is always a way out even if you are locked in a room.

And therein lies the problem. The inability to understand people from a different background. Social class acts as a shield. Protecting you from showing you the harsh realities of the world. That is why we probably find politicians issuing statements like if you work hard you can reach anywhere even though it’s known that people from the lower classes face many disadvantages in life right from birth.

Prostitutes face a bad rap from every corner of the society. They have no support because just the act of selling your body is considered disgusting by many people. I say how is it any different from any other job? Why is sex given so much importance in today’s world?

A women’s dignity is defined by her purity and a man’s by his ability to be a casanova. It’s even encouraged. So my question is if women are not allowed to have sex and men are, then who is sleeping with all these men? That is where the prostitutes come in. They fulfill a void that no one talks about in society. For that alone they should be respected.

Quoting Cillian Murphy from the Dark Knight series,  “ we are all whores grace. We just sell different parts of ourselves.”  This saying is more deep than it seems.

But my main worry is that if someone like my sister whom till today I considered  well- informed can think such thoughts, what hope is there for the rest of the world?

People should realize that as long as there is demand, there will be supply. The only way to help these women is by supporting them, educating them, not shunning them. As for the way to reduce their demand, that is a topic for another day.