Humans of Medicine
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“Between struggling with health issues and juggling with books, I became a doctor. It had to get worse, before it got better. Pursuing medicine was a dream that was inspired by my father. As a child, I’d sit with him in his clinic for fun; slowly, that stirred up the desire in me to become a doctor. During MBBS, I struggled a lot with my health. I had various issues- migraine, PCOS, asthma and allergies. I frequently broke down and was under a lot of stress. But I was determined to plough through the obstacles, and worked even harder to the point of exhaustion. Last year took a toll on me, I reached a point where I couldn't find the tiniest bit of hope. It was my worst phase, physically, mentally and emotionally. It is when I battled these demons, that I learned to love myself. Self-love and self-care became paramount (of which I also wanted to spread awareness). MBBS did give me dark circles and caffeine addiction, but it was worth it when ‘Dr.’ became my prefix. I've always wanted to help people in their suffering, support them and make a difference. I wanted to play my part, no matter how minuscule, to help as many people as I can. Nothing makes me happier than when a patient gets cured of their illness and smiles again...”
“Your work is going to take up a large part of your life, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. Try new things. Pivot as many times as your heart leads you and don’t settle. Because when you find it, you’ll look back and realize it was all worth it.”
“Our country has a rich and diverse heritage of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisine. My food blog is, in its own little way, a representation of those culinary delicacies. Studying medicine, I've been made well aware of how important nutritional food is; but it doesn’t hurt when food is consumed with the purpose to tickle our taste buds. Needless to say, I’ve been branded a ‘foodie’ by everyone around me. I started my food blog during the monsoons of 2018. I happened to take a bus ride to get back to my college hostel while returning from a quick visit home. A break during the bus journey on the highway was common, but that day, it was caused due to the outrageous downpour. I was forced to take shelter close to the kitchen of the highway hotel while I sipped on a cup of coffee. I, almost instinctively, started taking pictures of the snacks that were being prepared, hoping I could use these pictures as a stress buster in the coming days. It was around 3:15 PM on Friday the 13th of July (definitely not auspicious for the superstitious guys!), when I had the genius idea to create a food blog. I was recovering from my pathology class by scrolling through Instagram when I suddenly thought of uploading those pictures. I mean how could I really deprive the world of such yummy looking pictures? At the same moment, I decided to turn one of my old accounts to a food page. Thus, the journey began. Pursuing an interest close to my heart while in a professional course, helped me find joys in the most amazing ways. Just like medical school, running a food blog came with its own set of challenges. I now had to worry about ‘trends’, ‘engagement’ and making my feed look as visually pleasing as possible. This was by no means an easy task. There were several successful food bloggers out there and the competition was tight. I also had to deal with having limited free time; and of course, the stress that comes with being a medico.” Swipe right 👉🏻 to read the rest.
“Becoming a doctor in a family of no doctors has its own perks. While it may seem ‘great’, the lack of any inspirational figure makes it hard. No matter how much they love you, they won't get you. Then why did I choose medicine? Because it seemed like a good career choice, a place where I can make a difference. Fast forward to 2019, when I was assisting a senior in a ward, a little girl came up to me and told me that she wanted to become a doctor like me. I was stunned. That one sentence meant a lot more than I can possibly describe. The fact that I could inspire someone, that I inspired a little girl to dream big made me very happy; because often we are laughed at. I told her to go for it. Her mother was doubtful, but I said, ‘Why, not?!’. I never believed I could come this far until I cracked NEET. I wish someone had told me I could, so I encouraged her. That was the moment I fell in love with this profession. I knew I was on the right path. Even coffee can't keep me awake at night, but interacting with patients does. The more I interacted with people, listened to their struggles and assured them, the prouder I got of this profession. I’m glad I fell in love with this profession after an experience, and not just because it's considered ‘noble’. I might have chosen this path because it's noble, but I stayed in it because at the end of the day it makes me happy.”
“As a doctor, you are taught to think logically. Pale nails, pale stools, and a whole list of differential diagnoses swim up for the taking. Once the training period is done, you realize that the world and life as a whole are just pure chaos. Society functions on norms that have no clear boundaries. You are forced to deliver the best of services in the worst of resource-limited settings. As you work and grow, you realize that the best you can do may not always be enough. And all your best efforts may not always be met with gratitude. You normalize work trauma. Being abused by seniors in an emergency is normal. Being scolded for no fault of yours is normal. Maybe even being threatened or beaten in the workplace is internalized, because the next day you have to return to work, come whatever may. In this world full of people, you end up unable to share your pain, and eventually, it eats up your mental peace. Catharsis is important for normal functioning; and so, one fine day I decided to put my experiences in words. The darkest of days, written up into satire pieces. The dark humor is comforting, cajoling, and at the same time reminding me to be cautious of the ills of not opening up. In the words of my mentor, ‘The sheer confidence of the blog I write comes with the knowledge that no one is reading it’. Maybe someday some doctor or else will have a glimpse of my work. Maybe they will choose not to take that leap from the 8th-floor pediatric ward. Maybe they will just take a leap of faith and find someone to share their trauma with. Learn to save their lives first before others.”
“Internal medicine residency is tough they say, no one tells you why... It isn’t just the crazy hours, the patient load and studying that makes it tough, it is much more than that. Residency teaches you about life and death. Careful, this is about to get dark. No one teaches you how to deal with death, especially in MBBS. But as a resident, you’re suddenly held accountable for someone's death! The contrast is immense, irrespective of whose fault it is, and I was crushed under it in my first week of residency. Luckily for me, the patients’ relatives were kind enough to thank my colleagues and me for all the help, but that’s not always the case. Especially during COVID-19, when all doctors were subjected to death, at a very large number. It took a toll on us. I went through phases of denial, self-blame and to the point where I lost confidence in myself. I wanted to quit. But just talking to my friends and family helped me through it and that's how today, I stand where I am. The idea of death still brings me down and dealing with death needs to be taught in the medical curriculum. To all those reading this, don’t be scared to ask for help, don’t blame yourself and it is absolutely okay to take a break, you can’t save the world unless you save yourself!” - Dr. Ashwini Patankar Resident in General Medicine Dr. DY Patil hospital and medical college, Navi Mumbai.
“Yesterday, I finished my last shift as an intern! Honestly, this year SUCKED! On top of all the stress of residency, I started off my intern year undergoing peritoneal dialysis, which was actually not that bad. I could do my treatment at home while I slept, go to work without any difficulty, and still feel ‘normal’. But of course, it didn’t end there. I had to switch to hemodialysis in November because of an unfortunate complication. Hemodialysis is a pain in the ass. There are so many more restrictions on your diet. You have to sit in-person for treatments for 4 hours, three times a week; plus, some days you feel like you just finished running a marathon. I spent 22 days of December in and out of the hospital. The complication postponed any possibility of receiving a kidney until May 2021, but they continued to work with those who registered to be a donor. Unfortunately, as of now, I still have no match. I wish it was January 25th (Opposite Day). While I spent all that time in the hospital, all kinds of thoughts went through my mind. I was disappointed with myself, scared at times because I worried about how I would be able to work and do hemodialysis at the same time, how I could possibly continue residency, how my program would react... I was down, picking fights with the people closest to me, pushing people away, talking to myself negatively. But honestly, God doesn’t put you through challenges if He doesn’t believe you can handle them. When I finally returned to work, my program was so understanding. My program director called and checked in on me almost every day. My chiefs helped create a schedule that worked with my time requirements. My co-residents never made me feel like a burden. All the other specialties I worked with never made my situation seem taboo. My parents were able to drive over and help as I regained my strength. I started telling some of my closest friends what was going on and the support was out of this world. I knew I was not alone in this process, and I am so thankful for those of you who made this year easier. I know that I came to Charleston for a reason.” Swipe right 👉🏻 to read the rest.
“‘It hurts so much, and on so many levels!’; as I listened to my fiancé say these words at the end of his COVID ICU shift in a New York City hospital, tears rolled down my face. He looked nothing short of a soldier coming out of a battlefield. I was speechless. As a psychiatrist, I was supposed to know the right words to say, to help him get through this, yet I felt helpless. I realized no words could describe the roller coaster of emotions he felt. Words of encouragement would fall short in the face of this situation. So, what was I supposed to do? For him, and my patients fighting this pandemic in their own way? I moved to the US from Amritsar to become a psychiatrist. Having graduated at the top of my class in medical school, everybody expected me to be a ‘more important doctor’. ‘I want to be a psychiatrist’ made people uncomfortable. It has been 4 years here in the US now, and my experience as a psychiatrist has been baffling, yet grounding. It was baffling to see how underappreciated and invalidated the sickness of the human mind, experiences and emotions are, all over the world. Over the years, I realized we’re all connected in some way. We’re all fighting our own battles separately, with no one having a clue of what they’re about, yet it’s somehow familiar. One thing the pandemic taught us is that we’re all the same. No one, big or small, will leave the word untainted from its effects. The anxiety a New Yorker is facing is the same as somebody in Amritsar. The current struggle, in fact, is what unifies us. So, does that mean you let yourself just struggle? No. Taking care of yourself and your mental health has never been more important. But how is one supposed to do that when the world is changing by the second and nothing seems to be in anyone’s control? I remember the countless nights I’ve had trying to keep track of the number of cases in New York and Amritsar, as a way to make sure my loved ones are safe. Was that helpful? Probably not. In hindsight, it was me trying to gain control over something I had no control over to begin with. Being mindful of your own emotions and thoughts is half the battle won.” (Continued in comments.👇🏻)
“You have to get used to being invisible as an anesthetist. A large percentage of the public has no idea that we’re medically qualified. I’ve been asked innumerable times regarding what qualifications are required to be an anesthetist. Patients always remember the name of their surgeon; never that of their anesthetist. But it’s still a hugely rewarding job. We’re everywhere in the hospital. In the operating rooms, the ICUs, the wards, the emergency department, and the pain clinics. We assess people’s fitness for surgery, their likeliness to suffer from complications, and support them through the operation and well into the postoperative period. When we first start anaesthetizing patients (early on in our career), it’s terrifying. One small mistake and it could kill someone. Our drugs suppress breathing, and it’s our job to take over that function. I still feel a frisson of nerves in some situations. I hide it though; it’s an important part of the job to stay calm at all times. If there’s an emergency during a procedure, the team looks to the anesthetist for leadership, as the surgeon is often too focused on fixing the immediate problem. All the same, it’s a fulfilling branch to specialize in, despite the challenges.”
“I always wanted to be a doctor; always imagined myself working in a hospital. And I realized that choosing any other career path would’ve made me unhappy. Like many aspiring medicos in India, I struggled to get into medical school. I finally got into medical school in the Philippines. After getting in, I thought everything was sorted. I thought everything would finally start making sense. But I was in for a rude shock. I was in survival mode every day (sleepless nights, chugging coffee, studying and working for multiple hours etc...). But I didn’t give up, as my goal was clear. I graduated and thought everything would finally start making sense. Again, how very wrong I was! But I suppose, real life hits you once you get out of college. And the reality is very different from what we see in Grey’s Anatomy! To all the medical students and future doctors reading this, don't study to just graduate medical school. Study for your patients. I wasn’t the smartest guy in class, but I worked hard to be where I am right now, and am continuing to work harder to reach greater heights. If I can be a doctor, so can all you; even if you’re struggling right now. And all the struggle is worth it when a patient says, ‘Thank you, doc, you saved my life!’.”
“I recently completed my intern year with the youngest and bravest batch of interns yet; the first batch to experience a pandemic in a very long time... When I was in the first year of MBBS, I was one of those people who couldn’t prick their finger in the hematology lab. I couldn’t even do it for the final exam! Fast forward 4.5 years, I cleared final year exams, and my standing was among the top 5 in class. My PCOS journey put me through my paces during these stressful MBBS years. I had my fair share of anxiety and depression. As I was battling this, I discovered my love for weightlifting. I also built a strong and a pro-feminist personality during these years. When I started my intern year in February 2020, I was again apprehensive about suturing or using a syringe on someone. But I suppose my confidence didn’t let me down; I became quite skilled in performing minor procedures with flair! This piqued my interest in surgery. Within a month of starting internship, our hospital was the largest COVID-19 center in Navi Mumbai; and doctors taking their baby steps into the hospital were left to fight the dreadful virus. 60% of our batch wanted to back out of COVID duties, either due to their own or their parents’ decision. But I wanted to be on my toes and help in the fight against this deadly virus. I was called rude, absurd and other things, for being strongly opinionated; but I stood up for myself, for I knew I was being righteous. (I suppose society is scared of strong and opinionated women!) So, for over a year now, I've been working in the frontline relentlessly. My amazing seniors, fellow interns, nurses and sanitation staff, made my experience joyous. I learned a few skills, gained some knowledge and treated the sick to the best of my abilities. Whenever any patient was satisfied with my treatment, it made me the happiest; the best moments were when I performed my first ever CPR and revived a patient in the ICU; when I helped deliver a baby and when I was posted in the ER. It makes me proud that I'm in this profession; I thank God for being here. Today, I proudly tell my parents that I'm a powerful, confident and independent woman!”