Dr. Geeta Sundar

I think we stay far too serious for our own good. Really. We all need a dose of laughter every now and then to decompress the annoying mishaps of the careers we have chosen.

So these are a testimony to that! To find the laughable in the memes and relish those few moments spent in oblivion, when you were the butt of the joke, or the one in peril.

Of course, I am not built-in to instil satire like Dr. Ankit (P.S read his blogs if you haven’t already, they are gems!), but I shall still do what I set out to do. And you better smile, if not laugh, coz the joke was cracked, and cracked open!

This was me in 11-12th grade. Botany. And those entrance exams after 12th boards. So many phila names, I couldn’t remember them all. I’d just try to learn the last 3 letters of the second species name – and while it wasn’t a great thing to do, it certainly allowed to cancel out the distracters on the questions.

And imagine my surprise when I had to do the same in pharmacology, biochemistry, pathology – uggghhhh! I somehow survived…and am here to tell the tale – respect your eosin and haematoxylin pencils and always learn everything the hard way. No shortcuts in hard work!

I came across this one, and it was so close to me that I had to womansplain this whole thing!

Literally, every single day during surgery postings in medical school, I’d rush like a mad train to reach OR first, irrespective of the hunger I faced, or the incessant need to pee, or even stop and talk to a dog on the way. Why, you ask? Coz of the OR slippers and AC!

They would done someone else’s feet soon and none would be left for the medical students like me. And if by any good chance they were left, they would either be all single sided, torn, broken, with small tiny holes in them or have like something sticky or be wet. I didn’t, and don’t like my feet wet, or sticky, and I really prefer to have comfortable wear-ons when in OR. So, yeah, my mad run would be for that.

The second reason was the AC – the OR’s would be cold, before most of the CO2 breathing medical students and staff arrived, and for a hyper hot-handled, woman like myself, the cool walls against my palms wold satiate all that running I did.

But things have improved. I’m a surgeon now. I wear crocs in the OT and don’t have to rush for them, but the AC thing – ah, that’s still a personal favourite I’ll never get tired of.

See, now, this is exactly why I have trust issues with technology!

I mean we are all taught that target picture with validity and accuracy and all that hogwash in community medicine about screening tests, and then when they finally have it all figured out, this happens!

This was a rave back in Covid-19-20-21 – I mean, let’s just call it that, shall we? We are still reeling with its aftereffects and baby viruses in 2022. They had rules on these pulse oximeters – a threshold to reach and maintain in sitting, in supine, in walking etc. But nothing would ever work! Despite the million hours I spent doing all kinds of Covid duty, not one of these ever worked correctly – not on me who was Covid negative, not on the Covid positive patient or any other control. To make it work, or detect the saturation, obviously, in addition to the possibilities of cyanosis and other medical causes, we were advised to slap the pulse oximeter a few good times, shake it, rotate it up and down, move it horizontally and vertically, open the case where the batteries lay, rotate the batteries, test it on others and finally keep it aside and get an ABG stat.

Why go through all that trouble if ABG was anyone the final nail on the wall? Because, my dear, rarely they worked and saved everyone the trouble!

Ok, let me say one thing in a complete hand-on-heart way – I am a instinct-driven, rational level-headed, cynical individual. I see the whole picture, good, bad and ugly and then decide to believe that Murphy was indeed right. If anything has to go wrong, it will go wrong. Honestly, that is not rocket science. And I wish people could understand that more than go along like Pollyanna singing optimism from every corner.

Especially when its surgery! Even the incision in surgery has risks. As one of my professors put it – there is nothing called simple, small surgery – each surgery comes with its risks. And like Dr. House in the above scenario, I have a gut feeling that takes shape, sometimes almost as early as when we admit a patient or are in the OR or when we wheel them to the recovery, and all along the radar goes beep, beep, beep, and I know it is coming.

And boy, does it come! When the complications rise, I am the most prepared for that scenario because my head has already calculated all the possible ways it can go wrong. But it comes with its deterrents as well – I have learned over time to keep those to myself, since speaking about the bad, apparently can have a negative influence on healing, and that it’s better to approach each case neutrally than with a prefixed notion in the head.

If I can’t aim for the silver lining, I’m going to aim for the clouds.

Images – Google images

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