“A Bit More of A Doctor”
We meet after 15 days. After 15 crazy days. After fulfilling-yet something-is-just-not-right days.
A swarm of people keep entering day in and day out.
Some subservient. Some agitated.
Some satisfied. Some dejected.
Some with a glimmer of hope. Some with a shiver of mope.
For me? They are just numbers to be entered in the muster and move on. There’s no time to counsel, let alone empathize. C’mon, hurry up! The next patient is bleeding. Stop wasting time on history, get him for dressing already. The casualty bleeds and the patient’s leg and so does my heart. But our meagre needs will be catered to when the time is right. In casualty, the time is never right.
A Final Year MBBS student is thrown into the real world way too soon with first posting being Emergency. I don’t know how to use a water gun, and out of nowhere you gave me a pistol gun. But then shots are fired, and to my disbelief the near-about targets are reached.
In just a span of 2 weeks, I have probably learnt more than all the postings combined. Being the gateway to the whole hospital, every critical illness went through me. And effortly I grasped chunks of Medicine, Surgery, Paeds, Orthopedics, ENT, Psychiatry in a morsel. A patient with head injury and fracture of right leg who is unconscious with few stressors at home is what casualty sees on a daily basis without the slightest glitch and days later, thanks to multidisciplinary approach, the patient is talking and atleast limping.
Every day, umm sorry, every hour, a crying relative accompanies a dying patient, secondary to poisoning or head trauma. When asked a reason for the suicide or bruises, there’s always some domestic violence involved. As a kid, I had read about it in books in school. As a teenager, I had read in newspapers or witnessed on television. As a working doctor, my mind has gone numb as the victims haunt me in my dreams and I fail to save them every single night. A woman is beaten for being of another caste and another one for not filling water on time. Another, her face so disfigured that she can’t speak to me properly and yet another who probably didn’t have the opportunity to rush to hospital and report. I was witnessing victims hourly. What did I do? Prescribed tetanus injections, advised x-rays and moved on.
The weather turned a little hopeful as the cyclone Tauktae said a sweet hello, giving me respite from the heat. After a heavy shift, I sat peacefully in my room to enjoy my coffee and hot sizzling maggi, while peaking outside the window as trees swayed ecstatically. Next day, to my horror the drunk trees had fallen, blocking routes to my destination. Relax, maybe they were a bit old and couldn’t stand the “calm” storm, I assure. Myself. Tip toeing the menace, I reach my workplace to find hundreds of patients with
fractured limbs and skull owing to slippery surfaces and falling trees. My hopeful weather wasn’t hopeful after all and I beat myself up for enjoying a night back.
A constant tug of emotions in hospital is draining. I frown behind my N95 while he takes another breath, thanks to the O2 mask. I sweat in my scrubs while his burning hot body shivers. I cry all night on my pimples, she probably won’t have a straight face ever, courtesy the inhumane beatings by her beloved husband against the floor. I wait for the lockdown to uplift to spend some bucks while she begs me to not advice her any scans, as she doesn’t have a penny. My sir treats us with some tea and pizza while my mind wanders off to what the patients might be thinking. Anything that brought a smile to my face weeks back is probably now a crime.
Thanks to the patients, little fellows like me learnt all the emergency procedures. It’s tricky to make it sound right but if I’m prepared for the next apocalypse, then maybe we can justify. Just a little. Thanks to the patients, I’m immunised against COVID as positive patients cough on me with masks off. Talk about hygiene? The smelly concoction is hallucinating even if the ‘cleaning aunty’ puts dozen litres of phenyl.
Last day. My first suture. My first ever wound closure. My happiness has no bounds. I want to scream it to the world. Tell it to my friends. I return back to find they are all busy in their shifts. Busy fighting battles of their own.
Keeping it silent. Keeping it low.
They must be having stories to share. Just like me.
Of strength and exhaustion. Of being a bit more of a doctor.
Maybe we’ll never get to meet together.
That’s what makes all of this a bit tougher.
By- Dr. Tanvi Garg, Intern, Cooper Hospital, Mumbai