The moment right after passing my high school entry examinations remains nostalgic. If I’d travel back in time and passed my exams well enough to get the media scurrying home, I’d wait for that ‘What would you like to be when you grow up?’ question and promptly answer, ‘Adult’. Yes I said it, -Adult. Here is why…
My take is that people have rather deluded ideas of what being a doctor is. The society and even some doctors think that being in the medical field is a calling. I used to think the same till I asked myself; ‘who really called me?’ If it even was a message -let alone a calling, me thinks it was hand written, in hieroglyphics; slit into a split stick and sent to me via the fastest runner within a hundred mile radius. Seldom, I think he only got to deliver that message because I wasn’t running fast enough in the opposite direction. That happens when I am on a low run of course.
The process starts with being a medical student. This is where you are confined to Med School Maximum Security Prison. They pressurize you with all the medical jargon here. The more you learn, the more you realize how much more you do not know and the more you forget. You even forget yourself. In fact, your social circle is relegated to your loved ones, a few like-minded friends with whom you share ‘sick’ jokes, and many more sick ‘friends.’ You appreciate what it really means to be sick get well and accept that people die. Your responsibility- to be seen and not heard… and when it’s required that you be heard, it should mostly be the sound of your tongue diligently licking your consultants boots and making sense while you are at it. Once your saliva is exhausted and your seniors can see a vague reflection of your face on their shoes, they may let you graduate.
Being a doctor is enjoyable. We derive satisfaction from fixing people. It is that rush of solving the mysteries of body versus disease that pushes us forward. The times we are able to cheat death and bargain with life for a little more time on behalf of our patients. Those amazing moments we venture even deeper to do ‘repair’ and ‘replacement’ as in surgery. Believe me, it takes people with more guts than a kid with mega colon. We feel like demi-gods while we are at it. Not many have the privilege to do that after all, let alone the balls. That is what our profession is about. Restoring life, health and purpose where it was dwindling. But then again, it is never that simple.
The world embraces you in its stony arms. Society thinks you are a miracle worker on a path to riches. You have a sworn duty to your patients, and you must keep abreast with new information to stay sharp. You lose sight of what is important. It all is anyway. They miss you at home, you are never there. You console yourself that you are going out life and limb for others, for humanity. Even the closest to you never seem to understand you. You got used to this in med school. Since then, there was never enough of you to go around. This either distracts you, or you resign to forgetting yourself all the more.
At the hospital, you have many lives to save. Depending on how good you are, you save most and lose a few. Sometimes it is your fault, other times it is beyond you. It’s unfortunate that you can’t save them all. It hurts deep, this realization. You could sit down and wallow in glum; they call it being human. I’ve learnt to square my jaw and forge ahead like it never happened; I call it protecting my heart. Despite all that’s on your shoulders, you tell yourself that you have to do better next time. You don’t have a choice, you simply have to.
‘Why did I want to be a doctor?’ I ask again. Too many times I have answered this question a little too hastily. I made a choice… No, I love it all. But once in a while, I am not so sure. I could do business, disaster management, or try physical education. Simple things to do, albeit you make way more than your input accounts for. Maybe I should find a better answer to this question. Until then, let’s have a moment of silence, I need to introspect: play me some good music, to whose lyrics I can relate: as I flip through a book, coarse enough to sharpen my intellect: just understand me for being me, that, I’ll truly appreciate.