She woke up with a start.
It was 6 am in the morning. Almost half an hour since she had fallen asleep, crouched over a pile of files. Her pen had escaped from her grasp, having run a marathon on the pages for over an hour, it rolled as far as possible to get some rest too.
Damn how did I fall asleep? she said to herself as she started her wild goose chase for the pen so as to continue writing.
“How did I fall asleep”
It had been almost 7 years since she started medical school yet she didn’t realise the answer to the simplest of question. A human body ideally needs 8 hours of sleep at her age, but can cope along with 6 every night too. She hadn’t slept for that long the entire week combined.
She did not remember the last time she propped herself up in a one piece, put on her best makeup and her most elegant pair of stilletos and danced the night away carelessly.
Her co-resident who had just got back from the washroom didn’t even know what it is to party. He had spent his entire adolescence and youth studying to become what his parents yearned him to be without having resources to afford the necessities.
It had been just a year since she had given the most gruelling exam of her life. One comprising of 19 subjects and needing her to read and remember more books than the number of pair of clothes she had. Something nobody had ever thought was possible given how shopaholic she was.
On the back of attending more than 200 patients, working through every hour of the day without a sliver of sleep in her eyes, she stood up and rushed around taking blood pressure of every patient of hers and ensuring that they were better than they were yesterday.
Her parents lived just around 15 kms from the hospital, yet it had been almost a year since she had gone home. Her co-resident, he had not even met his parents living 200 miles away in the past year. They had not taken a bath for a week and could only brush their teeth once every 3 days. It’s not like they didn’t want to, they did not have the time or luxury.
The day passed like every other day had since the turn of the year. As night approached, he hung his apron on the chair and went to inform his colleague that he would be heading down to the emergency room for the night. His white apron had shielded him from many things every time he donned it. From blood of people suffering from fatal diseases, to their vomit, to the amniotic fluid when delivering a new born, it had taken every possible human fluid on itself so that the wearer didn’t have to.
He picked it up, flung it on his shoulder and ran down 6 flights of stairs to the emergency room, putting the apron on simultaneously. After an hour or so, 4 people rush in their friend who had suffered from a hit to his head and was unconscious, battling for his life. As soon as he sees this, he jumps up from his seat and runs to examine the patient. He scourges through every examination and history he had learnt over the years. It had taken him 7 years to be able to make all the observations and arrive at a conclusion in 2 mins when every minute was unequivocally crucial for the person to survive.
He realises that his hospital isn’t equipped enough nor does it have the required specialist to be able to save the patient so he informs the relatives to take the patient to a bigger, better equipped hospital as soon as possible.
Now in an ideal scenario, it is only logical to rush to a higher hospital, but what do the relatives do? They beat the doctor up with hands, feet, rods and every inanimate object they could get their hands on. As a result he is left with a bruised rib cage, a punctured lung, broken arm and leg and potential loss of vision.
For what fault of his? For doing his duty? For following protocols? For trying to save the patient’s life? He lay in the ICU, the picture of his parents in front of his eyes, thinking was all the years of studying, hard work and non existential social life really worth all this? As he ponders, he remembers all the smiles he had put to the faces of people irrespective of gender, age group and blood relation, and every single time, his answer is yes.
We are proud to be what we are, not because of the prefix it adds to our name nor because of the post fix it does. Being a doctor is something much beyond a degree or fragility of money. It is the intangible ability to heal an ailing person, to help a suffering person smile, to help a handicap walk again, to help someone gain vision and see things he had only heard of, to help someone hear the birds chirp again, to help someone give birth to the most beautiful thing in their lives, to help someone defeat death.
Help, because we don’t do anything solely by ourselves. It is YOUR willpower that takes you through your difficult period. We are only there to hold your hand, give an occasional smile and remind you that everything will become all right. Yes we make mistakes, but we are as apologetic as one can be and not a single day passes when we don’t go to bed thinking we wish we could’ve done better.
I’m not saying all this to tell you how much we sacrifice because we knew what we were up against when we started our journey. I’m not saying all this to complain about our work load. I’m not saying all this to ask you to respect us just because of our profession. I’m not asking you to hold us on the same pedestal as the almighty.
I’m not asking you to treat us like God, but atleast treat us like fellow human beings.
PS: A small request to sign this petition to help us feel safer at work, if you deem it worth.
PMO: Protection for doctors and Strict laws for assault.
Or those on Twitter tweet:
Saving lives but scared for our own.
#SaveTheDoctors @PMOIndia @CMOMaharashtra