Monday, July 27, 2015

Dear Mr President
Picture Courtesy

Today I shall write about my childhood hero. He was for real, not any close to fiction. Grey suited, grey haired and with the most colourful smile ever! At a time when the number and kind of leaders in India were not any close to our expectations there was this one simple man. A scientist beyond excellence, a President beyond power, a leader beyond vision and a human being beyond all humanness. And not one ounce of air about him.

Words do not suffice to explain what he means to the nation. His ‘talks’(deserves an underline), his books, his smile, his vision, his interactions, his love for students, his work and his mere presence has given India a supreme feel good presence on the world map today.  He has ignited many minds and given us wings of fire. To dream, to follow our passion, to work hard and to make a difference is what he believed in and made many of us youngsters believe in the same.

Frankly speaking, Bharat Ratna Sri APJ Abdul Kalam is the only stalwart who truly deserved to be where he was, to become the President of India. I still remember the hullabaloo when people wanted him to continue for a second term. I then wished he did, wished a hundred times thereafter! When we as a nation have faced many tumultuous situations I am pretty sure there were people like me who thought” If Kalam was the President, things would have been different!” Yes of of course, no second thoughts about that.

Many of my elders at home used to tell me“If you want to become like someone, become like Kalam thatha" These words ring in my ears. When each one of us Indians follow what he has taught us, spread his message to the future generation I guess that will be the day when he shall truly rest in peace. To bid a goodbye to this world in the way he did today in the midst of a lecture to his favourite bunch of people-‘students’ only goes to say that he did what he did best through his last breath.

We will always love you ‘Our Dear Mr President’ for all the lessons of life you have given us. Your ideas are nowhere but in our minds, you are nowhere but in our hearts. For us, you have never signed off!

Dreams is not what you see in sleep...
is the thing which does not let you sleep... 


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Dengue Season Lessons

“Hello, calling from emergency, can you tell us the dengue report of…”a resident doctor asks from the other end.

“Positive for NS1 and IgM…”says our laboratory technician.

Seconds later.           

“Hello, calling from the ICU, SDP* needed for….are they ready?” asks a staff nurse.

“Ready, you can send someone right now” replies a blood bank technician.

At the same time.

“Hello Ma’am, calling from reception, can you please verify the dengue report of…”a data entry operator from the other end.

“We will do it in a couple of minutes…” I reply.

Seconds later.

“Hello, calling from the ward can you run a Dengue IgM ELISA for my patient with the previous sample, his platelet counts are low, I strongly suspect Dengue…”a clinician from the other end.

“No problem Ma’am, we will add it to the run today” one of us reply and agree to do it.

This diagnostic and treatment process runs in the various departments of every other hospital in India twenty four seven these days. All thanks to the ‘Dengue Season’ like we choose to call it. At this point of time, as you are reading this I bet there is at least one person you know who has had dengue this year. The emergency and outpatient department is busy with cases of fever, the doctors with every third patient coming with signs and symptoms of dengue, the blood bank is worked up with platelet transfusions and the laboratory with monitoring platelet counts and serological tests.

Dengue is a serious public health concern, like many other diseases and disorders it turns into a red alert when mortality rate surges. Remember the H1N1 a couple of months ago? Keep that for memory, there could be is always a next. I initially thought of writing a post on the ‘dos and donts’ to avoid the transmission of dengue thinking that would be helpful, and then it occurred to me that most of us know about the Aedes mosquito, water stagnation, sanitation, coils, nets, electric bats, repellents, papaya juice and what not. It is not the lack of this knowledge that causes the dengue outbreak every year in a tropical country like ours. There is more to the picture.

 What bothers me as a laboratory physician is our failure at many levels of health care to handle such a situation. There is a great lack of responsibility from all sides- hospitals, doctors and patients alike. The extreme variability in the standard and costs of testing and treatment has recently grabbed attention in Karnataka. Read this to know more-Government Fixes Dengue Test Rate for Pvt Hospitals. Such measures although put the government in a Samaritan position, the real problem is something else. None of us is bothered about any preventive measures or a long term solution to such vector borne diseases. ‘Odomos’, ‘Good Knight’ and 'Mortein’ can think of new advertisements. Doctors, laboratories and blood bank can think of their work load and price revision. And the government can think of regulating them. Until the same time next year! 

Ek machar kaafi hai, par ek soch nahi :-P

Picture Courtesy

Do share your opinions and experience.

*SDP-Single donor platelets


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Beauty And The Beholder

"This is beau...uuuutiful" I exclaimed looking at this culture plate.

"Ma'am, doctors like you can say that,not the patient" remarked the technician in my laboratory.

And we exchanged smiles, this was during one of those culture plate reading session which starts every morning half an hour past eight. From arranging these plates, making smears of bacterial colonies and doing biochemical reactions and filling up antibiotic sensitivity forms, not to forget attending the incessant calls from the clinicians and nurses from the wards asking for preliminary reports, well these and a lot more are done during these bustling hours which sometimes runs till noon. A few of my non medical friends tell me that there is no point in asking me how is work, things must be always busy. I do agree it is busy, but it is beautiful.

What keeps us doctors on the move? When my technician said that, I knew he was speaking out of some sort of general impression about the fraternity. Everyone around us has an opinion about us, an expectation that needs to be met.Most of you who have sworn the oath would agree with me, there are many people who would remind you of your responsibility in a way or the other, I tell take it when they do. In fact, one of the data entry operator told me last week "Patient is God" I somehow  succeeded in stopping myself from giving her the look of 'Thank-You-For-Letting-Me-Know-After-Ten-Years-Of-Medicine!' One of the professors in my postgraduate days had told  the class once "Being a doctor is more of an art than science". I stand by it, dealing with people is definitely an art.

When I looked at this culture plate, I thought of the bacteria that caused the arrow head golden hue due to hemolysis like you can see in the picture, what we call Streptococcus agalactiae. I thought of the pus sample from which it was isolated, I thought of the patient who was having an infection, I thought of the clinician who was treating her, I thought of helping him aid the diagnosis. I thought of the antibiotic that can be given. I thought of the possibility of the patient being cured, I thought of her not having to visit the hospital ever again. I had a series of beautiful reasons to call it 'BEAUTIFUL'. 

A surgeon with a scalpel, a radiologist with a scan probe or a dentist with a drill will know what I am talking about. We find beauty in the most absurd things, don't we? A lot of medical drama television programs make it appear like a classic adventure or a stress filled drama but in reality it is much beyond that. To make it all normal, to live that every moment of hope, of being of help to an another human being requires much more than having some empathy and compassion. Every patient teaches us something which helps us help another, that is how this amazing scheme of things works. We are like anyone else, inquisitive and eager about what we do. This is beyond an average man's understanding,probably and most importantly because we are one of those few professionals who find beauty in the pain of someone else. The next time I see something interesting, I shall be careful with my choice of words ;-)


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Costly Affair

A living turns into life
With the price of love
A few cents for work
A dime for strangers
A hundred for friends
A thousand for family
And a million for self
Then there is the truth
We are bad investors
In this costly affair!


PS: I do not know what makes people write on currency notes, recently I found this amusing one which left me wondering if Rashid really did end up with Farhana, strange are the ways in which we confess love! :-)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Mistress Of Honour-Book Review

Often it so happens that we get hypocritically patriotic. Singing songs of valour, flaunting fancy dresses of army men and posing with toy guns for photographs is all that we would have done during childhood. ‘MISTRESS OF HONOUR’ is meant for those who can see the ‘Indian Army’ beyond this bubble. Years ago a dear friend of mine was selected for the NDA. We were so proud about his feat and a whole bunch of us were at the railway station crying and bidding good-bye  but alas he was back in a week or so, and now every time I meet him  I still picturize him with this thought “What if he had chosen to stay?”  I do not know if he regrets his decision, personally I do. What I realized with this experience was that our army is not for the ordinary. This story with its various characters and circumstances just reinforced this belief of mine.

"Either I will come back after hoisting the tricolour, or I will come back wrapped in it, but I will be back for sure"

-Captain Vikram Batra, Param Vir Chakra-

Every time I come across this quote of the Kargil War hero, my heart swells with pride. I was reminded of this while I read the book, especially the epilogue section which very well justifies Rihaana’s brave decision and the title. Inspired by true stories of the Indian army Bhaavna has tried her best to go beyond the borders and inside their homes. A lot of things happen in about two hundred pages- love, friendship, patriotism, passion, sacrifice, trust, courage, humour, romance, sex, passion, drama, war and peace; making this a good one time read.  At some places however I did feel that too many things were happening very soon, the story line moves quick before a reader can develop any connection with the characters. A lot of ingredients in an already boiling pot, maybe this was intentionally written to show that men of army are as normal as any of the citizens of our nation. As corollary, we think of the men of the army for selflessness, don’t we? What was commendable for me in this story was the approach to the members of the Indian army, their kith and kin, their hardships as well as their sense of content. To lead such a life, well it’s a blessing whose value most of us do not know. 

PS: A heartfelt thanks to the author and her team for letting me gain a perspective. Best wishes for the book!

Title: Mistress of Honour
Author: Bhaavna Arora
Number of pages: 191
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0143425285
ISBN-13: 978-0143425281
My rating: 3/5