Eternity in an hour: A doctor’s musings


I was born to parents who were both doctors, in a family that had a multitude of doctors. So ingrained was the profession in our roots, that a typical family outing would comprise a trip to the local hospital, and eating samosas and aloo (potato) patties at the hospital canteen.

While other children gave their dolls makeovers, I prescribed them amoxicillin syrup and carried out very convincing GPEs using a real stethoscope and tuning fork. In fact, my earliest childhood memory consists of a pink toy telephone and a very indignant me enquiring about the sodium/potassium levels of an imaginary patient in my fantasy land.

I knew since then that I wanted to be a doctor.

While my elder sister spent her teens debating over careers pertaining to engineering, science and math, I stuck to my syringes, surgical gloves and my conviction, i.e., “I’m going to be a doctor and save the world”. So when the time came to apply, there wasn’t a single doubt in my mind. Medicine it was, medicine it had always been.

I struggled throughout the four years of med school and cursed my decision for picking the toughest profession there was more often than once, and wondered why I did not aspire to become a singer or a writer instead.

But now, as I sit in the casualty, interning at one of the busiest hospitals in town, I know I made the right decision. Because sitting here with a patient, listening to his troubles, the whole universe comes to a standstill. All that matters is the ailing person in front of me and my deep rooted desire to alleviate his suffering.

At that time I forget my own pain. I forget about the fight I had with my friend. The troubles at home seem irrelevant. And the stomach ache which had been annoying me since morning seems to fade. I forget the endless debts that weigh me down. All that matters at that instant is the suffering of that wounded stranger who sits in front of me.

After all, isn’t that what life is all about? Helping others in their time of need? Fixing their life even as yours lies shattered around you in a million pieces? Being the shelter in a storm, the oasis in a desert…

And when that patient finally walks out of the casualty doors, pain-free and healed, for a brief moment the weight lifts. The sun shines a little brighter and at that moment, you find peace.

Article source AFP

About the author: Radhika is a medical student at Santosh Medical College, Ghaziabad, India. She is currently holding the position of Public Relations Officer at Indian Medical Students’ Association, India. She has a keen interest in medical writing, have written on topics ranging from public health issues to patient experiences in dealing with chronic illness.

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