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The Doctor

 As I stepped inside the cold OT I looked around in awe. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t my first time in an OT. In fact, I have spent a great many evenings in my childhood just chilling with the nurses, eating mangoes or mudhi (puffed rice) in the Intensive care unit (ICU) amidst the moribund masses. 

But every time I go into an OT, I’m stunned at the potential of this place. You can actually rip a person apart and look at their inside. Like if you think about it the Sartorius,  Gracillis and their friends live in a pitch black world. There’s no Mansapeshee (yes I googled this term!) Jyoti Yojana for them. [my sincere apologies for the miserable try at a joke. I don't know what's wrong with my sense of humor today. It's already asleep I think.]

That aside, it’s really incredible how you can touch the inside, insert devices, take stuff out and so on. What takes our cells months to build can be torn in a jiffy. 

I waited with The Doctor, who was going to perform the surgery, for the patient to come. The patient arrived almost after 30 mins of waiting which made me wonder why The Doctor and I had arrived so early in the first place. But this was his routine, apparently. 

It was a 'simple' pacemaker replacement procedure. The patient, a young woman with complete heart block, was laid on the operation table. 
The team scrubbed, wore radiation protective gears and the patient was made ready for the procedure. There was a DNB student, let’s call him Bob, assisting today. 
Bob painted the patient’s thighs and groin area with betadine and infiltrated her skin with local anaesthesia. Then he palpated the femoral artery in order to locate the femoral vein. He inserted a cannula through the vein and then guided the temporary pacemaker through it. I always wondered how one could reach the heart through the legs. The catheter went into the heart as if it was on its way back home and it knew the way from the bottom of its heart (pun intended). 

Here, I got a prime example of how experience is superior to everything else in life. 
Bob tried a lot, even after multiple attempts he couldn’t get the temporary pacemaker to reach the right ventricle. It went up, down, left, right but just not into the right ventricle. That’s when the doctor took over and in a blink of an eye, it was in the right ventricle! 

After that, it was time to replace the permanent pacemaker. 
The same sterilisation procedure was repeated in the area below the right clavicle and local anaesthesia was infiltrated. I saw the scalpel cut the layers of skin and fascia until it reached a rectangular metallic object. It’s a little intimidating to imagine such an object within oneself but to actually watch it is something else. I just can't describe it. The pacemaker was replaced by a new one and then it was placed back in its position and the skin closed in the reverse order as it was opened. I watched The Doctor work with utmost concentration and sincerity. I saw him check if the stitches were properly done, after that the temporary pacemaker was removed and it was a wrap! 

I assume, The Doctor made a trivial conversation with the patient all through the procedure to help her relax. This is when the patient was instructed to routinely check her pacemakers' battery as she had a complete heart block and her heart won’t work without the pacemaker. That’s when she asked the doctor his name. I could see she was grateful. But his reply struck a chord with me. 
He told her his name was inconsequential and it was his work that mattered. And that she would be referred to him when there was a need. 

I’m sharing this story cause it was vital for me. I learned 3 very important things. 

Firstly, it reminded me why I wanted to be a doctor in the first place. And how all these years I was trying to find new ways to run away from hard work as I was quite lost after joining medical school. It gave me back my insight, my aim, and my motive in life. 

Secondly, it taught me the importance of experience. I might ace the theoretical concepts, but when it comes to practical only with time and dedicated work would I be able to ace that. Also, an experience is worth a thousand word. 

Thirdly (and perhaps most importantly), it taught me humility

In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna said that one should do their work sincerely and completely without bothering about its outcome. The doctors' reply when the patient wanted to know his name made me question my actions. How I’m always doing things to win accolades and acknowledgements and how I enjoy the thrill of the praise. But now I hope to change that and just do my best and leave the rest! 

And lastly (not a lesson but a wish) I hope that one day I can become at least one half of The Doctor that he is. 

For me, he is a legend, an unnamed hero! 


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