no special moral superiority is granted to medical doctors on graduation ,like any other person they have a life to lead have their pains and pleasures and families to look after and dreams to fulfil so the expectation that every doctor should sacrife his all for the sake of society would not go much beyond idealistic stories or in movies .
Having said this it is also known that there are many among doctors who conduct their profession with utmost decorum and within their ethical boundaries if not one cannot see the merits accrued to the state of health over the years .
Becoming a doctor by itself is also not a small joke ,to get through the rat race of getting a coveted seat ( Iam mentioning by merit of course ) it requires years of drudgery and hard work of cramming up millions of facts attending classes ,dissecting the dead and spending hours in crummy pathology laboratories with bottled specimens or in anaesthetised operation theatres cutting and stitching human tissues .
food and sleep generally is priority number two those times and mostly so for many throughout their profession .
commitments to time can hardly be given by any doctor as the unexpected could turn up at any time and cancellations could well be the order of the day leading to stress and frustrations .the obvious question is after all after choosing the profession why complain ,true nobody does that but at the same time no physician needs to be defensive to any critic of his time he has earned it well !
Over the years I had more unslept nights than slept ones !
During internship if at all we slept it was the sleep of the dead as working continuously sometimes for four days we could get a few winks and a quick grabs of food ,so busy were government hospitals those days and so crowded ,
I still remember the crowded wards of Kilpauk medical college hospital where I studied, it had patients on the floor and under the beds and in the corridors like many government hospitals even today do ,
we were attenders nurses room boys and junior doctors all together but this is how we learned .
the duty room itself was like a tiny ward with the same beds in the ward rusted and with dirty bedsheets but we slept their like kings when we were permitted ,
we awaited with dread every time the attender knocked the door and called out for a doctor from a speciality praying that it was not us and many a time no prayers were answered in internship .
it was like the knock of the gestapo in Hitlers Germany
Our teachers were strict but had a fondness for us unrivalled in any profession
they had this feeling of us being part of the family as children who needed to learn the hard way and they were protective and taught us their greatness slowly .
internship is more like an Army base camp for a doctor .
During my post graduation days too night calls were there but relatively lighter as it was only speciality concerned and we had some junior helps
later during early days of private family practice in kochi I never stopped people from ringing the bell or seeing them during nights ,most of the nights would be interrupted by patients many times over some were really genuine needs many were absurd as they could have come during daytime but would give silly excuses like we were busy etc,
many would come in rickety auto rickshaws or cars to take me into distant house ,
I had walked through slush and mud and heavy rain for long distances to see patients over the years ,
some would just take us to homes to confirm death which would have been evident hours before so that they could get a convenient death certificate needed for property dealings later and invariably no fee were collected from death houses and hence they would get it all free ,
over time I would get wise and stop the 24 hours open clinic as there were lot of hospitals around to serve at all hours ,I would restrict myself to strict timings and appointments .
this kind of ranklings were a kerala speciality coming out of their brainwashed militant socialistic attitudes but many also understood the hardship of doctors and the work involved and were ever grateful ,many of them still remember us .
After drifting into oncology I continued night duties in lakeshore hospital where it was as busy as it could come but I used to enjoy those days as I had a passion for my speciality and I felt I could really do my mite for reducing the sufferings of cancer patients ,many nights were spent over long talks with colleagues in the casualty or in the wards in between patients and strong tea from neighbouring hotels .
In UAE too I continued with night calls which were quite tough as it was a very busy tertiary referral centre and our on calls were highly stressed up at times with no time to breathe but there was lot of fun too ,late in the nights specially during winter we night owls used to meet up in the ground floors for a cuppa tea and at times a relieving smoke and spin our yarns till our mobiles shrilled ,
I remember I even put the hospital contact name in my mobile as shalliyam which in Malayalam w meant Trouble ! so every time I had a call from hospital it used to say shalliyam shalliyam
on call Rotas also used to create lot of irritations with colleagues specially during long holidays like Ramadhan days ,
it was generally accepted that if one does on call during the small id one could be free during the big one or vice versa as each had approximately more than a week
once unfairly I was continued to be put on call during both and this was I felt was for favouring someone
I protested and naturally the mediator suggested we toss a coin ,up went the coin and landed to my luck on my choice but both mediator and the other would not agree and said the coin should not roll over but should be caught in hand ,for which I just kept quite as I knew how the wind swayed this time the coin this time fell against my choice and I did the calls ,
today it all looks so childish and I remembered this over a conversation with another dear friend
Iam narrating all this as an experience most doctors go through at some time of their life
yes it is their job and they chose it but it is also a job that requires a lot of sacrifices
At 55 today I am free of night mares ( calls )
but for the real one s! of course