MY FAIR LADY Jun28

MY FAIR LADY

India’s obsession with fairness is no secret. The average Indian matrimonial advertisement seeks the fair bride. I have worked for two years in rural Tamil Nadu. Often you start feeling a sense of righteous indignation when mothers bring their adolescent daughters in asking please tell us how to make her fair. Entreaties of she is gorgeous and you cant change her skin tone fell on deaf ears. A couple of times sheer frustration led me to say yes there’s one thing. You have to change her father. If you can go back in time and change the father maybe she will become fair. But, you can’t hold individuals responsible for the systematically ingrained prejudice against the dusky especially when the dowry is directly proportional to the Fitzpatrick skin score (A scoring system that classifies individuals from more likely to burn to more likely to tan) The socio-cultural aspects of colour are interesting. Ancient Hindu texts refer to Lord Krishna as saavla or dusky, the colour of the new moon. Yet we persistently paint him as blue. The Amar Chitrakatha comics had dark antagonists and fair protagonists. The invaders of India were largely fair the people out of Steppe, Mughals and the Colonial powers. The upper castes were fairer too. The fascination with being fair was not a uniquely Indian phenomenon. The labourers were toiling in the sun and were tanned while the feudal women lived indoor lives. Therefore, being fair was a sign of status. This is reflected in the large number of fairy tales which describe fair maidens. India too adopted this ideal of their overlords. This changed in Europe and America the 1900s where women of all classes began to work and the wealthy socialites could afford beach vacations that gave them...

The Cause of Death Jun22

The Cause of Death

It was 8.45 am on a Thursday morning and I slipped into the ER hoping no one would notice. I had left the previous night at 2.30 am ,just like I had every other day for the last 15 days of my ER posting but that never seemed to matter to anyone. I saw my colleague already attending to patients and breathed a sigh of relief. He smiled as I said Hi. We were good friends but for the last 2 weeks I had begun to loathe him. His efficiency , sharpness, intelligence , all traits I thought I possessed too but this posting had made me question . I wondered how he was coping so well while I crumbled physically , mentally ,emotionally …. I entered the doctor’s room to find my junior looking like a zombie and felt better instantly. There’s a strange sense of relief in collective misery. Hey didn’t you leave early yesterday , I saw you leave at 1.30 ? I said almost sounding condescending . He gave me a dirty look as I took a sip out of his coffee. I decided I needed a stiffer dose of caffeine to get through the day . Thursday’s were the worst , my eyelids were fighting to stay open , my legs felt like wood ,my REM sleep deprived brain couldn’t tell the difference between a J point elevation and STEMI and Sunday was a good 3 days away. ER posting was like combat training, it made you resilient ,taught you to function against all odds ,or so I had been told by my seniors . I was hoping someday in the future I could say the same to some junior who was burning out , but right now it...

The Road less travelled- The Partial truth...

Why I opted to work for a humanitarian organization in a war torn country Well I could say the main reason is because I wanted to eliminate human suffering and be “the savior of the world”, but that would only be partially true. For me the reason is also to fill a void, to find answers, created by a certain personal loss- truly speaking that triggered my application. Also, the need for adventure and the adrenaline junkie that emergency medicine makes you, added fuel to that fire. Not to forget being a millennial, the ease with which one gets bored of one task, job or activity; creates this constant urge to find “something new to do”. Also, since I am extroverted and inquisitive, I love exploring cultures. And since I am on this self-righteous journey that I will not have a routine “purposeless” holiday, like a tourist, I realized the only way for me to tour a place is live there and work ( in the bargain visit some places too)  The partial truth Embarking to, a war torn land still full of hope, So cautiously, I packed my bag and stethoscope, Then I was asked, “Why would you go, To a treacherous land, of fire and foe?” While I tried, genuinely, to introspect, They mused along, curiously, yet circumspect- “Maybe he is a silent selfless savior” “Bravo to his very saintly behavior” Amidst the applause, my face shone, my honor grew, Yet I confessed, that reason was, but partially true- I go to seek answers, To fill a painful void. Un-break an ailing heart, That felt it was toyed. A Purpose much deeper, In this mission I may find, While also leaving my, Petty sorrows behind. Few other reasons, I have also found,...

Healing Colours

When my new nurse friend asked me if I would come and meet the patients at the dialysis hospital where she worked, I was stumped. We had met just a week ago at the local train station. I had told her that I was an artist and she told me that she once knew a painter who ran an art therapy program at one of the hospitals she had worked at. She asked me if I could do something similar for the old patients who came to her center for dialysis. I had just moved to Sydney with my family and although I had my apprehensions ( I have no medical background,) I was willing to put in some hours as a volunteer. I thought it would be a fantastic way to do some service in the new community I had decided to call home. My nurse friend introduced me to the patients the next week. Most of them were over 70 and would come to the hospital thrice a week for dialysis sessions. Her proposal was to get them to do some painting in the three hours that they spent in bed dialysing, rather than watching tv. Four patients signed up for the art therapy sessions. Three were first time painters and were convinced that they would fail miserably at it! One was in her 90s and had been a bit of a painter in her youth but has given up on it more than 20 years earlier. She wasn’t too sure about her current skills either. However, with some pep talk and the hospital funding the program by buying us the best art supplies, we were off to a flying start. As a rule. I never touched the patients’ paintings. Their work...

A CANCER PATIENT’S EVER GROWING BUCKET LIST Mar21

A CANCER PATIENT’S EVER GROWING BUCKET LIST...

I have a patient. Let’s call her, Jessica. I love Jessica. She is one of my favorite patients. When I see her on my schedule, I always smile. She is a straight-talking, blunt, loud, and opinionated woman with a big heart. Jessica has metastatic lung cancer. When she came to me two years ago, she was told she had months to live. That day, we had a very real and honest conversation that lasted over an hour. We talked about her prognosis, best and worst case scenarios, a variety of treatment options and their side effects, and her fears. We spent some time talking about her goals and what she wanted to accomplish in whatever time she may have left. We talked about immunotherapy and the latest response rates we had seen with her type of cancer. She told me she was willing to try anything and with a determined spirit she emphatically stated, “Let’s give it a go!” She also shared with me that she had a bucket list. Her goal was to complete her entire list in whatever amount of time she had left on this planet. I told her, as long as she felt up to it, she should go for it. For the next two years Jessica continued on immunotherapy and traveled with friends and family. Her husband surprised her with a prom that he had planned with all of their friends where she danced until midnight. She fractured her foot while chasing seagulls on the beach. She got bright pink highlights to accentuate her silver hair because, as she reminded me, “You only live once!” After six months we laughed as she told me she had rushed through finishing her bucket list and had completed it! And she admitted...