It gives me great pleasure to interact with fellow ophthalmologists through this blog. Those of you who are reading this but for some strange reason are not yet AIOS members; please assume I am annoyed with you. You may even stop reading at this point. To the rest of the "normal" readers, I wish you a wonderful 2016
Let us start at the beginning and recount a couple of interesting episodes from my student days in GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai.
- As an undergraduate student, I get a foreign body, cornea. I rush to the eye OPD at 8am on a weekday, with pain redness, watering and FB sensation, OD. The houseman (junior resident) on duty examines me and pronounces gravely, “you have a FB on cornea” and takes me to the registrar (senior resident). He looks at it with an even more powerful torch and repeats the same diagnosis. I am now escorted to the lecturer and my history and the examination findings are repeated to him. He takes me to the regular slit lamp and after a careful look with all 6 possible beams on the bio-microscope, agrees with the diagnosis. I am now taken to the Assistant Professor.. he takes me to the brand new Haag Streit slit lamp that only people of his level of seniority and above are allowed to handle, and concurs. It is “a foreign body on the cornea”. My pleas to all concerned to have it removed fall on deaf ears. “You are the boss’s son.. We will wait for Dr. B.T.Maskati to arrive”! So in the busy OPD, 25 other poor patients with foreign bodies come with similar complaints after me, get their FB removed and go home smiling and symptom free, albeit with hideous large bandages over their affected eye. I continue to suffer, till the clock strikes (actually it does not strike on the half hour!) 11.30am and my father walks in. (this was in the pre-cell phone era). I am presented to him as the ‘first case’. He takes one look at my eye with a pen torch and declares grandly, “he has a FB on his cornea – please remove it”. Royal sanction being obtained, the lecturer proceeds to remove the FB and all’s well that finally, after almost 4 hours, ends well!!
- I am the elected General Secretary of the college – the most powerful position in the Student’s Council. In the inter-medical drama competition, a very small number of GSites are present (this is normal as GS was known for its geeks, not cultural performances) and actually dare make fun of the drama staged by TNMC (a rival medical college) with a strength of 10 times GSMC in the audience. During the interval, some of the GSMC boys are roundly thrashed by TNMC boys for ‘misbehaviour’. We lodge a police complaint, then go to the residence of the TNMC dean with the bloodied shirt and broken tooth of a GSMC 4ft6” student as ‘evidence’ of the high handedness of the TNMC students. Dean promises an inquiry. Next day, I go around every UG class in GS addressing them and telling them to come to the evening’s drama performance of our college, to avoid a repeat of the previous day’s events. From approximately 15 GSites the previous day, we now number close to 300! Our college drama was so awful, even I felt like booing, but it was heard in rapt silence by all!
I could go on about several similar anecdotes that remain etched in my memory. I was an activist student and was almost expelled from medical college on more than one occasion for daring to question authority. One mellows with age however and learns to look back at those college days and heave a wistful sigh for days of youth gone by!
I believe every incident in one’s life teaches us something. The first one taught me to be more empathetic to patients when I became a PG student.. I understood the suffering of poor patients and made sure I did not subject any patient no matter his social standing, to unnecessary delay in offering treatment. The second incident strengthened my resolve not to take injustice lying down, to fight for the underdog and the tremendous strength in numbers if they could be mobilised for a just cause.
I urge all of you never to regret how you handled any particular episode in your life, whether it was a case of Avastin induced endophthalmitis or a quarrel over a petty issue with your spouse, sibling or child. Use the event to learn a lesson, either by self-analysis or taking the help of a mentor depending on the situation so that every day we become better individuals; not better than our competitors, but better than we ourselves were the previous day.
I wish you all the very best in this magnificent journey we call Life!