United We Heal, Divided We Earn Less

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It’s the year of pay commission in India, or as my childhood taught me (being a younger sibling), the year in which elder brother finally gets new clothes to be passed on to me after 3 seasons. The service-class people get a hike in pay enabling them to gift their wives some jewellery, their kids some new toys and themselves a bottle of hangover-free non-poisonous whiskey. Through the past 60 years of post-independence India, pay commission has been one of the very few government-related things worth looking forward to, other than Lalu Yadav’s interviews and viral videos of politicians getting slapped or thrown shows at.

This pay commission, however, hasn’t been up to the general expectations, specifically to the medical fraternity. May be the government thinks that doctors are some saints who do not have earthly needs and should treat others as a form of social service. May be the government thinks that we can survive on a food-free diet consisting of verbal thank-yous and the occasional thrashing by some attendants. May be the government thinks that by the time most of finish studying, we are already too old to think of getting married and probably too sterile to even think of having kids. Whatever the thought process is, the government, just like our lives and our exes, has not been fair to us.

The biggest issue is that our non-practising allowance, that is the money that we get for not doing private practise while working in government setup, has been reduced, and also delinked from our basic salary. For economically naive doctors, this means next time you visit an ATM, it will make a sound of “AaaakhThooo” from the money slot and will display #LolAukaat as your balance. Your shopping destination will shift from Select City Walk to Palika or local tuesday market and vacation venue will change from Thailand to Shimla or Paharganj depending upon your idea and/or purpose of a vacation.

The doctor’s association has decided to protest against this by holding a strike in government hospitals, hence giving Delhi Police a chance to practise their water-cannon skills on live targets once again. The proposed strike prompted a Rajasthan BJP MLA to call doctors ‘nikamma and aalsi’, the two compliments earlier reserved for LK Advani. Over the past one year, I have trained my brain not to pay heed to BJP politicians’ comments, specially since one of them had a problem with JNU students using condoms. He said it was against Indian culture of “feel nahi aati yaar usko use karte hue”.

The argument that doctors deserve same salary as other government officials who work the same number of hours makes perfect sense to those who think stapling papers together and attesting property documents requires the  same skill as trying to make a disease go away or saving a life. Also, the acquisition of those skills required training for a minimum of 5.5 years, which is roughly the number of holidays that a Sarkaari Babu gets in 6 years. On the other hand, we work on weekends, public holidays, in fact, hamare yaha shadi-party ke order bhi book kiye jaate hain.

We love our job, it gives us satisfaction, though that satisfaction will not be useful while paying for my food, clothing, shelter, pre-wedding photoshoot, honeymoon trip, nursery admission of my future generation, iPad for their third birthday else they’ll hold their breath, and a rocking chair for retirement, because that’s the desi dream ain’t it?

Here’s to hoping that our unity bears some fruit. Dear fellow doctors, I am with you.

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The Almost-Serious ICU Diaries

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If you spend enough time, say a fortnight, at a single work place (and you are a semi-arrogant West Delhi resident), you feel kind of an expert of that place. I spent the last 15 days in Intensive Care Unit, or gynaecologists call it, ‘URGENT’, and now I feel that my expertise matches that of Kamaal R Khan in Bollywood, which is just another way of saying that I can rant on about the topic for hours without making sense and people may still listen because I have a face worth laughing at and I will throw in the ‘c’ word here and there.

Over the past 15 days, I learnt how to manage critical patients in a highly qualified way with some help from the senior I was tagged with, for e.g.
SIRRRR! Bed 6 tachycardia! What to do?
SIRRRR! Bed 4 is not moving! Oh wait, he was just sleeping.
SIRRRR! Bed 3 has got hold of my neck *choking sounds*
SIRRRR! Chai mangwayein kya?
(Read again with a panic tinge in voice for true effect)

I also learnt about the discharge criteria from ICU, which is usually the point when the patient’s arm starts looking like Om Puri’s face because of repeated pricking for blood samples. It is never easy working with agitated and/or sick patients, because no doctor ever said the words “Wow! Sputum bath again” with a smile on his face. The procedures are tough to do, and the human body works in a perfect loop of irony, because the secretions supposed to stay in mouth will go down the wind pipe, the endotracheal tube supposed to enter wind pipe will enter oesophagus, and the gastric drain tube will coil around itself in the mouth, and then you feel as helpless as a single guy alone at home with fractured wrist of the right hand.

The day duties are hectic due to work, but it is the night duty that actually scares me because there will be one or two patients who will stay completely still while staring at you at 4AM, and I have watched a lot of Bipasha Basu movies and I have now realised that ‘loss of bladder control due to fear’ is not just a metaphor. Also, after all the suctioning of secretions from the patient’s lungs, you do not really enjoy the special dinner thali featuring kadi pakora, because nausea can be a bigger bitch than Karma.

There is a special bond that an ICU resident forms with the patients, which cannot be put into words, because mostly the patient has a tube down his throat and can’t speak, but I’ll still try to give an example:

Patient: *points toward his mouth*
Me: Pyaas lagi hai?
Patient: *nods yes*
Me: Ye lo. (Injects one millilitre water into his mouth).
Patient: *vomits almost a lake on the floor*
*AWKWARD SILENCE*
Patient: *points toward his mouth again*

I got exposure to all kinds of poisoning cases, and being a C.I.D fan (the Sony show which will bring humanity to an end pretty soon), I believed a poisoning can only be suicidal or homicidal. I wish I was making this up, but some of the reasons I was given for ingestion of suspicious liqor and/or drugs included:

>I thought it was paracetamol
>I was out of alcohol
>I just felt like tasting it
>My friends bet me five hundred rupees if I could drink acetone

Hence, people of East Delhi are not only extremely curious and dim witted, they also need to make better friends.

Now that ICU is over, I can finally go back and help the surgery team to make this nation a secular, sovereign gall-bladder-free nation. That, and eating kadi pakora without wanting to kill myself.

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MBBS vs MBA: Dawn Of Interview Skills

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Trust me, I am proud that I am a doctor. When I look beyond the salary, the viva humiliations, the family events that I have missed, inhuman working hours and the one time I felt I would get beaten up by the mob in emergency, I only have fond memories of my medical college. Most of my friends and cousins have engineering or consultancy jobs, which means they know two things I can’t even imagine: What it means to have money, and How to crack a job interview.

Seriously, other than the regular CV-verification ones, most of the questions have no politically correct answers, or as we call it in medical college, ‘out of syllabus’. Owing to my below-average imagination skills and excess of free time, I imagined myself in such an interview, and let’s just say that all the things wrong in my life are not just because of my career choice. Do not ask me why I answer almost all questions honestly, because I am not sure what and how much I had before writing this post.

Q. Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I used to be a bright kid in school. Good grades but eye-bleed-inducing handwriting and even worse looks meant I was never the first choice of my female batchmates to ask for notes and favours. That frustration, and a career choice influenced by hindi serials such as Dill Mill Gaye rather than practical thinking have made me what I am today: alone, semi-bald and unemployed.

Q. Why should we hire you?
Uh, please? Please hire me?

Q. What are your greatest professional strengths?
I still haven’t killed myself after 7.5 years in medical field, so I guess being Besharam is my greatest strength. Seriously, I can take up to 4 hours of humiliation from a senior and laugh about it later, provided he used lignocaine jelly and I have a chilled beverage in my hand that is not Foster’s.

7. What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
Girls from dental college. Oh wait, you didn’t mean in that sense?

10. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Either getting married, and hopefully not having an exam on the same day, or if, miraculously, I am already married by then, planning a family (buying gajraas and jalebis on my way back home, if you know what I mean).

13. Why are you leaving your current job?
I’m sorry, I don’t know how to put “dhakke de ke nikaal diya jana” into polite words, so I would let that one pass.

Q. Describe an incident you disagreed with a decision or judgement that was made at work?
I don’t call that an incident. I call it my first year residency.

Q. How would your boss and co-workers describe you?
They used the words “certified ch***a“, but I think it was just playful language.

Q. Why was there a gap in your employment?

*cries inconsolably*

Q. How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?
I panic and run round and round in circles like a headless chicken. Then I do what I learnt during my gynae posting in internship: send an ICU referral.

Q. What’s your dream job?
Currently, a job is my dream job. Could you please hurry up? I have an interview at McDonald’s in 15 minutes.

Q. What are your salary requirements?
I expect a package of 12 lakhs plus, with usual medical benefits, with two paid vacations, preferably international.

*awkward silence*

20 rs per hour. Done.

Q. What do you like to do outside of work?
I like to write meaningless blog posts to vent out my frustration.

And guess what, this one is actually my 100th.  So, thanks to all of you for reading. *insert regular pleading sentences for subscribing and commenting*
:)

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