Day 8- WhatsApp fuckery!

My post today is going to be be a tad different. I’m a very hesitant user of WhatsApp. For several reasons. But I must admit, it has it’s uses. And of the millions (of course I exaggerate, or do I?) of messages and forwards I receive, I do not usually bother with the forwards. But sometimes, I get riled up. I did so today.

I think I need to share it.

This was the forwarded message-

Amazon, they use to give full two pages advertisement in all newspapers. Flipkart, don’t know how many times they celebrated Big Billion Days in a year. They flooded with Chinese products to Indian market. Sold them and made huge money.

Big Basket, Grofferrs, their notifications was ringing every hour till last week. Malls, Super Markets, Big Bazaar. Where are they now? They stopped all services! No delivery at all. Tomorrow when dust settles they will come again with 20-30% discount sales. We forget what they did in these difficult times and go again to online and super market. Think again!

Who helped us during this tough time? Our own street Grocery storewala. He is supplying grocery and necessary stuff in this lock down period. The milkman is supplying milk everyday. He has not shut his service and ran away. That small vegetable shop run by lady is still open. Don’t know from where she is bringing vegetable but she is feeding us. Will you forget this help?

I will not. I have decided henceforth I will not go to Amazon, Flipkart, Grofferrs or Big Basket. No malls, no super market. I will shop in Kirana store, local dairy and small vegetable shop which helped my family to survive. It’s okay I will spend some more ruppes. But I will not forget what they have done for me and my family.

Thanks 🙏

( Don’t know who penned this but a point to note )

And this was my hastily, almost subconscious, frenzied reply. Copied and pasted. Not even edited for grammar or spelling.

I have ruminated for a while before replying to this. Please do not be offended, or take this personally. You guys must have noticed that I am quite reticent on WhatsApp. My replies are abysmally delayed, and a forward from me probably means I’m sick or delusional. But sometimes, replies are warranted, even to errant forwards from strangers.

The quantum of misinformation and rubbish that we are bombarded with on the daily, on this very useful platform is mind- numbing. Generally, I consider it a nuisance, but now I realize that daily shots of this, even in minute doses is enough for mass indoctrination and amplified mob frenzy. To make matters worse, our current political climate seems to fuel the mania.

I urge you all to read, from every source you can. Widen you horizons, wisen up on local, national and international matters. Have a world view. We are all (on this group at least) people of science no?

Consume from the left media, the right wing, the centre, middle- every fucking publication and media if you have to . Look for evidence, not conjecture. Start looking at news as you would a scientific paper. What level of evidence is it? Among the five (or six, or seven) levels, Whatsapp in my humble opinion is level 100. Worse than nothing.

Or you could chose not to know at all. Forget the media and their endless rambles. The screechy voices and sketchy on field reporters. The journalists who can’t string a sentence together. (Would I be allowed to work if I couldn’t place a suture?) The 24 hr ballyhoo. Be blissfully ignorant, and therefore happy. And, also not have a WhatsApp account.

Let us look at this seemingly innocuous forward for example. To put the record straight- I am one of those who orders extensively online. It makes my life a lot easier, trust me. And the past week has been hard. I first ordered on Amazon Fresh (where the delivery window is 2 hours) on Saturday evening (a day before the curfew), and received a slot for the next Wednesday! I knew then, that this was a portend for things to come. My orders have all since been cancelled, and not by me. Today an email said, deliveries for essential items have resumed in my area. I went online- no luck! System errors it said, then ‘no delivery slots’ apparently. Of course I was gutted, irritated. Suddenly Amazon is the enemy no? Of course, beat the beaten dog to death!

Amazon is a multi- national, billion- dollar, corporate giant. With almost a million directly employed employees and several more indirectly employed. Does any sane man/ woman believe they do NOT want profit at this time? When ecommerce orders have jumped exponentially. During the good times, they could offer massive sales and offers and quick deliveries due to their gargantuam stockpiles and armies of warehouse and delivery workers. The warehouses and stocks are worth shit if the workers can’t show up or if they are beaten half to death on the way to the homes of their consumers! Also, the term “essential” item is a minefield. Ask the folks who run the companies. (I could elaborate, but that would be too much)

Other countries who have been hit by COVID-19 worse than us, especially the US and UK are still quite reliant on ecommerce suppliers. They consider them life- savers. They write up thank you plaques outside their doors for these folks who get them their milk and bread. They are no less heroic to them than any ER nurse or physician.

Why are we suffering then?

The answer is always the same no. Inadequate, or worse- wrong information handed to the folks in the field. Mismanagement, political shilly-shally, and many a time , ignorant or fanatical idiots at the helm.

As for the kirana shops, I do not doubt that at least some of them have altruistic intentions; but the majority are here to do what everyone else wants to. Make a quick buck, make hay while the sun shines. Exactly like the ones who hoard masks and sanitizers and sell them at exorbitant prices. Prices for essential commodities have been artificially risen to upto 70% in some instances. Again, this is multi- factorial, and not entirely of their making, yet they do play a part. They behave in a patronising manner, refuse to provide bills in some instances, refuse to serve customers who question them, refuse to give items that were asked for (in those shops where the customers wait outside, and lists are handed over to the employees)

Do not get me wrong here, I am not trying to glorify the giant corporations or vilify our poor, small traders, my grouse is with this “shooting from our arses” mentality. Where everyone with a fuckall WhatsApp account is an expert.

Please, I beg of you my lovely, smart , intelligent ladies. Let us pledge to screen every message and forward, scrutinise every “fact” and second guess every image and video before we mass circulate this. Let us not let idiots and imbeciles insult our intellects this way.

I apologise for my rant. I wouldn’t say this anywhere else; except to MY people.

P.S. My milkman is a super star. That IS a scientifically proven fact.

What say, just a tad too much?

Till next time,

J

 

 

Day 6- A tranquil apocalypse

Does’t this feel like the proverbial calm before the storm? Do you sense the worse is yet to come. Like we are seated to watch a blockbuster movie, and the pre- movie trailers and adverts keep running on. If this is truly an apocalypse, it’s seems quite tranquil at the moment no?

I had a neighbour knock at our door today, she stood a metre away from our doorstep and asked if I knew where one can get tested for The Virus. She then went on to talk about how she couldn’t wait for these 21 days to be over. Ah! Naive optimism or blissful ignorance?

I do not have a clue as to what might happen in the coming weeks. Nobody truly does. We can make scientific conjectures, historical predictions; but they are all guesses. Italy and India had their first reported cases at about the same time. Granted, they have tested about half a million people, while we have less than 30,000. Yet, the picture seems curiously suspect. I feel like we are heading to the edge of a precipice- the path to which is flat and non- threatening but at the endpoint of which we are met with a yawning bottomless depth. I hope I’m wrong, I’m but a pessimist after all.

Anyhoo, for now I shall describe something so mundane that it may momentarily confound your cognition into forgetting The Blockbuster Mr COVID-19.


How am I coping with my fitness fervour you ask? Not as bad as expected to be honest. Yes, I have not had a barbell on my back for precisely 17 days now. *Has it been only that long since?* I have not run for 10 days. I have not even taken my bicycle out for my *now rare* grocery runs *and risk having a lathi thrown at my back, no questions asked!*.

Ugh, the early days were hard. But the withdrawal symptoms are abating. Also, about ten days ago, I was at wit’s end in terms of keeping the progeny engaged. I ended up searching for a box of games from my childhood days *Domino, UNO, BUSINESS?* and lo and behold, I found a couple of rusty, squeaky dumbells. The heaviest being 15 kilos, I think. That, coupled with some resistance bands, the kids play mat, my night stand and an Ikea stool- boy am I sore!

The beauty of strife, is that it strips life down to the basics. I have a roof over my head, food in my belly and my family is safe. The rest, we shall deal with as they come. If people can get jacked in prison, who am I to whine for not having access to a squat rack. So my friend, we shall get ripped in quarantine. No more obsessing over lift numbers, nay. My goals now are:-

  1. Increase push up strength. Do more and do it better
  2. Master the pistol squat (almost there, just working on the ROM)
  3. And try and keep as much of the gains as possible. Strength can be regained back quite quickly.
  4. And try to do this-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GMr8xV4IY4&t=51s

I have hacked a lot of exercises, and am really having fun with fitness again. I wish I had one of those pull- up bars though. Also, maybe a pair of heavier (20 kgs+ anyone?) dumbbells/ kettlebells. Why can’t a human ever be satisfied?

Oh yes, and also; the progeny have PE time everyday as well. I do the half an hour with them. It’s a perfect warm up for me, as its a good one to get the heart rate up and get a light sweat on.  It’s insane, chaotic, very noisy but loads of fun and giggles. We all like to follow the Joe Wicks kids workouts on YouTube. Trust me, when done with the right heart, these are not as east as they might look to the physically uninitiated!

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay fit folks!

Till next time.

J.

 

Day 5- Only?

Has it only been 5 days? Weekday morning rush and night- time scraps; memories of a couple of weeks ago, are paling already. Amazing, truly!

Normal workdays for me, are days in which my time is not mine. I’m either sorting the kids out, or engaged completely and wholly with a patient- conscious ones in the OPD and unconscious ones in the OR. I live on flecks of me- time. Venting to friends or catching up on audiobooks in the car. Reading the newspaper in OR while the patient is being intubated. You get the drift.

I have been craving a holiday. A true vacation, one where I don’t have to pack for four or worry about baby food and diarrhoea. Where I don’t have to come back and catch up on laundry or make up on- calls at the hospital.

I am not downplaying these difficult times. The human loss, the economic ramifications- the consequences of this pandemic are going to be far- reaching and unprecedented. Time will tell if the world will ever be the same again. I understand that.

But there is this small part of my brain, who doesn’t. That part sees how happy Lil Z and Boss Man are to have their Mum to themselves. All day. It senses their relief when they wake up and find Mum passed out beside them. It relishes the late- mornings, and the cuddles and leisurely coffee and newspaper stints at the balcony. That brainling, also loves the fact that we are longer dictated by the clock. We sleep when tired, wake up when we are bored of sleeping. We eat when hungry.

Z and I are not morning people, and now we are not forced to be. Boss Man likes to zip around the house in his pyjamas post 10PM- this is his ‘me time’, sans his bossy sister. And now he can do so.

The trees and creatures outside must be savouring this brief respite. Wondering where all the ruinous, wasteful humans have disappeared to.

Tomorrow I shall mourn my lost time and money. Cry about being stuck here when I should be settling in to my new home. Grieving for the family that is broken at a time when we should be together. Blaming destiny and governments and fellow people.

Today, I shall be grateful for small mercies. For this time off from the hamster wheel. For a breather that I so desperately needed, even if it involves being occasionally smothered by anxiety.

Tomorrow, I will watch with trepidation as the death toll rises across Europe. And as the disease ravages the so called leader- of- the- free- world. I shall cringe when BBC tells me that cow urine is not a remedy. I will wonder how many thousands are truly infected in my country, considering our meagre testing capabilities. I will worry about the lack of true initiative and preparedness in India, lockdown not withstanding.

Today, I will go to bed thinking of the scientists world over; staying up in fluorescent labs; pouring over microscopes. Of an emergency room nurse; taking on an extra shift as another one of her co- workers is taken by the darned COVID19. Of leaders and visionaries who are not politicians. Of doctors and nurses, and nursing assistants, and lab workers; of sanitation workers , and housekeeping staff. A prayer might escape, from this mind that often battles with agnosticism.

I will go to bed hopeful.

Till next time,

J

The Obsessed.

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”
Franz Kafka

The problem with mercilessly following our intense obsessions is the relationships that we leave on the wayside. The fun- times that we discard at life’s sidewalk. The holidays we sacrifice at the alter of it’s pursuit.

Is is fair that people around you may have to bear some of the weight of the millstone that you perennially carry around your neck. People who dare to love or care for you may inordinately be forced to share some your vexation.

Will my progeny remember me as the selfish human who hounded my own obsessions, rather than cherish their fleeting childhood? Are missed park appointments and hasty bedtime routines a true benchmark for the parenting prize?

Is spending time massaging others’ egos a prerequisite for the “good human” epitaph.

Are romantic pursuits as wasteful and corrosive as they seem?

If one chooses to integrate into conventional society, one is signing an unconditional waiver of one’s true nature. We lie, make polite conversation, bend to others’ will, alter our basic personalities, practice meaningless small talk and generally waste the precious and limited time that could otherwise be utilised to nurture our obsessions.

Whatever people might say, and despite the mockery that the Obsessed are subjected to; we must thank them for all the things that they have brought forth, out of their convoluted minds. Their fruitions have given us every great book, piece of art, scientific innovation and technological advancement.

Let us let them be, please. For they allow us our fun, hassle- free and easy lives.

Till next time,

J.

The pregnant, surgeon-in-training.

If you google ‘pregnant resident’ or ‘pregnancy during surgical residency/ fellowship/ training’, you will be privy to a select few articles that occasionally appear in mainstream media about this small, unique subset of working women. Even medical/ surgical journals occasionally like to amuse themselves by publishing articles such as :

Pregnancy during residency: II. Obstetric complications.

Pregnancy during residency: I. The decision “to be or not to be”.

An article quotes a female orthopaedic fellow on how she scrubbed in for a long haul case at 37 weeks, with two lead aprons and carrying twins!

Doing 24 hour calls, even the better ones at 31 weeks now makes me wonder if she or the newspaper was stretching the truth a bit. At least I rarely have to wear a lead apron, or lift and hold limbs weighing half my body weight. Then I immediately think of conversations that I sometimes have with my non- medical, female friends who cannot believe I can stand and walk and run and bend and stretch and lift, for sometimes over 24 hours with hardly any breaks in between, all while being heavily pregnant. They too might be wondering if I’m “stretching the truth”.

Mind you, this isn’t a whiny rant. No.

If pregnancy were a man thing, it would be considered a great, life- altering, occurrence which warranted special consideration at every instance. The “boys” often talk of crashing for 12 or 16 hours straight during the day after a mediocre call- day. For some of us, even after the worst of calls, we go back home to moody toddlers who need to be picked up from nurseries and then bathed and fed and “poo-ed” and put to bed after reading Room on the Broom about 16 times.

Yes. It is a choice we choose to make. And at every step, we seem to be berated and chastised for making it. Considering wearing adult diapers to counter the weak bladder, and wearing triple or quadruple- sandwich breast pads to counter leaky mammary glands are not glamorous Pinterest hacks, they are survival tactics in times of dire need.

THIS  video is funny satire at first sight, but it is the quintessential harsh reality of female existence, signified by the contrast in our reality and that of male colleagues.  A colleague who recently had a difficult birthing experience, is about 8 weeks post partum, healing, struggling; and is back to the full grind (on calls, surgeries, clinics). You know what her the biggest gripe is at the present moment?

Not the hours.

Not the fatigue her broken, yet to be healed body is burdening her with.

Not the boy talk.

Not the extra calls every month.

NO.

All she complains about is that she can never find an empty room of any kind to sit in and pump for a mere 15 minutes. To top it all, there is “joking- mention” of making up for missed calls during the measly 8 weeks that she was allowed with her newborn. Apparently maternity leave is “vacation”.

*OH, I’M CRYING HOT TEARS HERE.

I am hopeful though. Despite sniggers in the OR when my belly comes in the way or the talk of women being “stupid” for “doing this”, I shall plough on.

I know, even if I don’t shout it out to their faces- that I’m stronger, better and will survive this and probably outpace them all in the long run.

In the early years of my surgical training, having children never crossed my mind, I believed it would slow me down, make me less competitive, make my bosses (mostly men of course) see me as a weakling. What happened instead is surprisingly different. Yes, I’m often racked by mommy- guilt, and taking care of other people on days when my own precious one is sick at home is harder than I thought it would be but motherhood has also smoothened my rough edges (the ones that I once proudly thought were my badge of honour, my “edge” over the competition). I am more empathetic, better with paediatric patients, way better at multi- tasking and generally a tougher nut.

I hope one day things change. I am hopeful that the next generation of female surgeons will not have to masculinise themselves to fit in, and can be comfortable being a woman at the workplace.

My Fitbit says I waddled walked 25089 steps yesterday. Of course it cannot measure the hours I stood for. They are no less taxing than the walking at the moment. My ‘one day at a time’ mantra has now morphed into a new ’15 minutes at one time’ one.

Though I was delirious with exhaustion at one point, and could not string together words to type in my on call report, I kept telling myself – I AM FUCKING AWESOME AND IF ANYONE CAN DO THIS I CAN.

WE CAN.

We are built with stronger steel than we give ourselves credit for, ladies. Just when I think I have been through the worse there is, it gets even harder.  The crap piles on, and on some days I find myself swimming in it. I hold my breath, grit my teeth and wade through it. I ultimately find my way out of the crapmire and then give myself a thorough wash. And I survive, yet again. Better, a sharper version of myself. The next time life needs to work harder to scare me.

So, go ahead ladies, jump into whatever your heart desires. Scores of others are fighting similar battles across the world; discrimination, mockery and sniggers not withstanding.

Only you can define your impossible.

Till next time.

J.

Tales from The Operating Room- 10 lies in medical dramas that make us look cooler than we are..

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Medical dramas have more often than not been immensely popular on TV. The intense life and death stories, Adonis like surgeons, uber- competitive super- attractive residents, wacky patients, natural disasters, passionate hospital romances, the never- ending drama; keeps the viewers hooked week after week.

And propagates a ton of lies and half- truths!

They present a seriously distorted concept of what a surgeon’s life is like.

Of course there are times, when interesting, intense, exciting things transpire in the operating room or in the surgical wards. After all art does imitate life. But most days in the “office” for the surgeon are mundane and uneventful. Some days can be borderline boring even!

Here are the top ten lies/ myths about surgeons that is often dispersed on medicine/ hospital based TV shows:-

Continue reading Tales from The Operating Room- 10 lies in medical dramas that make us look cooler than we are..