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Confessions of a Neem Hakeem : Part 1- The Rookie

Confessions of a Neem Hakeem :
Part 1- The Rookie

I’ll be jotting down the usual, typical, clich├ęd, ragari hui statements about getting into medicine with tears in eyes and donning a shining sparkling overall that beats the Twilight wala Edward.

Amma abba ka laiq bacha, unka source of pride and khandaan ke saamnay a respectable, enviable showpiece. Moving onnnn.
(3 Years in medicine certainly haven’t quite made me pleasant, I see. Or that’s because the feeling passes. Aik saal is quite enough to brag about it though by profs, the spirit is definitely dampened.)

Before getting into Medicine, the only ideas we had about being a doctor were fantasized versions of House or Grey’s Anatomy. That doctors are really cool, and all the learning and heroics comes naturally. Highly and sadly, quite mistaken we are. Once you enter the realms of the world of mysteries and maladies and remedies of human body, you realize how mistaken you were, how totally incapable you are and how your brain develops a new condition, amnesia commonly known as short term memory loss. It’s true. Time to time you prepare your sub stages and tests and you forget them the moment they’re gone. It’s a wonder therefore how we manage to scrape through profs given we get confused even with the most basic questions. Like, side determination of a bone for that matter. Maybe it’s the pressure on the nerves playing its part, but medicine does make you dumb. Gotta  admit that.
So, two years pass without much of an action and ‘saving lives’. All you do is inflict damage on the cadaver’s muscles and secretly cut off the nerves you can’t identify for spotting. And then comes third year. Action time! You can’t wait to rush off and breathe new life into someone who is on the verge of losing it. One can dream, can’t they?
So began my experience. A very careless one.
A clean overall- check.
Serious Dr. look- check.
Overwhelming eagerness- check.

Just walked across the road to the old auditorium and I was greeted by a woman asking for the Radiology dept. And I, whose experience of visiting and knowing different departments was more or less nil and still incomplete (yes, I am a very lazy), had to excuse myself and apologize. Way to make an impression though, I thought.
As I entered the very iconic ghari ward, a wave of curiosity, surprise, slight aversion (to how crowded, crumbling, dirty it was) swept over me.

Hospitals have this certain scent about them. It’s different from DH obviously, and we become quite tolerant too, however, the difference is evident for any outsider stepping in from fresh air. The world seems to be racing, people bustling in and out. Walking, limping and dragging themselves, on wheelchairs and stretchers accompanied by attendants laden with luggage, sitting on the floor, waiting in the corridors and doorways.

Our first ward was North Surgery. We didn’t get to visit the ward, but rather had a briefing by the HOD. Gauging the response of the attendants and the people, the white coat does allow a sense of recognition and respect. Not the cheesy way, but people do regard you as something. Perhaps suffering as they are, patients do look up to doctors to cure their ailments howsoever ill-informed and ignorant they maybe. The HOD talked about self-directed learning and the fact that we ought to be serious as we’ve entered the clinical years. And then he asked for a patient. She came along with her mother on a wheelchair. Very weak and lethargic, she had a swollen, bandaged foot. Sir ordered the bandages to be removed and bent down to observe. It was a fungating cancer, the size of an apple perhaps, and the skin was ulcerated (wounded) with pus oozing out and trickle of blood tracing across the swollen mass. Her mother placed her hands beneath the foot to collect the blood dripping. Sir asked her to step aside, didn’t for a minute hesitate, and grabbed her foot with his bare hands to observe and show us. It was an odd sight. Stick thin legs ending up with a swelling much bigger than their own condition. Later, the x-rays showed the cancer involved her foot bones too so the only treatment was- amputation. There possibly was no other way.
What complicated the condition was that the woman was three months pregnant, and had a daughter already. Her husband had left her when she developed the cancer. And so she was here accompanied by her mom. . I searched for any sign of emotions on her face. Her face was impassive. And her figure, crooked.
It jerked me out of my reverie of thoughts for a moment. It’s not like God loved her any less than me and yet her trials were way beyond any I had ever encountered. Heck, my problems seemed trivial.
Such is the existence termed as life. There are so many aspects to it that I wonder if we can all chart out the details. This however, got me thinking how easy death is.
How many excuses God has to call us back.
How vast pain and tragedy is.
How short life is.
How fewer chances are.
How everything is timed, synchronized and fated as we stand powerless in the face of it all.
We are however, equipped with the spirit to fight, to challenge and to try changing the circumstances to our best. And simply, to hold onto faith.
Days later, I saw a woman with an amputated foot carried away on a wheelchair, discharged from the ward. At least the cancer wasn’t fatal. And life ahead seemed to hold no promise of relief or happiness for her; I prayed and hoped it would.
There was a sinking feeling. The job is definitely something more than I had thought it was. You play a decisive role. Your actions make a huge difference in someone’s life. And I? Was I even capable enough?


  1. Thank you so much, Sameen!
    Your response truly means a lot. :)
    I pray I do, along with all those pursuing this field, make a difference. Ameen.


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