The Social Aspects and Lifestyles of Physicians
As I was standing in a gray barren field, I smelled the scent of burning incense in air! I tried to recall where was I? I thought I suffered memory loss! I’d never been here. Where is Freya? She left me here? Queries started pounding my head. All at once I beheld a hillock but it wasn’t a rock or earth I was sure! It was a pile of human bodies, drained and lifeless.
My face swamped with sweat and heart fibrillatingly overwhelmed with panic and dread and stomach filled with butterflies. Smoky heaves scattered around me, and I recognized some faces, Freya, Ahmed my friends…..I crept carefully towards them. In the center of field, terrified by huddle of figure, my friends lost in the smoke! I edged closer in the ashy smoke to see whatever thing they were examining with such an intensity. It was a heap of ….what? Books? Closer and closer….. Now it was clearer to read, oh! “The books of medicine.”
Before I could express my astonishment, I noticed a man stood still, as he was staring at me. Light brown curls framed his cherubic face with red, bright red eyes. He was trembling, most probably due to anger’ I thought! “Who is he?” I said and took a step back too frightened to watch my death coming closer every second…… “Thy examiner” replied in a wraithlike smirk and pointed towards the pile of bloodless human bodies “Ye cases”. I yelled at the top of my lungs but lost my voice.
My eyes flew open’ I lay shivering and gasping in my warm bed for several minutes trying to break from dream, Au….. such less sleep and even that filled with nightmares! I felt pity on myself. These nightmares are now part of my hectic doctor’s life. I, now fully back to my messy life, relaxed myself by thinking that it was an aftermath of seeing late night Twilight although I haven’t seen it entirely! Eager to shake off the nightmare, I headed down to kitchen long before I needed to.
It was morning almost, and I was with all my ducks in row like a machine in a routinely manner. Nothing new! I sighed. Wanted to dodge the thoughts, I tried to look fresh, combed my hairs, washed my face, wore an up to date dress and peeked into a mirror. Though it worked or not I was able to satisfy myself. At least I thought so. After putting on my sleek white lab coat and clutching stethoscope I left for hospital. The way to hospital is the only time which I have for myself, I always conceit. I recollected my whole day from home to hospital and from night duties to exam preparations and the strains of all of above! Once more, my head was thumping.
I remembered that I have to take clothes from tailor and I promised my little sister a gift and at the back of my mind laid the worry of the biopsy report which I didn’t follow up. I also remembered my asthmatic mother for whom I’ve no time to ask about her conditions and also no time to meet my ever loving dad! My brain started to churn. I hardly slept last night….like every night…A new thought. Another one, expenses are rising faster than pay and more nettling “what about the result of exams?” The pager started drilling its shooting clamor into my brain “No…” my mind yelled. And all at once I felt as if going up in air , after a mighty jerk I came into senses and applied breaks….Oh, I just had a narrow escape from an accident.
Someone once gave me an advice that if you want to have a work life balances then do not become a doctor. You can’t have it all. When it comes to way of life of a doctor there is nothing much to say; only substantial element is “hard work”. It can be descried evidently in all aspects of a doctor life. So, considerable chunk of life style which is not voluntary is constrained by surroundings and the stresses.
Being doctor charges elevated gusto not only of a doctor but of family equally. All the time we have nose to grindstones. The preoccupation by occupation keeps doctor from social meetings (which my mom refers social boycott). I remember the birthday party of my cousin for which I prepared at my utmost. After days of strive I picked a pretty dress to have faddish attire, got my hairs trimmed, bought a present…. I could feel the happiness inside me of going to a gathering after a long time. But…but my cell phone sang! I buried my face in my hands and shuddered at the thought, at a very real possibility, and yes, yes it was a call from hospital!
You can imagine the rest of the picture. Now I deliberately redirected my thoughts in order to control emotions but it manifest if not always but mostly! Besides, the family is at electric chair as well.
The doctor’s folkway deeply makes an impression on the life of related people. One of my friends said dejectedly about her husband (a physician): “He is been in medical training, including a medical school, Internship, residency and he still have nearly 2 or more years to go…I think he will still do it all over again because I don’t see him interested in anything else!”
And the question, how I became a doctor? My parents kept saying, “Our princes will be a doctor” I think from my birth. But I was a bright spark, determined to be something like artist or a painter and used to smile secretly over their wish. I can recall the day when I witnessed a hit and run accident where victim landed face down at his feet, blood oozing from his head. Some people took his charge. The rush of adrenaline in situation was something I never experienced before and was oddly exciting and I realized that to be doctor is must thing to do!
Ah…now I come across that it is all about tears, blood and sweat. My siblings cleverer enough not to select Medicine, reminds me, “As we understand being doctor is a hard work for which you don’t get paid.” My little brother rankled me, “Early to bed early to rise work like hell and advertise.”
And I yelled it is not early it is late! My parents tried hard to persuades my little brother to choose Medicine but he always said, “Hard work never killed anybody but why to take a chance!”
Glamour of a doctor to outside world is well known. A person wearing angel white coat, stethoscope around his neck, listening to pain and suffering of people, isn’t that the image you get in your mind when you think of a doctor? The principal factor of constructing this image is TV shows. Doctors on TV shows (like Grey’s Anatomy) are exceedingly gorgeous, handsome, with beautiful hairs and impressive dressing, excelling in all fields of life and we… sleep deprived…none of us gorgeous!
Media have had an effect on public expectations, distorting the public view of what doctor or Medicine is? A friend of mine said, “I wasn’t driven into medicine by social conscience but by rampant curiosity.” Once got grabbed by sentiments I posed to a friend to work free! She bellowed, “I spent 4 years working as an undergraduate to spend 4 more in Medical school and 5 more in residency, going into debt ,learning to save your lives and you tell me what I do should be free of charge?”
But, with all its detriments, the gratitude of helping someone in difficult times sheaths all the aches. In spite the heavy workload, frustration and exhaustion, which went along it, I am grateful to certain aspects of this life. Lifestyle reflects individual’s attitude and value so the doctor comes to be an honest, assisting and committed character and the cornerstone of it is consumption behavior which offer possibility to create and further betterment of self.
Medical education confers a real moral obligation to serve. It deserves to be entire life wok not a part time interest. A doctor is answerable to patient relative and society as a whole. He has to keep himself calm, not losing the temper. With time patients are strangely becoming less grateful and more demanding and despite of your burnout and hitches of life you have to look fresh and communicate vigorously with contrasting lots of patients, listen, sympathize and give support to them and also have to deal with their mentally sick states. It is well said, “When you treat the disease, first treat the mind.” One of my colleagues shared his tale, “I was fatigued by long duty that day when a patient came and said, Hye doc! You must help me… I’m under lot of stress…I keep losing temper with people! I asked, what’s your problem? He shrieked, I just told you! Didn’t I? You fool?”
Driving the debate the question is whether doctors are someway exceptional or more integral to society than any other profession? I behold our seniors, teachers who take every case as a challenge keeping in mind the pocket of patient. In the traumatic student life, they were factually supporting, helping themselves and us to assemble courage. Have you ever seen doctors cracking jokes and singing songs? The notoriously bad handwriting which is pathognomic of doctor is as well due to high volume of paperwork that needs to be done for every encounter with patient.
Shamans of indigenous tribes were revered for their knowledge of healing arts for centuries, so the history goes far back. It is the most respectable profession of the others. Doctors are required to work for additional hours. It is truly a privilege to communicate with people from all sorts of backgrounds, educations and in various physical and emotional states. It is very special that a doctor is trusted with in information not shared by anyone else so it goes beyond conversation and exchange of words.
One should be a contended physician, who explores his/her interest’s outsides the Medicine also! Not merely an extremely driven workaholic, who gives up family time and other hobbies, engrossed by work. In addition to doctors my peers are singers, writers, journalists while I am a sketcher! But remember, our concern to patient should be paramount.
To accomplish the described goals, strains should be combated and doctors should be helped. Unfortunately they get little sympathy from public and media who still call doctors, “fat cats.” So, many of us feel scapegoats in this underfunded and poorly designed system. Stresses hat mostly pounds the head are: decreasing jobs, work family balance, poor economic state, tough studies, demanding patients and splits within profession.
In return of lengthy and daunting trainings, responsibilities and nerve racking medical practices, doctors receive inner rewards in terms of the feeling of making a difference in people lives and there are outer bonuses as well as the feeling of being appreciated, autonomy and job security. People share intimate details of their lives which is unlikely of any other profession.
I believe the knowledge of this field, along with family support, is the backbone of a doctor’s success. Although we can do little with faith but we can do nothing without it. And to excel in life, it is obligatory with knowledge. Peter Mere Latham said, “Faith and knowledge lean largely upon each other in practice of medicine.”
The holy objectives in tiring routine of a doctors life is like a dream and dreams doesn’t become reality with magic, it take sweat, determination and hard work.
So, whether the stress of medical practice will sick or even kill you? Or will you thrive and become stronger and happier? It’s your choice! But remember that blessings are far better than money!
About the Author: Anam Javed is a final year medical student from Ayub Medical College, Abbottabad, Pakistan. She is an aspiring writer. Her sketches and poems have been published in her college magazine. She has received, ‘the best compare certificates’ by Imran Khan Welfare Organization and as well by Bacha Khan Welfare Society. She can be reached at [email protected].
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