Life of an anesthesiologist

Memoirs of an Anaesthetist

Prof.Dr. M.Suresh MD, DA.  KAPVGMC, TRICHY

 As I sit back with a cup of coffee slowly inching towards the twilight years of my life I am reminiscing about the path I have traversed in life’s journey. Not very long ago when I started Anaesthesia practice rarely have I had the luxury of calling time my own. Now twenty-five years down, it makes me wonder if I have done the right thing by devoting so many hours of my life to the profession.Today it is just my wife and I at home. The children are all grown up and have flown the nest. Have I erred in life for not having spent more quality time with my children? Well in any case it is too late regret now.

I sent my boys to good schools. Gave them tennis lessons in reputed clubs, music classes, nice clothes and shoes, but I was never available to drop or pick them up from school.

I still remember the day when we were getting ready to go out for a dinner over the weekend and the look on the face of my son when I received a phone call at that moment. Disappointment was written all over his face. His words “Oops there goes our weekend” said it all. Such was my commitment to Anaesthesia that I was ready to sacrifice my family time for it. Was it to make a few rupees more or was it really commitment? Or was it the fear in my mind that I would lose my practice if I do not respond to an emergency call. Well it could be any of these. I leave it to you to decide which.

Today sitting alone at home I have realized that family should be given the due importance it deserves. Time is something that once lost can never be retrieved. So please spend quality time with your children and family. Teach them their lessons; help them with their homework and assignments. These moments will be cherished by both you and your offspring.

I have never attended a parent-teacher meet. Always managed to miss the annual day celebrations even when the children were getting a prize or be it performing at the cultural event. Here I am indebted to my better half who took care of all these things while I was busy saving patients (making money).

Well talking of money let me tell you this “As an Anaesthetist you can never be a millionaire but then you will also not be a pauper”. This I mean by practising Anaesthesia alone. Of course a number of our Anaesthetist colleagues have left behind Anaesthesia to become entrepreneurs and I feel their success in their excellent management of hospitals should be attributed to their anaesthesia background.

Now let me get to what I have felt being an Anaesthetist. Was giving twenty five years of my youth to the profession justifiable enough to warrant this sacrifice? Well I guess I still am passionate about my profession. The one look of relief and a word of thanks that the patients in labour give you after giving the first dose of epidural is enough to justify the hard work put in over many years. I am a Professor of Anaesthesia in a teaching institution. And it gives me great satisfaction to pass on the knowledge and skills garnered over the years on to the next generation.

Many a time the work of the anaesthetist goes unrecognised. The ways by which recognition can be gained is to establish your presence and impress upon the patients the importance of your role in surgery, intensive care, painless labour, etc. It is also important to make the Hospital and the surgeon understand your role in team work. Step out of the closed confines of the operation theatre and make yourselves visible to the patients and their families.

So how is it possible to balance your family and profession?  This is possible when we work for a Government institution or for a corporate hospital with fixed duty hours. In this scenario we will end up with a fixed income as well. In today’s world one cannot quantify what is enough money. It is not enough to have a house, a car and a nice trip with your family once in a while. One has to make enough to make a foreign trip at least once every couple of years. Children seem to have become more demanding these days. Peer pressure seems to play havoc on the young minds. Leave alone foreign trips, making a trip to the annual ISA conference is proving to be a costly affair. Traveling expenses and accommodation for three days easily notches up not less than fifty thousand rupees.

I feel the need of the hour is unity among the fraternity. Group practice is one solution to a fine balance between family and profession. Here we can have a good income and at the same time quality time with the family. What we need is a good team with good cooperation and skills. All must be like minded. Be willing to share the income equally. Take holidays and week off keeping in mind the need of others. Share the work load. Maintain quality and maintain proper records. Team should have a leader to allocate work and his word shall be final. All places of work should have minimum standards of monitoring. There should be scope for expanding our operations. New members should be recruited. The project should be managed professionally.

Now let me tell you what I should not have done. I am a government employee. I am also allowed to have a private practice. Like I   said earlier one never realises as to what is enough money. And so I ran around to wherever I was summoned. From one hospital to another and from there to another and so forth. Anaesthetising patients was never an issue. My prime concern was to reach my destination on time. I would like to confess here that I   may have not done justice to my profession on a number of occasions. This I have realised is what should not be done at any cost. After all our primary concern and responsibility should be to keep the safety of our patients uppermost in mind. So to avoid these kind of events I suggest that do not bite more than what you can chew.

At the start of a doctor’s career, he has all the time in the world. Later on in life he has all the money he needs, but no time. So when the time is ripe ask yourself “do I spend all the money I make”. Well if not so why go running around making more. Save for a comfortable retired life. Get adequate health insurance. Go around and see the world. Don’t spoil the kids by leaving too much for them to flaunt and throw away. Just as you made your livelihood they too will make theirs.

Now to summarise I would suggest that you limit your practice, spend quality time with friends and family, enjoy life to the fullest, be content in life and experience the joy of being an anaesthetist to the fullest.

After all” You live only once so live it in style”

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Maya IT

British ruled us over couple of  centuries and made many of Indians “Gumastas” (Clerks) and we were content with that – rather – we were proud to work as Clerks in British Government Jobs. Our parents’ parents and their grand parents had considered these jobs as their kids’ great achievement and they were proud to share with the others that their kids are Clerk, Writer, Accountant etc. in British Government Offices. 
But British never preferred us to become Scientists, Engineers and Doctors and all these jobs were only with Britons. There were many educational institutions started by British – but only to teach us English, Accounts and Book Keeping. Never, in those days, started  Science, Engineering or Medical Colleges for Indians to learn except few which were meant for British Migrants’ Kids. 
Cotton was exported to Britain and converted as clothes to get them imported back into India at high cost with import duties. They never wanted us to become Textile Engineer and they only wanted us to work in the field to pluck cottons and pack them for export. Steel Ore was exported to get them imported back as Steel Bars and Sheets. They even exported our ancestors to work in Tea Estates and Sugarcane fields as workers in Far East and South Africa and never wanted  us to manufacture Tea Processing Plants or Sugar Mills. They never taught us how make steel from steel ore. Britons wanted most of the Indians to become only Clerks to keep us where we were by teaching us English, Accounts and Book Keeping or continue as Workers in Tea Estates and Sugar Cane Fields and as Cotton Pluckers. 
It is all we learnt on our own and few leaders like Tatas started high end Engineering Industries. 
Here comes the Analogy of similar condition existing for past 3 decades since 1990s, as compared to the centuries under British rule. 
It was then English, Accounts and Book Keeping & now IT and Computer Science. 
British wanted us to do the job of “Coolies” and “Clerks” & Americans wants us to do the job of “Coding Coolies” (So called Developers) and “Glorified Clerks” (Testers) writing codes and Testing for Accounting Software, Ticket Reservation Software, Banking and Insurance Softwares. These Americans converted most of our Engineering Graduates into such “Glorified Clerks” irrespective of whether we come out as IT Engineers or Mechanical or Electrical or Electronics or Civil Engineers. USA exported only these kind of “Donkey Work” Software writing jobs to India and converted all our Engineering Graduates into “Coding Coolies”. 
These developed countries   retained within them all of the Core Software Development work such as 

OS (Operating System)

VLSI 

Embedded 

CAD OS

CAM Graphical Engine 

Fuzzy Logics 

Robotics

Digital Manufacturing 

Medical Equipment   

Image Processing 

Artifical Intelligence 

Expert Systems 

Or any other Core Compilers and Operating Systems 
But what India knows so far in IT is only to write codes and test for Insurance, Ticketing and Banking. 
However, we have pseudo-proud to share with others in each and every socializing occasions that my son is in Wipro, in TCS, my Daugher got placement in Infosys, CTS etc. without knowing what is their nature of work and responsibilities. 
It is strange that these trends went to a stage wherein girls rejected non-IT boys proposed for marriage and the boys chose only IT-girls as their brides. 
Great Pity here in India is that most of these young graduates enter into these IT Companies without even knowing which domain or Application they are going to work. Most of them even don’t know whether they are picked up in placement for development or testing. But they are content, if they have got an annual CTC package of 3 to 6 lakhs. Never they bothered to enquire the nature of work or even they don’t have such right to enquire. 

 

An Apartment on EMI and a Car in hand would suffice to keep us sedated in the “Maya of IT” without knowing what is going to be our future and country’s too. Even the Government and Business Leaders are content with export of our low level IT sweat and blood without knowing what is the technological level of Indian IT labor, we are involved into and delivering. Many Indian manufacturing business houses attempted this kind of IT business only to lose few hundred crores except few corporate successes, as compared to the size of our country.  
An Electrical or Electronics or Mechanical or Civil or Chemical or Textile Engineer, after working for a decade in their own industry can switch over to another industry with relative ease – but an Engineer (irrespective of his branch of Engineering) cannot switch over to any other Industry after working for even as little as 5 years in IT industry as developer, since he knows only that particular coding syntax in that particular language and platform. He had lost that flexibility and adaptability on the day he entered into IT. 
Now the IT industry in its current form of business model started collapsing. It is high time to rethink, country as a whole, what we need. Let us shed our sheep mentality and end this current IT Craze of low Technological level and step into core R&D and manufacturing of Intelligent Products in other fields and even in IT such as Embedded and Intelligent Softwares needed for Industrial and Medical Products. 
Let us focus on distributed and included development. There are lot to do in many other fields and even in IT. Indians are capable to do. 
Just see where we are now in our R&D efforts and see the number of patents in India Vs. China in 2013 in the graph given below :
With regard to research in India, just compare the International patent applications from India with the BRICS nations and the USA. India is far behind China both in terms of patent applications & grants. China filed 70 times more patent applications than India and was also granted 70 times more patents than India in 2013 which improved in Indian favor to 35 times in 2015. This is not enough and India has to go a long way. 
We need more and more Engineers to work in our R&Ds. We require more and more entrepreneurs to create, design, develop and manufacture many other products, even in IT Industry to develop many core IT Softwares and shouldn’t be content with being “Coding Coolies”.

Will our Policy Makers come out of their slumber? Will our Business Leaders focus on the most needed R&D? Will the younger generations and their parents shake themselves to be out of Pseudo-IT (low level IT) Maya?

Be a doctor to yourself.

A Dr  graduated to be the best and finest surgeon in the world. At  age 30, he got married.  
The joy of marrying a surgeon attracted his wife to him.
Few weeks after marriage leave he got back to work, thereafter he hardly spent some quality time with his wife.
Their relationship began to go sour.
Not that he’s flirting around with other ladies. Not that he now had a bad company. But, at his work place, he was seen as TOO IMPORTANT.
Every patient wanted him. The nurses loved him to handle all the surgeries at hand. 
One day, he got home very early from work. The wife was glad that he was at least early today. Just as he was dropping his briefcase, his phone rang and the following conversation went on.
Nurse: Sir, we need you now at the hospital. We have an emergency.
He said : I’m on my way.
The wife was angry with him. As usual, he told her, “Sorry”.
This went on for so long.
But one unfortunate day, he had an accident. And….
He died!
The other doctors and surgeons mourned him. They gave his wife cash to take care of herself.
But, can money replace love?
Can some one ‘ replace a whole man?
You know the answer…
Not too long after, the wife went to that same hospital for some check up.
She was shocked to see someone in her husband’s former post. Not only that, she heard someone calling the new surgeon as the best in that town.
She wept bitterly…
Do you know you are replaceable?
Do you know you are NOT too important?
Do you know someone else can do better than what you are doing or what you can do?
Do you know you are cherished now just because you can still perform your right?
Do you know you are celebrated because you are available and useful?
No one’s saying you should not help out. No one’s saying you should not be a celebrity. No one’s saying you should not help others. No one’s saying you should be not punctual 
BUT,
Take time to rest. Take time to relax. Spend time with yourself.
As bitter as those truths, many of you fail to accept that…
Tread softly… Go gently…
Your family Values YOU
Only they miss the presence of you not the rest of the world.

The story of black dot

A small town chamber of commerce invited a speaker to address its annual dinner. The community’s economy was bad, people were discouraged, and they wanted this motivational speaker to give them a boost.

During her presentation, the speaker took a large piece of white paper and made a small black dot in the centre of it with a marking pen. Then she held the paper up before the group and ask them what they saw.

One person quickly replied, “I see a black dot.”

“Okay, what else do you see?”

Others joined in agreement : “A black dot.”

“Don’t you see anything besides the dot?” she asked.

A resounding “No” came from the audience.

“What about the sheet of paper?” asked the speaker. “I am sure you have all seen it”, she said, “But you have chosen to overlook it.”

“In life, we also tend to overlook and take for granted many wonderful things that we have or happen around us and focus our attention and energy on small, dotlike failures and disappointments. The so called ‘problems’ that we have are usually like the black dot on the paper. They are small and insignificant if we can widen our horizon and look at the whole picture.”

Are you one of the person who focus your attention and energy on dot-like problems

via The story of black dot.

Story of the seed

A successful business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you.” The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued. “I am going to give each one of you a SEED today – one very special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO.”

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn’t have a plant and he felt like a failure. Six months went by — still nothing in Jim’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn’t say anything to his colleagues, however… He just kept watering and fertilizing the soil – He so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful — in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives. Jim just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown,” said the CEO. “Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!” All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front.

Jim was terrified. He thought, “The CEO knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!” When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed – Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, “Behold your next Chief Executive Officer! His name is Jim!” Jim couldn’t believe it. Jim couldn’t even grow his seed. “How could he be the new CEO?” the others said.

Then the CEO said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead – it was not possible for them to grow. All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!”

* If you plant honesty, you will reap trust.

* If you plant goodness, you will reap friends.

* If you plant humility, you will reap greatness.

* If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment.

* If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective.

* If you plant hard work, you will reap success.

* If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation.

* If you plant faith in God , you will reap a harvest.

So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later

via Story of the seed.

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