Smile language

All-people-smile-in-the-same-language

I recently started working at a Cancer center in Bangalore and I am not fluent in Kannada (the local language). This poses a challenge when I am communicating with my patients. In the OPD my colleagues help me out but during the morning rounds there is a problem as most of the nurses (being Malyali), don’t understand Kannada very well either.

Although I have always used “smile language” with my patients in the past but over the last few days I seem to be using it more frequently and effectively. Every morning I greet the patients with a smile and get a lot of information about their condition without speaking a word. Rest of the conversation takes place in ‘sign’ language (another universal language) and broken Kannada. Patients also respond in the same language and a patient’s smile can answer many questions without a word being spoken.

This approach not only provides key information about the patient’s condition but also helps in making a rapport with the patient and is an integral part of the doctor-patient relationship.

Everyone (specially doctors) should follow this universal language, when interacting with people!! 🙂 🙂

Practice what you preach

How many doctors actually exercise regularly?? (Before you start judging whether I exercise or not, I want to highlight that I am uploading this post after finishing my daily exercise 😉  )

I often see doctors (me included) counselling patients and friends about regular exercise and a proper diet but I know for a fact that hardly any of them follow the advise themselves. In an informal survey I carried out at a hospital, I got to know that only 40% doctors exercise regularly (4-5 times a week). The number was shocking when it came to the resident doctors. Most of them blamed their hectic duty schedules and odd working hours for not exercising.

It is essential for doctors (specially surgeons – who need to stand in the OR for long periods of time) to exercise regularly not only to stay fit but also to de-stress and take their minds off work. It is a matter of habit and if one is determined, they can find time to exercise despite hectic working hours. I also manage to exercise (walk or swim) atleast 4-5 times a week and it is during my exercise time that I get more ideas to write on my blog ;-).

So doctors….get motivated and start exercising.

http://vardaan.net/news-detail-THE-ELEMENTS-OF-EXERCISE.php

Battleground

No caption required ;-)

No caption required 😉

I found this sign hanging outside the Nurse’s station and started laughing 🙂 🙂 🙂 but then I thought that it wasn’t entirely wrong. Doctors and nurses do have to do very long duties and they surely do ROAST the body and mind occasionally.

I remember my days as a surgical trainee, when we used to have 30 – 32 hour duties (emergency duties as they were known as). These duties are comparable to 30 hours in a battle field – battling fatigue, hunger & thirst. The only difference being that we used to battle to save lives.

Even the preparation for the duties was similar to preparing for a battle. In addition to an extra-heavy breakfast, food and refreshments used to be stuffed into my bag before leaving home (due to the nature of the duties, I rarely used to get a chance to enjoy these delicacies and most of them were devoured by my other friends :(). After the morning rounds in the ward, we used to enter the real battleground – the Surgical Emergency. This place was always swarming with patients, their relatives, nurses and doctors 24 hours a day – there was never a dull moment in this place (and trust me this place does not remind you of Scrubs or Grey’s anatomy). The day used to start with briefing the interns and junior resident’s, who used to be our wingmen during the entire duty. Before the start of the duty, all of us used to fill our white coats with syringes, needles, blades, IV lines, books, etc etc (quite similar to a soldier preparing for battle) and this ritual was repeated multiple times during the day (like re-loading one’s gun during battle).

Once the patients used to enter the ward, we used to get very little time to rest. Just to give you an idea, during one duty we used to treat a minimum of 100 -150 patients and carry out atleast 20-30 minor procedures and 5-10 major procedures. Lunch and dinner used to be at odd hours (sometimes only one meal a day) and usually on the go. We used to drink more tea/ coffee than water to keep ourselves charged up (although the adrenaline rush of being in the emergency also used to play its part).

We usually use to finish our duties by 3-4 PM next day and used to be extremely exhausted.

These duties fared better than any sleep medicine, as we used to fall asleep within minutes of hitting the bed. Although these duties were very exciting and played their part in moulding us into surgeons, sometimes they literally ROASTED our minds and bodies!!

Searching within

Introspecting...not searching for the monster

Introspecting…not searching for the monster

“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.”
― Albert Camus

Sometimes the thoughts and problems of our patients creep into our personal lives and start affecting our relationships with our family and friends. The best way to avoid this situation is to introspect & unwind regularly!!

New meaning of ‘Trust’

Skydiving in UK

Skydiving in UK

Like most of us during childhood, I also wanted to fly and as I grew old I thought that Sky diving is the closest I am going to come to flying. During my visit to UK for my MRCS convocation ceremony, I decided to pursue my dream and booked a jump at Hinton Airfield (close to London).

The whole skydiving experience was amazing but it taught me a very important lesson about TRUST, which I felt was applicable during cancer treatment as well. Although comparing skydiving to cancer treatment would be like comparing apples to oranges but I would try to draw some comparisons to make my point.

Jumping from an airplane at 14,000 ft strapped to an instructor whom I had met for the first time that morning was a terrifying proposition but to fulfil my dream and I  had to trust him. I was completely dependent on him to make it a ‘once in a life time experience’ and MORE IMPORTANTLY get me to the ground ALIVE. Similarly, a patient diagnosed with cancer approaches an unknown doctor (unless the patient comes from a family of doctors) to help them battle the disease and help them live. Trust in both cases is of paramount importance. In my personal experience, I have seen patients who have trusted the team of doctors doing well and suffering from less anxiety and side effects as compared to patients who shop for doctors and delay their treatment because of that.