A Needle's-eye View

Thursday, March 18, 2010 Mushal Noor 0 Comments Category :

I never wanted to become a doctor. I never wanted to come to King Edward. And I most definitely never wanted to interact with weird people like the patient on my bed number 7: If I’d seen him coming my way on the sidewalk, I’d have rushed over to the opposite side of the road, and disappeared into the crowd faster than you can say ‘poof’. I don’t think I’d ever envisioned myself probing and prodding and sticking my fingers into a human being I’d never seen before. Nor did I fathom that a urine bag leaking onto my Hush Puppies or a patient asking me for my phone number- and telling me that ‘her son is an Engineer’, would be a part of my ‘routine’ life. And I’d never known that I could become ‘bisti-proof’ so effectively that whenever a teacher pinpointed my ignorance, sneered at my incompetence or stripped me clean of the shreds of my self-esteem; I could just flush momentarily, and then forget it all with a silly laugh.

My first year at KE, I thought I’d suffocate along the way. I’d either asphyxiate from exasperation, or become apoplectic from indignation. But here I am, four years down the line. Four very long years. And what do you know: for better or for worse, I’m morphing into the prototype of a KE doctor. I remember in first year, seeing a senior eating a samosa in DH while peering into a dead body. I remember thinking: What a sicko! And then, not many weeks later, I remember doing the very same myself. And so it has been; in each year, at each milestone.

Four years down the line, I may not be very proficient in my medical knowledge, I probably suck at clinical skills, I may not understand much at the moment, but I do now realize that being a medical student, and then a doctor means something very different from what I had once imagined. It means not getting enough sleep or enough money. It means you have to turn down the offer of dining out with your family: you tell them to go on without you, since you have a substage, or a stage, or a test, or a prof, or USMLE, or FCPS to study for. You’ll have some crackers and milk when your tummy begins to rumble. Or the leftovers that your family has thoughtfully brought for you. It means you have to miss your friend’s wedding because the emergency is understaffed and you can’t get the night off. It means you have to often forgo the pleasures of homemade food. It means you can’t sit down and talk to your parents as often and as much as you would wish. It means that those books will sit untouched on your shelf and those movies unseen for a long, long time. It means you will constantly be caught up in the struggle between your self, your friends and family, and your profession. That is what it means to be a med student. To be a doctor. I have yet to come to terms with it.