I am always amazed at the way we Indians multitask. I mean there is work of course, increasingly taking up our waking hours as double income families chase their dreams, then there are the kids and their needs, dreams, targets (not necessarily in that order) to take into account.
And then there is all the rest of one’s life. I met three people within the space of two days, and they brought home to me, that here in this country, the urban Indian runs not just on one treadmill, but on many, alternately.
Like this man who has just become a father. Not just that, his home was filled with the joy of twin boys, born a bit ahead of their time. So, double the care, double the concerns, and to quote a Laurel and Hardy film title, when things go wrong, Double Trouble!
He admitted to an hour or two of continuous sleep every night; the babies were hearty sleepers through the day and decided the witching hour was playtime… and also time to be walked about!
They were 50 days old, so there was no way to explain to them that papa worked hard all day and needed his shut eye. Then there was the fact that not so long ago, his father had had a brain operation, to combat the rather distressing symptoms of Parkinsons’ disease.
The electrodes that they had introduced into the brain of the elderly gentleman had indeed changed the tenor of his life and he was active and alert and man about town again… but the weeks before and after the surgery must have meant some jugglery to a man holding a full time job.
Then there was the case of the other friend… whose mother, for the second time in as many years, was rushed into ICU. It took a lot of running about and connecting with doctors, and finally fighting down the need for complex procedures that seemed quite
unnecessary under the circumstances, and now the lady is home safe and sound. But again, it was a juggling act of intricate skill that was called into play.
It happens in most families, the old and the very young, demand sudden, intense attention. And luckily, we are still a nation that works to tending our own.
However, when we look at the larger picture, it is changing, and not really for the better, always. My cousin was telling me, this same week, the horror story of the time when her father, an otherwise active man of 80 plus, took ill. It was a Sunday and she called one doctor after another, as the family doctor was out
It was frustrating to hear excuses, from being occupied with personal events to being so busy that the first appointment would be only available on Wednesday the coming week.
Finally her long retired cousin’s husband had to be consulted and the wheels were set into motion to get her father admitted into hospital, from where he was taken into ICCU.
Look around, and chances are almost everyone we know, and often we ourselves, are in the face of such dilemmas. It is of course never a clear black and white picture.
And the niggling worry that there are some medical institutions that look more at profit than care, makes the picture even more grey!
Doctors are after all humans too, and family people, whose own concerns must also be immediate and demanding, but a life is a life and there is the responsibility on them of being caretaker, once they have taken on the profession.
It is a thought that needs to be reinforced and needs to be understood by every parent who urges a child to take up medicine as a career; by every young person who dreams of wearing a white coat and walking the wards as they do in films.
Medicine is after all, much more than a lucrative career. It is a full-time vocation, and another treadmill that one cannot get off, whatever one’s personal contingencies.