Maybe not so moderate.

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I used to believe that I was a moderate. I am a Libra, after all. Fairness, balance, justness.

I was mistaken about myself. I have strong opinions about the things that I am passionate about. I discovered it during an argument with a person who had qualms about immunization. As a physician – a pediatrician, I feel very strongly about community health. I grew up reading books about physician scientists that worked hard to eliminate polio and small pox. I remember being amazed at how many governments worldwide worked together to eradicate these diseases. How India eradicated Polio in January 2014 – how I was proud to be a part of that milestone.

So when a new friend talked about immunizations weakening the system, I thought it my duty to gently (maybe not too gently) remind him how amazing it is to be living in this era of modern medicine. How I had seen a distant family member with polio, and treated numerous infants in life-threatening respiratory distress or encephalitisvaccination because of  viral infections, how it escapes me why measles is returning to the developed world- and how I feel that I would take that crummy feeling I get after getting the flu shot any single day compared to not taking it and risk giving it to a baby or an old person or a person who is immunocompromised.

We as a people have social responsibilities. To protect the weaker members in our society is one of them. And it can be as simple as giving up your seat on the bus, driving safely, practicing gun safety and taking that darn flu shot if it means we can collectively decrease the chances of passing it on to them. Herd immunity we call it. (Frankly, I imagine it to be one of those moments of solidarity that give you goosebumps in the climax of the movie – you know, the moment when people stand united against evil for a common good).

In the field of medicine – we work on the principle of benefit versus risk. All daily human activities – as mundane as the act of drinking water or stepping out into the sunshine and breathing air have the potential to go awry and be harmful. You could choke on that water you are drinking if you gulp too fast, you know. So, when someone argues that they are worried about the side effects of immunization – I say that I worry too. I worry about things like feeling crummy for 2-3 days, that sore feeling in the arm, that little bruise you got when they jab you too hard. I, do not, however, worry about the risk of autism or compromising your immunity because I know it to be untrue.

Scientists in labs across the world are working hard at making sure that these little jabs are as safe as they can be. And, for all their foibles, these shots whether they be for flu, measles, chicken pox or cancer – have a very long history for saving lives. Innocuous little jabs of pain – working to stimulate your bone marrow and lymphatic system to be prepared – to fight the virus when it hits you when you breathe that air – and for it to be eliminated enough- that when you pass by that old woman on the street or that cute baby in the supermarket – you don’t give it to them. Why? Because your body was prepared to fight it when it hit you – you eliminated it – because you took the shot. Boom, boom, boom.

Here is my reference – in case you want to read some more.

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/index.html

(This may not be as fancy and strongly worded like the anti-vaxxer blogs, but I trust humans to tell the difference between the glittery stuff and gold)

I realized I am not a moderate at all about certain things. Vaccinations are one of those things.

P.S. The conversation with this friend started with a story about how as a child my parents had taught me that these shots would protect me from the bad bugs that cause disease. I would look forward to visits when I would get them. I was about 10-11 yrs old when the chickenpox vaccine was released in India. We saw the ad in Reader’s digest and since I had not had an episode yet (much unlike most other children I knew) – my parents made the informed decision to immunize me. I was happy then.

10 years later – both my roommates in medical school developed chicken pox – I was sure I was going to get it. I almost took the acyclovir prophylactically – but decided to wait for the first vesicle to form. It never came. A year or two later – while preparing to do my clinical rotations in US, I checked my varicella immunity titres – they were where they should have been, I was protected. That jab as a pre-teen shielded me from a very painful and difficult illness in adulthood. I thanked God, my parents and the countless men and women in my profession who strived to protect mankind from illness.

So much for considering myself a softie.

 

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New york again!

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heartsI have been in love with Chicago, the affair started after my first conversation on the phone with Dr.J. He confirmed me for the rotation in May. It was the first day of my 2 week rotation in Peds Neuro at NYP and I had just left for the day. Checked my phone, saw a missed call and dialled back. Tried a couple of times more, got through and had a most memorable conversation interspersed with humor, standing on the sidewalk, just outside NYPH at York Avenue. I had a great evening with new friends that day.

Three weeks later I knew me and Chicago were getting along. 2.5 months later, getting ready to head home, I knew I was as much in Love with Chicago as I was with Borivali and that was quite something. I had to come back a few months later, and I knew I had to be here than any place else. So Chicago.

This post was supposed to be New York. It still is. 6 days in New York.

My first 3 months in US happened in NYC. In the heart of Queens and along theimages banks of the East River in Manhattan. It had been the most unexpected surprise life had thrown at me, an opportunity, a window and I was changing at an incredible rate. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to embrace it. I could have been happier. I would have done better but I was sulking! And even as I grew tremendously each day due to everything that New York taught me, even though it excited me just as much, even though I remember every single day by the second, I was ‘uncomfortable’ ‘miserable’ and ‘sulky’ the moment I stepped out out of the precincts of Weill Cornell Medical college and NYPH after the day ended. As long as I was in the hospital, I was like Alice in her newfound wonderland, never growing tired of all that surrounded her and then on my way to Jackson Heights, I felt as miserable as ever.

As I left NYC for Chicago, I was confident, I was making a new beginning and I did well, and I did well for one reason alone. The experiences that NYC gave me. And the comfort that Chicago gives, it allows me to shine.

Back to NYC. This time was different in a million ways. I was with people that I have unknowingly come to love. I felt safe. Protected. At the same time, I was more in sync with my partner – my mum. We travelled to all the programs  together. She was my pillar of strength, and I was as caring as I can possibly be. I have my limits :). To add to it, I was calmer. And well, before I knew it, I was thinking to myself – indexHey, Ruch, Are you falling in love again? Maybe I was, maybe I have. It is crowded, disorganized at times, confusing, but at the same time, it’s fast, it has energy, it flows, it lives with its people, it’s bustling, it teaches, dazzles….. it cares…. it’s brazen at one moment and shines a bright smile at you the next moment…ready to help you find your way. It has a million colors, with a quite a few shades of grey but grey doesn’t look prettier in any other place as it does here.

At take off, from La Guardia, a clear sunny day, I saw the mDelta-Rangers-Fan-Flight-Viewost spectacular view of Manhattan and Ellis Island that I could ever imagine. It was a dream like vision. I was transfixed. I could have cried but I didn’t want to blink. I knew what it was all about. I knew I was never getting over it.

P.S. – 3 hrs in the flight, I kept listening to the most romantic and happy songs on my phone. Then I saw the lake, frozen in parts. I saw the coastline of Chicago, covered with snow. Beautiful and Pristine. I was glad I loChicago...Chicagoved New York. I was glad I was back to Chicago. I remembered how comfortable and happy I had been during my short while in Charleston. I appreciated it. I will always value Nashik. And Paris will never stop mesmerizing me. I miss Mumbai, she is home. I am lucky I have seen so much and luckier that I fell in love with all of it.mumbai_1367652140

My Favorite Thatcherisms – Words of Margaret Thatcher

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Her words strike a cord with something that my plain middle class upbringing instilled in me from very early on.  They make much more sense now. And this Iron Lady knew her way with words. I am not well-versed with British politics., but this one woman was much more than an average politician. She had an indomitable spirit. Something that can never fail a person, especially one who knows exactly where she wants to be.

On Attitude  “To wear your heart on your sleeve isn’t a very good plan; you should wear it inside, where it functions best.”

“Watch your thoughts for they become words.
Watch your words for they become actions.
Watch your actions for they’ll become….habits.
Watch your habits for they will forge your character.
And watch your character for it will make your destiny.
What we think, we become”

On Resilience

  1. “If you just set out to be liked, you will be prepared to compromise on anything at anytime, and would achieve nothing.”
  2. “I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.”
  3. “If it is once again one against forty-eight. Then I am very sorry for the forty-eight.”
  4. “Truth usually , is the same old story”

On the Road to Success

  1. “Oh, but you know, you do not achieve anything without trouble, ever.” (the story of our lives!!!)
  2. “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”
  3. “You don’t win by just being against things, you only win by being for things and making your message perfectly clear.”

On a Successful Model of Government:

Singapore‘s success shows us that:

  • A country’s wealth need not depend on natural resources, it may even ultimately benefit from their absence.
  • The greatest resource of all is Man.
  • What government has to do is to set the framework for human talent to flourish.”

On Patriotism

  1. “A man may climb Everest for himself, but at the summit he plants his country’s flag.”
  2. “Constitutions have to be written on hearts, not just paper.”

 

On Economics

  1. “No-one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions; he had money as well.”
  2. “Pennies do not fall from heaven. They have to be earned, here on Earth.” (My Dad’s words., especially when the daughter borders on prodigality 🙂 )

And a line that defines Power as well as Womanhood

“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”

“I too have a certain idea of America. Moreover, I would not feel entitled to say that of any other country, except my own. This is not just sentiment, though I always feel ten years younger – despite the jet-lag – when I set foot on American soil: there is something so positive, generous, and open about the people – and everything actually works. I also feel, though, that I have in a sense a share of America.”

As an Indian girl with not a single relation outside India, who wants to pursue further education in US, these are the same sentiments that this place first evoked in me. Throughout my 5 months in New York City and Chicago, as well as my feeling this time around, it was like a whole new lesson in tolerance, generosity and a hard working attitude that is reflected in every person who is here. Each person is a reflection of the place from where their families immigrated into this country. There is something vulnerable about this place that makes you want to protect it. It respects you for what you bring to the table, what you add to humanity, no matter your language, nationality,color or religion. You get to contribute to it., without losing your identity. Yes, I feel that I have in a sense a share of America. I owe her my gratitude for being a gracious host and a tough teacher.

Wow!

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I am not even going to look back in time to see when I wrote my last post.

I am here now. And, I really wanted to come back. It is high time.

I started off as a bumbling 20-something medical student, in India. Striving to get into pediatric residency. Very much wanting it.

Stumbled into Neonatology, serendipitously, during residency. Really wanted to be in it.

Now, here I am, one year down with my training in neonatology. It has not been easy, but it has been one helluva ride. Everyday has been a challenge and I go home with something new. Sometimes a technique, sometimes an idea, a lesson in humanity or just plain old common sense that eludes me when I am in a daze.

I have always been a grateful person. I feel more so now!

I remember I was walking through the NICU at Nationwide Children’s one afternoon, one of the days during my 2 week observership as a resident. A parent, who as I recall had a very sick, possibly terminal infant, stopped me in the hallway and said to me – ” It might seem tough to you, but I have a feeling you’re going to be a really good neonatologist, keep going!”. The man didn’t know me. I hadn’t even interacted with him much. He didn’t know that I loved this field way too much (may be he did). He may have seen in my expressions, the fear that I may not have what it takes to be in the NICU. And I have a come long way since then. Not nearly quite where I need and want to be – but I have grown. The words however, will stay with me forever.

I have realised, that in life, we may not have cheerleaders all along the way. We may have to be our own and everyone else’s too. In fact, pats on the back will come, but maybe not as often as you would like ( I maybe particularly needy for attention 🙂 ). If you love what you do and are honest to yourself about your inconsistencies and weaknesses – then be your own cheerleader. Smile when you see the sunshine and cry when you must. Sing your own song. Times change, so do you. Keep doing – keep learning – keep fighting.

And in moments of weakness, I ask Him for strength. If he does want me to keep going, he gives me the signs. And the signs glare at me and tell me there’s only more to do if I so wish. And by jove, I wish for a whole lot anyway :). And, so I go on!

I am going to grow this little space into a chronicle of my experiences – medical and life related and share how the journey has been going. So, as much as I have been away, I look forward to spending a little more time in this little cove. (I am sure noone is looking at this now but maybe in a year or two – things maybe different).

And, yes, it is a habit now – I do – almost involuntarily – think of 6 impossible things before breakfast! 🙂

Here I am .

Its been long since I wrote last. Remember how I said how I did not know the way , that I was just trudging along, making the most of my journey. I am still doing that. I have seen new people, met new milestones, and am still treading. I have been fortunate to meet the most amazing people along the way, and still hold the ones  that were close,right by my side. Yes, the journey has been worthwhile.

I am now a resident in Pediatrics. And I am through with my first year. And I loved it. I am loving it still . And it is still new everyday .

As usual, I am not sure where I am headed. More like, I am not sure where life is taking me. It is a beautiful road though, feeling fortunate to be treading on it .

🙂

And am I glad to be back here!

Love,

RS .

Where do you want to go ?

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5499652062f596cccc671c50dcb78a51 I thought I didn’t know…..Maybe I didn’t want to tell…..I do know….And it is a bit much farther than where I am at…..I am looking for a way…I have a feeling I will get there…..

Discovered it pretty early on….Let me be the best I can be 🙂

Places that make my heart beat with their rhythm, places I am yet to see……

With the ones I love…..

Confident, comfortable, still imagining, trying to keep my muchness….Still smiling 🙂

And Love…..It’ll happen …All I need to do is be true….and believe.

God..I am not making this any easy for myself or you, am I?

Most likely not….

Love,

Rucha

Here I am ….

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webjongcartoongirl11867

Its been more than a year, well, I am finally picking up where I left off. And while there are a million things that I have felt in the year go by, a million that I wish to put into words – People, Places, Feelings…..This one, right now, is just about now. The moment I am in.

Where: A place I call home

When: A moment where I am living my ‘Just Married’, ‘halfway across the world’, best friend’s birthday. A moment where I am still perked up from my first satisfactory skype session with a wise girl who I call, among many other things – Mom,who filled my heart up just by lighting up the screen. When my heart is filled with little hopes of all the stuff I want to be doing in the time to come….Vienna will have to wait…in my case…Paris :)…..Thanking God for giving me this moment.

How:  A wintry day, with too little air in my home , so I am going to open the window and let some air in. Feeling a little hungry so I am going to gorge on a healthy midnight snack. And sleepy so I am soon going to nod off. And I am beginning to write again.

Love,

Rucha