Being a child, I was always afraid of doctors. They always seemed like a demon with a sword ready to pierce me through. But the reality would be just a simple man, wearing a bright white coat and standing right in front of me with a 2cc syringe. I never thought of them as a demon because of their deeds but the fact that they had a needle in their handmade my imagination go crazy. After all, I was just a normal kid waiting in the queue to get my routine vaccines and also watching every kid come out of the doctor’s cabin crying their lungs out, made my heart skip a beat. Those were the days when I had sworn to never get close to a doctor and here I am today, standing in a bright white coat, with a Littmann around my neck, entering my OPD for the very first time as an INTERN!
Every senior doctor will tell you that these twelve months of your life will help you decide your future course and with no surprise, it did help me understand what I really wanted in life.
So I started my internship with the department of community medicine. Little did I know that this would be the time when I would learn the most. Yes, it was this period of two months that taught me the most valuable lesson of my life – humanity. I can still remember my first day and my very first patient. She was a 70years old granny, a known diabetic as well as a hypertensive for the past 20years, came for her routine checkup. Her name was Mrs. Lakshmi. I clearly remember her peculiar voice and her interest in her medicines. She was an active woman with all the knowledge about her drugs as well as her doctors. She very well knew about the system of our department. She was aware that every two months the PHC would have a new batch of doctors, which is why she made sure her new doctor thoroughly went through her history and did n’t mess up with her medicines. This was something rare for an uneducated lady to do and also the reason why I remembered her so well. She made me nervous, as I was a beginner. I did not want to fail in any circumstances. Later, after reading her records, I handed her the prescription with my name and initials signed on it. She smiled with gratitude, with a blessing in return. That was the moment which made me realize that my journey had now begun. I spent two months traveling to various villages, set out camps, provided health education, distributed free drugs to those who need it. And that’s when I learnt that there are endless people who need medical help and also people who are unaware of their illnesses needed education and our duty is not just to sit within four walls and sign off prescriptions, our duty includes to stretch a hand of humanity towards those who are suffering and bring them to a better world and at least try to give them a better life to live . I learned, we doctors, are the ray of hope they were in search of.
After completing a posting filled with mixed emotions, I entered the world of surgeons. General surgery was my next department, where I saw myself turning into the imaginary demon I was once afraid of as a kid. Every procedure I did, every step I took, involved my patient under a scalpel. My hands were shaking as I assisted my professor for my first surgery. I was all decked up and a tad bit excited to read my name on the surgeon’s walls for the scheduled surgery. But, the first time I had to bury my gloved hands into someone’s wound made me obnoxious. I felt miserable for the patient. Had just one question throughout my surgery, “God, why must a human suffer so much ?” I could barely concentrate on what was going on. I had a sigh of relief once we closed up. Happy for the patient who had made it, but still a thought in the back of my mind – what if he wouldn’t have?
As days passed, my hands stopped shaking and my thoughts started diminishing. I started emphasizing learning how to save a life. There were no options apart from reading those huge books which would weigh more than a sack of rice and to practice the art of butchering. While I was a student, I would often hear doctors being referred to as a butcher. I used to get offended. But today, while I stand wrapped in my gown, with my patient completely sedated, lying down with his fate in my hands, I don’t feel less like a butcher. The only difference is we save lives.
Weeks after weeks, I started feeling strong and confident in what I did. The feeling of helping people cure their illnesses started growing on me. It was a magical land where drugs would do the magic and a surgery would cut the illness totally where and when required. I shifted from general surgery to orthopedics, and then kept moving to other departments as in the routine, and I could feel the magic of a scalpel until I entered the department of obstetrics and gynecology. Being in gynecology didn’t make me feel any different from being in any other surgical department. But what changed my complete mindset was the department of obstetrics.
My first few hours in obstetrics gave me a panic attack. I was in shock to see patients screaming in pain. I took a minute to see all around the department and realized this is something beyond the magic of a scalpel. I can’t help the ones crying for help. I just can not sedate them and cut them open to cure them. I felt very helpless. All I could do was console each and every mother and wait with them for the birth of their precious ones. I could see them struggling for hours together. And their struggle taught me to tranquilize my temper and be patient. After all, it was I, who could cheer them up and regain their confidence in the process they were going through. I could not wait to deliver a baby, but at the same time, I could not rush at any given cost.
Alas, it was time to conduct my first delivery. It was something I had to do without a scalpel. My hands had to be steady but tender. This time I was not about to cut an odious part of her body, but bring out the little one who has been growing in her womb for the past 9 months. This journey of mine continued for days together. I shared a very strong bond with each and every mother I came across. Each one was special. The joy of bringing another life into this world was incomparable to any other feeling I had ever felt. But as we all know, life is not a bed of roses. They always have thorns in it. And this time I was pricked by a thorn when I was informed I have to hold a scalpel in my hand once again. It was time for my first cesarean. Something I knew I would come across, but hoped I would never have to. Because unlike other surgeries, this one had another life struggling between my patient and my scalpel. I had to help protect a life unseen. As we painted and draped the patient, we prayed for the betterment of the little one who is yet to see the world. As we cut open in search of the juvenile soul, I could once again feel the pressure and fear which I had felt on the day of my very first surgery. This time the pressure had turned more intense and I had a sudden adrenaline rush to see the angel face safe. This was not something which was growing on me. Unlike my previous postings, this time I was not getting stronger with time, but I was definitely getting better with my skill. The task to get the mother and child safe from the surgery had become easier, but the worry I had before each every incision never reduced. I still pray before I start operating on a mother. I still feel the responsibility of keeping the mother and her offspring safe. There were sleepless nights, which I never regretted. Continuous duties which never stopped me. My journey in this department was like a roller coaster ride, where I had numerous state of excitement which always encouraged me to move forward. I just wanted to stay back in the department, because for the very first time I felt like this is where I belonged.
It was my last day in the department as well as my last day as an intern. I had no emotions to express as I was going through my last few hours. That day we all sat together, recalled memories of our entire internship. All I could think of was how badly would I miss this department. As my seniors always used to say, this is when I would realize what my future holds for me, I agree with them, because I have realized what I want my future to be.
Twelve months of the internship was nothing less than those twelve years of school life. We gradually learn as we grow. And that’s exactly what happened with me. It was the most difficult ‘goodbye’ of my life. Tears rolled then as they roll now while I conclude sharing my EXPERIENCE AS AN INTERN.