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Hope and healing

Hope and healing

©️Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker One of the most powerful stories that Homo Sapiens have passed on from generation to generation over thousands of years, is the story of “hope”. “Hope” is our true super-power. Hope can work miracles. Without “hope”… well… everything will be … 

EMPATHY AND OBJECTIVITY- A DELICATE BALANCE

EMPATHY AND OBJECTIVITY- A DELICATE BALANCE

©️Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker As doctors, we love evidence-based medicine! Most of us believe in the old adage- “In God we trust. All others must bring data.” We are deeply impacted by impact factors and the graph of our pride rises in direct proportion to 

Embracing Authenticity: A Surgeon’s Journey Beyond Conformity

Embracing Authenticity: A Surgeon’s Journey Beyond Conformity

©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker

The field of surgery has long been associated with images of masculinity – the stereotypical strong, authoritative and dominating figure giving orders in the operating room. These perceptions, however, fail to capture the true essence of surgical prowess and the diverse skill set that contributes to success in the field. In reality, effective surgical practice encompasses a range of qualities, including precision, empathy, kindness, collaboration, adaptability and maintaining equanimity during surgery.

I embarked on my surgical journey 21 years ago as the lone woman in a department dominated by men. Not much has changed in the last two decades. Whether it is at the hospital or at a surgical conference, number of women surgeons can still be counted on fingertips.

When I first entered the field of surgery, the prevalent male culture around me felt rather intimidating. Those days there were no support networks and hardly any female mentors to look up to. The prospect of potential professional and social isolation, coupled with the fear of being underestimated, fuelled my determination to meticulously refine my foundational skills in laparoscopic and bariatric surgery. I worked really hard through those years and today, I take pride in being acknowledged among highly skilled surgeons. Yet, the realization dawned that sheer technical proficiency does not always equate to success. In the realm of professional success, factors extending beyond technical expertise assume a crucial role. Many individuals consciously craft an image or aura around themselves, projecting a specific persona aligned with perceived notions of success.

I quickly realized that attempting to adopt a borrowed male aura for success was not only impractical but also counterproductive for me. Authenticity emerged as a fundamental principle in my professional life. I needed to remain true to myself. Success, I discovered, wasn’t about conforming to preconceived notions or adopting a facade. Instead, it was about embracing and refining my own unique strengths and qualities.

In this realization, I found the freedom to cultivate a professional identity that resonated with my authentic self. It allowed me to leverage my inherent skills, communicate with sincerity, and project a genuine image that reflected not societal expectations, but my own values and capabilities. By embracing authenticity, I discovered a more fulfilling and sustainable path to success, one that didn’t require the compromise of my true identity.

Gradually, I began to forge my own path. Infusing a feminine touch and cultivating a culture of care in every aspect of my work became my signature. I wasn’t concerned about being a woman in what is traditionally considered a man’s world. While I learned valuable lessons from my male colleagues, particularly in assertiveness and financial literacy, I realized that success didn’t necessitate adopting a masculine persona. Success, I discovered, hinges on core skills and authenticity, coupled with a touch of luck.

Authenticity, an often-underestimated asset, becomes paramount in our pursuit of professional and personal success. Embracing and staying true to oneself, despite the existing gender dynamics, is not only empowering but a key component. As women surgeons, it is essential to bring one’s unique qualities, perspectives, and approaches to the forefront, challenging the preconceived notions of what a surgeon should be. As more and more women break through the barriers of tradition, they must realize that femininity need not be sacrificed for success in the operating room or in life.

BEYOND THE SCALPEL: FACING THE MIRROR IN SURGICAL LEARNINGS

BEYOND THE SCALPEL: FACING THE MIRROR IN SURGICAL LEARNINGS

©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker As a medical professional, I interact with numerous individuals on a daily basis. While their primary reason for visiting me is related to medical or surgical concerns, I consider it a privilege to gain a brief insight into their lives during 

“WHAT NEXT” in 2024

“WHAT NEXT” in 2024

©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker Last year marked the grand celebration of our 25th batch reunion. It was a wonderful event that brought us all together once again. As we embraced each other after decades, the camaraderie was palpable. Late-night heart-to-heart conversations made us feel as 

A PAGE FROM A DOCTORS’ DIARY

A PAGE FROM A DOCTORS’ DIARY

Unseen Struggles: The Weight Beyond Weight

©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker

This is the story of Shruti and Raj (names changed). A touching journey of profound emotions woven through an array of love, loss and unyielding hope amidst a backdrop of deepset societal prejudices and biases.

As a young couple, their quest to start a family was laden with challenges. The initial elation of finally conceiving a pair of twins through IVF, was swiftly eclipsed by the cruel hand of fate. Losing one of the twins in the early months of conception left them reeling with grief. Despite the heartache, they clung onto the flickering hope for their remaining baby, channelling every bit of love and determination towards nurturing that fragile life.

In a heart-wrenching twist of destiny, just days before the expected delivery, their journey took yet another unexpected turn. They were shattered when the second baby’s heartbeat stopped in the womb and they faced loss once again. Their world was engulfed by the painful reality of losing both babies, leaving them immersed in profound grief.

The year was 2020 and amidst their ordeal, the world was overtaken by the chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic. Shruti, already battling with the weight of grief, found herself grappling with a severe bout of Covid. Once again, she was admitted for weeks in the hospital. Treatment with steroids saved her life but the side effects brought unwanted #weightgain. The pandemic restrictions further isolated her, eliminating avenues for physical activity and exacerbating her struggles emotionally as well as physically. A few months passed by.

As if her already overwhelming trials weren’t enough, one year later, she started experiencing an excruciating pain in the left hip joint. She was diagnosed with avascular necrosis of the hip, a consequence of the steroids that she required during treatment for Covid. At a young age of 28, she faced the daunting reality of needing a hip replacement, an unforeseen challenge that added to her physical limitations and struggles. Each step became a battle and every movement a painful reminder of her body’s limitations. Coupled with her restricted mobility, it became an additional factor contributing to her weight gain.

Shruti’s struggles with her health issues weren’t merely confined to their physical toll. The most profound blow stemmed from the absence of understanding and empathy from those around her. Society’s unforgiving lens fixated solely on her outward appearance, remaining oblivious to the turmoil raging beneath the surface. Instead of offering empathy or a listening ear, they chose the path of blame—an unjust attribution of her weight gain to her actions, without acknowledging the intricate complexities she struggled with.

The understanding of #obesity needs to extend far beyond superficial judgements. Beyond the visual appearance lie many emotional and physical struggles that shape an individual’s journey with weight gain. While it’s easy to cast aspersions, true understanding requires a deeper connection, an effort to empathize with the multifaceted challenges faced by individuals. Sadly, in today’s world, obesity stands amongst the most stigmatized conditions, frequently greeted with a glaring lack of empathy. Instead of kindness, those affected often confront sneers, harsh judgments, and biased attitudes, exacerbating their already uphill battles.

Amid this tumult, Raj remains an unwavering source of support for Shruti. His love and belief in her never falter as he tirelessly advocates for her well-being and offers unwavering support.

Shruti’s yearning for a family and a life liberated from judgement remains resolute. Her dream transcends mere physical weight loss. It encompasses liberation from the confines of societal judgement and misconceptions. What she longs for is a world where her narrative finds resonance, where her trials are met not with disdain but with empathy, understanding, and heartfelt compassion.

In this world, as we all traverse our individual tests and trials the weight of these burdens tends to feel less heavy when we encounter understanding, empathy, and genuine compassion from others. Individuals dealing with obesity often face the unfortunate reality of not being truly heard or seen beyond their outward appearance. It’s important for society to listen to and truly see individuals dealing with obesity. Acknowledging their experiences and understanding the multifaceted nature of their struggles can pave the way for a more supportive and compassionate approach towards addressing this condition.

OPERATING ON THE EDGE- THE UNSEEN JOURNEY OF SURGEONS

OPERATING ON THE EDGE- THE UNSEEN JOURNEY OF SURGEONS

©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker It was the last case on the list on that day. A very routine laparoscopic fundoplication that took an unexpected turn. In a fateful moment, a short gastric vessel ruptured, with torrential bleeding across the surgical field. Suddenly, all I could 

THE CRICKET WORLD CUP- BEYOND THE FRENZY

THE CRICKET WORLD CUP- BEYOND THE FRENZY

©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker, Mumbai, India The recent Cricket World Cup that concluded day before yesterday was an exhilarating spectacle, captivating fans worldwide. As we navigate the mixed emotions following our defeat, there’s been a thought lingering in my mind— more of a reflection that’s 

THE JOY BAG

THE JOY BAG

©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker

A few days back, I took an old recycled cloth bag and threw in some coloring pens, a sketching pad, a pencil, an eraser, headphones, and a book that I am reading presently. Just out of a whim, I called this ensemble of simple delights as my “joy bag”. 

Since then, the joy bag became my unwavering companion, journeying with me through the kaleidoscope of my daily life. It accompanied me to the hospital, sat beside me through the long hours in the clinic, attended parent teachers meeting with me, came with me to my son’s tennis classes and sometimes even to the local market. It felt like I suddenly rediscovered a long-lost friend. 

My joy bag turned out to be that steadfast companion who loved me unconditionally, harbouring no expectations or demands. It never once pressured me to perform or deliver; instead, it waited patiently for my attention, even during the busiest days. It never complained, never judged. It was a source of pure, unadulterated happiness………….. and “joy”!

As I delved into the mystical realms of creativity, my joy bag became my enabler. Suddenly, the insufferable hours I once dreaded during road travel in this bustling city of Mumbai, held no terror. I no longer minded the occasional delays in the operating theatre. Impatience ceased to grip me when patients arrived a little later than scheduled. In fact, I confess that I sometimes welcomed these deviations, as they gave me some time for myself. I was more than happy to get back to reading the page that I hadn’t been able to complete or attempt to draw a figurine on my sketch pad. Creativity was now at my fingertips, and it brought transcendental joy that extended far beyond myself. It transformed me into a better version of who I was.

All of us live our lives in the pursuit of joy and somehow it is always out of reach. We are brought up to work hard, to achieve great heights in our careers, to constantly keep climbing the ladder and keep going even when we become breathless and tired. While this journey is satisfying and fulfilling to some extent, it can, at times, strip away the joy from our lives.  

In trying to achieve the difficult, we tend to forget the simple. 

“Joy” comes from simple things. 

Things that can fit into an old, small, recycled bag. 

My 10 years old son followed my footsteps (he has to do everything I do) and fished out another old cloth bag and created his own joy bag. 

So, what are you waiting for? Go make your own “joy bag”. After all, we only get to live once. Let us live joyfully!

#creativity #joy #joybag

लकीरें

लकीरें

आज आईने में मैंने अपना चेहरा देखा; तो नज़र आई कुछ लकीरें…… कुछ लकीरों में चमकने लगी थी सफेदी, कुछ में हो रहा था थोड़ा सा दर्द, कुछ लकीरें खिंच गईं थीं दिलो–जान पर, कुछ आ गई थीं रिश्तों के बीच, कुछ मिट रही थी, कुछ नई बन रही थी, कुछ थी ऐसी, जो किसी को नज़र नहीं आ रही थी, और कुछ ऐसी, जो चाह के भी, छुप नहीं पा रही थी. आज आईने में मैंने अपना चेहरा देखा; तो नज़र आयें कुछ लकीरें….. समझ नहीं पा रहे थे की; हम इनको कैसे करें कम, कशमकश में और डूबते जा रहे थे हम, फ़िर एक दोस्त ने समझाया की, ये लकीरें ही ज़िन्दगी हैं, ये लकीरें हम में हैं, और इन लकीरों में हैं हम. समय के साथ सीखा हमने; लकीरों पे करना ऐतबार, लकीरों की ख़ूबसूरती जो समझ ली हमने, जिंदगी का मजा ही हुआ कुछ और. अब लकीरें कितनी भी हो टेढ़ी; चेहरे पे नहीं दिखती, जो दिखती है कभी चेहरे पर, वो आती है बन के मुस्कुराहट, और कहती हैं लकीरों से, कि हमसे हो तुम, और तुमसे हैं हम, करते हैं मिलके मजा, क्यूंकि यही है जिंदगी की रजा. आज जब फिर एक बार आईने में  मैंने अपना चेहरा देखा; तो नज़र ना आई कोई लकीरें….. Be independent and free from