©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 …
©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 …
©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
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 …
©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker
Samarth (name changed) had called my team at least a dozen times over two days, seeking an urgent appointment for a consultation for weight loss. He wanted to lose weight in a very short span of time. As is common understanding, usually there is nothing “urgent” about weight loss. People gain weight over many years and are usually in sync with the idea that weight loss will be a time-consuming process with any modality, be it diet and exercise, medications, or even bariatric surgery.
As a team, we are a bit wary of people who are looking for instant solutions. When it comes to treating obesity, we believe in setting realistic goals. If the expectation is not set right, the journey invariably ends in disappointment. Hence, when I was informed about this patient, I was sceptical.
Samarth was the eldest of three siblings. Two years back, his mother was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, which had now progressed to liver failure. She needed a liver transplant urgently in order to survive.
For the last couple of years, the recurring monthly expenditure on her care and medications was over a lakh of rupees. Health insurance covered the expenses only partially. For any middle-class family, this is a huge amount. It is enough to set anyone back financially for a few years, to say the least. Samarth was working two jobs to cope up with the monthly expense and to save money for the liver transplant. Not only was he saving money, but he was also the potential live liver donor for his mother. He was supporting his mother emotionally, medically, financially and was willing to go to any length to save her life.
Unfortunately, he was overweight and could not qualify as a donor until he lost weight. Working two jobs had taken its toll on his health over the years. He had no time for himself. He was stuck in a vicious cycle where he couldn’t take time off due to his financial responsibilities, and until he took some time out, he wouldn’t be able to sort his own weight related issues. But now, it was a race against time, and he had to get into shape really fast. On asking about the other two siblings, he simply said that they were not interested in the mother’s care. The attitude of the rest of the family didn’t matter to him. He was willing to move the earth for his mother and wanted to do everything within his power. He was ready to part with a piece of himself to give his mother the gift of life.
I had started this consultation with a bit of scepticism. However, over the years, I have realized that everyone deserves a benefit of doubt. As a doctor, I feel that the greatest gift that we can give to a patient is not just a solution to the problem but a “patient hearing”. More often than not, we discover a hidden story that was waiting to be heard. His desperation was justified, and there couldn’t have been a better reason for seeking help.
Samarth has started his weight loss journey, and only time will tell if he will win this race against time to be able to become a live donor for his mother.
But yet again, in my journey as a doctor, I have met a human being who has reinforced my belief in humanity. We hear negative stories every day, but these stories of my patients make me feel that all is well with the world. Such profound acts of love, kindness and sacrifice are rare but enough to outweigh many ills that scourge the society of today. We don’t get to hear them or read about them often. However, these are extraordinary stories of ordinary people, and I feel privileged to narrate them. I do believe that someone somewhere may be in the same boat as Samarth and may derive inspiration from his incredible journey.
May such souls be blessed with more power.
Dedicated to all the #mothers ©️Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker In a city like Mumbai, most people live in nuclear families, and many a times, children have no option but to tag along with their parents even during medical consultations. Some people feel a tad awkward …
I have been pathetically camera conscious for most part of my life. The moment I know someone is taking my picture, I tend to stiffen, I don’t know where to look, and I smile weirdly. It’s not hard to guess the end result. The awkwardness is evident and most of the time, I hate to look at my own pictures. I delete them more often than I keep them. Getting pictures clicked is an onerous task, which I would totally avoid if I could. I envy the selfie enthusiasts who seem to get that pout right every time and I am always in awe of those perfectly pastel wedding albums.
That brings me to my wedding pictures…… well, the less we say about them, the better it is. Like most Indian weddings my wedding was also quite emotionally and physically taxing. However, the photographer seemed quite set on his task of creating a perfect wedding album for us. He expected a graceful pose with a flawless smile for every photograph. It almost felt like I was there for a grand photo shoot and not for my own wedding. Getting pictures taken was the most tormenting part of my wedding, to the extent that towards the end, I threatened to walk away if any more photos were taken.
Cut to 2023. Last week we had our annual obesity surgery conference in Mumbai. It was a 4 days long affair and of course there was a “photographer”. Usually, most of us would not pay much attention to a photographer in a routine surgical conference. After all, it is not exactly a wedding! However, here was this middle-aged person, impeccably dressed in a jacket and with a very interesting expression on his face. A face that brings about a smile on another face. One look at him and you have no option but to smile. He went around bouncing on his feet, taking pictures, making small talk, cracking jokes and making everyone laugh. He had a persona that was very hard to ignore. I guess, all those who attended the conference will agree that getting pictures clicked felt quite natural and to some extent even enjoyable. For the next 4 days, he worked with the same fervour and his passion for photography went miles beyond being just a job. By the time the conference came to an end, we were on first name basis and I was happy to know that he was a proud father of a dental student. He shared with a lot of pride that though he couldn’t study much, his children were doing very well academically.
I am sure he made a deep impact on many of us who attended the meeting. I guess it is not about what you do, it is about how you do it. A simple task of taking pictures can be done so differently by two different people. Not only was he passionate about what he did, he also connected with each one of us at a personal level. He worked for about 15 hours everyday and yet had a smile on his face at the end of every day. He danced when we danced, he laughed when we laughed and he clicked hundreds of pictures. I am yet to see the pictures but for the first time I didn’t mind being photographed, infact, I actually enjoyed it.
This one is dedicated to you Naresh Bhai! Thank you for your efforts.
©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker