Thursday, August 22, 2013

Working alone ... my 4th week

My regular readers know that my colleague Dr. Yasser has gone on his annual vacation since the 25th of July 2013. I have, since then, been on call every single day, and although work has never been back-breaking, it is the sheer tension of being on call 24 x 7 that affects the solitary doctor who works without a replacement. 

My detractors would probably raise a flag and remind me that when I was in private individual practice in India, I was, even then, on call 24 x 7 every single day - at least as far as my patients were concerned. The difference is that when you are in your own homeland, you are with your family and the entire support system, whereas when you are working in a foreign land where the indigenous population is waiting to put you in the dock for perceived acts of omission or negligence. 

Even so, I have remained in good spirits generally. I have begun to have group discussions on Skype with a few doctors who are all going to appear for the final part of MRCPCH either later this year or the next year. This, "the final exam" as it is called, is a clinical exam where the Royal College judges the candidates on their clinical proficiency, their communication skills and their diagnostic and analytical abilities. As such, there are no standard online question sets or guidelines for passing this exam. One has to constantly practice clinical and interview skills with friends and try and smoothen one's difficult areas so that during the exams, one is able to confidently face the examiners. 

In other news, I discovered a Punjabi style Pakistani restaurant on the highway just a few hundred meters from the original North Pakistani Peshawari restaurant that I used to visit earlier (last year, that is). They actually make delicious food and also tandoori rotis the way I like them! I have begun to bring rotis, and occasionally some curries to eat with the rotis. 

On another level, I have begun to exchange food with some of the staff nurses in the hospital. They love my food, and in return, they bring something from their own kitchens! Thus, I am enjoying the experience. Last week, I made a mean spicy cashew chicken, and got some nice Chicken Adobo in return! (This is a spicy Filipino dish). 

One surprising thing that has happened in the last few weeks after Ramadan ended is the sudden spurt in deliveries. I think over 18 pregnant mothers came to the hospital in labour and have delivered their babies. This is a huge spurt, as usually, we have 3-4 deliveries every week, and about 15-20 deliveries in a month. Nowadays, there are 1-3 deliveries almost every day. This hasn't really taxed me as most deliveries are still NORMAL. However, it has added to my calls, as some of the deliveries are "high-risk" cases and some progress to a problem that needs a surgical delivery ( a Caeserean section or a C-section as it is called). 

I wish to end with a few asides. I watch Indian Idol Junior on Sony Entertainment Television, and the singing by the final 6 children has been fantastic. I was deeply impressed by all of them, but in particular by the 14-year old Debanjana and the 8-year old Sugandha who is truly prodigal. 

The other thing I wish to comment on is the abominable economic condition of my homeland. India is facing multiple problems, but the biggest one that is threatening to bring India on its knees is the explosive inflation, the rapidly depreciating Rupee vis-a-vis the U.S. dollar and the crashing stock markets. Already, credit agencies have downgraded India two or three times. the Industrial production index has plummeted to zero or even under this, and the Wholesale Price Index is at a hitherto unseen peak.

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