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Saving lives, over and over

For one young doctor, the daily drama of life and death surpasses the scripted motions of anything on screen. In this four-part series, four young professionals tell us how their life is a just a little bit like life on television shows.

brunch Updated: Aug 24, 2013 17:17 IST
Karan Raj Jaggi
Karan Raj Jaggi

I come from a family of doctors, and children from such families usually have strong feelings about the profession – they either love it or hate it. I belong to the former category.
I entered medical college, bright-eyed and confident, expecting to expertly wield a scalpel on day one. All I managed to do was to cut the anatomy demonstrator’s finger. That day, I solemnly swore to never become a surgeon!

My first save
After medical school, you’re required to complete a year of internship at different departments of a hospital. I started with psychiatry where my daily duties involved carrying patient files, copying lists of medications and if I got lucky, taking the pulse and blood pressure of a patient!

On the fitfth day of my internship, I was asked to monitor the vital signs of a patient. Four hours into the said task, I noticed that his blood pressure was steadily dropping. I informed the senior resident on duty. He asked me to monitor the patient more closely and start an IV line. Having never started one, I requested (and pestered) a senior nurse to do it. As she was setting up an IV line, the patient started seizing. I screamed myself hoarse telling the nurses to call the resident, while I squeezed the bottle of saline, trying to get some fluids into the patient to raise his blood pressure.

Noble profession: The ability to make a difference is what motivated Karan Raj Jaggi to become a doctor

The resident arrived and gave out orders to the nurses. I just stood numb in shock. Thankfully, the patient revived. The senior resident congratulated me for saving the patient’s life and the nurse said, “Doctor saab, agar aap nahin hote, toh woh patient mar jaata.”

That moment justified those long hours slaving over text books, cancelling party plans, and giving exams every day.

My first flight

The day I stepped into the Emergency Room, I knew I was meant to be a physician. My duties included collecting patient blood samples, inserting Ryle’s tubes (oral feeding tubes), urinary catheters and starting IV lines.

I remember my first attempt at trying to insert an IV cannula. The patient asked me to get right in one go! After struggling for nearly 10 minutes, I gave up and called the resident. He just asked me to get a cannula three sizes bigger than the one I had tried with, inserted it in one fluid motion and left.

My downfall

Things took a turn for the worse when I was posted in the Obstetrics and Gynaecology department, where the general rule was – don’t ask questions. Soon, I became accustomed to servile obedience and felt I was beginning to grudge the patients and their illnesses. I couldn’t wait for internship to get over and thought I would snap back to my ebullient self once my post-graduate exams were over. However, that didn’t happen.

My resurrection

One day an elderly gentleman came home asking for my father (who was sleeping that time). Though I asked him to return in the evening, there was something about him that made me say, “I’m a doctor too, is there anything I can help you with?” He told me he had some confusion about his medications. I felt the long-lost feeling of warmth surging through me again and explained the correct timing and doses.

He thanked me profusely and I instinctively touched his feet. Blessing me, he had tears in his eyes as he said, “Thank you, doctor saab.” Instantly, my first “save” flashed right before my eyes. It was then I rediscovered what I loved about medicine in the first place.

As I stood smiling, long after the gentleman had left, my mother asked me if I was okay. I said, “I am now”.

His life on screen
* Grey’s Anatomy is a medical drama that traces the personal and professional lives of doctors who graduate from being unsure surgical interns to confident attending surgeons.
* The show’s title is a reference to the famous anatomy book Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body by Henry Gray (an English anatomist and surgeon).
* Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey) was discovered while she was working at the SoHo Bar & Grill in New York.

Dr Karan Raj Jaggi is an alumnus of DPS RK Puram, New Delhi and has recently graduated from Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) with honors.

From HT Brunch, August 25

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First Published: Aug 24, 2013 17:07 IST

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