Doctor, heal thyself

Healing Touch: PRIP Rajendra K Saboo has organised and led many medical missions in India and Africa where Rotarian doctors operate/consult for no other consideration except caring and healing.
Healing Touch: PRIP Rajendra K Saboo has organised and led many medical missions in India and Africa where Rotarian doctors operate/consult for no other consideration except caring and healing.

It was a ride on the wild side. Super-charged with adrenaline, I paced the space like a caged tiger, mind on fire, words crying to be heard. Sentences exploded: “A thought is only a thought!” “Nothing happens, nothing has happened, nothing is happening, nothing will ever happen!”
I wrote like a maniac not knowing then that it was soon to be a book — The Long Road to Nowhere: from Is to Bliss (Zen Publications). Apparently, my eyes had become large and extraordinarily clear. My last rush of words before being driven to the hospital,
I was told, were: “I don’t know if I’m crazy or enlightened!”

And here’s the crux of the story: I was blessed! I had three caring doctors charting my stars to recovery. Just because my blood pressure had risen and I was speaking repetitively, I was an ICCU candidate! Fortunately, one of the three wise doctors, my dear sister Deepika, said firmly, “Not the ICCU. It’s too cold and impersonal. He’ll recover faster if he sees people around him.” Truer words have never been spoken. No distant ‘all-night-­vigilance’ in chilling, sterile conditions can replace the warm, loving hand on the brow.

Needless tests

I did not undergo a battery of needless tests, just those required. I came out with flying colours — lungs, heart, kidney, liver were healthy and oxygen levels good. My hugely relieved sister attributed it to my daily fitness and meditation regime. I concur heartily. Tip: Pedal on your stationary bike for an hour daily. Do stretches with springs. And crunch those abs. Since my sodium level had dropped by three points, I was put on a saline drip for five days. I had always thought I was the salt of the earth.
Apparently, the next day, I was chanting “I surrender. Peace.” And I was at peace. Right through this unexpected experience, I was super confident that there was nothing wrong in my body. Years of fitness silently nurture body and mind. When you surrender to healing forces, you enjoy a childlike immunity to ill-being.

With firm resolve, I walked the path my pen had set: “Remember, pranic and panic are an ‘r’ apart. That ‘r’ is respiration. Breathe deeply. Panic disappears. Pranic energy re-flows.” Tip: In good and bad times, ­concentrate on your breathing. Often, brain and body come up with a subconscious knee-jerk panic attack. Deep, consistent breathing beats counting to 10.

It also helps to repeat the healing affirmation of the Masters: “I will my life force to charge through my nerves and muscles big and small, my tissues, limbs and all, with vibrant tingling fire, with burning joyous power. In blood and glands by sovereign command
I bid you flow, by my command, I bid you glow.”

In a system gone callous where pharma companies and some practitioners are in an unholy alliance, my three doctors tower as true heroes. Shining examples to the growing tribes of medicos who see a patient as one more number to achieve their ‘target’ for the hospitals they work for, prescribing tests and surgeries merely to collect commissions. These over-the-top practices are justified by many in the profession as a ‘preventive action’ against patient litigation. But how many in India have the gumption, resources and energy to take a medical practitioner to court?

Invasive procedures

More disturbing are the invasive procedures imposed on the terminally ill not just for profiteering, but also as a ‘classroom lesson’ where medical students are invited (without the family’s permission) to watch the specialist’s prowess. This actually happened with my mother-in-law, the insensitivity of the senior doctor was appalling. A doctor must be sensitive to every individual’s right to live or pass away in peace and dignity.

Rotarian doctors at a medical camp in Sikar (Rajasthan) organised by RC Sikar, D 3052.
Rotarian doctors at a medical camp in Sikar (Rajasthan) organised by RC Sikar, D 3052.

Ethics, values and humaneness must grow, not diminish, with the advance of technology. A doctor who punishes patients for profits, power or prestige punishes himself/herself first — a precious spark of love dies inside. Dr Atul Gawande, a renowned surgeon in the USA, puts it beautifully in his book Being Mortal: Medicine and what matters in the end, “People with ­serious illness have priorities besides simply prolonging their lives … avoiding suffering, strengthening relationships …. being mentally aware, not being a burden on others, and achieving a sense that their life is complete … Our system of technological medical care has utterly failed to meet these needs. The question is how we can … actually help people achieve what’s most important to them at the end of their living.” I applaud the good doctor’s deep concern and thoughtfulness.

I wish that doctors, who look more into the health of their profits than the health of their patients, could look deep into their core and rediscover that great seed of love and goodness that resides in them. Understanding and compassion along with the determination to heal the sick and strengthen the weak is a bountiful energy that lights up the doctor’s life with genuine purpose. Why undermine it?
When professional life is conducted with kindness of honesty and truth, deep fulfillment and joy abound. Indeed, we are happy not because of our wealth but because of our enormous capacity to love. As that great Master Thich Nhat Hanh revealed, “The secret to maintaining happiness is to nourish our love every day,” and exhorted, “Don’t allow success or craving for money and power to replace your love.”

To that end, I urge doctors to re-­direct and re-dedicate their intentions to the greater, higher purposes they had started their medical career with. Daily, sit comfortably, eyes closed gently. Concentrate on your breath, the rise and fall of your stomach. Now, put your honorable intentions into these affirmations. When you open your eyes, open your heart, and let the pure healer in you emerge.

(The writers are authors of the book ‘Fitness for Life.’)

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