For a long time, I have known that I do not need Beethoven, Bach, or A. R. Rehman. No offense to these extremely talented artists, but music to my ears will always be hearing the baby’s heartbeat on the doppler, hearing the baby’s first cry. The emotion is indescribable, overwhelming and satisfying.
People enter the medical field for myriad reasons, whether charitable, financial, or just for respect. What medicine signified to me from a very early age was the ability to make a difference in somebody’s life — a difference that I never forgot. It felt like leaving footprints on people’s hearts.
I understand that medicine is a way of living, not a profession. It’s not a 9 to 5 job. It’s a continuous life experience and trying to understand how a patient feels.
When people come for treatment, it is an honor to be a part of that process and not be just a detached professional whose job is to make a diagnosis and then send them off to deal with their problems. I like to be a part of their lives … at least for that short period of time.
An appointment and a diagnosis may be like one page of a book for a doctor. But for a patient, that same diagnosis can be their entire story. The dichotomy is astonishing but inevitable. And as doctors, we have to balance ourselves on this uneven scale.
Unlike doctors in oncology or trauma, I am truly blessed to work in a specialty that deals with joy, happiness, hope, and new beginnings.
I genuinely believe that obstetrics represents the medical sciences and humanism coming together.
The challenges are the difficult clinical situations when things go wrong, as is bound to happen in any field of medicine. But in this field of pregnancy and childbirth, it is even harder because there is a baseline expectation that nothing should go wrong by patients and doctors. This is unlike true disease, where everyone is prepared for negative outcomes.
When there is a negative outcome, the incident becomes deeply ingrained. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of it. It makes me very unforgiving of myself. You never forget. Many women carry their losses in their hearts for a lifetime, and so it is for me as well. It’s not always on the surface, but the sadness never really goes away.
So when the music stopped, a part of me died too.
Manu Lakshmi is an obstetrician-gynecologist in India.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com