The surgical ‘doctor’s day’

A celebratory start to the month turned out to be yet another ordinary day in the life of this surgeon

On the 1st of July, I woke up to a barrage of messages. WhatsApp was buzzing with Happy Doctors’ Day wishes. Doctor groups encouragingly wished each other, family groups said loving things to the physicians in their families, patients’ groups hailed them as superheroes, and medical representatives gestured how we were the backbone of our society albeit with a gentle reminder for prescribing drugs that would make our society even stronger.

I had a perfectly organized day ahead of me. Yoga in the morning, two standard spine operations, a regular list of patients in the clinic between the two surgeries, and then an early dinner with family and some friends who were visiting.

8 AM: “Good morning, Mrs. Jones!” I greeted the feisty lady with a firm handshake as we wheeled her in, the coldness of the operating room making way for the warmth of our smiles. She had a critical compression of her nerves in her lumbar spine at three levels. There was fluid in her joints and her spinal ligaments were lax, resulting in her vertebrae slipping over each other. After 5 hours, we had meticulously relieved her compression by biting away at all the overgrown ligament, replaced 3 of her discs with metal cages, and realigned her spine with 8 screws and 2 rods, making it look picture perfect. When you have sweat trickling down your back in a room that’s 16°C, you know you’ve worked for your lunch. She woke up feeling great. “I feel like I have new legs!” she exclaimed. I showed her an X-ray of her resurrected spine. “There so much metal in there,” she gasped. “I could audition of the next Iron Man movie!” she said, still groggy from the anaesthesia but with all her spirits intact. “I’m going to the OPD,” I told my colleague, as he prepped to get the next case in.

2 PM: I saw a bunch of patients in the OPD after I finished my first case. Some bought along a box of chocolates, some gave pretty flowers, and others drew up a card or two. Some didn’t have an appointment but just showed up to wish. I was overwhelmed. A few years ago, even doctors didn’t know it was Doctors’ Day, and now, thanks to social media, every day is a Day. The nurses had also arranged a small celebration with high tea, cake cutting, and games, which we briefly partook in.

4 PM: Our second case for the day was a 55-year-old man with neck and arm pain that was bothering him relentlessly. He had a C5-6 disc prolapse. We had to artistically open up his neck, retracting his carotid artery to one side and his food pipe to the other, and remove the disc cramping his nerve. We inserted a cute titanium cage in the place of that disc as a souvenir for him to remember us whenever he sees an X-ray of his neck, which I usually ask my patients to frame and hang in their room as a reminder to take care of themselves. “My pain is completely gone!” he said looking at this arm in disbelief after the operation. “I’m going to do rounds of all our patients and then head out,” I told my colleague, adding cockily, “I have dinner plans.” “I’m going to the ER to see someone,” he replied.

7 PM: We were operating on the third case of the day. A 72-year-old man with a large haemorrhage in his brain from uncontrolled hypertension had come in for emergency surgery. I’m never annoyed when plans are cancelled and got right to it. We swiftly opened up one half of his head. The brain ballooned out with each heartbeat threatening to make it burst. I nicked into a safe part of the surface to slurp out the blood clot, expeditiously deflating the balloon and restoring calm. “Will you close?” I requested my assistant, still hoping I could make it for dinner. “We will keep him on a ventilator tonight and see how he fares,” I told the family. “Thank you,” they said, sensing my hurry.

10 PM: I made it to dinner while everyone was having dessert. We sat in a restaurant overlooking the harbour and I devoured crispy fried prawns while bragging about how hard I worked. “One thing COVID has taught me is never to complain about work,” one of them said and we all agreed. We spoke about what it means to be a doctor in our country in these times. We spoke about how doctors were revered generations ago, while today, we are simply service providers who are expected to do their job well and pay the price if the customer wasn’t happy. “Touch wood, Indian patients are far more understanding about things than those in the West,” I muttered, as I walloped some ice-cream and got ready to call it a day.

11:30 PM: “Sir, the brain tumour we were to operate on 2 days later has come to the ER now. The patient is unconscious. We’ve intubated him. His CT shows a massive increase in the size of the cyst behind the tumour, which is probably why he’s in a coma.” Never alarmed by an emergency, I signalled all my people to cram into one car while I took off alone in mine. “Take him in but talk to the family; it’s a high-grade cancer,” I ordered.

1 AM: We were opening up another head. The tumour occupied the entire frontal lobe, almost a quarter of his brain. The ghoulish monster reared its ugly head, but we attacked it on all fours. My assistant and I performed a synchronized symphony in the middle of the night, miraculously converting an angry brain into a composed one. His frontal lobe now sat in a jar on the nurse’s table. When I took the specimen and showed it to his wife, she collapsed. A few sprinkles later, she woke up to the realization that a quarter of her husband’s identity was now on a table in the operating room. Despite that, he was going to live a normal – and hopefully healthier – life.

8 AM: I drove home, feeling the exhaustion of the past 24 hours, but was revitalized by the onset of the monsoon. The rain and smell of the wet earth energized me, making me look forward to the day to come.

Each year, the 1st of July is celebrated as National Doctors’ Day in honour of Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, who was instrumental in setting up the Medical Council of India of which he was the founder president. He was a renowned physician, freedom fighter, educationist, and philanthropist, and served as the Chief Minister of West Bengal for 14 years. July 1 happens to be his birth (1882) and also his death (1962) anniversary. Had he died on any other date, he is likely to have had two days celebrated in his honour, in homage of his legendary contribution to medicine in India.

The 1st of July is also National Chartered Accountant Day, to celebrate the formation of the Institute of Charted Accountants of India in 1949. I would have wished them with all my heart, but I’ll wish with only two-thirds of it – because they always deduct a third from everything I do.

22 Comments on “The surgical ‘doctor’s day’
  • Dr. Neepa V says:

    Wow..u had an exciting doctors day! Keep up the good work…

  • Poonam Nowxadick says:

    Happy Doctor ‘s day
    God bless u🙏
    Keep up the good work

  • Ralecha Kopano Mmatli says:

    Dr Mazda you remain my super surgeon whose sense of sacrifice for your patients is so unparalleled. In the strictest sense you didn’t have the pomp and funfair of Happy Doctors day celebration- you basically were at work saving lives. Your greatest sense of celebration was saving lives than enjoying celebratory activities. You are my hero doctor. I celebrate you and thank you soooooooooo much.
    Ralecha Mmatli from Botswana

  • Vipul Shah says:

    Dearest Dr Mazda Sir …..

    Working very hard on even Doctor’s Day shows your commitment to your profession……
    I am your big big Fan 🤣

    As you wrongly said in your peace about Chartered Accountant taking away your one third is incorrect, it’s the Govt who is responsible for your one third loss….
    Please therefore wish happy CA day with out cutting TDS ….

    Wish you belated Happiest Doctor’s Day celebration & my chocolates are on the way…

  • Supriya Correa says:

    Happy Doctor’s Day and Happy Writer’s Day to you. Actually, Happy Days to you, every day of your life. Esp at 1am in the OT

  • Dr. Pradip Kumar Tiwari says:

    Your work depicts the sweat doctors pour in our life that too for others. Excellent write up. All your work can be compiled in the form of a nobel.

  • Anuradha says:

    Mazda, whatever you do or say you do it with utmost thought and precision. Your ability to juggle your professional and private life is mind blowing! Besides, you are one of the best doctors in your field of experience. I have also seen you in the role of a a complete family man and a doting father. Salute and best wishes always

  • Atman Daftary says:

    Sir u remind me of Atul Gawande d US born Indian urologist. He too writes very well like you. Liked d ending 1/3 rd being taken away. . Witty sir!

  • Clera Menezes says:

    Dear Sir.I would like to take this opportunity to express to you my most heartfelt appreciation for not only your skill but your compassion throughout patient care .
    Your skill, knowledge and positive outlook playes a major role inpatients recovery so well and so quickly. I truly feel that they are not only do owe their life to you, but that they are blessed to find themself placed in your more than capable hands.
    I was the witness that you worked hard for 24 hours on Doctors day.Hats off to you….
    What made me to feel pity on you is ,that even you left 8am in the morning still you were fresh when you came back for scheduled case on 2nd July .This can only happen when you dedicate yourself for your work and consern for your patients.You doctors are great Herios.I wish if Govt could arrange a IIDA award for doctors every Year ???

  • Martha says:

    😂😂😂 Wishing you many more wonderful Days Dr. Mazda and colleagues.
    Thank you very much for making us laugh again.

  • Natwar Panchal says:

    Happy Doctors Day…

  • Gladys T K Kokorwe says:

    👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾You do good work. A powerful writer as well. What don’t you do well. Always perfect. I’m a good witness because I have gone through those hands. Stay blessed Dr Mazda Turel. You have saved many lives, mine included. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾😇

  • Anita says:

    Wishing you the best and strength to carry on. Your work is hard but important to mankind.. Happy Doctors Day 🙏🌹

  • Mahashweta Biswas says:

    Congratulations Mazda. You rock. You are a wonderful doctor & a super family man, always hv time to spend with the family.

    God bless

  • Vijayakumar Kotteri says:

    I think we should rename the day as Thank You Doctor Day.

  • Marzin R Shroff says:

    Three lives saved. Many more cured. All in a days work
    Every day us Doctors day for you
    May your tribe always increase and succeed.
    Good Luck and God Bless

  • Dr. Divya Shetty says:

    Loved the entire article especially the quirky last line… A beautiful gist of a busy hospital life…

  • Porus k Chinoy says:

    Wishing you all the best dear Dr. Mazda. Such serious events managed so calmly by you. Hats off to you. My prayers are always for you. As Gladys says you have saved many lives including mine.

  • Anjali Patki says:

    Nice read …good insight into a day in your life…. super, keep the articles going. Always enjoyable

  • Rita singh says:

    A very interesting Dr.’s day indeed!! I love the way u express all incidents of medical nature. They r normally supposed to b boring and sometimes scary. Keep writing and educating and entertaining us at the same time.

  • Dr Prashant Punia says:

    Incredibly simply put sir. To not be annoyed with changes in plan not once but twice is a feat in itself. Even better is channeling that energy in this apt write up

  • Di says:

    What a roller coaster day.. which am sure is practically everyday for u… superhero like you saving the day n lives… glad you at least made it to dinner to spend time with family and friends… Kudos to all the amazing dedicated doctors who work so hard and go above and beyond… liked the ending CA deducting… you are so witty!


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