THE OTHER SIDE
Dedicated to Firdous Shareef and all the medical practitioners out there who have traversed the other side
The American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Medical Ethics states that “in general, physicians should not treat themselves or members of their own families".
In our part of the world, however, a family member who is either a doctor or training to be one is considered an invaluable boon. The said doctor/trainee/student is expected to know each and every detail of medicine irrespective of their specialty and should be able to treat everything, ranging from a sore throat to a grade II left ventricular diastolic dysfunction. Seldom is the strain and emotional burden of this practice discussed, even in cultured circles. If we refuse to 'help' citing conflict of interest or ethical codes, then we are not doing our jobs as 'Messiahs'- a term used to describe Jesus Christ as the divine angel, and a moniker often applied to doctors locally.
Notwithstanding, the Messiah was a human and we messiahs are humans as well; equally susceptible to the palate of emotions every other man feels. We are capable of experiencing pain whilst taking the pulse of the pulseless beloved, connecting EKG leads to the aforementioned, and subsequently pulling out a flatline reading. Performing these maneuvers on kith and kin is not easy, especially with the anguish of the bereaved making its presence known. The experience gets etched in one's memory. For me, the words 'intracranial bleed' and 'basal ganglia bleed' now hold a deeper meaning, resurrecting every second of that day from the dark recesses of my mind.
Time heals. But until time heals, flashbacks take one back to an increasingly distorted version of reality. Sleep is no longer as cherished. Dreams are dreaded. There is always a lingering doubt and retracing of steps as to what more could have been done, or perhaps what could have been done differently. The mind even ponders one's competency as a clinician.
Most might recover and go back to 'normal' fairly quickly. Others might pull off a cheerful façade, fooling themselves and others into thinking that everything is fine-depriving themselves of needed help in the process. The stigma linked to mental health comes into play. I have taken refuge in narrative medicine. Writing it down is wonderfully cathartic.
AMA's support of this ethical code is absolutely justified.
In itself, the other side is purgatory; compounded with playing Messiah, it is a recipe for disaster.
DISCLAIMER: Copyright belongs to the author. This blog cannot be held responsible for events bearing overt resemblance to any actual occurrences. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of CCIT or AKU.
About the Author
Mariam Baloch is a graduate of the Dow Medical College Class of 2021. An avid Harlequin fan, she spends her time catching up with latest releases when she is not studying or writing papers.