The need to meet up with old friends

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan
Being a doctor is no picnic. It is a life where people come to you when they are suffering physically and mentally and we have to deal with that sorrow alongside other factors that I honestly wish no one had to go through when they enter our doors – poverty, loss and even impending death.

The really good doctors can dissociate easily, not allowing the pain and suffering to hang on to them. That is a necessity if you are going to hold on to your sanity, really. With 80 – 100 working hours in a week on average, it can get really hard to find time to just de-stress and let some steam out. Often, the collateral victims are your family members, friends and the ones you love who do not get time to be with you and start to feel inconsequential.

One of the things I always advocate to every young doctor as a must is to make time for those who matter in your life. The inflow of patients through the hospital doors will never end; you will never finish seeing ‘the last patient’… but you will lose in life if you choose to ignore the ones who truly matter to you.

My old college roommate and I always make it a rule to meet up once in at least six months away from the hectic life schedules of our lives. We have done this religiously since the end of our MBBS days back in 2005. That is ten years of tradition.

Life around us has changed a lot over the last decade. We have seen loss and attained success. We have watched patients die in spite of our best efforts and struggled with the avalanche of text books and journals. There have been losses in personal life and missed opportunities which will probably never come back. We are harder souls now, the rose-tinted glasses knocked off our faces by the reality of life.

The last year has had its share of good and bad moments for me – ghosts of the past weighed me down while the uncertainties of a future unknown added to that insecurity. That is why I am glad that I have this system in place. Often we find a place nearby to just relax and take a break before heading back the next day to our respective work places.

This time, we chose to celebrate the New Year by taking an extended leave and heading on to a place filled with memories for us all - Mangalore, the city where we studied as students at the start of this century. For a change, we entered the state not as doctors but just friends on a vacation, meeting fellow doctors outside of work and indulging ourselves with the best of food that Mangalore always has to offer besides the luxury of good movies and long chats.

For two days, it was about sizzlers and cinema, family and old friends. It was about visiting old places we first walked by as students a decade ago and greeting old faces, be it the kind travel agent who used to book our train tickets or the person who used to record songs on audio cassettes for us from his vast collection. 

It was not about what we had studied for fifteen years of our life but what we had become over thirty. And it was a necessary reset button, reminding us that there is a life beyond the medical field as well. It motivated us to go back in a happy frame of mind, ready to face whatever walked in through those hospital doors again once we reached back.

Everyone needs to have an outlet for the stress in their lives. Bottling things up/working ungainly hours/carrying your work home are things that will eat you up in the end if you are not careful. You need to make time for the few people who truly matter in your lives and let them know that they matter, right here and now rather than when it is too late.

Take it as a doctor’s advice, if you must, but find the time for something beyond work. Be geuninely happy again. The younger version of you should be proud if he were to come across you today for how well you have balanced your work and personal life. Chances are pretty good he would have known what truly mattered in your life, don’t you think?

Author's note:
This is written for


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