Our Frail Lives!

Mrigank Warrier is a 22-years old medical student who blogs to “let go”. His last piece, written after a few of his friends went abroad for further studies, is “…a vent to my apprehensions of the years to come”.

Mrigank, here is what happens!

All of you do well, some exceptionally so. Those who go abroad don’t come back. Most marry. Have kids. Work long hours through your 30s. Some of the wives get along, some not. When you touch 40, you ache to have a reunion. Not all of you make it. You relive some memories. Make new ones. When you touch 50, you try and meet a little more often.

And then one day, in the middle of a lazy Sunday afternoon, you get a call. One of your medical college friends, while giving a lecture to some GPs in a suburban hall, has just dropped dead.

A sledgehammer starts pounding in your head, incessantly asking for answers and reminding you of the lack of control you have over your own destiny.

He may be one of your eight close friends, or one of those 30 that forms the larger fuzzier group you are still in touch with, or one of those 80 you still remember but are not in constant touch with or one of those 300 from the batches above or below. It hits you, irrespective!

You spoke to him just three days back and discussed a patient. He had no vices, no risk factors. He was here and then just like that, not!

When that bloody soft plaque ruptures and occludes the left main or the LAD and the heart stops, there is nothing anyone can do. Could he have foreseen this? Prevented it? Can any of us do anything in our lives that could make something like this not happen? Sudden deaths are sudden and raise a host of questions…but they are almost always unpreventable and unpredictable.

When someone dies suddenly in a car accident, you at least have an explanation and can blame the vehicle or the other person involved. If there is a natural calamity or disaster, it doesn’t make it any easier, but at least you know it is unlikely to hit you. When death is gradual with chronic disease or cancer, there is time to attain some degree of acceptance and while you lament losses at such young ages, you take comfort in the knowledge that these are outliers, unlucky to have been hit this early.

But when someone who has so much more to offer this world, who is at the top of his game, making a difference to the lives of his patients, disappears…poof…just like that, it takes a long time to come to terms. It’s not fair and it’s not right.

I have been trying to make sense of this by talking to friends from my ’82 batch. Obviously, there are no answers. This is no longer an incident about a patient or a friend of a friend or a CEO dropping dead that you can file away unaffected…this is someone you have known and met, on and off, for the last 31 years…and it all finally hits home and burns through all those layers of detachment we have so assiduously cultivated as doctors.

And somewhere deep down where the words refuse to reach, this serves as a constant reminder of the frailty of our lives! And tells us that we should make the most of the years we have left. And make a will. And smoke some weed. And travel. And write. And spend more time with family and friends. 

Samir Desai! May your soul rest in peace!

17 Comments

  • Dr mona Badani wrote:

    So so true! Sameer was such a dear friend, and one of those rare people who did what was right, every single time!!!

  • I’m a final-year student at Sion; even though most of us did not know Dr. Desai, the news spread like wildfire on Sunday. He treated one of my batchmate’s grandfather and was very kind in teaching my batchmate how to care for him at home. I do not know how your friends and you are coping, but I hope you will one day. Thank you for writing this.

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    Mrigank. One never truly gets over such things but you learn to absorb all these into yourself.

    The scary thing is that it makes you confront mortality in its all its stark nakedness. No hiding.

  • H.L. Chulani wrote:

    Whenever asked about my health the reply ‘Good, until lightning strikes’! Dr. Desai was a colleague and will be missed.

  • Saurabh Natu wrote:

    This is one of your best writing. Came from heart…shaken one….very true. It does not remain on the level of your personal loss. It takes it beyond that.
    I had personally gone thru similar feeling when family friend and buddy of my cousin, dr Prasanna Nyayadhish died. We all were shocked. Me more so as he was two years younger to me.
    My sincere condolences

  • V.Subramanian wrote:

    Was he the one who used to respond to your articles on this platfrom ? Any way our heart felt condolences to his family. The only learning is “Doctors are also humans”
    Those from Chembur will recollect how the lives of Dr.Anand and Dr.Amita Ranganekar’s
    were taken away abruptly a couple of years ago.We need to take our conscience to a higher level of awareness to remain detached.Bur then we risk ourselves of being not Humane.Every one of us need to constantly, strike a balance between several dichotomies.

  • Dr Sunil Keswani wrote:

    All the sentiments expressed in this article Bhavin strike a chord

    Truly LIFE IS SO FICKLE

    When such an event happens ,after gettting over the initial shock ALL of us start thinking is there a way to prevent this-could this not have happened-tomorrow are we in line for the same thing.

    I suppose after taking the usual precautions of diet and exercise one has to LIVE FOR THE MOMENT AND SAVOUR EVERY MOMENT because LIFE IS SO SHORT AND SO UNCERTAIN!

    RIP Dr Samir Desai!

  • Motiwale wrote:

    Very true, we share your sentiments .Bhavin.Life is unpredictable and helping our near and dear ones feel independent can reduce some miseries of the loss.

  • Ajay Bhonsle wrote:

    It was reported in the press that Dr Desai had a 100% block in one vessel. It would be of academic interest to know whether he was undergoing routine health checks on himself as doctors advise all others over 40 to carry out. If this blockage went undetected in spite of annual checks then it throws up a big question mark on our annual visit to the cardiologist and the smug feeling we have when told that things are ok! Also it is of concern that there were no symptoms which the expert doctor could have detected (unless he neglected them).

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    Ajay. Plaque ruptures are unpredictable. Cardiac check ups like all check ups are about statistical probabilities. A normal stress test means that the likelihood of having a cardiac event is low not zero.

    A soft plaque that does not narrow the artery but still ruptures and acutely occludes is highly unpredictable.

  • Manoj Mazumder wrote:

    Samir was probably one of my co-physicians I had the most respect for. We started practice almost at the same time. I was in the deep suburbs. Distance made no difference to him and he would make himself available to help out always. Most ethical, thorough professional, extremely talented, noble, no vices……. But probably the most important risk factor for MI is “bad luck”. I will miss you dearly. RIP dear friend.

  • I agree with what Bhavin said. I am very regularly doing exercises, Yoga and swimming- etc from very young age Diet and weight parameters are all ok still I developed a 90% block . Angioplasy done in April. Stress test was done 6 mths back and was reported ok. In my opinion routine ct Angio can save us from sudden surprises!

  • So very true.
    And it hit a chord bang.
    I only had to replace Dr.Samir Desai with Er.Suresh Hundre.
    I request you to look up this name.
    RIP Dr.Samir and Er.Suresh.

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    I just googled Suresh Hundre. Seems to have been a remarkable person.

  • ameet patki wrote:

    Bhavin, you have echoed all our feelings. Your writing on this occasion has struck a chord. Ameet

  • Rohit Gosalia wrote:

    This was straight from Heart. No Doubt. Though I did not know Dr Samir personally – I know some one who knew him and what a fantastic person he was!! RIP

  • Abhay Doshi wrote:

    I am an Aam Aadmi and am not connected to this blog group. However, I am aware of this incidence that a young doctor of the age of about 45- 47 yrs just collapsed while delivering a lecture. I did not know the name of the doctor till I read this blog. This article / incidence takes me back into my memory lane about 25 years ago where one of my college mates, Sandeep Shah, aged 27 yrs, just collapsed in his bedroom one early morning. Look at the timing of the nature, it was the day he returned from his honeymoon. This guy had no vices whatsoever and the only child of an aged coule. His mom has had about 4 heart attacks, but was still living.

    This wakes us up to the fact, that nothing belongs to us and we have no charge over anything in this world / life. We are merely a passing phase. And yet we make ourselves believe that we control things around us.

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