I have always felt that half the battle is won when a patient has the courage to face surgery and its implications. W, the youngest of four brothers, was a vagabond child. One day he was stabbed and brought to hospital. I could hardly feel his pulse. He was immediately resuscitated and after making the necessary arrangement for blood transfusion, he was operated on. He suffered from grave injury. His Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) was torn along with the liver, gall bladder, duodenum and jejunum. The operation turned out to be a herculean job. As a surgeon I was apprehensive of the out-come. A round-the-clock vigil was kept. What impressed me was the patient's unflagging spirit. He kept saying: "Doc, do what you like, but I am going to live!” while I was worrying about possible complications. To the relief of all concerned, he was discharged on the 10th post-operative day after an uneventful recovery. What did it? The surgery? The intensive care? Or was it W's own spirit that pulled him out of crisis? Any surgeon will tell you that all three are relevant.

Another incident concerns a well-known journalist who met with a railway accident. Both his legs had been severed. At Khar railway station, he asked the policeman to take him to K.E.M. Hospital. In the hospital Casualty, the only thing he told the Casualty Officer before losing consciousness was that I should be called. He was a close friend of mine. By the time I reached his side, his systolic BP was down to 40 mm Hg. We controlled the bleeding, pumped in blood rapidly and by the next morning his condition was stable. His first words when I saw him were: "Ravi, I cannot feel my legs!” As tactfully as I could, I explained to him that he suffered no injury to his head, chest or abdomen and there was no danger to his life. However, I told him, his legs had been severely injured. This journalist was known for his courage. He merely told me: "I am in your hands and I know that you would do your best. I am not worried whether I can walk”.

Despite our best efforts and zeal, my patient took two whole months to get well. The recovery was extremely stormy; on at least two occasions we could have lost him because of infection. He was rehabilitated with prosthesis and continued to contribute columns to various newspapers and weeklies. The patient's total faith in his doctors coupled with the latter's own sincere efforts saved the day. Luck is a combination of faith and effort; call it bhavana and karma.

Compilation of professional reminiscences of specialists - edited by M.V.Kamath and Dr.Rekha Karmarkar.