Leader of the Team - 11

 Leader of the Team - 11

 Sometimes the unexpected happens as this story will show.

Once a young couple brought their son for consultation. I advised an. operation to which the couple agreed. When the father entered my Consulting Room I had a strong whiff of tobacco. I noticed that he had a pack of cigarettes in his shirt pocket. When the couple was leaving, I told the father: "I am going to ask you just one question. How many cigarettes do you smoke?”

From his appearance I could see that he came from a well-to-do family. When he heard me, he grew red in his face. His wife was embarrassed, even a bit frightened. Realising that I had touched a sore spot in husband-wife relations, I endeavoured to make my point. I told the couple: "Please, my aim is not to upset you; if you tell me: 'Dr Shrikhande, I have come to consult you on my son's problem and you have no business to enquire into my smoking habits' I will not say another word. But please remember, a doctor is a friend, philosopher and guide. If you smoke, your son is bound to smoke, if you do not smoke he may not smoke. By smoking you are injuring not only your own health and the health of your wife and the health of my patient who happens to be your son!” He told me that he smokes three packets a day and left the room without the usual smile and thankful appreciation. Should I have commented on the man’s smoking habit? Was I being practical? May be not. But I am made the way I am.

Anyway, I did the operation and all went well. When I met the father, he said not a word about smoking. But I noticed that there was no cigarette pack in his shirt pocket.

A few months later, his wife came to my room and presented me with a rose. She said: "My husband threw the pack from his pocket while we were driving back home. He was serious and upset but he has never smoked since then. His parents are surprised with the change in him. This you do not know what a great blessing you have bestowed on the family. This is my gift to you, but please do not tell him that I had come to see you!”

So my advice to the man to stop smoking turned to be right after all. I continue to give what I think is right advice whether it is liked or not.

This rose reminds me of another letter I received-this from patient's husband.

"Surgeon of surgeons,

Let God give you a long and useful life to enable you to save innumerable numbers of "roses'.

How grateful I am to you for saving my 'rose' which is my garden.”

Let me recount just one more story.

This concerns a doctor working in East Africa. He had lost his child in a car accident right in front of his house and he had to conduct the post mortem examination. Every time he went to the hospital, his mind would go over the report all over again. His life became so miserable that he finally left the country.


He had been sterilised but now he wanted a child. He approached me and I conducted the reverse operation. Later he migrated to the Far East. Some months later I had a letter from him. It said: "To Dr V.N Shrikhande, who has brought light (Deepika) in our lives".

He had become father of a daughter-Deepika. Two years later, the couple had another child-a son.

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