Being Women

Dr Nirza Speaks On Doctors’ Day

Celebrating National Doctors' Day with Dr. Nirza Saikia : Exploring Her Inspiring Experiences and Overcoming Struggles

(An Obstetrician/Gynecologist at Digboi Civil Hospital)

The support behind a doctor

There is no ‘I’ for me because my parents and husband are the backbones of whatever I have accomplished so far. Taking care of the home and a child, and instilling good vibes in him is not easy. In my absence, my support system takes over. What else can I expect?

My past

I come from a humble background, and I always wanted to be a better version of myself. My competition was me. I studied undergraduate medicine in the Capital of Assam and then had to shift to the Easternmost part of the state, where one has to struggle with water, electricity, and medicines in hospitals. But I never stopped dreaming. I wanted to explore opportunities.

An incident that I will always remember

It was a dark, cold night when a normal delivery was happening. It was also raining heavily. Usually, we give one or two baby clothes to wrap around the newborn, but this time they got soiled. The patient and her family had come in a hurry, without carrying any clothes. So we asked for clothes from the grandmother, who was standing outside the labour room. She took off her wrinkled white chador and gave it to me.

‘Doctor, please take this, let the baby not feel cold.’

I felt very uncomfortable. It was like asking her to take off her modesty.

It was an eye-opener for me. Wasn’t it only a year ago that I was in a mall searching for Zara, Forever 21, and H&M?

And there I was standing outside the labour room, appreciating the value of a piece of woven cloth. I knew at that moment that this place needed me and that I should stay back.

The Realisation

I’ve reached that point in life where I want to spend time only with people who value me and whom I value. I want to work with people who I like and respect and who I’m happy with. I want to be surrounded by good energy and good vibes, be around people who are ambitious, have work ethics, and dream impossible dreams like me, and make them all come true.

I keep on adding, deleting, and achieving some, but what I really do is live each moment and be genuine. I am organised, I plan things ahead, and do things today like there’s no tomorrow. However, if unplanned situations come up, I face them gracefully and with all my might.

Did I ever break down?

Yes! No matter how strong and independent I am, deep down, I am just a little kid, a human made of flesh and blood, who is vulnerable and sensitive. I must confess that I am very emotional.

My family and friends are the ones who have always supported me and kept me going.

My take on motherhood

My hectic schedule doesn’t allow me a lot of time with my son but I always try my best to be there in whatever ways possible. Dropping him off to school, picking him up, taking him to his music class, listening to him sing, dance, play drum, watch him play on stage, being with him during his badminton matches, doesn’t matter if he wins or loses, accompanying him to his fashion shows or drawing classes, whenever I can manage. sometimes I keep juggling between my hospital duties and his performances. I don’t remember giving him gifts on birthdays, it’s always a kiss, hug, a handwritten note, encouraging him to make birthday cards, and teachers’ cards, and not to indulge in expensive gifts and buys. The only thing I give him selflessly is time, whatever little I can, I give him with my heart and soul. I need to travel a lot, for my academics, CMEs, and Presentations, so I try to raise a kid independent and strong. He misses me but has also accepted my way of life and profession wholeheartedly.

An excerpt from Dr Nirza’s diary in Digboi

#digboi_diaries #Love_in_the_times_of_Corona (Oct 20, 2020)

This afternoon, I sat scrolling through my unread messages. The last few weeks have been tough. Calls remained missed. Messages remained unanswered. I neither had good news to convey nor could I share my worst fears.

Now that I was back home, I was trying to reply back. Many were unknown numbers—strangers worried for my husband, sending a bouquet of prayers.

A lady, Meena Gautam, had messaged me to inquire about the present condition of my husband’s health. I failed to recognise her.

My answers were similar: “He is back home and feels weak.”

She was online at that time, and before I could reply to the next person, her message popped up.

Meena: You were in the hospital too; I had seen you.

Me: Hmm

Meena: I was also admitted to that hospital.

Me: (Ahh, so I am chatting with a patient.) What happened to you?

Meena: COVID-19

Suddenly, my eyes were moist. I could remember every second spent with my husband inside the ICU. He was there, and I was holding his hands. The warmth in his hands gave me solace; I knew he was there breathing. Those dark days haunt me.

Me: You got Admitted to the ICU?

And our conversation continued. She was just next to my husband’s bed. Sometimes my legs would become numb wearing PPE, so I would take a stroll in between the beds. I would also glance at the beeping monitors of the patients. The wife in me would look at the oxygen flow, FIO2, and saturation and then cry about how my husband’s vitals are worse than theirs. The doctor in me would look at the brighter side and see how they are improving. The conflict in me continued.

On one of those days, my husband was advised to do an ABG, a bedside blood test to assess acid-base status along with the adequacy of ventilation and oxygenation in critically ill patients. The ICU did not have the machine. The next morning, it was purchased and brought in.

Since it was a new addition, a technician from Siemens entered the ICU in PPE and demonstrated the procedure of the test. The ICU technician took an arterial blood sample from my husband. Taking arterial blood is painful and difficult as the piercing point takes more time to clot. I was observing the whole thing; it takes 180 seconds to activate and calibrate the card in the machine, 580 seconds to insert blood, and another 45 seconds to interpret the test results and get a printout. Thankfully, my husband’s report came back good.

By 2 p.m., the shift had changed. At around 6 p.m., another patient was advised to undergo ABG. The new technician was struggling to get the patient’s arterial blood, he was also unable to get the card set correctly. I could no longer stay as a spectator and offered to help him out. He must have been wondering what I was doing or who I was because I was in PPE. The last time I drew arterial blood was during my internship days at Gauhati Medical College, a decade ago.

I was nervous. I felt for the brachial artery and could draw blood on the first go. The test was done. The patient must have been very angry, for who wants to get pricked !

I had forgotten about that test until Meena reminded me today.

Meena was the patient from whom I drew blood that day. She searched for me on Facebook and inboxed me. She was also happily discharged from the ICU. Who would have imagined that someday we would relate?

While I was bothered by the beeping monitors, Meena took pains to connect with the person on the bed. She remembered me and my husband. As a patient herself, she prayed for us. How blessed I feel!

Sometimes, I wonder what is more mechanical – The Ventilator ? Or Me?


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