I want to restate my credentials.
And apologies, they are kind of lengthy.
It has been an exhausting 8 weeks. At first, it was due to the mass influx of severely ill patients, with all my energy and focus directed towards preserving life.
Then things slowed down. But my exhaustion has only grown.
Exhaustion from debunking conspiracy theories. Exhaustion from correcting interpretations of data sets. Exhaustion from my unwillingness to stop educating others.
But the most exhaustion stems from defending my motives and decency as a physician.
Accusations of exaggerating the number of COVID deaths. Accusations of Medicare fraud. Accusations of being elitist. Accusations of wanting the economy to collapse due to a hoax. Accusations of not understanding the suffering people are going through.
Oh man, that last one.
I feel I am defending my humanity and decency as a physician, as a HUMAN BEING, more than ever.
These accusations have quickly turned our healthcare workers from heroes to scam artists. To political puppets.
And I am so tired of it.
So I want to take education, pedigree, and the like out of the equation.
And I want to talk to you not only as a physician, but as a human being.
Physician has only been a descriptor assigned to me for the past 13 years. It is only one category listed under a much broader, overriding category, one that has defined me from a young age. These are my true credentials.
Healer and humanitarian.
Please let me explain.
At the age of 4, I witnessed first-hand the struggles of an incompatible marriage, and the unhappiness it wrought. It was hard. The way the emotional stress manifested itself at times was terrifying. And I cried. A lot. But even at that young of an age, all I cared about was my parents' welfare and healing their marriage.
Their suffering was unacceptable.
But where there was pain in the marriage, there was a lot of love, at least when it came to their children. Daddy, till his last moments of life, kissed me every day he could and said I love you to me EVERY DAY.
This is expected from mothers. But many of you may not realize how rare this is in the Indian community amongst men, such an outward expression of love. My parents never scolded me for showing emotion or told me to hide how I felt. They encouraged me to emote, and so sharing my feelings always felt safe.
So being real is the only way I have ever known how to be.
And this sensitivity led many people to be drawn to me, mainly women. It seems many men never were raised by a father like mine.
But as a result, this led some kids and uneducated adults, even now, to call me gay. I am not gay but my gay friends are fabulous, so I now take it as the compliment it always should have been, but was not for so long.
My journey as a healer and humanitarian continued into college. I was considered by many to be a shoo-in to be a resident advisor, and when I did not get the position, I was surprised.
The reason? Concern for burnout. All because I stated I would sacrifice my own sleep to be there in support of a resident who needed me. I had already trained 15 years up to that point as a healer and humanitarian, but I never had the chance to explain that.
My journey as a healer and humanitarian had fallen under the categories of family, friend, and random acts of kindness up to this point. But medicine, being a physician, gave me additional tools allowing me to further pursue my lifelong profession as a healer and humanitarian, and apply it to strangers in a much more tangible way.
When I decided to pursue medicine as a career, my parents were so proud. Medicine had always been the constant for me amongst a crowd of interests involving writing, theater, mathematics, government, etc.
Well, I should not exactly say medicine because until you are actually IN IT, DOING IT, it is impossible to understand what it entails.
So I should say a desire to heal others has always been the constant.
What makes me a good friend, a good family member, a good person overall is my humanity.
I have been there for friends who have been sexually abused. Who have been physically beaten. Whose image of their father fell apart after discovering he had been having an affair.
And I have had the privilege to be a part of these dark moments due to one reason, and one reason alone: trust.
Trust built on humanity. Trust built on not having an agenda. Trust built on having loved ones best interest in mind. Trust built by ACTUALLY living life the way I walked, not just the way I talked. Trust built on self-love and desire to share that love.
Being a good physician is not rooted in books or lectures or data. It is rooted in humanity as well, but with a new fucked up twist where we have chosen to come face-to-face with the fragility of human life itself.
It is rooted in the 25 year old valedictorian of his law school class who fell off a balcony and suffered a traumatic brain injury. It is rooted in trying to save his life before he herniated to death. It is rooted in the screams of his parents and his wife of less than a year moments before he passed in the ICU.
It is rooted in the 50-something year old transplant patient who asked me to promise him that he would be okay before he underwent anethesia. It is rooted in a promise I was unable to fulfill. It is rooted in an inch deep of Hepatitis C positive blood layered across the procedure room floor. It is rooted in our desire to still do everything to save his life. It is rooted in the screams of his wife telling us to stop.
It is rooted in rushingly flying home when my dad's heart was failing and he needed to be on an aortic balloon pump. It is rooted in preventing an anesthesia team from killing my dad had I not had the knowledge I did. It is rooted in finding out my mentor and anesthesia chief at Kaiser committed suicide via a shotgun wound to the chest, a day after my dad nearly died. It is rooted in watching the last blips of life fade away from Daddy.
It is rooted in the pleas of the hundreds of parents who have entrusted their children's lives to me. It is rooted in being obsessed with the preservation of life in those who deserve many more years. It is rooted in the 690 gram baby who depends on modern medicine to provide him with those years, death fighting to overcome life. It is rooted in keeping my composure when taking care of a child who is a victim of "non-accidental trauma" ie parents who deserve the chair.
It is rooted in the illness and death of the COVID ICUs. It is rooted in the fear of losing a patient's life and my own. It is rooted in the heartache of family members not allowed to be at their loved ones bedside. It is rooted in the knowledge more death will assuredly come.
And it is rooted in all the times I allowed others to support me while I worked to fix my own broken, lonely, and suffering heart.
My parents have always been proud of me, including my career choice. But they learned the level of sacrifice required. They viewed the sacrifice of my 20s, and part of my 30s, as no big deal. But they had not considered what else it would entail.
Sacrificing family time during the holidays because illness does not take a day off. Sacrificing innocence for one of a brutal reality. Sacrificing my life potentially for another. Sacrificing the ability to see my own family for fear of their health. All the while fearing for my own.
It is easy to complain. It is easy to say everything is overblown. But I would like to hear examples where you have given to others. Where you have sacrificed for others. Where you have shown your humanity towards others.
Enlighten me. But I bet I have sacrificed more, know more about the depths of human suffering, and know more about healing and humanity than most.
Including the person who is mad they cannot go and get a tan at the beach.
The absolute erosion of the moral fiber of this country has been exposed in all its selfishness, ugliness, insecurity, and fear.
And it would be so much easier if you just said you do not give a fuck about anyone else besides yourself. Just fucking say it.
Because the callousness many have towards human life is beyond disturbing.
We chose a profession where a loss of life is to be expected. And maybe this is why we cherish life more than so many. Because we understand how truly fleeting it can be. And how limited our time is on this planet.
Unless any of you have experienced anything similar to the above, you can question the medicine all you want, but do not dare to question my desire or motive to heal and care about the welfare of others.
I am willing to be vulnerable because it is strength. I feel the most human when I am this open and honest. And I feel most connected to others, to my humanity as a result.
I am not hiding behind degrees or social media. This is me, raw, unfiltered. I am willing to lay myself bare to all because my life experiences, in all its good and bad, has made me the healer and humanitarian I am today.
So ask yourself: does this guy sound like he has an agenda?
If you want to challenge my ethics or competency as a physician, let us take it up a notch and please challenge me as a healer and humanitarian and see if you can match up.
I doubt many will even be able to hang.