29 Tuesday
December 2020
Thank you 2020

I have been reading so many forwards about the kind of horror 2020 has been. This leap year has tossed human existence on its head, transformed life as none of us could have imagined. I looked into my heart and I found I have a lot of gratitude for the year 2020.

I’m grateful to be alive. 723 doctors in India died looking after patients. Some died from duty in Covid wards, some from surgeries and others from doing regular out patient duty. I’m alive, and managed to stay Covid negative through 9 months of seeing patients. That is the biggest achievement this year.❤️

Two cousins’ family’s developed covid, but recovered at home. So did many friends. One friend had a desaturation of upto 86% and needed hospitalisation.He’s back home, and I’m so grateful for that. We lost a 32 year old member of our extended family and that was a shocking tragedy. We lost my bua this week and her kids couldn’t come as UK-India flights have shut down. The hurt and pain from this year will be etched in our hearts for a long time.

Globally 17 lakh people died and 1.44 lakh in India. All these were lives that were cruelly cut short by a virus and could have been long productive ones. I’ve learnt how important life is and have begun to cherish each day like never before. I try very hard to remain in the present, enjoy each minute and stay in gratitude every day. I’ve stopped quarrelling, fretting and getting annoyed. I laugh louder and say I love you a lot more. No one knows which day will be our last.

As a family I don’t remember having spent so much time together. With online school, children wake up late and stay at home all day. It’s been wonderful having them around, chatting between classes, having all meals together. We even did a lot of cooking together in the lockdown days. We started a tradition of daily family video calls with my parents and siblings’ families. It’s the next best thing to a real hug. Technology has helped us feel a part of each other’s daily lives. Definitely a tradition we would like to continue in future.

In the sudden and prolonged lockdown there were lakhs of people who did not have enough to eat. Thousands of Indians walked home during the late phases of the lockdown. We are blessed to have had enough on our plates and in our homes through it all. The government ensured the food supply chain did not falter even one tiny bit and there was no shortage of food, milk, vegetables or anything else. We were able to help people less fortunate with cars filled with ration, cooked and uncooked food. Not a day goes by when I don’t thank the farmers who’s hands toiled and ensured grain on our plates.

Crores of people lost their jobs in the lockdown and the economic slowdown afterwards. Every day I read messages of people looking for work. April and May were very difficult financially for most self employed people including doctors. I’m grateful we had enough savings to stay afloat through the roughest phase, that we were able to pay the people who depend on us through it all….and glad things are now looking better.

There are many households struggling to pay rent, EMI, school fees even today. Hope things get better very soon for everyone, and hope we never take our abundance for granted.

There are many industries that have suffered a lot like retail, fashion, lifestyle, tourism, restaurants and hotels. There are others who did very well including software, telecom, internet providers, online entertainment and shopping websites. Cinema houses are struggling to open but online entertainment had the biggest boom ever. Actors struggling for years got unprecedented success.

Live news reporters showed unprecedented courage like covering the Hathras incident but people like Arnab pushed the entire country into a frenzy about a star suicide, mg of drugs and Bollywood scandals. I discovered I couldn’t care less and continued ignoring mainstream media both television and print. I’ve learned to follow news on Facebook, Twitter and Inshorts at my own pace without the hyperbole.I’ve missed out nothing and enjoy the peace.

I miss meeting friends but I also value them more. It’s wonderful when suddenly one bumps into a known face in the lift or the walking track. One looks back at old times when we ate cake after someone had blown the candles on it. That is never going to happen again in our lifetime 😂

Vaccination is about to start, and I do hope the vaccines are safe and very effective. Hope the mutated virus strains don’t make life worse and that we can begin to meet, greet and travel like before. Hope people wear masks on their noses and help make the pandemic a distant memory.

Dear 2020, thank you for the lessons you taught us- the fragility of human life, gratitude for what we have and a sense of oneness with humanity. Hope 2021 gives us fun days, happy times and good health for all.

Happy New Year dear friends.
Stay in gratitude for being alive 🙏❤️
Dr.Sarika Verma.
ENT Surgeon Gurgaon

28 Monday
December 2020
Why 3.5 lakh doctors protesting Mixopathy?

The Central Council for Indian medicine under the AYUSH ministry published a notification in the gazette allowing Ayurveda Doctors to perform 58 kinds of surgeries including appendicectomy, cataract, intestinal resection, tympanoplasty, mastoidectomy, endoscopic sinus surgery, gynae, dental and orthopaedic procedures.

This notification has the Indian Medical Association up in arms at what they feel is a step to dilute the standards of medical care in the country. Considering that General Surgeons are legally not allowed to carry out Eye, ENT or Gynecological surgery as they lack the required surgical training, how can the government expect an Ayurveda surgeon to be trained in so many varied fields in a 3 year course of MS Ayurveda?

The government’s contention that there are not enough surgeons in the rural areas calls out the policy makers for having two sets of quality standards for the nation. One set of trained superspecialists of modern medicine for themselves and one set of ayurvedic surgeons for the periphery. This kind of policy is unfair, inhuman and smacks of duality in citizen care.

One nation, One quality of well trained Surgeons is a possibility if the government aims to provide quality healthcare to all its citizens. There are 70,000 MBBS doctors who graduate every year. 55,000 from India and 15,000 Indian students from foreign medical colleges who clear the FMG examination. The government can increase the number of post graduate seats to train these MBBS doctors.

In order to ensure specialists in the peripheral areas, government must invest more in healthcare, create well equipped hospitals and provide doctors monetory incentives to work in rural areas. A cadre of Indian Medical Services can be started to provide jobs to thousands of doctors every year, and ensure that every small town and village citizen has access to quality medical care.

Ayurveda surgery has two branches Shalya tantra (general surgery) and Shalakya tantra ( eye and ent). If Ayurveda doctors are trained according to their own field,use their own drugs and their own principles of care that would provide an alternative to the people of India. But if Ayurveda doctors use modern investigations, anaesthesia, post op ICU and antibiotics, they are simply abandoning their core field and practising modern medicine. If that is the intention then they must be governed by the same laws that govern doctors of modern medicine including consumer protection act.

The IMA believes that this notification will destroy Ayurveda as a traditional cultural heritage of ancient India as all BAMS doctors will now want to practise Modern Medicine. We respect every field of medicine including Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy as these are all ancient sciences. The government must invest in evidence based research in these fields, encourage them to grow and flourish. When these doctors are given a lateral entry to practise modern medicine they will neither be experts in their own field not be masters of modern medicine.

3.5 lakh IMA doctors protested in more than 10,000 locations all over the country on 8th December and had a nationwide shut down of OPD and elective surgeries on 11th December. Covid, IPD and emergency services were not interrupted so as to not inconvenience the public during the pandemic.

Doctors hope the government will withdraw this notification and make a blueprint to genuinely improve healthcare all over the country by investing atleast 10% of the GDP on health. India currently spends 1.6% GDP on health compared to 6% by Bangladesh and 16% by UK.

2020 has taught us that nothing is more important than Health. Let us take this opportunity to take giant leaps to improve healthcare in Only then will be make Bharat truly Ayushmaan.

Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT surgeon Gurgaon.

21 Saturday
December 2020
Will Covid19 transform us?

A tiny virus all of which can be physically contained in a teaspoon, has altered the human race’s behaviour in the past 9 months.

We lost a young family member in April, so I could not take this disease lightly. 706 doctors died of Covid-19 in India alone, some as young as 25 years. For everyone who continues to walk without a mask and say “Corona se kuch nahin hota” I hope you will take a minute to think about all the families who lost their loved ones in the line of national duty.

How has life changed in the past 8-9 months?

The whole world woke up to the fact that NOTHING is more important than health. Airports shut, trains stopped. None of us alive had imagined a scenario like this. The skies turned bright beautiful blue while all vehicles idled in garages and humans remained indoors.

Health and immunity became magic words. But after the pandemic is over, will we keep walking, and doing daily exercise. Keep our lungs ship-shape, and disease at bay. Focus on eating right, thoda kam sugar, salt and oil? If we head back to being casual about health and fitness, we really have learned NOTHING from the pandemic.

I remember the ostracism that postive patients faced in the beginning of the pandemic.The vilification on mainstream media, the stickers outside homes, the fear of a postive test and the risk of being evicted. Little did people know that 4 weeks later these same positive people would be helping society by sharing antibodies through plasma donation.

Doctors and nurses were thrown out by landlords and notices were put up not allowing them into their homes by residential societies. Those same healthworkers served sick covid patients when their families could not be near them. Ambulance drivers, crematorium workers have all lost their lives in Covid duty.

Can we decide to become kinder to others and stop judging and hating in the long run?? The world needs lot more love and lot less hate.

All occasions have been spent indoors. Holi, Diwali, Eid, Raksha bandhan, Karvachauth, Gurupurab.Birthdays and Anniversaries. We stayed away from friends, parties, markets, window shopping, crowds, restaurants and stopped eating out. Celebrations are now perfectly complete with home food and home made cake! Do you think this simplicity will last?

We stopped holidaying and travelling. People I know continue to post their last year’s holiday pictures.How much was desire to travel and how much of it was for display? Will the display of travel, style, shopping stop or will we continue to one up each other on social media- if you post pictures of Switzerland, I will post pictures of Mauritius? Will we start travel just to enjoy the journey not just for Facebook likes?

The biggest transformation has been on meetings and conferences. Zoom, Google meet, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp video calls have become a part of everyone’s life. It has been so nice to connect with family members daily, extended family and friends on a more regular basis than ever before. Such a comfortable way to connect, without the expense, time ,effort and energy needed to travel.

I do hope conferences will continue on video call long after the pandemic is history so that one can log in from home and not spend on air tickets, taxis, hotels and miss out work or family time just to give a one hour lecture.

Can we continue to stay healthier, think about others, make efforts to stay connected with people who matter, travel only when absolutely necessary, step out of home only for essentials or to earn a living?

If yes humans might consume the earth less. Let us make some lasting improvements in ourselves long after Covid-19 is history. Until then, stay safe,wear a mask and be happy.

Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT surgeon Gurgaon

03 Thursday
December 2020
The gender conundrum

Someone came to meet me in the clinic yesterday. He spoke about his company which is doing very well pan India. He then asked me, so who’s the brain behind your clinic brand. I Am, I said. Slight look of disbelief. Ok, so who runs all your clinics. I Do, I said. A whole different level of incredulousness. A change of subject, and moved on to more of this and that.

It’s not the first time that a man has expressed this kind of who’s-behind-your-business question, and I’m sure it’s not the last. I wonder if young men continue to believe that they are better than their female counterparts. And if yes, how come? In the Gurgaon of 2020, I’m mildly surprised and a tad bit disappointed that men can have start ups and become unicorns but they will continue to assume that a woman is incapable of the same. And they always expect her to have a husband/ brother/father to be “doing the business” while she is just “the face”.

Had another experience on social media a few months back. I wrote a political post, and a socially “woke” acquaintance said “Toh aap iske baare mein kya karengi, Facebook post?” I wrote to him that it was my timeline, and it was perfectly ok for me to write what I believed in. A common friend (male) rebuked him and said you know Sarika has been working on the ground to bring about socio-political change, to which the offender “friend” apologized to our common friend. Not to me. That was it.

How often do women face this kind of passive aggressive behaviour? Every day? Every week? Or often enough? I have had the good fortunate to be raised in a family that treated all kids as equal, married into a family that has never stopped me from doing anything and have had colleagues in various Hospitals and Associations who have treated me with respect and as an equal.

The fact is women have to be lot bolder, stronger and firmer in their interactions to be taken seriously by the world. I dream of a world where race, caste and gender will all become irrelevant when we deal with other humans.

Happy to share it’s been five years since I started my brand AllergyDoc Clinics with one centre.Now have ten functional centres in Delhi, Mumbai, Udaipur, Chandigarh and Gurgaon.Breaking myths about #AllergyTreatment and helping thousands of patients lead #AllergyFreeLives.

Enjoying the journey. And happy to be breaking stereotypes every day 💖💖

Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT Surgeon & Allergy Specialist