letter by Dr V.N .Shrikhande

I think you will enjoy reading this letter by Dr V.N .Shrikhande a professor emeritus of surgery and GI surgery now age about 90.

It will teach you that life goes on and always be optimistic and grateful 👇

Dear Dr Aniruddh Trivedi

10 years back on December 7th 2010 you operated on me to replace my sclerotic aortic valve. Some had advised me, probably rightly so, against surgery because of my advanced age. But I chose surgery to a life of restriction and constant anxiety. Death during surgery was a possibility but comparatively an enviable choice for me. You had done my CABG in 2002 and given me 18 years of active life. I will soon be 90 !

I performed my last operation, excision of a choledochal cyst, in 2010 but continued with consulting practice till the arrival of Corona virus. I travelled a lot, gave lectures in surgical conferences , even went abroad just to travel, meet friends, to visit old places and of course, to the pubs to spend lazy times. I wrote my autobiography in Marathi which won 6 literary awards. It was on the best seller list for 16 weeks and is now being broadcast on YouTube by All India Radio (so far 27 episodes are over). I have enjoyed such a rich life and a long time with family and friends because of your healing knife.

I have been a seasoned patient. I had typhoid in 1943. The fever lasted for 47 days and I lived because I did not die. It was in pre-antibiotic era, when cold sponging for high fever, hot water bag for shivering and nil by mouth,was the standard treatment. I broke my ulna while playing Kabaddi ; no X-ray was taken and plastering was done by our family physician from Belgaum. The healing was perfect. I had two car accidents, in one, 4 died , I escaped with Colles’ fracture. I believe that sometimes we also survive because of accident.

You would appreciate why doctors who have faced grave illnesses feel special gratitude to the life saver. (I remember during an OBGYN post, when a lady medical student scolded one young primi-para shouting during delivery not to make noise; the patient replied, “ you will know when you will have your first delivery!” )

Please remember me to Dr.Arun Chaukar, Drs Panna, Vasundhara Atre, Jyotsna Meshri,, Sanjay Wagle, Kalmath and Sujata Mehta ( who pushed oxygen in my lungs when I had pulmonary oedema after CT scan ) and Sumeet Singhania.

Dr Amit Vora inserted a pace maker for total heart block in 2008 and replaced it in 2018 . I am in a departure lounge of life for quite some time and therefore I suspect a third pacemaker, due in 2028, is unlikely to gain entry in me.

I was lucky that I worked as Honorary in G T hospital ( part of JJ Hospital group ) for 25 years .I had no roots in Bombay and the waiting period was a nightmare , but the compensation was a teaching hospital where patients were waiting for me . Top rankers from Grant Medical College chose my unit for surgical training and that is how Dr. Anand Nande met me.

18 years after starting practice I was appointed to Bombay Hospital, a great institute where I was given a free hand for work and it took my name all over the country. It was an enviable experience to meet leaders in the profession. My colleague Dr. Kishore Adyanthaya has been standing like a rock beside me during my work as well as during every health emergency including pulmonary oedema and heart attacks. I was singularly lucky and blessed to have association of dedicated individuals like Drs Kishore and Anand for over 3 decades.

I must mention one unexpected event that occurred in the evening before my operation. I was in an introspective mood thinking that perhaps that was the last evening of my life; there was a sense of finality. Then you came to my room, touched my feet and asked for my blessings for the next day’s operation. I was moved, speechless and felt that this could perhaps occur only in India, a surgeon seeking blessing from patient. I have an imported pace maker and aortic valve in my heart but I am Indian at heart, proud of our ancient heritage.

May God bless you.

Dr. V. N. Shrikhande

7TH December 2020

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