Every patient has been my living textbook. I have learnt much from my patients. I still keep on learning. And I acknowledge it with gratitude. Each patient is unique in his own way. Even as I am writing these lines my mind is crowded with my experiences. Let me enumerate a few of these cases.


The date is 10 April 1960. A middle-aged Gujarati gentleman, Babubhai, was referred to me by his family doctor for an abscess on his chest due to destructive lesion in his sternum (breast bone). The diagnosis was tuberculosis of the sternum and it needed incision of the abscess and scraping of the affected bone.

It was my first private case. I was very enthusiastic and excited. made all pre-operative arrangement with great care and arranged for a senior anaesthetist. I had a very clear mental picture of what I should - and would-do. When the operation actually started, a very senior surgeon, in whose Nursing Home I had started practice, was also present, perhaps to give me courage and confidence, perhaps to see that everything went off well. Right from the beginning, he started cautioning me, interfering with my thought processes, telling me to do this and do that and further scaring me by saying that I may enter the chest and cause complications. I was embarrassed, as indeed was the anaesthetist. At first, I kept quiet and was submissive. Then suddenly, something inside me stirred and I thought to myself: "This is not going to work if you want to be a surgeon. You must remain aware, but you must be bold and strong. Whatever the difficulties, go ahead. If complications occur, tackle them”.

I relaxed and went ahead with the operation and completed it successfully. Everything went on well as scheduled. That first case was a landmark in my career. Since then I have done many more difficult and complicated cases, but every time I operate I think of that first case. The same inner voice, the same deep awakening, give me strength and support. Before and during the conduct of an operation, howsoever major or difficult or complicated it may be, I turn inward and concentrate on the immediate task before me. I pray and it is my firm belief that prayer helps me in critical times.

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