Saturday, 14 March 2015

When profanity becomes accepted

When profanity becomes accepted

In class five when we first learnt the word “sperm”, not only did the students had a hearty and uncontrollable laugh, but the teachers had a difficult time teaching that small concept of fertilisation, that also in a cow.

In class eight, the chapter on reproductive organs was taught in small groups. I was lucky to have a teacher who first taught us why some babies become boys (XY chromosomes) and why some become girls (XX chromosomes).

In class ten, my biology teacher skipped teaching the reproductive chapter and made us underline in the textbook the sentences that were important for exam.

In class twelve, my biology teacher was an open minded being and he taught us the required bit in much humour. Sperms coming to fertilise an egg was compared to an Olympic race where only the best won the gold medal, and only the best sperm got to fertilise the egg.

As we graduated from one year to another in the medical school, we progress from reading the theories about sex and sexuality in book to real sexual problems in the real world.

Problems with sexuality are a real medical problem. While many become pregnant accidentally and unwanted, there are many who try to conceive and have difficulty in making a baby. There exist sexuality problems, both psychogenic and organic. The former occurs with regard to the mind while the latter occurs with regard to problems or abnormalities in reproductive organs.

While some become pregnant at seventeen years and are many years younger than us, there are women in forties who still wish to conceive babies. Some are on the verge of menopause and they still want the last few remaining eggs to be fertilised and harbour a baby of their own.

A woman who is gentle and tender becomes strong in spirit and body after child birth. Child birth may be the ultimate test of spirit, acceptance and dignity. Beyond that, a joke about brinjals brings laughter than offense.

One doctor involved in bringing out babies into the world is an obstetrician. It is widely known in the medial community about the dirty mindedness or the likelihood of making sexuality related jokes by the obstetricians.

Having worked under a senior professor of obstetrician who is known for his jokes with profanity, I have come all the way from giggling at the word “sperm” to accepting profanity. This is a progress toward becoming a doctor than loss of innocence when you have seen the exposed part of human existence coupled with “some imaginations”.

Written on the Pi day, 3.14 of the year 2015. I was inspired to write this piece after our favourite Professor CR at Obstetrics and Gynaecology department, University of Colombo.

Health of our country in coming years

A nation is a composite of people led by benevolent monarchs in case of our country. The health system of Bhutan has made much progress since the interactions with the missionaries from erstwhile British India. Allopathic medicine has established its firm practise with Traditional Medicine. The terrain of our country and inadequate number of trained personals has been challenge in the delivery of health services.

The health indicators of Bhutan have made marked improvement in the recent past while there are many areas to develop and work on. Amongst the SAARC region, Sri Lanka has an impressive health infrastructure and health indicators at par with some developed countries. One key component of health infrastructure is a university where health professionals can be trained.

The Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences is now functioning and has already begun providing training in post-graduate medicine. This will be a place where Bhutan can provide training and skills specific to the needs and realities of Bhutan. The university in the future, sooner I hope will provide undergraduate MB BS programmes.

Currently, over 150 students are studying in Sri Lanka in four different medical colleges. This is a huge expenditure for the Royal Government and for parents. It takes almost 6 years to produce one doctor and for all these students to come back as qualified doctors, the country needs to wait.

Until we can educate doctors in our own country, those doctors trained in the neighbouring countries will be the ones who will provide service to our country. In the spirit of maintaining good collaborative relations with the neighbouring countries, our people should be thankful to these universities in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India that train the future of health of our country.

We hope to work together and collaborate in the field of practice and research in medical science. We are importing many renowned ideas that originated in these countries. For example, oral rehydration solution originated in Bangladesh and the idea of essential medicines list originated in Sri Lanka. 

In the past, Sri Lanka used to refer patients outside the country like Bhutan does now. However, Sri Lanka can now manage to provide almost all of the sub- and super-speciality care. In times to come, I wish and I hope our doctors work hard and policy makers look into the future and make it possible in the near future to provide quality care.

The Medical Seat in Sri Lanka

In 1999 I had moved into the newly established Chang Bangdu Primary School in Thimphu. I was in class II. It was the times when fixed landline telephone was a luxury where mostly it used to be kept in a box and often locked. Television sets were a luxury item too and video cassettes were priced possessions. There used to be one cassette parlour near the famous Cypress Tree in Changzamtog and a bigger one at Osang, below the main traffic. Often the reels inside the cassettes of popular movies would be changed.

Second June 1999 was a big day. The celebrations at Changlimethang stadium gathered huge number of people. There were three huge balloons that were released at the end of the celebrations. Those days, the stadium only had a small area for stands, the rest were grassy slopes, the area towards the archery range. I was seated in the crowds with my parents when His Majesty walked through the crowds and that was the only time I got a near glimpse of His Majesty.

The celebration that day was broadcast on Bhutan’s first and so far the only television channel, Bhutan Broadcasting Service. It was a one hour broadcast from 7 to 8 pm. Almost half the time was for news, the other half songs and programmes.

Ten years down the line in 2009, I finished class XII and made the decision to study medicine in Colombo. It was later learnt that Bhutan had been sending its students to study in Colombo and it had been made possible through His Majesty’s personal request to the then President of Sri Lanka. To provide seats in medical college is a task that needs to be balanced with its cost and local and political demands in Sri Lanka. It is an honour that at this stage we take up the opportunity in the form of medical education, created through the effort of His Majesty. 

On the historic Silver Jubilee celebrations, His Majesty had said the future of our nation lies in the hands of the youth. The small children and youth then are now in the economically productive age. I am glad that soon I will be able to come back to Bhutan and be at the service of our people.

An art of women

All of humanity arises in a woman,
The most joyful event is the birth
Of a new hope and a new life in Obstetrics and
The respect to our mothers in Gynaecology.

It is not only the knowledge, but also
Values that we learnt from each one of you,
Thank you to all teachers in the Obs-Gyn Prof Unit.
We wish you more good health and happiness.

Thank you!

[*When Gyalsey Ngulchu Thogmey had written the 37 Practices of Boddhisattva, he said he was not bothered about poetry and flowery words. This short poem or verse follows the same principle. All points are said direct and to the point. That must be an attribute of being in medical school for too long. Written in March 2015]