Monthly Archives: March 2009

Smoking – A Grave Craving


 In The Words Of A Smoker… 


“Everything was just so perfect. Nice job, great salary, amazing house, awesome social life, perfect health…until recently when I started getting bad headaches. They were so bad that I could not concentrate on my work. Everyday now turned out to be a bad day. I woke up with a headache and slept with a headache. Not just this, I was repeatedly getting nasal and throat infections which made my bad days worst.


I went to my doctor, and after general examination and a battery of tests performed, I was diagnosed as a hypertensive with high cholesterol levels. I took the prescribed medicines but the prescription just worked temporarily. Now I wasn’t getting enough sleep either. So, my doctor  added a low dose of sleeping pills to an already-lengthy-prescription.


Physically I am absolutely fit, perfect weight for my height. My diet is just right for my age, weight and lifestyle. I still could not believe for what I was diagnosed of at a young age of 29. I thought I had the perfect lifestyle until my BP read 160/130 mmHg.


One evening I sat down to figure out what has gone wrong where. While thinking the cause for this ill health, the smoke from my cigarette made me cough. I stopped smoking to drink water only to realize what the much-hunted cause. I am a smoker for the past 7 years. This is the greatest flaw in my lifestyle which is now taking a toll on my health, my work, my career and my life.


So now after much thinking and suffering, I have decided to give up smoking because I want my beautiful and perfect life back. I know it is going to be difficult but to live happily and healthily I will take up this challenge of giving up on my seven years of this killing addiction. I have already started staying without smoking and I am praying hard that I should succeed in my purpose.”


Smoking Is Injurious To Health


We all are aware that smoking is injurious to health. Although statement is printed on the cigarette packs, they are still sold. The increase in the sales of these cigarette packs is primarily because smoking is addictive. Some common reasons for getting involved in smoking are peer pressure or following examples of siblings and parents, employment outside the house, stress, homesickness or just as a fashion. There may be many reasons for smoking but the bottom line – ‘Smoking Is Injurious To Health’ always remains the same.


Tobacco Ill Effects


According to the World Health Organization, about 4 million deaths occur in a year from tobacco that is expected to rise to about 10 million by 2030. Tobacco is responsible for about 30% of all cancer deaths in the developed countries. Other ill effects are diseases like stroke, myocardial infarction, aortic aneurysm and peptic ulcer. Smoking is also a known cause for infertility. Smoking is extremely harmful during pregnancy too. The babies of mothers who smoke weigh on an average 200 grams less at birth than those of non-smokersThere is evidence that the sooner a person begins to smoke, the greater is the risk for any life threatening disease to develop, and hence, the life expectancy reduces by almost 25 years as compared to a non-smoker. Smoking brings environmental pollution and the smoke causes diseases even amongst the non-smokers, also called as passive smokers.


Government Initiatives


WHO has organized a “Tobacco Free Initiative Programme” to galvanize global support for tobacco control, and to heighten the awareness of social, human and economic harm caused by tobacco consumption. But no program can be a complete success without mass participation.


The government is trying its best by imposing rules like no smoking in public areas and smoking only in zones meant for smokers. These rules may reduce the ill effects of passive smoking but are they going to help the smoker. He will now be in a zone where he will be smoking along with other smokers. So, in turn he becomes a smoker as well as a passive smoker.


Smoking – A Suicide & A Homicide


Tobacco is a killer and it should not be advertised, subsidized or glamourized. Smoking is suicidal and homicidal. Suicidal because smoking will leave a smoker vulnerable to several life-threatening diseases, and homicidal as by polluting the environment, a smoker threatens the health of others around him. If thought this way then no one will want to be a criminal.


It is high time that every individual realises the ill effects of this grave habit. Stress is no reason for getting addicted to smoking as you are giving yourself a painful life and death. There are times when a doctor advices his patient not to smoke when he smokes himself. It is important to practice before you preach or else your preaching just becomes noise which is heard and then forgotten very easily.


 So, Dear Smokers…


Anyone who is a non smoker then he or she should never fall prey to this addiction anytime in their lives. And if a person is a smoker then he or she should quit smoking. It is normal that smokers will find it difficult to stay away from cigarettes during the initial days of withdrawal. But once they overcome this period, they will soon realize the life-long benefits of giving up smoking.


Withdrawal sounds scary and difficult but it is not impossible. Remember that even an impossible says ‘I-M-POSSIBLE.’ Anyone doing so is not just helping himself but also the nation and the world. Smokers should not lose hope and stay firm during the phase of withdrawal to achieve their purpose. There should be lot of motivation and support from family and friends along with strong individual will power. And yes, where there is a will there is always a way!

…Ashu Bolar


The Oath I Value



I remember my days as an assistant to a well known orthopaedic surgeon. I had joined his clinic just after the completion of my internship. His clinic has OPD and IPD sections along with an operation theatre. I was in charge of the IPD patients. It was the third week of May 2005. In that week two operations were scheduled – one was a hip replacement surgery and the other was a prolapsed disc surgery. Hip replacement surgery was successfully conducted early Monday morning on a 92 year old lady, who was admitted for another 7 days to recover completely.  The other surgery for the prolapsed disc patient was scheduled on Saturday. She was admitted since a week, and as her complaint was not getting better via medications and physiotherapy, she was advised surgery.  She had immense pain, so much that she could not move with out using a lumbo-sacral belt. This operation was a necessity to relieve her from the pain that the depressed disc was causing by compressing her herniated spinal cord.


This patient was a simple, calm lady with a family comprising of herself, her husband and their two sons.  She was a middle aged lady with short hair, some of which were grey indicating the aging process. Fair complexion, large eyes with puffy skin below them, and weighing a little more than average, this lady spoke excellent English. Whenever I took her BP, I always admired how beautiful hands she had with perfectly manicured nails. The hospital staff liked her as she was unlike the other patients who always threw tantrums. Her family visited her twice a day and her children were very concerned about her ill health.


It is a routine to get some blood tests done before an operation. ELISA (test for HIV) is one of them.  A technician from the pathology lab had come to collect her blood for the tests on Thursday morning around 7 am. The reports came in the evening. Most of her test results were normal or close to normal but unfortunately the ELISA showed positive results. This test is a very sensitive method to detect antibodies against HIV but requires another test, a Western Blot, to confirm the results because false positive result can occur. Yes, a positive ELISA test does put the person in the category that he or she may be HIV positive but the next test has to be done for confirmation.


The surgeon had disclosed the results to her and explained the importance of conducting the confirmation test. But her results had caused her immense aggravation, and she refused to go for any further tests. “Please doctor, give me discharge. I want to go back to my home. Please.” These were her words on asking her to go for HIV confirmation test.  There was some talk between the surgeon and the patient of which I or any other hospital staff were not a part of. The entire hospital staff (nurse, physiotherapist, interns, maid servants and myself) was called by the surgeon, and was asked not to discus this case in front of other patients (IPD and OPD). Also, we were asked to take some safety precautions ourselves while dealing with this patient.  Since I was the in charge, it was my duty to look into this matter. I made sure that my staff is following all the instructions sincerely. Eventually, the patient was counselled, operated, had recovered and was happily discharged.


Before the arrival of reports, the entire hospital staff was treating her like a normal patient, but this report made us take care of her in a little different way. Initially we did not use gloves while administering her injectables or taking a note of her blood glucose levels. But once we were summoned, then the entire staff was very particular of wearing gloves while examining her or while injecting her with fluids or medicines. We were all cautious for some reason. That reason was fear of AIDS. But the fear was not a reason enough for the surgeon to not operate her. He performed the operation very confidently as he does on every other patient. My staff and I tried our level best to fulfil our obliged duties towards her as normally as we could. There was a radiant smile on the lady’s face on the day of discharge as she was relieved from the pain that she was suffering for so long.


Sometimes, when alone, I did speculate the reasons for her acquiring HIV. I could not believe by her looks that she was an HIV positive. I, being a doctor, had read a lot about HIV and AIDS. I knew well about the modes of transmission. I knew that those results are yet to be confirmed. I knew that being HIV positive does not mean that she has AIDS. But I was still very cautious. Being cautious is sensible but to isolate an affected person is insensate. These patients are already in pain by learning this bitter truth of life. Our isolating or behaving abnormally with them will only add to their pain. If the doctors get scared and isolate such patient’s then there will be no one to treat HIV patients.


Every time we wore gloves and examined her, there used to be a slight uneasiness in her behaviour. It made her nervous. May be it reminded her of her positive results. There are few rules which should be made universal in all hospitals like wearing of gloves while examining or administering injectables to all the patients, irrespective of the diseases they are suffering from. This will not just reduce the rate of occupational transmission of infections but it will also relieve an infected person from the mental soreness that the feeling of being inferior brings in.


Sometimes, even healthcare professionals do the mistake of making a sick realize the ghastliness of his or her illness. Then, as a common man any one can do this mistake. It is important to treat a human as a human irrespective of what disease he or she is suffering from, and this fact stands same for everyone. I always keep reminding myself of the bold surgeon, who cured the affected lady, bought a smile on her face, and took all her blessings. This lessens my fear and gives me the determination to reduce the sufferings of all those who are sick and unwell. It also reminds me of some lines from the Hippocratic Oath I chanted confidently along with my peers on my convocation day – the day when I was considered as a medical fraternity.


“I swear by Apollo, Asclepius, Hygieia and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath… 

I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone… 

I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts…

All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal…

If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot.”


…Ashu Bolar

Why I Write


I write as I like to write. I write as it is my profession. I write to bring awareness. I write to test my creative abilities. I write to share right knowledge, to entertain and to catch readers’ interests. I write as I want readers to read, understand, comment and criticize my writing so that I learn from their critique.

I write my thoughts…my emotions.

I write to complete my assignments which demands writing. I write because I want people to read what I think. I write to remember. I write to maintain contacts with my loved ones. I write for work, for business. I write to improve my language and vocabulary. I write what I believe in.

I write as I think ‘Pen is mightier than sword.’

I write because I am a writer.



…Ashu Bolar