My Friend Alexa : Rant post 2 – Doctors are humans too

If you have read any of my posts, or follow me on any social media platform, you would know that I have a doctor for a husband. As batchmates from school, best friends, and eventually a married couple, we have explored the joys and sorrows of life for more than two decades now. Yet, nothing prepared us for the most difficult phase of our lives that began in March 2020.

After the pandemic hit, his posting took him to one of the Government hospitals in a faraway district of Bengal. My father, who travelled to our home town just before the pandemic struck, couldn’t return because of the lockdown. My in-laws, who had come for a month’s visit to Kolkata, had no option but to stay back. It was a tough time becoming the primary caregiver to a five-year-old son and ageing in-laws while balancing the MFA course.

As we grappled with the new normal, my husband’s work schedule went from bad to worse. They were working round the clock, without a break. The fraternity of doctors, nurses and primary healthcare workers were fighting like frontline warriors. Yet they also had another fight to get the requisite number of PPE kits, N95 masks, sanitizers and other essential items.

Doctors are humans too

Within a couple of weeks, I saw people banging utensils to show appreciation for the fraternity, helicopters showering flowers to show gratitude and a top Bollywood actor re-releasing a song comparing the dedication of doctors to men in uniform. Although I could never stop worrying about the risk his profession carried, I felt proud of his service in this crisis.

The facade was short-lived. A few days after the thali-banging ceremony, one of my husband’s seniors from college was asked to shift by their residential complex society because his duty exposed him to the deadly virus, making him a threat to other residents. They didn’t have the common sense to think that the same doctors would risk their lives to treat them from Corona. Thus began the discrimination against doctors.

Violence against doctors is on a rise. In Bengal and the rest of India, there are very few days when one doesn’t hear of friends/relatives of patients beating up doctors without any provocation or reason. Last year, one of the junior doctors in Kolkata was hit by a mob in such a brutal way that his skull cracked. Every profession has a few rotten apples that bring their line of work a bad name. Then why is it the doctors who are at the forefront of facing such violence and discrimination as they risk their lives to save that of others?

Despite their selfless service, there are instances where doctors haven’t received any payment for months, they were asked to vacate rented accommodation, and have faced the falsified allegations of medical negligence. They go through such trauma at a time when most of them haven’t even seen/met their families for months at a stretch. Even when they return home, they keep themselves isolated for days before embracing their child or hugging their loved ones.

I refuse to agree with the age-old belief that doctors are second to God. It puts them on a pedestal with an unnecessary pressure to be capable of performing miracles. What we need to understand is that doctors are humans too, battling health and wellness issues, as put their problems behind to cater to the needs of a patient. While they continue serving the citizens with care and compassion, the least that they deserve is our respect, kindness and gratitude.

For the last nine months, I had a tough time explaining to my son about why he gets to talk to his father mostly over video calls. I heard the panic in my in-laws’ voice whenever they called me to check on their son’s schedule. I saw the concern in my father’s eyes every time he hears about my husband skipping meals to attend to his duties. And I have been trying to push away every negative thought from my mind as I grapple to hold the family together. And, I am just one of the many families who have lent their unrelenting support to a doctor/doctors in the family.

As a doctor’s wife, I am proud of the way my husband and his fraternity has been on duty during this crisis period. As a thinking and opinionated individual, I also want to scream out at the apathy of those in power and the blood-thirsty mob culture that has become a threat to the sanctity of this profession. None of us signed up for this level of unnecessary tension and stress. So, please stop considering doctors equivalent to God and expect them to have magical healing powers. I would rather request you to treat them as a fellow human with the same dignity and compassion that an individual deserves.

“I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter’s My Friend Alexa 2020″ campaign.  Stay tuned to read my third rant post in this series.



My Friend Alexa Rant Post 1 – No Country For Women

It is 2020; the world is grappling with a pandemic. But guess what we are busy doing in our country- adding on to the statistics of violence and crimes against women. I don’t have a theme for my blog posts this year, but what I have is a lot of anger and frustration to vent out. So, my 8 posts are going to be rant posts that will make you uncomfortable. And, I am not sorry to stir up the conscience of a sleeping nation.

Yesterday, I woke up to the news of the Hathras Dalit victim succumbing to death. The brutality of the crime managed to ‘shake’ up the nation again. I feel numb; I feel disgusted. The way her body was burned late in the night without her family’s consent proves my faith in #nocountryforwomen. All these PRs of saving the daughters are falsified narratives by the rich and the mighty. You and I have the battle to fight alone.

Before I could call it a day, I witnessed a senior DGP beating up his wife on video just because she objected to his extra-marital affair. Slow claps! A two-year-old baby girl stabbed 100 times by a screwdriver. Another Dalit rape victim dies at Balrampur in UP, 8-year-old raped and critical in Azamgarh in U.P., and a minor girl is raped by three men in M.P. Also, these are just a few of the national average of 87 rapes that get reported per day. Focus on the word ‘reported’; the actual number would be much higher.

The sheer brutality of the crimes makes me question the audacity of the criminals. Why isn’t there any fear in the mind of the predators? After the Hyderabad encounter, people had lauded the police about serving quick justice. Today I want to ask everyone if that incident was powerful enough to induce fear of the law in the minds of the criminals? Did it serve the purpose of stopping any such future heinous crimes? NO! All it did was to give a quick-fix cover-up to cater to the rising resentment in the country. 

What we need is a sustainable system that ensures a safe environment for women, an assurance of quick justice, and severe punishment for the guilty. Looking at the present scenario, where the media is filled with men barking for TRPs and self-declared feminists (read opportunists) are too busy in seeking fulfilment of their vendetta, the future looks bleak and dangerous.

Before I leave, let me tell you that women are at war in this country. And if it doesn’t bother you today because of your privileged status, remember “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are” – Benjamin Franklin.

“I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter‘s My Friend Alexa 2020″ campaign.  Stay tuned to read my second rant post in this series.

 

SONIASMUSINGS.COM TURNS THREE

It feels like yesterday when I decided to quit my banking job and mustered the courage to follow my heart. On 13th September 2017, I let my intentions known to the world through the launch of my blog soniasmusings.com. From 2017 until now, it’s been a roller-coaster ride of blogging, writing articles on esteemed platforms, authoring a book, and eventually choosing to do my third masters program, an MFA in creative writing. It wasn’t easy to venture out in an unknown territory, yet it was more difficult to convey that writing wasn’t a passion anymore; it was going to be my third and full-time profession. If I have to pick a turning point in my life, I would always choose this phase of pursuing my dreams.

#soniasmusingsturnsthree Three years of blogging and writing. Thank you, for the support!

Thank you, dear readers and followers, for showering me with so much love, support and encouragement over the years. You motivated me to stay focused on my goals.

Hello September, the month of hope & joy!

I started the last trimester of the MFA course this month. For the past few months, I haven’t blogged much or written actively on any digital platform. Yet, I was writing a lot, mostly through my assignments. Amidst all this, the pandemic stuck. I have often spoken about how the Covid-19 crisis hit us as a family, with the medical professional husband away on duty for months.  His posting outside the city compelled us to mostly connect over video calls. It is still difficult to explain to the son why he gets to meet his father just once a month, for a couple of days. For three months, I felt stuck, frustrated, and annoyed. Almost everyone around me moved ahead, upgraded their skills, progressed in career, and did a great job of balancing their roles. And, I was struggling to stay afloat amidst this chaos. It was overwhelming.

Burning the midnight oil for MFA assignments
Burning the midnight oil for MFA assignments

Two months back, I decided to log out of social media, uninstall all apps except Twitter, quit 20+ groups on WhatsApp, block people I didn’t wish to stay in touch with any longer, and focus on the optimization of restrained circumstances. I spent two months nurturing the relationships I genuinely care about. I worked steadily for the MFA course and read books in genres I could never appreciate before. I finally made peace with my bushy eyebrows, shoulder-length hair, and supposed ‘laidback’ pace of publishing books.

Rediscovering A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
Rediscovering A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

On Aug 22nd, I decided to return on social media, consciously restricting the time I spend on each platform. I wanted to share my journey of handling a difficult phase with a lot of people who were struggling too. But what primarily occupied my thoughts was the book that I am currently reading – ‘A Suitable Boy’ by Vikram Seth. I gave up reading it a couple of times in the past. But when I borrowed the book from the library last month, little did I know that this going to be a delightful reading journey of the literary world. It confirms my belief that there exists a suitable time and space for every book in our lives.

The boy and his superheroes
The boy and his ‘superheroes’ as birthday gifts

September is a very special month for me. Exactly 5 years ago, my son Tuneer was born on the 22nd of this month. Therein began our journey of parenthood. The lockdown introduced him to a bunch of superheroes. From Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Captain America, Avengers to Justice League, his love for these characters made us rename him as Tuneerman. We had plans to celebrate it with friends and family before Covid-19 brought life to a standstill. The family has come together to make it all about his favorite cartoons and superheroes. The tees are from his paternal grandparents, maternal grandfather, and his father. The ‘Othello’ game is from his best friend. I chose to gift the posters and a surprise puzzle set is on the way. He was so excited about the presents that we couldn’t coax him to wait until the 22nd to open them. That expression on his face after unwrapping the packages made every effort feel special.

I look forward to a kinder, safer, healthier, and fulfilling month. Stay safe and take care.

Happy Janmashtami 2020

Janmashtami is celebrated with elan in my marital home. Ever since we moved back to Kolkata, we ensured to make a trip to Berhampore to attend the festival. Unfortunately, the pandemic made it impossible to travel this year with our soon-to-turn-five-year-old.

The family deity of Lord Krishna
The family deity of Lord Krishna

The celebrations of our family deities, Shyam-Rai, were a low-key affair this year with only family members attending the rituals. Yet, we couldn’t help but feel sad at missing the happiness of the day. To cheer up the kid, I decided to have a small puja at home after dressing him up as little Krishna. The pictures of the deities and rituals from his paternal grandparents in the evening brought a big smile on his face.

Puja room in my marital home
Puja room in my marital home

Puja at our Kolkata home

May Lord Krishna help us overcome this crisis. Stay safe and take care.

A couple of more reviews of Deal of Death and an interview featuring my blogging journey

Thank you, for loving my book ‘Deal of Death.’ In the last couple of days, I have seen some more encouraging reviews from authors, who are also known for their literary skills. Sonia Dogra, Radhika Acharya, and Vartika Mehrotra rave about this past-faced detective thriller in their reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.

Review by Vartika
Review by Vartika

If you have still not read the book, you can get a copy HERE.

On the personal front, I was interviewed by Naveen from blogabout.blog about my journey as a blogger/author and I had a great time answering his thought-provoking questions.

My blogging journey featured
Featuring my blogging journey

You might enjoy reading the interview here.

6 months of ‘Deal of Death’ on Amazon with a couple of new stellar reviews

My debut detective thriller ‘ Deal of Death’ completes 6 months of getting published on Amazon and it is a delight to discover two wonderful reviews by two writers par excellence, Piyusha Vir (who’s also a best-selling author) and Esha Chakraborty.

Review by Piyusha Vir

If you have not read this fast-paced detective thriller introducing private investigator Raya Ray, you must grab a copy HERE. It is sure to make your weekend more interesting.

Review by Esha Chakraborty
Review by Esha Chakraborty

The pandemic has become a difficult time for us as a family. I have a bunch of classes lined up in the MFA course this month, the kid is trying to cope up with the pace of the online classes while my husband is tied up in delivering his duties as a doctor. The situation makes it tough for me to balance blogging with mandatory writing and personal responsibilities. I haven’t been able to publish more than 2/3 posts after April  (my apologies for that!) but I am hoping for better progress in the coming months.

The copyright notice
The copyright notice

Last month, a fellow blogger brought to my notice that the site cryptocitynews.com has been blatantly republishing the same content as my website without seeking any permission from me. Despite the copyright notice clearly mentioned on my website and my warning comments on the posts there, they haven’t taken down my posts. So, if you see any of my posts on their site, please feel free to call them out. A lot of effort goes into creating, editing, and publishing posts on my site and it is unethical to republish my work for their vested interests.

I hope all of you are staying safe and following adequate precautions for us to collectively overcome this crisis. Take care and I will see you again with a new topic very soon.

 

Update for the month of June 2020

It’s been more than a month that I have published a post. Usually, I write about planning a break before taking a hiatus. But this time life didn’t give me a chance to organize the clutter that I landed myself in.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought our lives to a stand-still. Most of us don’t even know what to expect next. For the last 100 days, it has been one of the most difficult phases of my life. With the ongoing MFA course, where I had the mandatory classes running from Feb until this month, my schedule had turned hectic. Then the 4.9-year-old kid started his session break and schools were closed for an indefinite period. My father, who was away at our native place, was stuck there all alone for 3 months. My in-laws, who had come to come to spend the vacation with their beloved grandchild, had to stay back for more than 90 days. But it was my husband, a doctor by profession, who had it the toughest. While the lockdown was tumultuous for us as a family, he had no option but to continue with his duty to serve the sick.

The man on a mission
The man on a mission

If there’s anything that didn’t let me crumble during this stressful phase of life, it is my writing. I posted on humor in April through the A2Z challenge series. In May, I finished one of my mandatory classes in the MFA course. But June has been unusually difficult to get through. My in-laws left and Baba returned home. My son started online classes and he started missing his father even more. It is heartbreaking to see the kids trying to talk to each other and wave at their friends in the virtual world of connection that has become the new normal of their childhood.

The new phase of online classes
The new phase of online classes

My husband and I have known each other for 21 years now, out of which we have been married for 9. We will be celebrating our 9th anniversary this 20th June followed by Father’s Day on 21st June. It gets tough to keep the emotions in control when I see the child yearn for his Babai. I still don’t know if my husband will manage to get the weekend off from his duty and come down to Kolkata from his place of posting. Yet, I am praying hard that the child gets to wish his father in person and not over yet another video call, that has become a part of our survival strategy now.

At Cherrapunji in happier times
At Cherrapunji in happier times

I don’t have a topic to write about today or even this month because, to be honest, I am still trying to stay afloat. I hope to come up with a guest post before the month ends and plan for a theme for July. Until then, I hope you are taking care of yourselves and staying safe. Don’t forget to nurture your mental health in stressful times like these. See you soon.

Myths and facts about the ‘harmful’ effects of vaccines

A host of the new generation parents get their knowledge of vaccination from their pediatrician and through the websites of WHO and the Ministry of Health. When my son was born four-and-a-half years ago, we decided to be actively involved in understanding the need for vaccination, following the vaccination schedule, and staying updated about preservative-free vaccines.  Having a Doctor spouse made these choices spontaneous and the same was encouraged by the pediatrician.

Yet, a section of elderly relatives, friends, and acquaintances warned us about the adverse effects of vaccination in infants. It was shocking to hear that seizures or other life-threatening diseases could be an after-effect of vaccination. While my husband confronted the claims with his background in medical education, I decided to read-up on the harmful effects of vaccination before meeting the pediatrician for a detailed session.

The most common side-effects of vaccination could lead to soreness, swelling, mild fever, rashes, and pain which generally persist for a couple of days only. Yet, I stumbled upon reports that suggested autism as a side effect of vaccination. Thimerosal, a mercury-based compound, found in preservatives, was blamed for the increase in autism in children. But those claims were refuted because no substantial evidence could link the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine to autism or even the hepatitis B vaccine to multiple sclerosis.

During our conversation with the pediatrician, it was an awful revelation for me to know that newborn babies suffered from the risk of life-threatening diseases like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Their congenital conditions could also be detected during this stage. This meant that they already had a high risk of facing an untoward medical condition. But at times, the proximity of a vaccination schedule in a similar time frame leads to incorrect reasoning as the cause of the event.

He mentioned that the chances of serious side-effects like a seizure or life-threatening allergic reactions are very rare. Statistics show that if 1 million doses of a vaccine are given, only 1 to 2 people may have a severe allergic reaction.

When a person encounters a pathogen, it is difficult to predict whether the reaction inside the body would be mild or severe. But vaccines are pre-tested to ensure that the response to these weakened or dead pathogens leads to the development of immunity in the body without harmful side-effects.

Other than physicians being the primary source of vaccination information, the availability of the immunization information system (IIS) from the healthcare provider also describes the common and rare side effects of a vaccine. At times, the vaccine manufacturers also provide some of these details through package inserts.

In India, pharmacovigilance of vaccines is highly important to promote the safe use of vaccines. India launched the Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) surveillance program in 1986 for monitoring suspected adverse events following immunization.

Considering the times that we live in, failure to immunize a child carries a higher risk of leaving them exposed to potential diseases.

Our doubts and concerns were put to rest by the in-depth QnA session with the pediatrician. Ever since we have strictly adhered to the vaccination chart and ensured that we don’t compromise with the healthy future of our son. We trust vaccines for the development of his immunity towards diseases.

However, our responsibility doesn’t end there. It is imperative to understand the need to spread this knowledge and correct information about the importance and safety of vaccination. Only by creating awareness in the society, we can hope for the holistic development of our future generation.

What’s #YourCareQuotient? How much do you understand your child when it comes to sleep patterns, feeding, and vaccination? Take the easy, interactive quiz that guides you and get the childcare guide now. 

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog content are independent and unbiased views of solely the blogger. This is a part of the public awareness initiative supported by Sanofi Pasteur India. Sanofi Pasteur bears no responsibility for the content of the blog. One should consult their healthcare provider for any health-related information.

References –

https://www.historyofvaccines.org/content/articles/vaccine-side-effects-and-adverse-events

https://www.vaccines.gov/basics/safety/side_effects

https://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/1201/p2113.html

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-vaccines-are-dangerous/

http://www.ijp-online.com/text.asp?2019/51/4/243/266824

My thoughts on A2Z Challenge 2020

When I signed up for the A2Z Challenge in 2020, life was chaotic and turbulent. With the Covid-19 pandemic engulfing our lives, it wasn’t easy being a doctor’s wife. When my husband was away on the emergency duty, it was difficult to balance the role of a mother to a 4.6-year-old, take care of my aging in-laws at home and continue working on my MFA creating writing assignments. By registering for the challenge, I was taking up the humongous tasks of writing and reading multiple posts daily on myself. Yet, the thrill of participating for the third time outweighed all the hurdles. I promised myself that the day the challenge became overwhelming, I would quit at that moment. It took away a lot of unnecessary pressure and let me write with ease.

In 2018, I wrote non-fiction posts on various aspects of my home state, West Bengal under the theme of ‘A dollop of Bengal.’

In 2019, I shared my real-life experiences related to the process of school admissions for my then 3.5-year-old son, Tuneer under the theme ‘Sagas of surviving a toddler’s school admission procedures.

In 2020, I thought of bringing some relief to the anxiety and stress around us by speaking about Indian stand-up comedians and comedy channels on YouTube under the theme ‘Laugh in the time of Corona.’

My posts were about a bunch of versatile and talented performers who use humor to spread happiness, social awareness, make political satires, draw comedy sketches, and much more. At the end of each post, I added a link to one of my favorite videos by the artist to ensure that anyone who read my post left the page with a smile on their face. And while I was drafting these pieces and watching these videos before choosing one for my posts, my stress reduced because of my daily dose of laughter.

Amidst household chores, playing the role of a caregiver, and juggling weekly assignments, I finished publishing 26 posts on schedule for the third time in a row. I read 25-30 posts on a daily average and thoroughly enjoyed interacting with my fellow bloggers. I must admit that it is writing that kept me going through a difficult month.

Heartfelt gratitude to the team of International A2Z challenge, Blogchatter, and my fellow writers for being a part of my April journey this year. I hope to return next year with a new theme and renewed energy.