Over a month ago, I got a text from an old patient of mine, asking for my address. Took me a little down memory lane.
I had operated on this guy when he was a teenager. There was a suspicious (and ugly-looking, which was of more import to him) growth in his right eye and I excised and engrafted with delightful post-op results. The histo-path report on the lesion had come back with a suspicion of malignancy but I reassured him and kept him only under observation.
Over the years he would often drop in for a visit for an unscheduled examination or with a relative from some far-flung town in tow who he had asked to come in for the “best ophthal consultation” around.
And now this kid was all grown-up and getting married and was inviting me for his wedding. How could I say no? So I drove all the way to his home-town to attend his wedding, where I knew I would be pretty much a stranger.
Only as it turned out, I wasn’t. Not exactly. I met a handful of people in that throng who recognized me immediately. I had treated them or a family member at some point in time and they still remembered me, even if I didn’t remember them. Some remarked how they missed me on their last visit to my erstwhile hospital. A few even wanted to touch my feet (a sign of utmost respect in Indian culture), something I strongly disapprove of and discourage.
I didn’t stay long, i had a busy day next morning and a long-ish drive back home through the night. But it felt nice to be recognized, remembered, and missed. To know that I had touched so many lives, that I had made such a difference. I don’t say I miss practising medicine that much, but it felt good to know my years as a surgeon had truly not been in vain.
You might say I shouldn’t need that reassurance and you might be right, but it was good to have it nonetheless.