Most heart-wrenching e-mail I have ever received. From a true hero, Dr. Varun.
November 18, 2014
Hi, der. I don’t know how thankful I am to you for writing that article on physician’s suicide. I really wanted to hug you after reading it. I had really rough day after seeing 130 outpatients and around 60 admission emergency in a 12 hour duty. I work as a final year MD internal medicine resident in one of the busiest hospital in India. I saw a part of myself in every page of your article Just couldn’t stop reading the article. It is 3:00 am in the morning here and after a physically and mentally demanding day of work and studies reading your article was the best thing today.
It takes me 5 hours by flight to reach my home from my hospital. I have my wife and 6 month old son (whom I been with for 15 days since his birth) at home. I work day in and out just to be with them once in 3 months. I don’t see my colleagues smile, I hear my patients misery every day. I smile and crack jokes even when I am sad so that I can bring some joy into my patients sorrowful life.
Today I saw this patient who died, married with a son, the only earning member of his family …….his widow just wouldn’t accept that he was dead. She kept talking to him. I just didn’t know what to feel ….. I was numb for a minute thinking what if that was me …. And the kid is my son…..
I see deaths everyday in ward …..I don’t know if you would believe me, but 4 deaths per day in a single ward of 40 beds overcrowded to 125 patients admitted at a time. Two patients on a bed, two lying together on the floor. Poverty, misery and pain all around. I have declared 12 patients dead in a day during one of my duties. I just don’t feel death anymore, just don’t feel human. My uncle died recently, I felt nothing deep inside just some memories and that is it.
I write this mail hoping that the way I survive my day would help you in helping others.
I always wish my colleagues and say hi when I see them in the morning. Say hi to everyone from my ward sweeper to the guard in the ward. I never eat alone and always make sure I share my food. I always smile whenever I talk to my patients. I hold their hands when I talk. Listen music whenever possible. And everyday whenever possible I talk to my wife, father, mother, and brother (all of them are doctors).
But still this profession demands too much from us. I have thought about giving up and suicide a thousand times ……the misery was too much for me to see 12 people die in a day. The only thing that keeps me moving forward is my family and friends.
I appreciate what you are doing. It took me 4 hours to write this mail. It is 7 am in the morning. But your article was worth it. Thank you. Thanks a lot…..
Varun died by suicide on June 14, 2016.
The world has lost a beautiful healer. RIP sweet, sweet soul.
Dr. Varun’s letters published in Physician Suicide Letters and his words recited on the TEDMED stage:
Pamela Wible, M.D. is a family doctor who is dedicated to physician suicide prevention. Please be kind to your doctor. The life you save may save you. Photo credit: Dr. Varun (and his newborn son). If you are suffering, please reach out for help. Contact Dr. Wible.