The Gift Of Being ‘Bone Deep’

Dr Subhash DHIWARE responds to ThinkWellness360 questionnaire. 

Why and how did you think of becoming a doctor?  

I grew up in a tiny hamlet. My beginnings were understandably humble. I remember vividly — whenever a doctor was called, they would come by ‘tonga,’ the horse-drawn cart. The doctor would be the only person who had had this privilege. The kids would run to carry their bag and bring a chair, borrowed from the local school. That the doctor would give medicines to making people feel better was amazing. Medicine was the most respectable profession there ever was, and is, I thought — this became my conviction, also passion.

I was always a good student. When thinking of my career, my parents and I could not think of anything better than to being a doctor. The profession called out to me. I reached out to it — call it my inner call, or destiny, or what you may. 

What made you think of, study and specialise in the system of medicine you now practice? 

There were no orthopaedic surgeons in my village, or the vicinity. Fractures, injuries and aches were managed by ‘bone setters.’ We regularly saw people limping, or with deformities, due to badly ‘[re]engineered’ fractures. Add to this, improper and inadequate treatment, and the suffering was anything but agonising.

My interest in orthopaedics was spurred on from such experiences. When I got the opportunity to specialise in the subject, for my MS, it was the natural choice. It did not take long for me to develop a special interest in joint replacements and spine surgery. 

What has been your personal and professional experience as a doctor? 

I think I am lucky to have been able to work in set-ups where I perform everything — from the most basic to the most advanced — also sophisticated — surgeries in the field of orthopaedics.  What humbles, also delights, me is the love showered by my patients, on me, over the years. It is their faith that keeps me going — like the legendary Rahul Dravid, at the batting crease, to use a cricketing metaphor. 

What unique and special skills you think you have that has made a big difference for your patients? 

I have always believed that every patient deserves my time and undivided attention. They always have the right to ask as many questions as they would need to know about their condition, irrespective of how many patients are still in the waiting room. When they leave my office, they must have confidence in the way I’d manage their condition and also aware of the best options they would have. The biggest compliment I receive from my patients is when they tell me that I always sport a genuine smile on my face — even at midnight, the wee hours of the morning, and beyond. 

What is your best definition of optimal wellness and why? 

Optimal wellness goes far beyond the mind, body, or psyche. It mirrors peace, from the inside out, disseminating compassion, or empathy, to everyone you are acquainted, not acquainted with, or know well. As Greg Anderson, the accomplished author, who detailed healthy lifestyle, put it so succinctly, “Wellness is not a ‘medical fix,’ but a way of living — a lifestyle sensitive and responsive to all the dimensions of body, mind, and spirit, an approach to life we each design to achieve our highest potential for well-being now and forever.” 

Your ‘best’ case? 

It was about 25 years ago that a young government employee embarked on a mountaineering expedition. He unfortunately had a bad fall from the cliff. It led to the fracture of the spine with paraplegia. He was flown — for my care. It was a strenuous and long surgery, wherein I had to operate on him through the chest and the back and approach the spine from either side. He not only recovered from paraplegia, after surgery, but also regained complete control of his bowel and bladder and could make a full recovery to go back to work. The best part, however, was when he walked into my clinic, with a huge grin on his face, a year later — to seek permission for his next mountaineering expedition in the Himalayas, which I happily agreed to. That’s ‘Adventure Forever’ — the call of the mountains, as it were. 

Your ‘not-so-good’ case? 

I remember a 55-year-old lady, who was bedridden for three months, supposedly due to a spine problem and she’d, therefore, not come to the hospital. I went to examine her at home and quickly realised that the problem was not the spine, but a fractured femur. When we investigated further, we realised that this was a pathological fracture due to metastasis from breast cancer. She was in tremendous pain. I operated on her, fixing the femur, and we got her to stand and slowly walk within a few days of surgery. She was overjoyed to be free of her pain and walk independently again. However, her cancer was aggressive. She spent her last few months almost pain-free, yes, but she eventually succumbed to it. This distresses me, long after her sad adieu, to think that early diagnosis would probably have saved her life. 

What appeals to you the most? 

Sincerity and hard work. 

What annoys you the most? 

Lazy, or casual, approach towards one’s work. 

Your favourite book? 

All books by P L Deshpande. 

Your favourite song? 

Hindustani classical vocal of Kumar Gandharva. 

Your favourite movie? 

I’m a big fan of comedies. It’s such a welcome relief from the seriousness, or intensity, of my profession. My recent favourites are Pink Panther and Piku. 

Your other interests, hobbies? 

Reading, music, and theatre. 

Your goal in life? 

To continue to better myself, take my skills to the next level, as often as possible, and ensure that my patients always receive the best possible care and treatment. 

TAGS: Dr Subhash Dhiware, orthopaedician, Navi Mumbai, orthopaedics, basic surgery, advanced surgery.

Dr SUBHASH DHIWARE, MBBS, MS, whose quintessential simplicity is most alluring, is one of Navi Mumbai’s top orthopaedicians. He has worked as Professor & HOD, Orthopaedics, at MGM Medical College, Navi Mumbai, and holds Fellowships in Minimally Invasive Surgery [Spine-Micro Endoscopic Disc Surgery], from Southeast University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China; Hip & Knee Joint Replacement Surgery, Switzerland, Germany, and Australia; and, Shoulder Replacement Surgery, France. He has been a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon for 36 years. He lives in Navi Mumbai, India.

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