‘There’s No Room For Error’

Dr Priyanka BORAMANI responds to ThinkWellness360 questionnaire.

Why and how did you think of becoming a doctor?

I’m blessed to have parents who have always supported me. My dad is a renowned ophthalmologist, but neither he nor my mom pressurised me to pursue medicine. My mother would always encourage me to pursue what I liked best — be it academics, or hobbies. So, I can safely say I took my own decision without being pushed. I recall, as a kid, I wanted to be a doctor, or teacher. I would enact the two roles in front of the mirror. I genuinely feel the two choices stemmed from my innate desire to make a difference. I quickly developed a liking for biology. And, as the years passed by, I was drawn to medicine.

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

I knew the speciality branch I didn’t want to pursue. I had a keen interest in ophthalmology, paediatrics and medicine, from the word go. I used to visit my dad’s office and clinic as a child often and I used to be fascinated with all the instruments. I realised what a precious gift our eyesight is. So, being able to help someone restore someone’s vision was inspiring to me. The eye is a delicate organ; it doesn’t give room for error. Knowing how challenging the speciality is and considering the fact that I would have my dad to help me in refining of my skills, I decided to take up ophthalmology. I observed, during my post-grad, how challenging it was to examine a child’s eyesight. Knowing for a fact that a child may not be able to verbalise their illness, or not even know what normal vision is — I dreaded to think of the unfortunate burden of remaining blind, or low vision, for their entire life. This propelled me to specialise in eye diseases of children [paediatric ophthalmology].

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

Personally, I have immense gratitude to be able to pursue my dream. Having seen death up-close —during my internship days — I cherish life and times with loved ones all the more today. Professionally, I have seen myself grow up to be a better doctor and person. It has been a fulfilling experience and I aim to keep upgrading my knowledge and skills.

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

Empathy is an indispensable part of me. I think as a doctor, all right, but I also think from the patient’s perspective. This has helped me to make the right decisions. Being a paediatric ophthalmologist and tending to kids requires me to be enormously patient. I wouldn’t say unique, but an essential skill. I have to lend my ears, also my full focus, and ample time to each of my little patients.

What is your best definition of optimal wellness?

I believe that physical and mental well-being go hand-in-hand. A pitfall in one could negatively affect the other. Most of us do not pay heed to our mental, or emotional, health. Taking time off and letting our body and mind recuperate would go a long way. This is the least we owe to our mind, body and soul — for optimal harmonious balance and good, active life.

Your ‘best’ case?

The first squint I operated in my private practice would always be special. Squint correction surgery is not just a cosmetic surgery — it is required for both the eyes to work together simultaneously. But, unfortunately, this 22-year-old pretty girl I operated on was obsessed with the ‘flawed’ idea. She had faced a lot of flak for long for her eye being largely deviated. I felt elated on the success of her surgery. Not only did it improve her visual functioning, but it also boosted her confidence to another level, at one go. Seeing her diffident countenance change into a self-assured beaming smile is something that will stay with me forever.

Your ‘not-so-good’ case?

Some retinal, or optic nerve, ailments, as also imperfections, result in blindness, or low vision. A ‘cure’ for such conditions is still under trial. They are the silent killers of vision and the big downside is the patient comes to us after permanent damage to vision has occurred. Each time I am faced with such a case, I find it heart-wrenching to disclosing to the patient about their poor visual prognosis. I urge everyone to get eye check-ups done, every year, so that we can take measures to alleviate, or prevent, possible deterioration.

What appeals to you the most?

Honesty. Also, stimulating conversations predominantly around history, geopolitics and spirituality, more so with a cup of steaming chai — there’s nothing like it.

What annoys you the most?

Dishonesty.

Your favourite book?

I like the work of Khaled Hosseini. And The Mountains Echoed is my favourite. His stories are delicately written. There are laced with a myriad of human emotions — of love, sadness, betrayal, longing and redemption. As a kid, I remember reading a lot of The Hardy Boys. Currently, I am relishing reading Shantaram — this has been on my bucket list since aeons.

Your favourite joke?

I like satirical comedies and intelligent humour. I’m not a big fan of slapstick.

Your favourite song?

I love music. I have many favourites. Luka chuppi from Rang De Basanti and Tu hi re from Bombay are my all-time favourites, especially for their meaningful lyrics, mesmerising vocals and soulful music.

Your favourite movie?

Life Is Beautiful and Titanic. I reckon they are masterpieces. The movies have good dialogues; and, they are subtly funny and profound at the same time. I loved Titanic for its technical finesse and amazing background score.

Your favourite TV, Netflix show?

I recently watched The Good Place created by Michael Schur. It is, by far, one of my favourite shows in recent times. Apart from being supremely charming and hilarious, the show is thoughtful and filled with philosophy and bittersweet analogies about life. The show inspires me to be a better person.

Your other interests, or hobbies?

Dancing, cooking and singing are my primary interests. I also love reading, walking and listening [of course] to music. They are fun and also meditative for me.

Your goal in life?

To strive to be the best version of myself. To give myself wholeheartedly to whatever I take up in life. To making time for the things I love to do and never giving up on my passions are something I would always want to strive for and fulfil.

Dr PRIYANKA BORAMANI, MS [Ophthalmology], holds a Fellowship in Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. Her interests, apart from her primary profession and speciality, includes dance [Kathak, which she’s been learning for nine years], singing, and cooking. She lives in Navi Mumbai, India.

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