I had the privilege of being part of an excellent educational program last week. I visited Hyderabad, on a flying invitation to attend a training program for trainers. Yes- by ones who guard the guardians themselves.
It was a cold reception that I received when I landed at the airport. I mean, it was 18 degrees, and in Mumbai, that is when we ask the air conditioning to be switched off. Mumbai starts its centigrade scale at 19, going up to 45. With a lot of humidity thrown in. I will leave the sebaceous details out for some other day.
What I learnt in Hyderabad was elegant and simple- Pain is like a rat. That was drilled into our heads from the word go- pain is like a pestilence, ignored yet easy to eliminate. R, A, T at a tat tat. We needed to recognize pain (R), assess it (A) and treat it (T). I was most impressed by the use of excellent teaching tools to get the message across to us. The technique made sure all of us had a voice, and ensured that we remembered to hear every medical student out when it was our turn. After all, the aim was not to hand-pick the best student for an award. It was to ensure that the most reticent of the students would get the confidence to understand and address pain as an issue that needed treatment. Spreading the word, as it were.
The rat menace analogy of pain brings to mind the Pied Piper-the Pain physician.
Our piper physicians prance about in the Travelling pain school doing a great job. As in the tale, the pied pipers have not received their coin. That, however, is where the comparison ends. In our Hamelin, the rats are eternal. They shall spring up, and no single act of mass rodenticide will suffice. It needs the song to be as timeless as the rats themselves. As Melville said, “…the ancestry and posterity of grief go further than the ancestry and posterity of joy.” The challenge is tough, not because of the Rats, but because of the attitude of Hamelin. This tale seems to be weaving itself towards another destination, unlike Hamelin’s.
We see an ending where the pipers are rewarded justly, and the citizens take upon themselves the role of the pipers. And in this, we have tied our passions and visions to this just cause.
Someday, all may hum the same tune and rid mankind of this plague of rats.
Image courtesy: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0