3 min read
24 Jan

The COVID pandemic has shaken our healthcare system and has put immense pressure on our healthcare workers. These superheroes are pushing boundaries for themselves every day in so many ways just to make sure the continuity and quality of care remain intact. So many of us have seen from afar or heard about their experiences, but for them the struggle is real. The challenge is getting harder with the constant increase in cases and emerging variants of the virus. These professionals have been on this exhausting journey with no end in sight(for now) and no special rewards at the end of it. Needless to say, people all over the world never be able to repay what all the healthcare workers have done for us in this pandemic. 

In this chat I connect with Dr. Piyush Tageja to learn more about his story, his experiences thus far, and how he is navigating the challenges this pandemic has presented. Piyush is a travel enthusiast, a food blogger, and a dedicated doctor. I asked him how is he able to do so much while most doctors barely get enough time to rest. He is great at multitasking and managing all these roles but being a doctor makes him the happiest. At a young age, he has figured out that being a doctor is no easy feat and he has invested time and energy in these other passions to cope with the pressure that comes with the job. 

Piyush lost his baby sister(after a prolonged illness) at a very young age. He was in 9th standard when it happened and within 2 years he had started preparing for the medical exams to become a doctor. His father had encouraged him as well to become a doctor and highlighted that he would be the first doctor in his family if he became one. For me, if was remarkable that he would decide to join a profession where loss and pain are a constant after a recent and huge personal loss. My respect for him grows exponentially that he has accomplished a goal he had finalized as a teenager, while possibly still grieving. When I ask him what factor contributed the most to him becoming a doctor he does not give me a concrete answer. To him, it was either his subconscious or his father's encouragement that led him here.

A doctor's role is not easy and Piyush has identified traveling and food blogging as his coping mechanisms to navigate the professional and personal challenges that come with the job. He is very passionate about food and is willing to travel for hours to get to his favorite restaurant every now and then. He draws his inspiration from an older surgeon from his city he looked up to growing up. This surgeon too had integrated sporadic traveling into his lifestyle to deal with often overwhelming professional challenges.

I noticed the increased excitement in his tone when he talked about his travel experiences. He called his journey to Ladakh his favorite and absolute "divine". He repeatedly calls things that give him pure happiness divine.  He loves traveling with friends and sharing experiences and probably why travelling to faraway places to get his favorite delicacies does not bother him. What bothers him is the fact that he has to hide some of his crazy adventures from his parents to ensure they don't worry too much about his safety. According to him, he is perfecting the balancing act of fulfillment, love, happiness and guilt here.

When I asked Piyush about his dream vacation he did not have "one", he had many. He has already traveled to more than 50% of India's states and Union Territories and his dream is to travel to 100% of those. And there are a few other dream vacations on the list. He is definitely a dreamer and achiever at the same time with a clear understanding of his dreams and the actions he needs to take to fulfill those dreams. 

Food Blogging(@foodholicdr) is another passion of Piyush which I think is a spin-off of his travel experiences. Because he travels to so many places and visits unique eateries his friends always ask him for recommendations. To save time and streamline his suggestions, he has become a food blogger. He surprised me with his answer when I asked him to pick his favorite between blogging and traveling(answer can be found in our chat video:)).

Piyush also talked about the struggles during COVID that he and his peers are facing. Wearing PPE kits and adult diapers for their entire shift, seeing the patient's pain and loneliness, being there for the patients in their last moments has not been easy but he thinks this experience has made them stronger professionals. His belief of serving humanity is not shaken but he shared how the medical professionals, despite their many achievements, have felt helpless in the face of COVID. He shared his apprehensions about the available vaccines with me but hopes for positive outcomes. A doctor hoping for a "miracle" was both ironic and uplifting for me. 

Being a doctor is his ultimate passion. He has practiced general medicine and has worked in the ENT specialty and becoming a great surgeon is his dream. He feels that as a doctor you are bestowed with the power to heal someone, to give them vision, or to take away someone's pain and that is nothing short of remarkable to him. His story strengthens my belief that may be one can do it all and still stand strong. I find his experience admirable. He calls his experience "divine".

Here is our fun chat where he shares his story, experiences and dreams. 

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