Flipping the coin

Growing up my parents invested everything into our education. I mean, EVERYTHING from their time, energy, focus to every penny went only into the best education they could afford. Life was a struggle and we had to make sacrifices everyday. Sacrifices as a family. This meant avoiding fancy restaurants and junk food take away (another story for another time) and going on family reunions to beautiful places where we were the missing cousins in many family reunion photographs.

I was made to believe the best career choice was to become a medical doctor. No, it was something I concluded was the best option for me since I was seven. You’re probably wondering how on Earth would a SEVEN year old know she wanted to spend the REST of her life practicing medicine?! You probably assume, “Hmmm…. maybe she grew up in a family of doctors…” Absolutely….. not.

When I was seven, I had an epiphany. I remember Dad, my younger brother MJ and I were bringing Mum from the hospital, with the new baby, Luke. We went to grandma’s home first to collect our stuff as MJ and I were staying there during the delivery. On our way back home that afternoon in 1992, I realized there wasn’t a SINGLE woman, on both sides of our family at that time, who worked and had careers. The possibility of that becoming my reality terrified me. There was/is nothing wrong with women who CHOOSE to be a stay-at-home mum. What terrified me was the fact I knew it was not their “CHOICE” since it was the NORM for girls not to pursue tertiary education or careers beyond high school. Seated at the back of grandpa’s white car that afternoon on my way home, I deeply knew I wanted a different reality. I knew, I wanted to CONTRIBUTE to society in positive ways.

Considering I come from a conservative family, I assumed if I wanted to do or become something crazy I wouldn’t get PERMISSION. Over the years I thought, “If I want to become something crazy as a fashion designer obviously I wouldn’t get permission! Duh! Unless I become a doctor!” And just like that, during my childhood I decided. I had ZERO idea of the realities of what it was like to become and be a medical doctor.

I spent the next several years watching and being dazzled by medical-related T.V shows like E.R, House M.D and later Grey’s Anatomy — as my sources of motivation to get into medical school, assuming THAT was the reality of being a medical doctor. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Fast forward 16 years to 10th December 2008. I was flying back home to Sri Lanka from Pakistan, after graduating medical school. I then decided to take a break from the practice of medicine….

……for SEVEN years.

(to be continued….)

Dr. Dheena Sadik at People’s Medical College Hospital, Nawabshah — Pakistan