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Doctor with ‘trademark’ crutches

He is at work by 10am six days a week, and sometimes even on Sundays. For the next nine hours or so, he is busy treating at least 30 patients besides going on rounds of the wards. A life in the day of any busy doctor? Only, Rahul Jain, consultant physician and diabetologist at Belle Vue Clinic, is a cancer survivor and a left-leg amputee.

Ten years ago, life wasn’t the same for Jain, confined to bed after his amputation surgery. Today, he is proud of his crutches! “They are my trademark,” smiles the doctor.

But it wasn’t easy for a person who loved going on long walks. “That was a very difficult time. At times I thought I would change my profession since I couldn’t even get up from bed. My family, especially my wife, stood by me like a rock,” Jain said.

What started as a slight knee pain around November 2003 soon changed Jain’s life. Within a week, the pain became so intense that it became difficult to walk. An X-ray showed a tumour in the left femur and Jain was almost sure of a cancer diagnosis. His worst fears were confirmed after family doctor Naseer Iqbal referred him to Shaikh Hassan Iqbal, an orthopaedic surgeon. “I was left with two options — limb salvage or amputation. I opted for the latter,” Jain said. Both doctors were godsend! They would always encourage me.”

On January 3, 2004, Jain underwent surgery and was advised bed rest for months.

But a year later, he was back at work. The authorities at Belle Vue Clinic gave him his first break in 2005. The very next year Jain became the first doctor to detect an outbreak of chikungunya in the city after 35 years. “A college student came to me with fever. When I wrote ‘chikungunya’ on his prescription, even the staff at Belle Vue didn’t know what it was. In the following three-four months, several cases were diagnosed,” he recalled.

The other turning point in Jain’s life came in 2010 when he joined RG Kar medical college to do his MD, egged on by his teacher Apurba Mukherjee. “Disability comes with physical limitations and it is like a little Mt. Everest in your mind that you have to climb everyday!” Jain said.

As a doctor, Jain often comes across patients with disability or cancer. “Cancer is a dreadful disease. I am a doctor but it still scares me! But when I speak to my patients, there’s a sense of fulfilment. As doctors we don’t have control over a patient’s destiny but with the knowledge I have gathered I am empowered to help. There can’t be a greater incentive than easing someone’s pain,” smiles the 38-year-old.

If something hasn’t changed in Jain’s life, that’s his passion for photography and reading.