KOCHI: The life of a doctor is no cakewalk. From working 16-18 hours at a stretch, skipping lunch and sometimes even dinner to care for patients, they probably have it the hardest. So much so that several of them become victims of lifestyle diseases themselves. Advocating the need for fitness among doctors is Dr Rajeesh Selvaganeshan, a surgical gastroenterologist at Sunrise Hospital in Kakkanad, who has been encouraging colleagues to take time out from their hectic schedules and do physical exercise, including cycling, swimming and running.
“The depressing scenes at the hospital and the lives of their patients take a toll on doctors’ lives, said Dr Rajeesh. “As a surgeon, we deal with life and death on a daily basis. However, we need to put a brave face before our patients. This leads to huge mental stress and we need to destress somehow.”
The breaking point for him took place a few years ago. “There was a serious road accident. Several people were injured and a five-year-old passed away from a head injury. I couldn’t sleep that night and decided to take a walk. I walked and ran for 10 kms and realised that I was able to deal with the tragedy. It helped me unwind,” said the Nagercoil native who is settled in Kochi.
This is why Dr Rajeesh formed a cycling group encouraging more and more doctors to cycle. “Initially, most of the doctors were not willing as they did not want to break out of the schedule. They needed to make a few changes but it turned out for the better,” he said.
Dr Rajeesh said he had to incorporate a few changes in his schedule too when he decided to take the leap. “I was a workaholic myself. What I didn’t realise, however, was that I was burdened by high levels of stress. I needed to find a stress-buster and thankfully I took to running and cycling, which helped me a lot. Before this, I was in bad shape both mentally and physically, but the change was tremendous,” he said.
For many years, Dr Rajeesh has been an active participant in marathons taking place in Kerala. Most recently, he participated in the Ironman 70.3 at Colombo, and he may be the only doctor from Kerala to participate and finish at the Ironman event. “The Ironman 70.3 is a multi-disciplinary sport which requires a lot of stamina and will power. I knew I needed to train intensely.
For two months I woke up at 3 am, which meant I had to sacrifice my sleep since I have a hectic work schedule too. I had three weekly sessions at the Puthuvype beach, cycled 70-90 kms daily and ran a lot. At the event, I had to cover 90 kms cycling, 21 kms running and 1.9 kms swimming. I was able to complete it before the scheduled time limit of eight-and-a-half hours. I am glad I gave it a try and finish the event,” he said. Dr Rajeesh has so far run more than 20 marathons.Dr Rajeesh’s wife and two children are also very supportive of his work.