DECADES OF DOCTORS
( continued from page 15 ) of studying for my first exam ( my mom won ). My dad excitedly taught me and my friends the cardiac physical exam ( unsolicited ) and EKG reading ( I definitely asked for his help on that ). Our parent-child relationship slowly morphed into real friendship , bonded over shared experiences . In retrospect , I realize this was probably the first time in my life my parents could identify with my experience , as high school and college in India in the 60s and 70s was totally different than my schooling here in the early 2000s .
When it came time to decide on a specialty , both of my parents lobbied for their fields . To my mom ’ s dismay , I could not stay awake in the cool , dark , radiology reading room . I decided to join internal medicine with an eye towards cardiology . But I was afraid of the lifestyle . I had seen my dad regularly work 12 to 14 hour days . I heard the phone ring in the middle of the night , the fax machine firing up to receive EKGs from the ER . It seemed overwhelming . Much like those early days of general chemistry , I wasn ’ t so sure I could handle it , but I relied on a healthy dose of procrastination and distraction and pressed on .
Eventually I found myself in the fall of my second year of my cardiology fellowship at The George Washington University in Washington , D . C . I had gone through medicine residency and the beginning of fellowship secretly debating an interventional year . I finally told my dad I was seriously considering it . He was ecstatic . My mom , however , was hesitant . Did I really want to sign up for the lifestyle ? Admittedly , that was still my major concern . Surprisingly , I wasn ’ t turned off by my dad ’ s lifestyle . The practice of medicine was changing , and I knew I would have more options in my practice and schedule than he did when starting his own practice in the 80s . It was my mom ’ s commitment to both her job and us as kids that made me realize my secret dream was possible . She had transitioned to part-time when I was in middle school in order to keep up with our hectic schedules . She came home after a long day of reading studies , her eyes tired and neck aching . Somehow , she still was at all of my field hockey games , and she napped in the car while waiting for me to finish piano lessons . Then she would make us a fresh meal after finally getting home . Her schedule was just as long and tiring as my dad ’ s . I realized that no matter what I chose , I would have to decide what to prioritize , and what to let go . My dad ’ s passion for cardiology and love for his patients inspired my choice , but my mom ’ s dedication is what made me realize it was possible .
“ Our parent-child relationship slowly morphed into real friendship , bonded over shared experiences .”
I ’ m now in my fourth year of practice at Baptist Louisville . When I first started , I asked my dad to keep his phone on when I was on call , just in case I needed his advice during a case . Slowly , I have woken him up in the middle of the night less and less . Rarely , he asks for my opinion . I love working with nurses and techs who have worked with him at various points in his career , as they always seem to remember a funny quip or comment he made . His sense of humor is famous , but not as legendary as his commitment to his patients . Nothing makes me prouder than when I meet a patient who tells me he placed their first stent , or how well he took care of their parents , and sometimes even their grandparents . People always ask if he is still working , and I love to tell them that yes , he is still working those long hours and loving every minute .
I have two young sons and my husband Anshu , a neuroradiologist , and I love to guess what kind of doctors they will be . Given that they are 21-months-old and 3-months-old , this is mostly joked about . My sister , who is now a middle school principal , has a 10-year-old son who wants to be a doctor like his grandparents . I have to admit , there is a large part of me that hopes they will choose a career in medicine . I hope our stories about work , my satisfaction after a STEMI or successfully convincing a patient to quit smoking or get a COVID-19 vaccine , make an impression on them . I never thought I would be “ that ” Indian mom , but I suppose some family habits are hard to shake .
Dr . Ummat is an interventional cardiologist with Baptist Health .
16 LOUISVILLE MEDICINE