|Year : 2021 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 85-86
The war on another shore
Divya Narain Upadhyaya
Department of Plastic Surgery, King George's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
|Date of Submission||15-May-2021|
|Date of Acceptance||15-May-2021|
|Date of Web Publication||7-Jun-2021|
Dr. Divya Narain Upadhyaya
Department of Plastic Surgery, King George's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Upadhyaya DN. The war on another shore. J Cleft Lip Palate Craniofac Anomal 2021;8:85-6
When I was writing my Editorial for the January–June 2021 issue of our Journal of Cleft Lip Palate and Craniofacial Anomalies, it was with mixed feelings in my heart. On the one hand, my mood was somber due to the ongoing corona pandemic and also the loss of two luminaries in the field of cleft care; Ian Jackson, the Craniofacial surgeon par excellence and a guru to many craniofacial surgeons in India, and Mr. Satish Kalra of Smile Train, a person who had worked tirelessly, happily, and jovially to bring smiles to hundreds of thousands of cleft children across the globe.
Yet, amidst all these reasons to feel sad, there was also a ray of hope, a shimmer of light at the end of the proverbial dark tunnel. The number of people succumbing to the deadly virus had been steadily going down at that point of time and, what was most heartening, a vaccine was also on the horizon. All the months of guts and glory, of loss of lives, and of mourning would soon be a thing of the past – or so it had seemed to us. We did not know then, as we do now, with the benefit of hindsight, that our happiness would be short-lived.
Now, 6 months later, as I sit again to type out my message to you, the pandemic is back with a vengeance. The second wave has hit us hard, and the whole nation, the lay public, the medical establishment, and the government, has been caught napping. The numbers are through the ceiling, as are the mortalities. The fact that most of us frontline workers have been vaccinated is the only saving grace in this hopeless situation, the only small mercy to be thankful for.
However, why should we be surprised? Have we not invited it upon ourselves? Did we not, as a nation, let our guard down too soon? Had we not started behaving as if the pandemic was over, as if the virus had conceded defeat, or as if the war with the disease was being fought on another shore, far from our homes, leaving us unaffected. Did we not voluntarily blindfold ourselves and pretend that we could not see it coming? Weren't our shops, and malls, and schools, and colleges, and merchant establishments, and beaches, and hotels, and offices, brimming with employees and customers, and students, and vacationers who had thrown all care to the winds, and were not following the “COVID guidelines” which were faithfully being played out over phones, and radio sets, and podcasts, as irritating jingles?
“Do gaz doori, mask hai jaroori” had become something we would laugh at. Who is laughing now?? Unfortunately, not us.
Having said that, the medical establishment across the country has again stood up and faced the challenge head-on. Disregarding personal safety and comfort, and the safety of their loved ones, doctors and paramedical staff, and nurses, and safai karmacharis across the country have again put their backs and their hearts into the efforts to fight the virus. This time, the war will wage hard and long. This war, far from being fought on foreign shores, is being fought in every city, every town, every village, and in every home. We have, once more, lost loved ones, seniors, juniors, relatives, friends, leaders…. No family has been spared this time.
The medical establishment has also been warned of an impending third wave by epidemiologists and trend watchers from all over the world. Hopefully, we will be ready this time around.
Besides the COVID pandemic, another loss, which has been more personal, and more devastating for our medical community in specific, has been the passing away of Ken Salyer; craniofacial surgeon, teacher to many, and a great human being. We pay tribute to this giant in this issue in the form of not one but two obituaries – one from his protégé and long-time associate in India, Dr. Rajiv Agarwal, Head of the Department of Plastic Surgery, SGPGIMS, Lucknow, and another from Akira Yamada, his first Craniofacial fellow, whom he mentored, trained, and helped establish himself as a craniofacial surgeon. Dr. Akira Yamada now works as a Plastic Surgeon at the Ann and Robert Lurie hospital for Children in Chicago.
Also appearing in this issue is a Guest Editorial by Prof. Arun Singh, my mentor, guide, teacher, and the man who has steered the Department of Plastic Surgery at King George's Medical University (KGMU) for so many years. Dr. Singh, in his article, reminisces about his association with the great man himself and how Dr. Salyer had helped support the teaching and training of craniofacial surgery at KGMU, Lucknow.
Ken Salyer, incidentally, was also a mentor to yours truly, and one who was the medium of a great turnaround in my life. His World Craniofacial Foundation was the sponsor of my PSF International Scholarship when I toured the U.S. to learn Craniofacial Surgery at the feet of the masters. The first “feet” that I found were those of Dr. Salyer. His tall, lanky frame, his smiling face, and his head crowned with a typical Texan hat are memories that I will always cherish in my life. Dr. Salyer was warm, welcoming, and always open to teaching and helping out a young, little fellow from India. It was his sponsorship that allowed me to visit the greatest centers of Craniofacial surgery when I did, and I shall always be indebted to him for that.
By the time this Editorial goes to print, and this issue reaches your hands, the peak of the second wave will have crested and shall be on its downward movement, God willing. A vaccine for children is also being worked upon and can be expected any time soon. Hopefully, we will have learned our lessons and will be better prepared to tackle the third wave and to save our children who are expected to be the greatest casualties of the prophesied “third wave.”
Here's wishing health, happiness, safety, and preparedness to everyone.