Robbins Pathologic Basis of Disease - One of my favorite books as a medical student with its ever fascinating descriptions of everything that happens inside the body, manifesting as what we call a disease. What a difference in the way I understood pathology in its real essence between the release of the 6th and 8th editions!
Although the book weighed a ton, I carried it with the utmost of care, hugging on to the four of them - sometimes Stanley (Robbins), many a times Vinay (Kumar) and occasionally Ramzi (Cotran) and Tucker (Collins). They would exhilarate at the sights and sounds of the ever bustling Ladies Carriage of the Electric Train. Loaded with mind blowing amount of theoretical knowledge required to ace the pathology exam, I and my friends entered the gloomy and nauseatingly formalinised pathology lab to review the slides for the upcoming practical exams that would culminate our 3rd year requirements
With great enthusiasm, each one of us looked down the single eyepiece, squinting and straining every retinal nerve fiber, trying to figure out what in the world are we looking at! It was absolutely pretty no doubts, but beyond the appreciation for color and beauty of every section, we were clueless. The ingenious mind would not give up. We came up with this brilliant idea - what if we are not able to identify a damn thing looking through the microscope? We can always look for outside help. There's always a clue left on the slide. Believe it or not-our handbooks were filled with notes on how the slide looked in its physical shape bearing the various cracks, marks and those unusual spots. Each one of us turned into this super spy with an eye for every minute detail on the periphery of the slide - clues left by the preparing technician while placing the cover slip on the section, with every variation in the angle pointing towards a diagnosis - appendicitis, adenocarcinoma, sebaceous cyst or an abscess. We were pretty happy with our preparation for the practicals given our keen sense of observation and note taking skills on the external aspect of each slide, that all those pink and blue stains became immaterial
Gleaming with confidence at my ability to analyze and recollect all the physical imperfections on the slide for every given pathological section, I felt I could crack this exam without even looking down the lens. To my utter disbelief, most if not all the slides that were kept out for review, were replaced by a 02 new set of exam slides. Panic bells started ringing in my head... What do I do? Where do I look for? Time was running out. I still did not feel like looking down the microscope to come up with some kind of a diagnosis. I turned around and a daring thought sprung up my desperate brain. I looked around and there was this invigilator, one of our Assistant Professors in Pathology. Bang, I was lucky to have this god send savior. I got answers for 5 of the slides. It was simple...All I had to do was ask this assistant who was more than happy to disclose the answers. Cool, I wrote them down and was done with the exam. passed with flying colors.
After years of training in Anatomic Pathology, every time I sit down with a slide, I instinctively begin my foremost investigation, admiring the external graffiti made by the master artists named Mr. Hematoxylin and Mrs. Eosin, (affectionately called H & E) before I get on with a diligent study of this vast land of purple pink that has baffled me over the years. But today, I'm absolutely enthralled at the amazing hidden details that can be deciphered by just looking down the eyepiece and playing around in this lush field of cellular tissue. Time to make the call for the FINAL DIAGNOSIS. What lies beneath that cover slip - a whole world of sheer delight. It has been a treat for the eye.
Planning and organising: Jagadeesan
Soveneir, Video and Photo: Kannan
Chief Guest: Annapoorani