Not very long ago, I wrote about how, as doctors, we will get to see the end of so many little universes around us and yet, still be able to sit comfortably in our rooms, sipping on a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Little did I know that soon enough – as a medical elective student – I’d get to see a tragic such end
*Sarah was a twenty-three-year-old young woman. Having delivered her second son – after a gap of twelve months only – just ten days ago, she was brought to the ER with complaints of headaches, drowsiness, and vomiting. The MRI revealed a left MCA, ACA infarct that had damaged an alarming 80% of her left brain; a possible result of Pregnancy Induced Hypertension. She was on the ventilator when I saw her in the I.C.U. the next day. Needless to say, things did not look good. They were not good. An E.E.G. – a quick test done to determine the brain’s activity – confirmed what every medical personnel in the I.C.U. already knew; Sarah was dead.
As I stood there, watching her pale face dim away from the life that she had just brought into this world, my heart ached for this young woman.
That young girl could easily have been me. Or you.
Instead of heaving a grateful sigh at my promotion to the fourth year of medical school – a privilege that not many are blessed with – I could have been Sarah, lying there comatose, oblivious to the hungry wails of her newborn, and the empty, searching eyes of her eldest. Instead of having a father who is my biggest support system, I could have had a father who found himself helpless in the face of abominable society rules that did not even allow him to take important decisions regarding his daughter’s health, but dictated that he waits for her husband and father-in-law to do so, who sadly, blamed it all on black magic, delaying medical help. Instead of a life that has granted me my basic rights, I could have had a life of non-existence, much like that of so many of my fellow countrywomen.
In those moments of watching a mother’s warmth die away, I said a small prayer – more as an act of resolution than as a cry for Divine help – for all the Sarahs of our world: may our women learn to prioritise their health, may our women not raise helpless sons like Sarah’s father, may our women not be wives of uneducated men like Sarah’s husband. I hope you, too, breathed an ‘amen’ to that.
And then I went home and had my evening tea and carried on with the mundanity of what life had to offer to a medical student. Winters were approaching. The ground was a blanket of orange and yellow leaves, all dry and withering. Like Sarah’s motionless body.
* Name has been changed for reasons of privacy.