Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you but as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you but as by the way your mind looks at what happens. – Kahlil Gibran
During your clinical years, you come across numerous patients, and each one of them brings out a different you – introducing yourself to the you that you thought never existed, preparing yourself for the absolute worst, helping you empathise with people you have usually always never thought about.
Taking down histories during your clinical rotations is really that; behind sentences heavy with medical jargon that describe ‘presenting complaints’, lies the real presenting complain. These medical histories are life stories, laden with broken hearts and unshared pain. And this is what I realised as I noted down ‘G5P1+3’ while taking down the history of a pregnant lady. Her first child – a son – had drowned in a water tank. She had three miscarriages after that. And now she was pregnant again. A precious pregnancy. And what affected me the most was the way she was holding up; her coping mechanism.
Having now seen several patients with histories of miscarriages, it just makes me wonder what the parents go through after each one of them. Especially the mothers; to carry a part of you and your husband inside you, to feel the feel of life growing inside you, to understand that God wants you to bring a new life and hence, a new generation into this world – a new Einstein or a new Shakespeare or a new Neil Armstrong or a new Sadequain or a new Rumi – to know that your life will be responsible for another life; and then suddenly, it’s not there anymore. It’s gone. As magically as it came, it’s gone. And a void is left behind, the kind that no other daughter or son can fill. How do you mourn the death of someone you can’t even lower in a grave? How do you mourn the death of someone you haven’t laid your eyes on? But you’ve felt their feel, you’ve felt their existence because the news of their arrival – expected arrival – had you jumping with a special kind of joy that only super-humans called parents are familiar with, and your heart seemed bigger than before and the tinkling in your spine was the kind that only your spouse felt because it was his and yours. How do they do that? When they are asked how many children do you have, what do they say? How do they feel looking at other children, even their own? Do they forever question why it happened? How does it feel to miss a child you only felt, but never saw? Do you still shed silent tears? Doesn’t it forever tear their heart apart? The mere thought of it is so devastating, so painful. It breaks your heart, doesn’t it? Because while your mind may acknowledge the medical explanation for a ‘miscarriage’, your heart cannot accept why your little love was taken away from you.
But you know what, Moms and Dads? You are not alone. You are never alone..you never were. Your baby is up there, smiling down at you, asking God to keep you away from thorns. And one day, one fine day, you’ll get to embrace them in the warmth of the love that is only, and only theirs! You will.
It’s nothing aesthetic. And you’ve seen boxes like these so many times, in so many places – hospitals, shops, supermarkets, at the chemist’s. Boxes like these – awaiting your donations – are sometimes, the only difference between life and death, between health and sickness.
Money is a necessity for some, a luxury for others, and an unconscious obsession for everyone. And charity? Either a religious obligation or an easy road towards a good reputation.
Economizing is an art, a skill.
When we’re busy having fun eating delicacies and buying clothes not worth the exorbitant price, let us not forget to remind ourselves that as the privileged, we owe something to the underprivileged – let us give out charity, not for God’s reward or the world’s applause, but because it’s our responsibility. Let us give out charity so that nobody avoids going to the doctor out of fear of not being able to afford the treatment.
“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” – Mother Teresa
Let us give out charity so that everyone can be happy – they can be happy, you can be happy.
“A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.” – Jack London
“Sister, will you get me some juice?” the boy thrust a hundred rupee note towards the third year medical student.
“Juice? But there’s no canteen here. Where do I get you a juice from?”
“Son, come here. I’ll buy you a juice later,” his mother intervened.
She turned towards the amused student.
“Doctor, he is bugging me for this since morning. I’ll buy him some on our way back,” she was embarrassed.
“There’s actually no canteen here otherwise I would have bought him some,” it was her turn to be embarrassed.
The medical student got busy taking histories of the patients lined up in the waiting room of the Family Medicine Clinic. Schizophrenia, vaccinations, diarrhea; amidst the more grave pathologies of the human body, the student simply forget the little boy whose only problem seemed to be an unfulfilled craving for juice. But not for long. As she turned away from her last patient, she saw him again. This time, he was sitting with a pack of crisps and sipping on mango juice.
“Got your juice?” she smiled at him.
“Yesss!” he nodded his head with a firmness that was nothing but joyful. Simple, little joys.
His mother looked at him fondly.
The student smiled and gave him a thumbs-up.
Sometimes, your patients help you more than you help them.
When you’re reading about the intricate workings of the central nervous system, you inadvertently end up thinking about how God thought of every little detail that keeps you alive today – living and breathing and loving and caring. You realize that the fluid flowing through one of the most important channels of your body is probably what keeps you on your toes. And how and why is it even there in the first place? Because you were chosen to be here, at this very moment.
The detailed Perfection that now proudly treads on the earth, is thanklessly dependent on the composition of simple chemical fluids, and the location of tiny foramens.
Tsk, that is the truth of our existence, of our lives, and of those around us.
Tch, such are we!