Meeting the hero: A shift in point of view

Meeting the hero: A shift in point of view

It was a Monday and my usual routine unfolded. I had graciously swung between the OPD patients, emergency patients, ward rounds, reports, missed calls, administrative calls, friendly calls, family calls, discharge cards, staff motivation, prescription doubts, google challenges, patient counselling, re-counselling, re-re- counselling, snacking, and of course breathing.

My choreographed routine occasionally changed steps. 

With immense satisfaction I wrapped up the day’s work. My routine had not completed though. As one of my friends had aptly remarked, I had my second innings at the evening clinic unfolding to the days story. I was ready to leave.

Just then my secretary came and said Mam, we have our regular patient on the wheel chair.  His wife had forgotten to schedule an appointment; As usual Mam”. “She insists on seeing you”, he added. Though I had mentally concluded this OPD, I readjusted my mindset, assumed my professional posture and called the patient in. I thought to include some disciplinary counselling alongside the medical advice during this session.

Patient was a person with stroke developed a year ago. He had come late to the hospital and had been comatose and on ventilator. With great efforts we had saved his life. He was unable to move his left side and needed help for all activities.

We had saved his life.

He had escaped death, but not the wheel chair.

I examined the patient. As usual, he had discontinued his medications, neglected his physiotherapy exercises, avoided mobilisation and refrained from socialising. None of this aligned with my medical recommendations. It was really disheartening. We had exerted immense effort to keep him alive. I couldn’t fathom why his wife and two children couldn’t contribute even a fraction of that effort. He could have achieved functional independence.

After my medical examination and meticulously adjusting his prescription, I settled back into my chair and decided on giving his wife some life lessons. I gently but vehemently emphasized the need to adhere to my advice. I explained how challenging it can be for the family to give constant attention to a bedridden patient from one person to other and so forth. I also requested that she should bring the children so that I can advise them as well. I ended the statement with “if you do not follow my advice, you will not be able to manage”. I waited for her to say “Yes Doctor. We will follow your advice”. On the contrary, this time she spoke at length and that truly touched and transformed my life.

She revealed that their home had got swept off by the recent floods right after their discharge. They had been uncertain as he had been the bread winner and now no shelter as well. They sold some remaining valuables and made a thatched house. The sons took roles in schools and as security guard. She herself found a job as a house cleaner. Taken aback, I asked” What about my patient then?”

She explained; Every day, She cooks breakfast and lunch and places it next to him near his floor mat along with a water bottle. A mug is kept near him to pass urine. The family leaves by 7 am and returns around 7 pm. She mentioned that their house hardly had a door. So, they have requested some neighbours to keep checking which she is unsure if anyone does. “Everyone is busy isn’t it Madam? “She said
She continued “I always remind him to do exercises you told Madam. You see Madam, he cannot move his left side na? So, he keeps moving his right side. He believes this will prevent a stroke on his right side.” She too appeared confident in his efforts.

My perception of her had been limited through the narrow medical lens I had been viewing. Her story broadened my understanding to embrace the various perspectives in her life.

Her story changed my point of view.

I requested her to join in my foundation for his medical needs. That’s the least I could do in her ongoing battle.

I had saved his life.
She is saving her family.

My meticulously choreographed dance paled in front of her spontaneous ballet.
I stared at the Hero in front of me and offered a silent salute in my thoughts.

And then we departed to our customary choreographed steps....


Popular posts from this blog

My first In patient. Do Doctors work only where they work?

The Language of Love