The dreaded day had arrived for us.It was the case-presentation day.Out of the 12 students posted in Medicine ,one (un)lucky student would be asked to present a case history of a patient in front of the head doctor of the Unit.He was a stern man the head doctor,a fine doctor but a stern man.
The 12 of us walked into the ward we were posted in and proceeded to search for a patient.You might wonder why there was a need to ‘search’ for a patient in a hospital.Well,the head doctor taught us about the cardiovascular system (pertaining to the heart and blood vessels).Hence we were expected to find a patient with cardiovascular symptoms.And so we divided ourselves into groups of 3 and went in search of a perfect patient with perfect symptoms.Its not very different from picking out a book is it?
The patient–A 50 year old man with chest pain and cough.His right leg was amputated 15 years ago due to diabetes.He was in the hospital with his daughter who greeted us with a warm smile as we approached them.
She seemed like she was our age.We never asked her though.The patient spoke Kannada,the regional dialect which I was not familiar with so I stood aside while my peers took the patients case history.
The questions were asked and the answers received.Most questions were answered by the daughter and some by the patient himself.The patient, I came to the conclusion of,was extremely unwell.Through the course of the history taking,he would have reported bouts of coughing.And by coughing I mean vehement coughing.The patient would feel quite breathless by the end of it and the daughter would stroke his chest gently and answer the questions for him.The patient was an amiable man,very cooperative,though he was in distress he didn’t tell us to leave him alone and tried to answer our questions.All throughout,he had a smile on his face just like his daughter. However,his deep breathing and his discomfort became quite evident to us and we decided to leave him to rest.Our case history wasn’t complete and we could only hope that another student had taken a complete case to present to the doctor.
Thanking the patient and his daughter,we started to leave the ward.As we walked away,I looked back to see the daughter continue to stroke her fathers chest ,while her eyes remained fixed on her phone.I felt uneasy.
The case presentation went as easily as it could’ve gone(which was pretty rough).The doctor left and we were dismissed for our lunch break.We walked through the hospital corridors making small talk, when suddenly a man in a stretcher was rushed past us.There were a few nurses around the stretcher and a girl.A young girl.It was the daughter.The man,our patient.
There was no way for me to find out what had happened to him at that moment. So I returned to the hospital ward in the evening and enquired about him with the nurse.I was told that he was no more.Just like that.
I guess it gets better. The first death is always the hardest.What hit me hardest about his death was that nobody saw it coming.I still wonder whether we would have received the same warm smile from the daughter if she had somehow anticipated her fathers death.And I don’t know but I would like to believe that we would have.Because there’s was something about them both ,maybe it was the fact that they radiated warmth and kindness at a time like that and not to mention, to three budding doctors who couldn’t better their circumstances in any way. I prayed after his death that I would never lose that pain. I’ve seen many doctors become calloused by death,and I don’t want to become one of them.