I woke up hearing Suprabatham.
I knew Aparna must have had her shower and is now doing her morning pooja.
MS was singing
Sri-venkatachalapate! tava suprabhatam. (May this morning be an auspicious dawn for you Lord Venketachala)
I wondered how could any God have an auspicious morning after what happened last night. I wondered what would happen to the lady who lost her husband last night? How would she survive? Who would be there for her and her son? Would she have any family support? or would her family kick her out now that her husband is dead?
‘Give her strength, lord” I prayed silently.
‘No, Don’t. You put her in that place, you took her husband’s life. I take back my request’.
I was angry with myself, because much as I tried to understand, life made no sense, Neither my life, nor the life of those around me.
My mind was so restless. I needed to calm my mind.
For once Suprabatham didn’t work. I waited impatiently for Aparna to turn off the tape.
I knew I had to read. Dr. Bhatti would surely be asking more question about Ascitis. I didn’t feel like getting up from the bed and get the notes from my table.
So I did the next best thing.
I closed my eyes and visualized my notes.
I went through every point in my notes, Including those points I wrote with an Astrix in the margin.
I knew I didn’t miss out anything. How could I miss anything when I can see every single line in my note?
As I walked in to the hospital, it was exactly the same way I had left yesterday afternoon. No crowd there pushing and shoving each other. No one was crying. It was as though nothing happened yesterday evening. And if it wasn’t for the patient on bed 12, I would have thought I was dreaming.
Mariamma was sitting on her bed and as soon as she saw me, she greeted
“Good morning Dr. Ma”
“Good morning Mariamma, how are you?” I asked her.
“I am fine, Dr. Ma” She grinned
She looked healthy and happy and I was really happy for her. I considered asking her to lay down, so I could check her abdomen’ But she was sitting down and I knew Dr. Bhatti is going to ask her to lay down when he examines her. Why hassle her unnecessarily? I thought.
I went through her case notes, making sure I checked the temperature chart. I didn’t want to give Dr. Bhatti a chance to find fault with me. I wanted to be through in my work.
I noticed the temperature spike.
I looked at Mariamma. She didn’t look toxic.
Temperature must have been taken by a student nurse! I was sure.
I heard Dr. Bhatti’s voice and I quickly walked towards the ward entrance. Ramesh was standing right next to Dr. Bhatti.
I am not going to deny that I wasn’t jealous.
Why I was jealous, I don’t know. Common sense tells me that I am a good student. But jealousy and common sense have no mutual understanding. Right?
I looked at Dr. Bhatti wondering how he felt this morning. He looked just fine, as though nothing happened yesterday.
All of us followed him to Bed 1.
“So Mariamma, did my assistant take good care of you after I left yesterday?” He asked her while looking at me.
“Yes Dr” Mariamma was grinning.
Dr. Bhatti asked me to explain the procedure to my batch mates and I did. Starting from getting the consent form signed. I wasn’t one bit nervous. I knew my stuff.
“Did you check her BP after the procedure?” He asked me
“No sir” I mumbled. My confident voice suddenly disappeared.
I could see all my bathc mates staring at me as though I committed the biggest crime to Mankind.
“Because I don’t know how to take BP sir”
Come on, I am only a second year student and no one taught us how to take BP yet.
“And?” Dr. Bhatti was looking at me
And what? What does he mean by and? I looked at him to see what he was asking.
After a few seconds that felt like a life time, he asked
” And did you try to learn how to take BP yesterday?”
Yesterday? Did he not see that I was at the ward till 8.45 Pm? When did I have time?
“No, sir” I replied. My voice quivered.
I just wanted to cry.
“Madam, only Issac Newton can sit and wait for the apple to fall on his head to learn something. You are going to be a doctor, You are responsible for someone’s life. You can’t afford to wait for someone to teach you. You are in control here. You don’t know something, you take the initiative and learn it. You don’t have the luxury to wait. Lives of people depend on your skills and ability.”
Mariamma was looking at me and at Dr. Bhatti. I knew all the patients, including the one on bed 12 would have heard me getting yelled at. They must think that I am the worst student on planet earth.
I knew for sure Dr. Bhatti was being unfair. I was so angry with him. I decided not to follow him for the evening rounds. I don’t want to do anything with medicine. I will specialize in community medicine, where I only have worry about advantages and Disadvantages between Indian and western toilet! Ha
“Did you meassure her abdomen this morning?” He asked
He gave me that one look that kind of said ‘did you purposely dug your own grave this morning or what?’
“Lay down Mariamma” Dr. Bhatti asked her.
He checked her abdomen and I noticed it looked bloated just like how it was before we did the tapping. How can it be? We drained almost 2 lit of fluid.
“So what do you think?” Dr. Bhatti pointed to Mariamma’s abdomen.
What do I think? Would I be wrong if I said that it looked just the same as yesterday? Is it because my vision is skewed that I am seeing it like that? If I had measured, then I would have surely known the answer. My own stupidity.
Hesitantly I answered.” It looks the same as yesterday Sir”
I looked down, waiting for the verbal assault. He didn’t say anything.
“When can I go home” Mariamma asked
I looked up to see Dr. Bhatti tapping her shoulder.
“Soon”. Dr, Bhatti told her.
Rest of the rounds, I only answered when Dr. Bhatti specifically asked me a question, though I knew the answers for all the questions. I was still angry with him. I was still going to do PG in community medicine.
After the rounds got over, as I was leaving the ward, I noticed the BP apparatus on the nurses station counter.
I knew I would never have to worry about checking BP if I was going to specialize in Community medicine.
I looked at the apparatus.
I don’t really need to learn.
I was wasting my time
I was hungry.
All my batch mates were already leaving.
I picked the damn apparatus and found an intern who was writing a discharge sheet for someone.
“Hey, you have few minutes?” I asked him
“What do you want?”
“Can you teach me how to take BP?”
Why? Because I don’t know how to take BP, you idiot. I thought of telling him.
“I want to learn” I smiled the sweetest smile while speaking in my gentlest voice.
“Can you write the discharge summary for me?” He asked
“I don’t know how to write discharge summary”
“Oh, it is pretty easy. You write whatever is in this sheets”, he pointed three sheets ” in to the discharge sheet”
“Sit down” He pointed to the chair.
He showed me how to tie the cuff and how to listen for the sound using the steth.
“Ok, that is all you need to do. Here, you can write the summary” He passed the patient’s file to me. As he was walking out, I heard another intern asking him
“You finished your work already?”
“Oh yeah. She is dong it” He pointed to me
“Macha, how did you manage that?”
“Because I am smart” He replied. He explained the deal and both the interns were looking at me and laughing.
I thought of taking the chart and smacking both of them on their head.
It took me 45 minutes to write the summary. At the end of it, I wasn’t sure if there was one person I wasn’t angry with.
As I was leaving, I noticed that there were no medicos in the ward. It was my opportunity to try taking BP. I quickly grabbed the BP apparatus and went to Mariamma’s bed. She was eating her lunch.
She looked at me
“What Dr. Ma?” Mariamma asked
“I want to check your BP ma, you eat first, I will wait”
Mariamma was gobbling down the food.
“Mariamma eat slowly, I am not in a rush” I told her.
She still continued to eat fast. I felt bad for rushing her.
She quickly finished eating and went to wash her hand.
She came back and lie down on the bed.
I took her left arm, wrapped the cuff on the upper arm and checked her BP. It was a thrill to be able to hear the systolic thumping sound. As I was taking the cuff off Mariamma’s arm, I noticed her looking at something at the foot of her bed and I turned to look.
Dr. Bhatti was standing there holding some medicines. ( Physician samples)
He looked at me and I looked at him.
He grinned and my desire to do PG in Community medicine disappeared in to thin air.