In the evening when I walked in to the ward there was a huge crowd outside and inside and people were screaming and crying. I was getting pushed by the crowd and the security guard saw me and came to my rescue
“What happened?” I asked him
“Bus accident Ma, 7 dead!” He spoke
“7?” I looked at him
Must have been a major accident.
“Where did it happen?” I asked him
“Near Hosur road Ma?” He helped me get inside the ward.
I saw Dr. Bhatti shouting directions to one of the interns . Common sense told me to run before him seeing me. I stood there may be a two seconds trying to see what I should do when Dr. Bahtti turned around.
“You are here. Come, come come” He called
“Yes sir” I walked to him
“Go and do the dressings for bed 12. After you finish, take him to the x-ray room and get an x-ray done on the right leg.
I walked to bed 12. The patient was probably 18 or 19 years old. He appeared to be in so much pain. There was blood all over his pants. His shirt was torn. There were few people standing next to him and when they saw me, they moved to the side a bit. Then out of nowhere an old man came charging to me.
“How long does it take you to attend to my son. Just because we are poor, you don’t want to take care of him ah?” He was about to hit me and I ducked my head.
One of the hospital Attendant saw the commotion and came running to my aid.
“Get out” He held the old man’s shirt and started to pull him out.
Both of them were screaming at each other. I knew why the father was reacting that way and I felt bad the way the attendant was holding his shirt and dragging him.
I looked at the patient. There was anger and pain in his eyes.
I wanted to tell him that his financial situation was least of my concern. But I didn’t think he would understand that not every Doctor out there is only there for the money.
“What is your name?” I asked the patient
“Kumar” He replied hesitantly
Hey, I am here to help you. So knock down your attitude, I thought of telling him.
“Where does it hurt?” I asked him
“Everywhere?” He answered.
I thought of telling him to F&^% off and walk away. I didn’t need to take this crap. I moved to the right side of the bed, knowing very well that Dr. Bhatti asked me to get the x- ray of the right leg and pushed the the pant up.
Patient started to howl.
His relatives were staring at me. I ignored them and I ignored the howling.
Then I rolled up the pant from the left leg. there was 2 gaping wounds on both legs. I wore my gloves and opened the dressing pack.
The patient on the right side of the bed suddenly started to develop complications. Couple of the interns were trying to do a cut down to find a vein.
Someone was running to the blood lab to match and get the blood. I didn’t want to even watch the procedure.
“Internal bleeding” I heard someone saying
Dr. Bhatti came rushing in
“Shift to OT” He screamed
“OT is not free sir” The nurse told him.
There was a manic rush to save the life of that patient. I concentrated on the wound in front of me, half wondering when is this kid’s blood pressure going to drop? Is this kids going to die? He is so young and I didn’t want him to die.
It was not easy to clean open wounds and each time the patient cried I cringed. I could feel the pain and I really wanted to take the pain away. My hands started to shake, but I still continued to clean and bandage the wounds.
I wanted to go home.
I even thought of sneaking out. No one would notice my absence. I was sure of it.
But I couldn’t quit.
Why did I ever want to do medicine? I asked myself a million times that evening. Cursing my own stupidity.
“Can I practice giving Intra cardiac adrenaline?” One of the intern asked Dr. Bhatti
“Sure” Dr. Bhatti answered
I knew right away that the patient died.
I was angry with the whole system. I knew if the OT was available, then they could have found out where he was bleeding from and stopped it.
It was so unfair. Someone up there gets to decide who gets to live and who doesn’t.
“Finished?” Dr. Bhatti asked me
I couldn’t find my voice. So I nodded my head.
“Good. Send him for x-ray”
I called the ward boy and asked him to take the patient for the x-ray. I saw Dr. Bhatti leaving the ward and I decided to bolt before he comes back again. Just as I was leaving the ward, I saw Dr. Bhatti talking to a lady holding the hand of a kid who perhaps was about 12 or 13 years old followed by hysteric screaming. I knew she might be the wife of the patient who just died. She was pulling her hair out and screaming. Seeing the mother’s crying, her son started to cry too.
I didn’t cry.
I was frozen to feel anything.
“Going back?” Dr. Bhatti asked me. I didn’t know when he noticed me standing there.
I nodded my head and walked out. I could hear that woman’s screaming all the way back to my hostel. It just kept playing in my head.
By the time I came back to the hostel it was 9 pm.. I was exhausted. I went to the washroom to take a quick shower. As I took my clothes off, I noticed that there were blood stains all over my salwar. I felt so yucky. I took the salwar top off carefully by holding the edges without letting it touch my face and my hair and dropped it to the ground. Then I noticed there were blood stains on my arm. I had worn gloves and I had washed my hands before leaving the hospital. I may not have washed my arm well.
I opened the tap and washed my hand quickly. I scrubbed and scrubbed my arm till I saw the wealts appearing. I checked my body to see if there was dried blood anywhere else. Then I noticed my salwar still on the floor. I didn’t want to touch it, so I kicked it to the corner. I didn’t want my salwar to get dirty when I take my shower.
It was pointless.
My salwar was already dirty. There were blood stains all over it. And it was already on the bathroom floor. I never even kept my shampoo bottle on the floor and now salwar was on the floor.
I couldn’t take anymore and I started to cry.
Was I crying because my salwar was dirty?
Was I crying because I couldn’t take the pain from the teenager whose wound I cleaned earlier?
Was I crying because 7 people died that evening?
Was I crying for that one patient who simply ran out of luck?
Was I crying because I finally learned that medicine is not just about the status and power and money?
I don’t know.