There are a few lesson life teaches you that leaves an impact.I have a few junior doctors working with me,youngsters who have seen a lot less of life than I have.In these last few days, I often find myself taking my life lesson of the years out of my kitty and sharing with them.This was not so five years ago.My juniors were much more world-savvy than I am and were friends I literally grew up with.They used to label me 'naive' then, I wonder what they would think now-most of them have moved on in life and must have got savvier by dozen.
The other day,I found myself giving my juniors a lesson from life I had learnt first hand ,as well as vicariously about patient management.
Every now and then we get an over-anxious set of relatives and equally over anxious set of patients who literally leave you flaggerbasted.My juniors came to me to discuss one such patient.They clearly looked harassed.Ten years ago I would have put the lot in a slot but years have taught me that nine out of ten it is God giving you a second chance.
During my tenure in this hospital I remember a time when an ordinary caeserian section was done on a patient.The bystanders were tough and demanding.I am a physician ,so was watching the whole drama un-fold before me while my colleagues beat their head out trying to make sense of the situation.The surgical site was clean ,the sutures were out ,the lady would not budge,she persisted on a stomach ache and the relatives were an angry lot demanding that the senior surgeon in the campus(an exceptional surgeon by any standard )was summoned.He examined the patient thoroughly-there seemed to be nothing wrong.A straight X-ray of the abdomen was done nothing was amiss.The patient was labelled a case of post-partum depression and sent to a higher centre.
Two weeks later the relatives were knocking at our doors demanding compensation ,a swab had been left in the abdomen and was detected elsewhere,operated and removed.By God's grace the patient was doing well.The hospital paid the compensation and the case was closed.
The senior surgeon who happens to be a man of God ,in his practise of over 30 years has a record of never having had any complications in any of his surgeries.He did not do the surgery but he missed the finding.
Later on he went back to the case on his own,and he came back with a resounding lesson on life.He detected seven times when God had actually given them a chance to have a re-look at the case and how each time they as a team had missed out.
I remember another time ,in a hospital where I was getting trained ,a lady was admitted with complaints of a chronic headache,the registrar who was looking after the ward was at a wits end with the demands of the bystanders and the ladies un-ending complaints .It is an extremely busy hospital with the bulk of the patient being medical and an OPD of around 3000 a day.It is a 250 bedded mission hospital.Suddenly an old man was standing in the middle of the out-patient ground and was pouring kerosine over himself .He threatened to burn himself in the out-patient if the senior physician ,a man of great repute did not see the patient right then.The consultant,a humble man of God was quick to respond -the lady had a severe pappilloedema-this story had a sad ending the lady succumbed to the ailment a few hours later but the old father was very gracious in that he said that he had wanted the senior physician to examine his daughter,he had obliged and he was grateful.
Nothing as dramatic has happened to me first hand by God's grace ,but it has taught me the importance of reading the sign of times in different situations in life,it's taught me to stand-still in all the crisis times of our lives ,it’s taught me to respect a patient and the relative's opinion,to give due weightage to their anxieties,but most of all to try and listen in all situations to that still ,small voice which says-‘This is the way walk in it.’