The white apron was outshining my personality. I put my stethoscope around my neck. Today was the first day of my clinical rotations. My father, who grew his hairs white with the dream to see me in this white coat, and my mother who was lying in her deathbed diagnosed with Carcinoma Gallbladder two months back, were hovering around my mind and I was missing them dearly.
I suddenly realized the clock was ticking fast. As I rushed to the ward, I was the happiest person on the entire planet.
The ward was full of patients. I could see the reflection of my mother in every patient; tired, fragile, faded, sunken eyes yet with an immense hope of life. I felt the urge of being a great doctor there and then. A doctor who could cure everything!
There was a list of things I had to teach myself in a couple of days; opening an Intravenous line, placing a urinary catheter, injecting a painkiller and most important of all, finding a remedy that could cure my mother’s cancer.
It was a hell lot of work to learn. Sadly the first day passed without much of an achievement. The face of my ill mother kept haunting me the whole day. With a determination to learn everything the next day, I spent the whole night waiting for the morning. What a long night it was!
The next day was beautiful for others but for me, it turned uglier. I received a message that my mother was critical so I had to leave immediately. My plans were shattered. Fear of losing my mother kept haunting me the whole way.
I reached home late. I was expecting my house to be filled with dark news but then I realized, many times life is not as harsh!
My mother was in her room lying in her bed moaning with pain. With a heavy heart, I called her “Mother!”
She could recognize me even in the darkest shades and even when her world was falling apart. Her eyes sparkled with a ray of hope. She held my hands tight. I wiped her tears but couldn’t stop mine. With a trembling voice, she tried to comfort me but the only words she could utter was “ Don’t cry!”
“Oh! there you are, my son. Did you come all fine?” a voice echoed in the dark. It was my father with a lantern in hand.
I nodded “Yes”
He sat beside my mother’s feet. His prominent cheekbones yet with the bright sunken eyes looked like the setting sun.
“She’s in pain all the time. It seems her body has forgotten to sleep. Two surgeries and still nothing changes! It is difficult for me to see her in agony.” The old man kept on speaking.
In the corner of the ceiling, there was an empty bottle of saline.
“A few days back Harke (a local health practitioner) fixed the saline drip as she was not eating anything. The first bottle of saline went fine but he couldn’t fix another.”
With a long sigh, he stopped in the middle of the conversation and spoke again“I am happy you came, hadn’t expected you to come. I thought you might be busy with your studies.”
Moments later my father came back with a glass of milk and a bowl of rice pudding. As he started to feed my mother she spilled it over my father’s clothes .“Today at least she took some milk .” He slowly wiped her mouth, put her back in bed and stood up to clean his clothes.
The long day had taken away all my energy and I quickly fell asleep.
“Wake up my son. Your mother vomited the whole night. She even vomited some blood. For a moment, I even thought it was going to be her last day but she settled after a while so I didn’t wake you up.”
I rushed to my mother. My father kept speaking “There are two bottles of saline left. Maybe you can fix it.”
The words hit me hard! I was in a great dilemma!
My mother was lying on her bed, dehydrated. The hope, the dreams in her eyes had all vanished. Gathering some courage I told my father “Give me the bottle of saline and the canula I will fix the drip”
At the same time, I felt things would have been different if there would have been a hospital nearby. Perhaps, my mother wouldn’t have suffered so much.
At the moment I doubted if God existed! The game he was playing with us was cruel!
I started searching for veins in my mother’s arms. I fixed the IV set as I had seen the nurses doing in the wards. Luckily I fixed the cannula and the IV set. I took a sigh of great relief!! Never in my life had I felt so contented.
I looked up at my father who at the moment had a great sense of pride and achievement. With tearful eyes, he said “Well it definitely was possible to fix the drip“ The old man was at peace.
My mother had the familiar glow in her face that had been lost months ago. It was the first time in my life when I saw my parents so happy but never did I knew it would be the last happiness!
A few days later my mother passed away but she was contented and at peace. Though she couldn’t live a well to do life, she lived a meaningful life, shaping her son’s dream.
So, after years of medical education and practicing as a General Surgeon now, I’m trying to find a meaning in my life inspired by the echoes of my mother in her deathbed. Perhaps that is why I see a reflection of my mother in all my patients. Helping them out from pain gives me satisfaction that I couldn’t gain years back.