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Sickness: Punishment or Blessing

I still can’t get over the face of this teenage girl, who was admitted with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare tumor of bone or soft tissue frequently seen among teenagers or young adults
Dr Roumissa Lone
Srinagar | Posted : Feb 14 2018 1:29AM | Updated: Feb 13 2018 10:48PM
Sickness: Punishment or Blessing
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I didn’t know sickness was so bad until I got admission as a med student. Sickness is a sementic dosile term which reflects multiple meanings. Like for example for a 5 year old tot, it might be a good unprovoking excuse to turn down on school for a day, for a corporate junkie, a painful way to breathe in life, for a person with mental sickness a reason to stay in persisted denial or for a frail old person the gateway to bid farewell. It is quite subjective, with all the colors or to be precise different shades of dark.

A few days back something (will be talking about it in the later part) that I encountered inevitably pushed me into the pensive mood. I still can’t get over the face of this teenage girl, who was admitted with Ewing’s Sarcoma (a rare tumor of bone or soft tissue frequently seen among teenagers or young adults). She was admitted in the surgical ward while I was the intern in the same ward during my apprenticeship. As a part of log, I was asked to assist in history completion of the patient. We tried to settle her down and make her comfortable in her bed. She started to open up up and help us with our history taking. She looked frail and pale yet her words were so clear and cut through my ears with every stroke of my pen. She was youthful with every dream that was still glistening, though with the tired sheen in her eyes. I asked her about her age and she softly told me , ‘Ma’am I just got admission in First year in econ’, she further continued, ‘can I ask you something?’ I smiled and nodded affirmatively, ‘do you think I will make it’, left me thunder-stuck with this question. I realised this was just a baby step towards the bigger doorway. Still estranged to the pangs of afflictions, I froze in that moment. I just didn’t want to confront her on this any sooner. So, with the dumb ear I pushed her stretcher and went to shift her to the OT. We were about to perform a diagnostic procedure on her which would confirm our diagnosis. As the needle was piercing her skin into the tissue, she clenched my hand not because of pain but out of hope, the hope with which she looked at me as if her eyes demanded a confirmation if we were going to inject her with an elixir. But, to her dismay the only thing that the procedure confirmed was her Cancer, not only that but revealed it to be in the later stages. She died 2 days later. Her family was a normal middle class family, who had put in all their faith in medicine and its dispensers. They were infuriated at the fate their child had met but had nothing to convey to us except their broken and bereaved hearts. They had already accepted the grief of losing their girl and were leaving the hospital premises embracing the sore that their daughter’s death had left them with. The same evening we admitted one young boy in emergency, who was brought in a petrified condition in a feran (special Kashmiri cloak worn to protect from cold) drenched in a sting of hopelessness and cowardice, with a weak pulse and a near dead valour.

But, let me take you back to the present. Last evening, while I was on my way back home, I came across this young chivalrous, enthusiastic boy whom I couldn’t recognise at first. Dressed like a gentleman with a sober speech, he approached me and wished me with all the grace and respect. I had a twilight memory of his face. So as I was about to return his wish (Salaam) with a little hesitation, he caught the ice of the moment and spoke, “thank you for giving me the antidote of my life, which not only counterpoised the poison of my body, but flushed the venom of my brain too, thanks for helping me avail the only chance”. This paradigm of survival from the survivor himself was enough to remind me who I had just met, the guy we had admitted the same evening , the girl with cancer had passed away. The entire scene re-played in front of me. I was surprised but mesmerised at the same time to see how that one well learnt experience resulting from his tumultuous mental burst had saved him from an eternal wrath. I remembered it quite well how while discharging him, I had affronted him with the stern look and these naked words, “We ain’t in any high tech video game. We live in a real world with real mazes to chase, with real success to accomplish, with real failures to walk past and with real pain to bear, but we got only one life for this all. We get only one chance to correct our mess and tread past our mistakes, you can’t afford to muck up even that one.” And here I realised how he was now not only out of stupor but after years of detox and toil, the person who was in front of me with all smiles and humility was now a successful, promising young philanthropist cum entrepreneur. Nothing could have been better enough to wrap my day with than this. It warmed my heart which was cold with the chills of memories of death of the girl. At the end of the day, I realised every life saved matters which counts rather than cradling redemption of every death where even if as doctors we might have a momentary God Complex but are incapable to go beyond the line. It filled me with humbleness and pride at the same time to know how even one life saved years back had given birth to so many hopes and endeavours of present and future.

Sickness is a two-edged sword. It is a fierce fire-emitting, life devouring monster when it gobbles up life whereas if you survive it, it becomes a dark prism with glittering silhouettes that enable you with a special vision to break through all the barriers, to come to lie in equal with the triumph and zeal of life. Practice to live life by making the most of what only you are best at, without whining and sobbing for only a few things that go bad, though you anyways have no control over them. You are born with an eminent capability to be whatever you want to, only if you realise that even in sores and pain lies a deeper wisdom and a secret blessing.