Friday, January 28, 2011

The Cradle

“Jennifer”I called the name aloud looking at a new file and peeping outside the clinic door of our OBG department.It was a time when our batch of students had just got into houseman ship.During which period we started getting one to one with our patients like their treating doctors.After all the initial paperwork and general examination we had to present them to our seniors and professors who then did another round of check up to decide about the further course of treatment.

She stood up and walked inside the room with her parents.She had come to the hospital with complaints of weakness, breathlessness,giddiness,palpitations,a rare cardiac disorder and a confirmed three months of pregnancy.After taking a brief history of her problems and illness I took her inside the examination room to check her blood pressure.I asked her “So Jennifer how old are you?” to keep her at ease while tying the cuff.She stared at the empty wall and replied“Nineteen”.Upon hearing that the distress she was dealing with at such an young age pinched me for a second.

”What have you studied?”I said to inquire more.It made matters worse unfortunately,she replied “They got me married last year”sobbingly.”So why are you crying,aren't you happy?”I asked her again.She answered”No I want to study more”.To do some damage control I changed the topic and asked”So what does your husband do?”She stared at the empty wall again and replied”I don’t know,I don’t stay with him anymore”adding to the uneasiness of the situation.Meanwhile her blood pressure was not seeming any close to normal and I decided to stop my questioning and ‘getting to know Jennifer’session right there.

We came to know a while later that she was going through a huge marital conflict involving multiple issues and she was sent back to her parent’s home within a year of marriage.Her husband was not very keen on letting her pursue further studies and he had asked her not to come back to the house without a son.Believe it or not,this is the plight of many girls in our country.A state of innocent ignorance and sad helplessness.

Jennifer was advised to get admitted as she needed a detailed work up and treatment.She was in the wards for around two weeks with us.I still remember the smile she used to give me every morning when I would go near her bed to examine her and write her daily notes.Initially she took some time to open up but once she did there was nothing that could stop her.Her mother told me that she would actually wait for us to come,she liked people in white coats.I  asked her with great hesitation once”So what do you want to study and become Jenny?”She replied very enthusiastically”I want to be a teacher”.I looked at her with a strange pride and said”Don’t worry you will”.

As a general rule in the department,an intern had to accompany a patient for all major investigations.It was an annoying and tiring task but sometimes helpful since we got to learn a lot of things too.I had the chance of going with Jennifer for her ultrasound scans,echocardiography and cardiology check ups.On one such occasion while we were on our way to the ultrasound room she asked me”So are they going to see my baby’s heart today?”I smiled and replied”Yes Jenny”.She looked at me anxiously and said”I just hope it does not turn out to be like mine”.I wondered how desperate she was to save her baby more so to make her husband happy.And the fact that he did not visit her even once during her stay in the hospital was more disturbing.
After all the investigations were done,the most plausible treatment plan was formulated and Jennifer was discharged with the prescribed medications and she was advised strict follow ups.My postings in the department were also over.Months passed and we interns were now used to running around the hospital for every kind of work.As doctors we meet many people daily but there are really some who touch the heart.Jennifer was one among them for me.I couldn’t forget her.She had taught me almost everything about heart diseases in pregnancy,also many things about life and else.

One day I was sitting near the tea shop in the hospital with my friends,a ten minute break from our schedule and I heard someone calling my name.I turned and saw Jennifer’s mother,quite surprised I asked her”How is our Jenny doing?”.She replied”She is in the maternity ward doctor,can you come meet her”.She looked quite disturbed.I told her that I would come and see her after I finish the day’s duty in the evening.Throughout the day at work I pondered over one thought,”Jenny would be into her seventh month of pregnancy by this time so what is she doing in the post natal ward now”,to keep some positivity I just hoped that she had delivered.It was possible.

I did go in the evening as I promised, as I entered her room I saw Jennifer lying on the bed wrapped in sweater and scarf.She looked at me and did not smile this time.I wondered if it really kept her warm.I looked around for her baby,I did not find it next to her and the only clue that made me realize what had happened now in her life was the ‘empty cradle’.A choking silence filled the room,her parents were standing next to her bed.I looked at her speechless and all I could mutter was”Jenny,take care”.She smiled at me like the first time she had and said”Yes I will,I will become a teacher one day”.

I walked out of the room with her mother,she told me that Jenny could not bear the stress and her condition kept on getting worse despite the treatment and they had no choice but to terminate the pregnancy.Her mother said“We lost the baby to save her life”.

I remember this incident so very well because this was the first time when my eyes were filled with tears for a patient.Jenny was a strong girl but her body did not have the capacity to cope with the pregnancy.I was happy that she survived with all that she had to go through,especially when there was a hundred times risk of maternal death in such pregnancies.At the same time I knew how important it was for her to have the baby.It made me equally sad.I do not know where she is right now but I just pray that she is keeping well and her husband is bestowed with some humane sense.I also hope that she becomes a good teacher one day.

Picture Courtesy

We humans are vulnerable to different grades of emotions.My mother tells me a thing that can please the heart can hurt it as well.It makes a lot of sense.Being in a profession which deals with life and everything connected to it I have and will always get to experience diverse feelings of joys, sorrows, anger, frustration, courage and fear.These will not just be mine but of others as well and I always have to keep aside my personal ones when I face theirs.For Jenny I was happy and sad at the same time.It is difficult to explain how but her positivity made me a wee bit strong.

Life is like a seesaw,we must make sure that we balance both ends well.Going down will be then as easy and acceptable as rising up.We fight for little things and reasons and we know not of what we have until we lose it.NEVER let go something precious that makes you awful for another reason,big or small.As long as you feel that you can feel for something or someone in your life,keep feeling,it will keep you alive!:-)

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raji said...

Very heart touching ,as well as an inspirational story.An inspiration to pursue your hidden desires.I definetely can feel the mixed emotions what you felt and also Jenny.Hey ,good luck to you gal.

AS said...

DO not know when the men will learn, or rather not just the men, when will our society grow up ......

Sarah malik said...

touching indeed...poor girl jenny, i wonder if v can feel so much for her why can't these blind ppl do?

PS : I love reading ur internship incidents..y don't u make a separate space where u share these with us? I ll b one glad follower :)
good luck and CONGOS! on winning akshya patra thing :D

R-A-J said...

Loved both ur entries. Very well written. All the best :)

Here's my story:

Harish said... is definitely a see-saw.. were we just sit on it.....

Raksha Bhat said...

@raji: Thank you raji:)soukhyava?:)

@AS: 'Sigh'!!!

@subtlescribbler: Thank you Sarah:)Will think about it;)

@R-A-J: Thank you:)

Unknown said...

Hey a very touching experience that almost all of us women folks go through though in varying stages.

Was very touching.

Raksha Bhat said...

@pooja: True indeed!Thank you for reading pooja:)