TODAY -

Yin and Yang

Leima Chanu Shakti Yambem *



It must have all started unconsciously as I was walking quite bored and frustrated behind my post graduate senior. I was supposed to be studying for my test in the little break I had on my night duty.

After witnessing beautiful surgeries that fuelled my heart with dreams of being the master surgeon myself, I came back to the reality of being the little fish in the food chain as an intern and following the orders of my superiors.

I didn't know why I had to follow her but once again, my eyes lit up as I saw the sign board that quietly but suddenly proclaimed that it's the Intensive Care Unit.

They once said that medicine is about care and healing but my heart is more for the technicalities and the suturing of the broken biology. I saw a man with eyes the shade of a ripe lemon.

My brain quickly registered - icterus , jaundice,liver,hepatitis. I couldn't think of his suffering as my grey mater raced towards the diagnosis. Then my senŽior with a slight tinge of regional Hindi that says she's from Uttar Pradesh asked about a patient.

The nurse looked up and paused before saying slowly that she had expired. Everyone was quiet except for the flashing monitor that showed the vitals and the sound of the ventilator.

She took the files she needed for her thesis and we walked ahead to check on a patient. We discussed the case details of the patient who also had psychological probŽlems. Abnormal machinery of the brain is indeed fascinating.

Then, a chirpy nurse asked her if she could fill in some ultrasound form. They laughed and I stood there checking up on my latest Instagram story. We had quickly resumed to our callous selves to carry on and to be able to sleep at night. No emotions felt, no emotions to be dealt with.

Everything was seemingly normal on the following day but looking back , it felt like the calm before the storm. I put my EarPods on and listened to Hans Zimmer 'Lost but Won' when my friends came and we discussed about the placements of our seniors.

The conversations that surround fellow interns are mostly about the extremely scary and massive exam that decides which discipline you will evenŽtually take up and who were the samurais that succeeded in it.

The soft round sun of the twilight was solemnly looking over from the horizon. Then, as I walked ahead, a sharp projection of a glass slab sliced through the inner side of my foot. Fiery drops of blood of a very red shade dropped in a rapid mode. The wound gaped open and stared at me.

The casualty room of a nearby hospital was filled with people. Then suddenly, a piercing cry of an anguished daughter was heard asking the doctors to save her mother. She dropped down on the floor and everyone got shivers watching her.

The nurse told me that someone was just declared dead and the surgeon will take some time to come for my leg. The entire atmosphere changed and I felt so alone in a foreign state away from my family but I still swallowed my tears.

When the roles reversed, and I was the patient, everyŽthing changed. I can feel the pain and the blood slowly oozing and soaking up each strand of the bandage they had tied up as a first aid.

Helplessly, I stared at the ceiling as fears took shape on the wall. Then, they took me to the minor operation theatre. I had seen countless of proceŽdures in the minor OT when I was in my college and I had never stopped to think how the patient had felt.

I knew he must have been scared but I somehow took it as a normal phenomenon. But that time, with fear being the current running through my veins, I wished the assistant lab techŽnicians would stop their usual chatter so that the surgeon could focus more. Then, the thought hit me that it was my first surgery and now, none could stop the tears.

The surgeon was shocked and asked me if I could still feel the pain since he had just put the local anaesthesia. I shook my head and said no. He smiled and asked me why I was crying then.

I simply closed my eyes and remembered the Gods that I pray to before sleep. To stop the bleeding, he applied electric cautery and the scarier part was that I sort of had an idea of what was being done to me. The images were being played in slow motion in my mind. As I type these words, I'm currently bed ridden with a huge cast below my knee to prevent movement.

The theory of yin and yang and others is always a reminder of the balance that's needed in life. Most of us know about this notion but to be able to effectively apply it to our daily lives is a Herculean task.

Should you become emotionally attached to a patient and feel his pain or should you simply treat the pathogenesis and focus on the science behind it.

The wise ones will say it's a mixture of both without the scale tipping towards any. But for the inexperienced little fish of the food chain , I guess the lessons of life are teaching me how to polish the art.


* Leima Chanu Shakti Yambem wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on June 14, 2018.


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