Sunday, October 16, 2011

Vivas & Windows

I was supposed to enumerate the causes of giddiness in a female of 85. I had managed a few, but the expectant look on the examiner's face told me he wanted more. I knew I wouldn't be able to come up with many. Even on thinking hard, the chances of any significant improvement in the number seemed slim. Besides, I was exhausted from the supremely hectic week that had gone by. But he wanted me to think. Argh! I glanced up at the teacher for a split second to detect any signs of a change of mind. But argh again! He seemed determined to extract more causes out of my empty head. If only he could see that nothing was going on in there!

I wish I could just tell him that I didn't know more. But over the years I've learnt that teachers in a medical school are exceptionally easy to offend. From bright slippers to unkempt hair, anything can be misconstrued as arrogance. And in the final 10 months of my graduation, I accidentally have managed to offend far too many of them. So I decided to shut up and try.

Fixing my gaze at the window behind the examiner, I screwed up my face in concentration hoping that the extra effort will help my brain grind back into action! Who was I kidding! My exhausted neurons had given up already. I could feel the jammed machinery. I needed a miracle to get it moving. But deep down, I didn't really care for those extra causes to ask God for one.
Okay. Giddiness. Maybe I felt a little giddy right now. Everyone feels it. This lady isn't here for that. She's got more routine complaints too. Ask me about them na! I was tempted to enter into the "why me?" phase so at least I could enjoy some self pity. I resisted. This was not the time.

No progress.

85 years old. Could it have something to do with her age. The window I had been staring at, had a nice view. A man lay on the grass chatting with a buddy. I wanted that! I'll do it the day my vivas ended. And I'll get a haircut. And I'll throw my birthday party. And I'll watch back to back episodes of friends. And I'll sleep all day long. And I'll write a blog. And I'll get my two wheeler serviced. And I'll chat a lot. And I'll listen to songs all night. And a grunt from the bed behind me brought me back to the 85 yr old giddy lady.

No progress.

Finally the quizzer changed his question. Another not-so-routine question. And I knew he wouldn't be happy with my short list anyway. So why even bother. I was tempted to look out of the window again. But I did speak out. He seemed satisfied. I was mildly amused. I could bet my little detour across the window had something to do with it.

Two more vivas. One pathetic, one surprisingly outstanding!

Two weeks of intermission-free exams were about to end. On the day of my last viva, I hadn't read at all. I just wanted the painful process to end. I didn't care how. I stood beside my patient. We were both waiting. He came. We greeted.
He asked easy. I answered easy.
He asked crooked. I answered crooked.
He asked alien. My eyes began scanning the room.

I needed a window! :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Any questions?

"Sir, what's the prognosis?"

We all looked up from our notebooks. Some of us had finished taking notes, some stopped midway in their sentences. As an intimation that it was time to end the morning clinic, our professor had asked if we had any questions. Sir looked at the boy who had raised the question, then at the boy whose tummy was our area of concern this morning, at his own hands, and then back at our curious friend.

A boy lay in front of us, scanning our faces as we listened, questioned, answered and made notes about him. Thankfully he couldn't understand our jargon. The boy had a tumour supposedly. Most of our surgery patients did. It wasn't a big deal. I was calm.
But when Sir answered, my tummy gave an uncomfortable twirl. I hadn't finished writing the radiotherapy details this boy was to get. I shut my notebook. I didn't want to finish. It didn't matter anymore, anyway.

"2 months." 60 days! Just 8 Sundays?

Only last evening we had first seen this 19 year old boy. Dark, thin, confident, calm. The moment I saw him, I was sure that the composure in his body language was new. Disease tends to do that to people. He lay on a bed in the surgery ward with a few scattered lumps in his abdomen. He gave thought to every question we asked him. We had made no efforts at hiding the fact we weren't professionals yet. We were random in our method, making complete fools of ourselves! We kept forgetting to check important things. So over and over, he had to take off his just buttoned up shirt. He was patient with us. We respected him for that. This boy did everything we asked him to, no matter how inconvenient.

And as we were leaving, his father came up to us. He wanted us to revisit his kid. The wards reeked of pain and misery. We had brought a change of air for his boy that evening. I nodded with smile. I loved his boy.

The morning after, as we discussed the boy with our professor, we slowly got to know his lumps. As the clock ticked away, the confident and articulate image of him was fast being replaced by one of a helpless kid with an equally helpless father.
We couldn't look into his eyes. Couldn't return his smile. We didn't want to face his father. What would we say to him when he asks us what our professor had to say?
One answer had changed it all. I bet the kid sensed the change in mood. We were too lost to feign anything to fool him. 

As we left the room, the usual babble amongst us was missing. Everyone walked out deep in thought. 

Since then, nobody has been curious when it came to patients' prognoses. Since then, nobody's ever had any questions!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

17 again

17... thats how old I was, when you asked me to decide.
Back then I really had no clue, in you I now confide.
Architecture seemed fascinating... MBBS, the easier way.
So I chose people over sky scrapers... and, with Ma & Pa I got to stay!

Life in Sewagram was all I knew, I still went through orientation.
Met 64 new kids from far and near, as they struggled with homesickness n starvation.

In the class on day one, I sat just scribbling notes, when somebody yelled "Kalantri".
I looked up at this new professor wondering, "how the hell does he know me?!"

And then on I got used to being called out, no matter how much I tried.
Any row, any corner, wherever I sat, I simply could not hide!

There are many things others mustn't know. So I am told not to gossip.
But I am a girl with curious friends. Some things are bound to slip!

When I win, it's because I am a daughter. When I don't, its in spite of it.
All others will agree when I say, It ain't easy being a staff kid! 

Yes, won't deny that we do get some perks... Some smiles and maybe a mark or two.
But believe me it just isn't worth all the crap we are made to go through!

Don't get too sentimental, I now admit after all this emotional drama...
If 17 again, I'll still pick what I chose coz at least I get ghar ka khana!