I was shocked to see there were two unread sms on my iPhone this morning. In the hurry of getting to work, I forgot to check these messages and only had a look at them at about 10am. Gosh! Was I shocked and saddened.
In my carrier, I have met many people. My patients are all dear to me, they have all thought me something either directly or indirectly and not just about medicine, but the art of medicine and also life, this especially so with my elderly patients. However, some patients become closer than just patients and over the course of time, they almost are like family or a very close friend. This post is about one of them, a lady whose strength, determination and perseverance and above all her ability to smile and laugh in times of pain and suffering thought me a lot about life and love.
It was about 5 years ago. She was in her 40s and already on a wheelchair. I was a new specialist just a few months after graduation. She was wheeled in to my clinic by her sister. She smiled – a smile that was welcoming and yet cynical. I welcomed her with the usual greeting and proceeded to ask her as to why she came. Before we knew it, we were talking and she was telling me a story that I felt sorry for. A year before our first meeting, she had an emergency procedure which ended up with her having to carry a stoma bag to pass motion and an amputated right leg. She was diabetic and also hypertensive. She came to see if she could get her stoma reversed.I could understand why the stoma was a burden as it was sited poorly and she had difficulty taking care of it herself thus requiring her sister to help. She did not like the feeling of dependency. After 3-6 months of assessing her heart, her fitness level, her independent ability and seeing her determination, I agreed to reverse the stoma. She understood the high risk involved and bravely she signed the consent form. The surgery went well and she recovered well. She was able to attend functions and managed to built her self confidence all over again. She dressed better and the smile was a story of content happiness. She never fails to come for her follow up and she always wishes me via sms or calls on my birthday and on Christmas day. She would also remind me of all the important Malayalee celebration days for which I blogged before. She always kept in touch even after I have left that hospital for over two years. Early this year, she started to have problems again but this time it was more related to her female reproductive organs. A few days ago, she had difficulty in breathing and was admitted to a hospital. Yesterday night at about 1130pm, she took her last breath……………………….
“Ms Kana has passed away” was the sms that was staring at my face!!!!!
My heart felt heavy, my eyes started to tear. I called her sister and spoke to her. I decided to see her for the last time. She has always come to see me, now it is my turn. I wished it was not for this. I wished I saw her prior. I will miss her, her laughs and her smile. I will miss her wishes and her reminder of festivities. I saw her lying there on a table, they were doing their religious rituals for the departed. The ladies then dressed her up in her favorite dress. She looked contented. I hope she was. She was then placed in the coffin and was brought to the crematorium. I left. I wished I knew she was unwell. She would normally call me when she was unwell maybe she was too weak to do so, maybe she knew and did not want to let me know. We did speak about death before that was 5 years ago before the surgery she looked at me, then looked at her sister and then looked down at the floor before looking back at me and said, “I’m ready. If it is my time, at least I would be no more a burden for my sister and siblings.Let God decide.”
As you showed me strength, I learned to be strong,
As you showed me determination, I learned to be determined too,
As you showed me love, I began to understand love too,
And with your smile, it made me smile even more.