Cancer Tales: Chapter 2: Happy Mother’s Day

© Dr Sujeet Kumar

Ward rounds had just finished and Ankit had just touched down the chair in doctors duty room with a thick register called “round register” which may a times is filled with wisdom received from elders.  He leaned backwards with a sigh to rest himself and asked Sharma, do we have today’s blood reports ?

Sharma was “the computer boy” who did the clerical work for admitted patients, a avid gymmer and instagrammer too. Whenever he sat on computer he had 3 tabs opened, hospitals information system for website, govt of India job portal and a news website. Oh i forgot, he also was a tutor.

Sharma replied: No sir…Not yet !

Ankit just picked up the “thick register” and opened it. It read..

Date: 9th May 2018 Morning Rounds

Bed 1: Follow HRCT reports, plan a lumbar puncture and bone marrow.

Bed 2: Talk to histopathology department for any provisional diagnosis of Lymph Node Biopsy.

Bed 3: ….

As he started reading further a distant sound touched his ears….as if coming from far away,  may be from the lift lobby. “Save my mother, please save my mother, any doctor here, save ….”.

With every second, the sound grew louder and louder and in no time a visibly disturbed and panicked man in his early thirties was in doctor’s duty room ? He was unusually well groomed for this scenario probably coming directly from some ceremony. The man was accompanied by other man who was probably younger brother.

“Please Dr, save my mother” both men yelled on top of their voices.

Ankit in no time got rid of that register and went out from room with them and saw a old lady on stretcher in respiratory distress. Although unusual for a tertiary care govt hospital in north india but there was one vacant bed in ward that day.

Ankit asked sharma to admit patient and she was shifted to bed 3 and all emergency measures were started. The nursing staff and ward team acted swiftly to some how stabilize the patient. But by this time, looking into history, her OPD diary and patients condition, Ankit knew that she was a blood cancer (Myeloma) patient on chemotherapy and probably was having very bad chest infection and likely unsalvageable.

While all this was happening the younger brother ran from ward to medicine shop on same floor multiple times and came back to be with his mother, standing bedside. The elder one looked like in shock, sitting immobile in waiting area with head turned up and eyes fixed on ceiling, probably he was not in a state to see whatever was happening with her mother. 

While waiting for ABG and X Ray report, Ankit walked up to elder brother and started explaining his mothers condition and prognosis to him. She probably has very bad pneumonia that means infection in chest which these older patients on chemotherapy…

Ankit was still speaking when the man asked: Dr, will you be able to keep her alive for 2 more days? Just do anything needed to keep her alive for just 2 days…no matter what happens after that.

In 9 months of his blood cancer ward posting Ankit had seen all kinds of human behavior and reactions but this reaction was totally alien. Although the answer was simple “probably we wont be able to save her” but Ankit was yet to recover from the man’s blatant indifference to his mothers possible death.

The man continued “if she dies within two days my marriage will get cancelled as per rituals”. She has anyways had her life but mine will get deranged. After a short pause the man continued, you know cost and time involved and all the logistic efforts made in marriage.

Ankit for the first time noticed “Heena markings” on his hand.

Ankit now had all the answers: Why was the man looking well groomed ? Why was the man was so disturbed ? Why was the man so sad ?

A son doesn’t need a reason to wish for her mothers healthy prolonged life, but this man had it…he had it for ”just two days”… no matter what happens after two days.

The man was waiting for reply…

Ankit replied: Probably we won’t be able to!

For Ankit answering the question was easy but getting in terms with what he just witnessed wasn’t that easy.

The man stood up, took a deep sigh, called his younger brother, said some thing to him and started walking towards the lift lobby. He turned back after talking few steps and said to his younger brother: inform me whatever happens? I will have to make arrangements.

It has been two years since the incidence and Ankit has seen all sides of coin of son to mother relationship. He has seen a son sitting beside her mother for 10 straight days with minimal sleep, a son helping his bedridden mother in doing the daily activities, a 40 year old son turning into a inconsolable child on her 70 year old mothers death, a son getting her thumbprint on some paper hours before death and a son wishing just for just two days of life for her mother and may more.

But Ankit is yet to see the other side of coin in mother to son relationship in a cancer ward. Probably it has only one side “No motive, pure love, care and concern”

His mother died same night in spite of all efforts by the hospital team. The younger brother did all the formalities and when the packed body was passing by the doctors duty room, Ankit had only one thing in mind.

What this body means to her elder son?

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