Hope is the hatrack I hang my dreams upon.Hope is what keeps me going. To constantly hope and let others around you see the charm in it is what I wish I could eternally do. Come what may. But what would I do if I were confronted with a situation where I had to follow this and yet not really follow it , knowing that my hatrack may not the panacea after all? Would I still hope against hope? and let the other see the same? How right would I be, indulging in an act so blatantly dangerous?
And I just had this tumultous uproar of thoughts.
Like from nowhere. Suddenly.
I sit there vacantly staring. We have just had a lunch break and it would be quite sometime before patients start pouring in for assessments.
Then this girl walks in, all of her really walky-talky self. She comes really close to me , flashes a really chweeeet chmile and looks at me with those wonder-filled eyes. “This kid , must be coming to a hospital for the first time.” She doesn’t seem to have any concept of doctors and their injections. Thankfully , I was not wearing my apron either ( am sure the clinical coordinator wouldn’t be reading this) .I was so overwhelmed by her gregarious nature for so tender an age that I just knew I had great experience ahead.
Wondering what could possibly be wrong with a kid like her, I asked the regular questions that constitute a case-history and well, most of it seemed fine , rather she was a certified above-average functioning kid.
And then , the father pulled out her reports. The scans.
And then , I didn’t take too much time to realize what had brought them here.
Looks quite fancy but you wouldn’t want to know what it does to people.That the white matter in the brain is constantly in a process of degenration is one hard-to-swallow fact. But knowing that it is happening right to the person infront of you is another. Every moment. Gnawing away.
Ofcourse , I maintained a straight face and continued to smile. I wonder if I let my inner conflicts have an upper hand and make the smile look deceiving. But I have done this many a time before. I just cannot make this act of mine fallible. Not any more. Experience, to quote the cliche , is certainly a great teacher. What it teaches is another thing though.
And just as I feared , the father started pelting questions at me. He must have been dying to ask as many people as he could. And I had taken away his time, with my fusillade of case-history-comprising-questions.
” The doctors have told me that she would lose her mental abilities as time goes on and may finally die. You dont think that would happen , do you?”, he asked. All of his anxious self and gloom seemed to form a blanket in the room.
” One can’t be too sure of such things. The doctors have just told you of a possibility, right? Treat it as one. Am sure, with the right kind of intervention, she’ll be just fine..”, I smile at him so very confidently ,that I wish I had half of it right inside me at that instant.
No. It wasn’t guilt that grappled me as I appeared confident.It was only fear of what I knew would ensue.
“They have asked me to take the child to ‘XXX’ hospital. They need to keep under observation for 10 days after which they’d suggest the line of treatment we need to follow . I also consulted Dr.SSS who has prescribed a few medicines. I asked him the same thing and he said that it is not necessary that I will lose my child”, he said in a manner that only seemed to highlight the number of visits he must have made since God-Knows-when, into and out of hospitals.
I flashed a smile again. I just reminded myself that it doesn’t cost to smile. But maybe this time, it would.
I looked at him surprisingly in his eye and said ” As far as I know , I am sure the kid will do fine as long as you are continuously monitoring her progress and getting all of her faculties assessed. Just make sure she is admitted to ‘XXX’ as soon as possible. You would not want to delay this. So , like Dr.SSS suggested, your child will certainly survive. Just keep your hopes alive.”
I was so happy that I had said it without any hint of my inner conflicts. I secretly saluted to Dr.SSS who had done the same, the only difference being he was much more experienced than me to say it and here I was, a new graduate tryign to sound like Miss. Know it all.
“I’ll just run a few screening tests on her and let you know if she is functioning in accordance with her age”, I said , clearly indicating that I had to carry on with the protocol.
Tests administered. And all the time , this li’l brat keeps hovering about like a li’l angel everywhere around me and I have this sudden suspicion about the veracity of MRI and CT and all those scary abbreviations..
In a pink polka dotted frock that hardly reaches her knee, she has made sure that she has worn matching clips, the butterfly types and has 2 small pony tails each with baby pink rubber bands. she looks around her with wonder, like a newborn, eager ot take in all at once but with such sharpness and agility in her movements that you just feel like throwing away teh case files and spend the day watching her watch the world.
” Are you not a doctor? Why are you not wearing your white coat? “, she asks, her big eyes , becoming bigger with wonder.
I just can’t help laughing but this time , I only do it with so much more ease.” Who said I am a doctor? I am your new friend”, I say and she is smart enough not to take it.
She goes on about what she played in the morning and tells me to finish soon so that she can go home soon to her mother.
I am done. I cast one long look at the kid and turn towards the father. I have only thing to say. That she probably is smarter than the two of us put together.I reassure him that she is performing at a level that is higher than what is expected of her and that he does not have to worry.
I remind him to keep getting her re-evaluated to rule out any over-looking on our part.He nods. And looks at me with those questioning eyes again.” So , you dont think that she’ll show a retardation or anything , right? Because Dr.SSS told me that she does not have to necessarily suffer”, he adds ,looking at me for another dose of re-assurance.
And I gave it. Not bothering to listen to my conscience, I tell him not to worry. I tell him that she will be good. That she can live it with the right kind of timely treatment.
He smiles. The kid is blissfully unaware of the gravity of the conversation ensuing, centering her. I am happy for her ignorance.
We meet the supervisor who thankfully doesn’t say anything about the condition but talks to the kid in a friendly way and signs the report.
The kid is hungry and has not had lunch. She nudges at my dupatta and I look down.” My tummy is feeling hungry”, she says.And I feel such a strong emotion. I just ruffle her hair and tell her that she can go have her lunch.
She is only too happy to get rid of her “new friend” and have lunch. She says a quick bye and her father says a “thank you” that went beyond the formalities of the word. I just smile at him with a re-assuring look and they leave me a lot richer than I was before they walked in.
I want to hug her. But am reminded of the terrible protocol at workplace that requires us to be as non-emptional as possible. Not that I don’t flout rules. I big-time flout rules. But that one instant I was so scared to hug her. I was so scared that I’d break down. I didn’t really think she’d die. No. But she was too young, too beautiful and too too innocent to have a diagnosis against her name. Years of training and studies haven’t made me immune to the names. If anything, they only make me worship life more.
I just hope that she goes on to live. That she brightens everyone’s life around. That her parents have the courage to bear all the hospital visits . I hope for a guardian angel.
But if names described a person, I have no reason to worry. I smile to myself. My hopes may not be false after all.
For her name meant immortality.
For, hope is the hatrack I hang my dreams upon.
P.S. I had shared this experience for a competition earlier as well.