Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Pain That Perfects

The door opened and a slender figure carrying a two year old boy on her hip entered.

An expression of relief spread over her countenance shadowing the fatigue and exasperation after waiting in a long queue forgoing her breakfast. Holding her son with one hand, she held out the case sheet to the junior surgeon standing near a raised bed. She was tall and thin, modestly dressed and her hair properly kempt. It was hard to tell from the first glance that she was bitten by poverty. It required a closer and a keen look to reveal that her clothes were very old and her hair were losing pigments and appeared too brittle. The boy she was carrying was wearing a short pant and a dirty tee. He had those big round eyes which were now scanning the shabby little room with curiosity.

The junior resident got the case sheet and went through the notes written by a senior surgeon. The notes described how the disease started its manifestations and how it has progressed so far. At the end was written instructions for the junior resident for the minor surgical procedure to be carried out to relieve the patient of the symptoms. This particular case notes ended " Incision & Drainage". The little boy had an abscess full of purulent pus on his chest that has to be incised and drained.

Now in this hospital it was a common practice to do incision and drainage of small abscesses without the use of any anaesthetic. There were many reasons they gave supporting it but still, in my opinion, it was simply one of the cruellest forms of surgery. The pain will be sort-lived, of course, but would be excruciating. Imagine the scalpel cutting through the already tense skin covering an inflamed abscess. Whatever it was, no one questioned such practices. Such practices have been in use since no one remembered when and it had come to be accepted routine and normal.

The junior surgeon gestured and the lady moved closer to the examination couch. She made the boy lie down on it. The junior surgeon was assisted by a uninterested orderly who stood by his side passing on the gloves, instruments and the other things needed. No time was wasted. The boy's chest was cleaned and the instruments to cut open the abscess were all ready in the hands of the confident surgeon.

The next 15-20 minutes were hell for the little boy and everyone around. He made a loud cry with his shrill voice. It made me very sad. But as kept watching, I noticed something very strange. The boy's mother was forcing him to stay still when the surgeon cut open his chest abscess. I saw tears rolling down the mother's cheek but she was determined not to let her child move. In a way, she was imposing so much pain on him but, at the same time, was silently suffering as well.

Why would she put her own child under the knife?
Why would she not let him alone?

She believed that the abscess was going to harm her child. She believed that though the surgeon would impose more pain, the pain would be temporary and do good.

Life does this to us at times. There'no no way of escaping from pain but just endure and let it perfect you.

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.” 
― Oprah Winfrey