Sunday, December 1, 2013

What The Frail Old Man Taught Me On Love

It was on a mundane afternoon, one that I so vividly remember. It was one of those rare days in medical training (Internship) when nothing throws a surprise on you. Everything went well since that morning and all I had left with was a chronic disease OPD to attend after which I would walk back to my hostel room and enjoy the rest of the day absolutely doing nothing.

I was sitting in the female side of the OPD. All I had to do was to take blood pressure measurements, check blood reports of old people with diseases like diabetes and hypertension and re-write the medicines previously prescribed for them if everything was normal. I was doing it fast eager to finish it off.

An old woman come and sit at my table. When I enquired her, she did not respond. She made a few facial movements but made no voice. Instead, an old, should be 75+, frail looking man, standing nearby her side, was the one who did the talking.

I didn't listen to him. I was waiting for scream from the OPD nurse. That's what she does when any male enters the female OPD. (She does this on junior male doctors too at times :-p). I was waiting for this guy to be thrown out. I glanced sideways at the nurse. She was looking at us and beaming a broad smile. Strange!

This old man was cleanly dressed and was carrying two heavy bags. He spoke very softly and his voice indicated his frailty. With his little voice he was informing me what his wife's problems were and what medications she was on. He seemed to know the names of all the medicines and the dosage strengths and he was almost instructing me not to forget anything in a very polite manner.
(Normally it would irritate me when a lay person instructs me to prescribe, what's the point of me spending 5.5 torturous years in a med school then, I would think.) He was quite worried that I might miss out something from a big list of different medicines she was on. Probably, it has happened before that some junior doctor in a hurry forgot to write something or wrote something wrong. If that happens, his wife would have no tablets to take of that particular medicine for the next 2 weeks. So his behaviour was quite acceptable and I did my best to measure her blood pressure, check her reports and write her all the medications she required.

After I was done, the old man lifted his two heavy bags on one hand, held his wife's hand with the other and slowly walked her out of the OPD.

The nurse told me later that this particular old man brings his wife twice a month, every month from his village. His wife is hard of hearing and she has a high blood pressure and diabetes. It's a long journey from his village to JIPMER so he brings everything that would be required for her including, food, towels etc. and waits till the afternoon for the chronic disease OPD. He makes her sit in a bench and he waits in a long queue for her. He meets the doctors, gets the medications written, stands in another long queue for getting the tablets from the pharmacy and finally takes her back home.

When the sister had told me all this, I had a big smile on my face and a little tear on my eyes.

That frail old man made a statement so strong that penetrated my heart. I saw what true love was all about. The commitment, the care this old man had, simply melted my heart. He showed a commitment time nor tide would never fade.

Dear old man, I thank God for bringing you there to inspire me. I promise you, that when I hold the hands of my queen, I would remember the lesson you thought me that day.

And sure it does. Every once in a while in the middle of an ordinary life... Love gives you a fairy tale!