2nd Inning

In past two years of my life as a surgery resident, i have got a chance to see the society in a different light. Most of the times, it has been very satisfying to see the patients free of agony post surgery and walk home with a smile. However one particular incidence has been constantly repeating on my mind for a long time.

We had received a patient of acute intestinal obstruction last month ( simply put, the lady was not passing stools because of something obstructing her intestines, and causing severe pain and vomiting due to it). We evaluated her and decided to post her for an emergency surgery to relieve the obstruction. There was a tumor found out which was causing the symptoms and it was removed during surgery and intestines were sutured back together maintaining their continuity. A part of the surgery also included diverting the faeces to another artificially created opening over the skin (also called colostomy) until the sutured intestines had time to heal.

This definitely meant that the lady was going to be leaking faeces from the opening (colostomy) for three months at least. First week went off smoothly. She was recovering very smoothly and in a couple of days more, was expected to be healthy enough to go home. Me, my intern doctors and nursing staff had been taking care of her wound and also the colostomy site for the whole week. Whenever the colostomy bag was filled with stools, we promptly used to remove it, clean the site, apply a fresh bag etc. Now the time had come to get the family members involved in the care of colostomy and to educate them regarding the hygiene.

This was however not well received by the relatives. Days and days passed on but they showed no interest of learning. Our efforts were going in vain. we tried all methods of teaching, demonstration, solving doubts, etc. They continued their indifference and apathy towards their relative. On probing more, it was noted that the accompanying lady for the patient was the daughter-in-law who later bluntly rejected to take the responsibility of the patient stoma care and hygiene all together. Shockingly the same statements were repeated by the patient’s own son the very next day!!!!

All the family members had practically disowned the patient post surgery due to her ‘problems’. The same kids who were born and brought up by their mother, refused to take care of her. The sons whose diapers were cleaned and changed by the lady for many years had forgotten to repay the ‘debt’ when the time came! The same sons who were begging us to save their mother just 10 days ago, were now probably unhappy with how here ‘life’ had become. The lady was the same mother who had given utmost care and unconditional love all through these years and yet, she was suddenly a ‘burden’ to all…. It all had changed….. in just one night…. one surgery…….. second innings of the lady’s life had started!!!!

One sentence that my surgery chief said stuck in my mind – only until the tree is fruit bearing, all birds will come…..later on… ???????!!!!!