24th April 2010, 9.30 AM: Cricket god Sachin was celebrating his 37th birthday, Sania Mirza was busy impressing her in-laws in Pakistan, Lalit Modi, the father of IPL was planning to remove all the stains of corruption from his professional life &unfortunately we were having our 8th semester paediatric clinical examination. Although it is my favourite subject, I have used the word ‘unfortunately’ because if you don’t hate exams as a student, then you are simply ‘ABNORMAL’.
In order to show some respect to my favourite subject, I spent a lot of time in library on the day before exam & you know, ‘the more you work, the more you expect’(sorry for going against Buddhism). Hence, since morning I was praying for a simple & uncomplicated case. Luckily I got a simple but difficult case. Due to shortage of patients, a single case was given to two students. So I was there with Rakesh (my next roll no). It does not matter what exam you are appearing, you are bound to feel the nerves & we’re not the lucky exceptions. With the adrenaline rush & the mercury kissing the 40 degree mark, we started our clinical history taking.
Bed no -16. Oh my god, there were 3 babies, but it was not difficult to identify the patient. He was a 2 year old boy fighting against Mr Death. Ooh, how can I explain the boy’s condition? It is easy to write a medical case in an exam than to type it in the MS words. In fact there was nothing good to explain. He was severely malnourished, all the ribs were visible to the naked eye, all the hairs were depigmented enough to snatch your attention, all the skin infections would’ve forced anybody to tell ‘oh my god !!’. His body was all about infected skin & bones .Please don’t ask about muscles!!!! Even the amount of dresses of a porn-star can outnumber his muscle layers. He was the 4th child of her mother; his father had expired 1 year ago, both of his elder sisters were playing on the bed, his only brother was a rickshaw puller. All of them were illiterate; her mother was a daily laborer & the only earning member of the family!! It was really a herculean task for us to carry out the clinical examinations because of his skin conditions. It was/is really painful to see a baby being admitted to hospital just because he doesn’t have enough to eat, just because he is poor, just because his father passed away after just throwing his sperms for reproduction of 4 babies!!!?? It was really hard to concentrate after watching the poor baby. I expressed all my feelings to Rakesh & then he put his hand around my shoulder & told that ‘medical profession is all about maintaining your cool in irritating atmospheres’...I was really surprised to hear such a matured comment from him & it was similar to Kasab getting a clean-chit from government of India. Being reminded by Rakesh about our profession, we completed our clinical exam & waited our turn for the bed-side viva-voce.
Usually we get a lot of time & scope to refer books during any clinical exam. So we didn’t waste any time & started to study a-z about our case ‘MARASMUS’. My brain was playing hide & seek with GHAI uncle(Dr O.P Ghai is the author of the ped.book), but my heart was there with the poor family. Only two questions were striking my grey matter-1) what are the clinical features & management of a case of MARASMUS ?? & 2) How can the baby get some help??? Nobody was giving proper attention to bed no-16 (just because they were poor & illiterate !!?). The PGs were behaving rudely!! Then came a person at around 12 noon with some medicines & a mat & asked me & Rakesh about our patient’s condition. We explained him the current status of the baby. I don’t know why I didn’t enquire about the person, but after a minute of silence he told that ‘I don’t have any relation with the patient’s family, but I am helping them just because of the innocent baby, I am doing it for the sinless face, for a family which has nothing to lose.’ That was a heart-touching moment for me. It was really refreshing to have such kind of persons in one of the poorest states of India. Both of us were highly impressed by that black skinned person with the glow of sympathy on his face. After that I asked myself ‘Can you do that in future?’ &&&&&………………………………….
Before I could answer myself, the examiner came to us started the legal form of academic ragging….
Its evening & I had already tried so many things to entertain myself. But that bed no-16 was not allowing my mind, body & soul to escape. That is why I started writing about this case. This case is just like a drop from an ocean. It is really pathetic to see people not having one of the basic needs ‘FOOD’. All of us are aiming for a good PG seat (a good company job in case you are a B-tech student), an expensive car, a beautiful wife/husband, salary good enough to choke a bullock etc. Have you ever thought about these people who are facing death due to protein-energy malnutrition?? If not, please start to think. Please make your own plans to help these people in future. All of us will be successful in life. But if we can share our success with these children with the token of HELP, then only we can say that ‘Yes, now we have achieved something’. So please keep some space in your dreams to help these people. Pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeee.