Last week, my dad-in-law was admitted in a hospital His condition was quite bad, and I chose to stay in the hospital during three consecutive nights. I had to be back to work the next morning; and I realized how tough it was.

I am 53. I have been very lucky as far as my own hospitalization is concerned. I remember, once, when I was very small, they had kept me in a hospital for some days as I had fractured my leg while playing. Since then, God has been kind to me.

However, I had to frequently do rounds to the hospital in connection with the hospitalization of some of my close relatives, particularly my in-laws. Many a nights I have spent there, just being with them.

I find these night stays in the hospitals quite humbling, quite moving. There is so much spiritual about them. They can teach us so many things… change our perspective about life, so often.

As I said, this time, I spent three nights in the hospital. On the first night, at about 1, I had to rush to JJ Hospital to bring blood from the blood bank. It was an emergency and I had to rush. When I reached there, there were so many people already waiting. I was rudely told by the young man at the counter, “You will have to wait for at least two hours.” I felt like convincing him to reduce the waiting period… But, I saw others waiting patiently; some, tired and fast asleep… not saying a word, just waiting. I was worried: I would be able to reach only around 3.30… How would I work the next morning? Will I be able to get some sleep?

Finally, when I came back to the hospital around 3.40, I saw there at least four young doctors, half-a dozen nurses, both male and female.. and many assistants frantically trying to save a man who just had a heart attack. I had never seen in my life such a thing before… How they try to save a dying man… I had not witnessed the sorrow and panic in the dear ones who are there waiting around him… More importantly, I had never imagined how it is for those doctors and nurses… How they deal with their own anxieties and fears, and how they handle the anxieties and fears of the ones who pin hopes on them. I particularly observed a young lady doctor moved by the whole experience when her colleagues held their nerves. This doctor was in pain… and, finally, when the man breathed his last, along with the relatives, she too gave out a loud, long cry!

And, all along, I was thinking: Where does my anxiety stand in front of all this?

I could not get sleep after that. At around, 4.45, when I was about to catch a wink, I was woken up by another commotion. About five to six young boys had brought a middle aged man and he was profusely coughing and vomiting blood. In no time, the same team of doctors, nurses, and assistants swung into action. The concern: How to save this man?

The rest of the night, I spent standing somewhere away and observing the whole scene. One of the boys, about 20, was this man’s son. Others were his friends who had come to help. The doctors seemed familiar with the man and his history. The next day, I learnt from his son that the man worked in the same hospital as an ambulance driver… and was a chronic alcoholic. He had been in and out of the same hospital so many times; he had been sent for a while to a re-hab center and, still his problem persisted. The son told me that this time, he continuously drank, like a fish, for a week; and now… here he was. In this state!

By the third day, the alcoholic man’s condition had improved. The vomiting had been arrested. But, now the withdrawal symptoms had taken their toll. On the third night, the son, doctors, nurses and assistants – all of them had a different mission: to control this wild man! He was restless; he would try to pull out his tubes; he would try to run out of the hospital; he would scream at the nurses and abuse his son. He would demand money… ask for drinks. Finally, he was tied to the bed head to toe… Even then, the struggle to free himself and run did not stop. It was only after some sedatives, that things became silent.

The son sat with me to narrate the struggle the family – particularly the man’s wife – had to endure for years on.

I kept asking myself: Where did my concern, my anxiety stand in front of all this?

On that third night, I happened to observe one more thing: two of the young doctors were almost there all three days, almost round the clock! It was unbelievable! The alcoholic man’s son drew my attention to one of the doctors and said, “Sir, look at the dark circles around his eyes; look at the face, the stubble.” Till then, though I had noticed this young doctor… I had never thought of his plight, his world!

My world was filled with

my own anxieties and concerns:

Will I be able to get some sleep?

Will I be able to eat in time?

Will I be able to attend my duty the next morning?

Will I be…?

It was then that I realized: almost on all the three nights, those doctors had never taken their dinner before 12!

Now, this is no dramatization for any effect!

The next morning, I happened to meet Varun, a dear friend’s nephew. He was heading for his coaching institute. Varun wanted to be a doctor… and, that morning, he spoke to me very passionately about his dream. I did not mention to him what I had seen during the three nights that I spent in the hospital . Nor did I mention to him about the plight of those doctors…

I only said, “Beta, I am so happy to see the passion in you. My best wishes to you.”

“Thank you, sir,” a thrilled Varun exclaimed, “I really need them.”



Anonymous said…
My dad drinks the way you have narrated; and we have been thru such situations more often. It is a huge challenge for us to treat alcoholism as a 'disease'... and, he his helpless about it!

It is tough to accept this fact. Anger and impatience would not allow us to show compassion.

My empathies with that young son and all those wonderful souls in the hospitals who serve there day and night.

And my thanks to you, too, for leaving us stirred!

With gratitude and love,

= a well-wisher
Gerald D'Cunha said…
Thank u dear for sharing with us your own story...

Yes, it is a huge challenge to be compassionate with a person like that!

But, I always have held this view: When our anger ends, the compassion takes its birth!

My pat for your courage and wisdom.


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