Turning Autumns to Spring: Writing Our Parts in the Book of Life
Even before I entered the delivery room I heard her scream. It was the first week of my internship. Though Dhaka Medical College Hospital, my workplace, is the biggest hospital in Bangladesh, it is always overflowing with patients. It is always a challenge to treat all the patients with limited resources. That day it was particularly crowded.
There were more patients than usual who needed immediate care and all other doctors were engaged. There was only a matron in the room who said a doctor was needed immediately. Though I ran out to find another doctor, I knew I wouldn’t find one.
To be honest it was not my dream to become a doctor, it was my parents’ dream. Specially my father’s dream who was a doctor himself. He motivated me and I studied hard and got admitted into the prestigious Dhaka Medical College. When I felt homesick or was overwhelmed by the enormous amount of studying it was my father who inspired me.
When I was in my third year, my father passed away. It was all so sudden. He fell ill so he was admitted to a hospital but no one realized how sick he really was until it was too late. Towards the end there were four doctors who tried everything but failed.
It was the most devastating experience of my life. I lost my father, my friend, my inspiration, my whole world turned upside down and I also lost my interest in medicine. Eventually everyone dies, doctors can’t do anything about that. So what difference does it make?
I plunged deep into depression. I failed to attend my classes regularly. I got six months behind everyone. Though I lost my interest I knew I had to pass and after some struggle I eventually passed and become a doctor. As an intern I was first placed in OB&GYN and in my first week I faced this crisis.
As I feared, no other doctor was available. After I checked the mother, I realized the head of the baby was larger than her birth canal. She needed an episiotomy. That means I had to cut her birth canal to make space for the head.
I had seen how it was done only once before and I was not supposed to do it without any senior doctor supervising me. But I decided I would try my best rather than leave her and her child to the hands of fate. First I gave her local anaesthesia then proceeded to do the episiotomy. Soon after that the baby’s head came out and after some twisting and turning, the whole body. But there was no time to relax.
I had to cut the cord, deliver the placenta and sew up the cut I had made earlier. By that time a senior doctor had come. She congratulated me for my bravery and I was elated. But it was only later that the significance of my act fully hit me.
My presence that day made a difference in that woman’s life! My role mattered. It reminded me of a story.
A beach was littered with starfishes and a man was picking them up and throwing them back into the ocean. It was pointed out to him that there were probably millions of starfish and his act wasn’t making any difference. He picked another one, threw it into the ocean, and said it made a difference for that one.
One doesn’t necessarily have to find the cure for cancer to make a difference. Little things can make a difference, even mere presence. A doctor’s smile or a reassuring pat on the back maybe all that is needed to make a person’s day.
I was put into despair by the death of a person and pulled out of it by the birth of another. Somehow it seemed fitting.
I still struggle. Being a doctor in this part of the world is rather demanding. But now when I feel down, I can remind myself of the lesson I learnt from my own experience. As long as I can make even one person smile, I am making a difference. In the end that is all that matters.
About the Author: Mahmud H. Ibrahim has passed from Dhaka Medical College and is now doing training for post graduation in internal medicine. He can be reached at [email protected]
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