All in a Day's Work

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 Mushal Noor 2 Comments Category :

I've never given my clothes to a Tailor. I have a 'Darzan', or Seamstress, if you will. Her name is Rani.

Now Rani happened to have an angina attack two days ago. She called me after returning from the DHQ emergency, and told me she'd wanted to come to Mayo, but couldn't. I sympathized with her, and reassured her that if she ever needed me, she could call me and I'd do whatever I could to help.

Which is why I saw her number flashing on my cell phone while I was attending the Gastroenterology Conference: Rani was sitting outside the Mayo Emergency, and would I please come there?

As it turns out, Rani had been having mild chest pain again since morning, and so she decided to pop into the Emergency.

I was confused.
Quite so.

Because despite spending 4 years at KE and Mayo, I had never, EVER seen the inside and workings of a hospital in a capacity other than that of a carefree med student. Most certainly not as a patient or an attendant. And so I didn't know where to start from, or what to do.

Should I take Rani to the OPD, or the Emergency? Her condition wasn't serious at all. I decided to ask somebody: preferably an HO, and a nice looking one, who wouldn't laugh at my stupidity. Incidentally, the OPD was closed, so I was directed to get Rani a 'parchee' in the Emergency.

Now, I'd seen patient parchees scores of times. But as far as I was concerned, the parchees probably just poofed themselves into existence. I found out that there was an entire world of long lines and curt staff and jaded patients and general mismanagement to maneuver through.

I had a vague notion that if I just marched up to the front of the winding, jostling line of patients and announced that I was a Doctor (or a student, since I don’t feel comfortable with calling myself a doctor-at least yet), the teeming masses would part like the Red Sea, and things would go smoothly from then onwards. And so I did. It was pretty cool to see how I could get my way. And I wasn't even wearing an overall.

Unsure of what exactly to do next, I just decided to cash in on the line that had just worked wonders for me: 'I'm a Student, and this is my patient...' And so the HOs looked Rani up and down, and the ECG-wala smiled and made small talk: Was I a student? Would I wait a few moments till those other patients got done? First one, then another, then the huffing babaji, then the irritable old woman. The nagging thought crept into my mind that if I acted haughty and busy, and made a scene, I wouldn't have to wait in line. After all, I was a Doctor...and what would Rani think? That I had no influence here? But I just smiled and reassured the ECG-wala that it was OK.

As Rani was being ECG'd, two women shoved past and stood in front of me, blocking my way. They'd come for an ECG too.

'Aap zara side pe ho jain gi?', I asked.
The older woman looked me up and then looked me down and then growled something incoherent.
'Kia?' I said.
'Changay kapray paay nay, ais lay?!?'
For a moment, I was stunned, and at a loss for words.
Then, as anger welled up in me, I retorted the only half truth that came to mind: 'Me yahan Doctor hun!'
'O! Acha! Mai sadqay jawan! Sao Bismillah!'
I edged away in annoyance as she began stroking my head...

Rani was as fit as a fiddle. Her ECG was fine, so was her blood pressure. She was advised a pain killer, and as I walked out with her, I couldn't help thinking that the only reason she had shown up here today was because I'd promised to help.

I explained that she was fine. Muscle aches, heartburn, and even tension could have caused her pain. That she should modify her diet a bit, and get exercise: it relieves stress too.

Yes, she told me, she had been very upset the past few days. A sick, unemployed husband. Household tensions. Money matters.
But then she poured out a stream of duas and blessings. Success. Happiness. Everything I wanted in life.
She seemed genuinely relieved. Lighter. Healthier. Knowing that nothing was wrong with her heart probably put the smile back on her weary face.

And so, I told myself, maybe this wasn’t an entire waste of time. Rani got her health back. And I was slightly wiser and richer than when I stepped into the Emergency today.



  1. Really like the way uve written this... so we're still sort of lost in our final year too... hmmm

  2. meet up with saba...she has a similar story to share;)