I gently rubbed the cotton damped with alcohol on his wrinkled upper arm. Straining my weary eyes, I looked for a vein in the already pale arms. Finally managing to locate one vein camouflaged between the distinct lines of wrinkles, I pierced a sterile needle into his skin. Assured that I had got in deep enough, I began to suck blood into the syringe. Together, the old man and I watched the dark, thick blood rise up the syringe. His glucose level figures for the previous week were fresh in my memory – 150 for fasting and a whopping 310 after a meal. His blood viscosity was thickening as well. I silently prayed for better results this time. Nurses have a soft side that is often overwhelmed by their show of resilience.
Giving him a warm assuring smile, I gently drew the needle out, emptied the contents of the syringe into a labeled test tube. I passed it over to the lab on my way to the maternity section in our hospital. A 4-day infant suffering from jaundice lay half-naked in the phototherapy incubator, the UV light making its yellow skin even brighter. The kid’s forlorn mother tiptoed behind me into the room, waiting for my approval. Medical rules are ones that even an illiterate would seldom fear breaking. She was more than eager to catch a glimpse of the result of her 10-month-long ordeal and breastfeed her kid. I could write stories of the mother’s agony, just by taking a glance at her eyes. They portrayed a desperate craving and anguish of a kind that no egoistic woman would curse another of her breed to suffer.
This wasn’t unusual to me. I waited outside. Once she was done, I guaranteed that her child would be fine and smiled. I had to move on. There was a patient in ward 235 ‘waiting’ to undergo dialysis in the next few minutes. This was going to be her fifth sitting. Another compulsory 3-hour nightmare she was forced to go through by her beloved family. I bet she would have rather wished she had prayed to die a peaceful, painless death instead of praying for her son’s promotion or for an ‘obedient’ daughter-in-law. Just when I completed setting up her dialysis, my senior nurse called for me to report for an emergency labour case.
This has always been one of the most exciting, painful and suspense-filled part of my career. It’s amazing how just a period of few minutes enlightens one to the inevitable truth of nature that life is the most precious gift on earth. I consider it a supreme power - a creation, surpassed only by creation itself. As my heart skipped a beat at the prospect of attending to my 10th labour case of the month, I was stopped by this 12-year old kid who was getting back home after a week-long stay for his acute knee fracture. I stopped in my tracks and gave him a hasty I-have-got-to-rush look.
“I loved the story u told me while plastering my leg yesterday.” He said, giving me a wide naughty grin. I shamelessly reciprocated with a quick smile.
“What do I call u?” He asked me, out-of-the-blue. “Uncle?”
The last glance that I had of his pearly eyes posed the same question that each of one my patients were tempted to ask – whether to call me brother, similar to addressing my female counterparts – sisters.
“Foster Father!” I replied, pecking him on his overgrown hair and sped towards the labour ward.
P.S.: Again, I is not me :D