Non Omnis Moriar…
The Medical ICU was always musical – the beeps of the BP monitor, the rhythms of the ventilator, the gasps of the ‘maybe survivable‘ and the gasps of the ‘maybe non-survivable‘. The incomprehensible encephalopathic chatters and the replies of the delusions. It can get quite chaotic.
I was the duty doctor since the past 1 week – day time. With heavy breathing and chaos was he brought into the ICU, Gautham, everything of his was mechanically/medically distorted when he was brought in. Mouth inflated with tubes, intubated – he was practically drowned in the fluid. I looked at the file. Organophosphorus poisoning – 18-year-old boy alleged to have drunk half a bottle of OP poison, five hours ago. Immediate management is done in the casualty, the patient stabilized and has been shifted to the ICU. And he joined the ICU “group song”. Senior doctors told me he is among the ‘maybe non-survivable’
Day 1 passed and then on Day 2, Gautham regained his consciousness, was on Oxygen. He smiled through the mask. Saturation was 95% with mask on (a good score). I smiled back at him. It’s not very often that you see people coming back from the other world, with a smile. After medicine department rounds my seniors told me he is fine ‘with the oxygen mask’. ‘Welcome back’, I said as he spoke to me through the oxygen mask. I asked him why he did it. He told me that he had drunk alcohol for the first time in his life the day before and had gone home with his friends. When his father (who is a manual worker) found out that he was drunk, beat him in front of his friends. The insult, the revolt and the revenge – hence drank the poison. He didn’t want to die, he loved his father. He told me he wants to live. He looked happy to be alive, very happy. We called his father into the ICU and they spoke, he through his mask. They hugged and cried, he through his mask.
Gautham was always pleasant in the ICU. A happy patient in the ICU! He joked and laughed, through the mask. The next day when his consultants came for the rounds, I asked why he couldn’t be shifted out of the ICU. They told me, ‘Remove the mask for 5 seconds and try to feed him.’ I tried. Saturation fell from 95% to 85 to 75, he can’t survive without the mask. I was told that never can the mask be removed, because the lungs are getting progressively fibrosed due to the poison’s irreversible effects. He cannot breathe for long without the mask and later even with the mask. But we wouldn’t tell him. That evening he told me that he wanted to go back home and play in the fields and go fishing. And that he would get big river fishes for his dad! The bill for ICU admission was getting higher every day. The hospital’s patient services department provided him with maximum financial support. I knew his father wouldn’t be able to afford the Oxygen supply for long.
Then that day came when they couldn’t afford it at all. So he was planned to be shifted to a government hospital. We told him, he is fine for now and hence being shifted to a local hospital. He was sad to leave us, he took my phone number, and was shifted out of the ICU, with his mask.
After half an hour he called me on my phone and said, “Doctor didi, death taught me – to live at all, is a miracle enough”. He died 10 minutes after…