"I treat, He cures!"

(Guest blog by Dr. Sanhita Walawalkar)

Dr.Vivek Nalgirkar

3/10/2022 2 min read

Chandana's Breath

It was around 8.30 at night. I had just returned to my hostel room after an exhaustive Casualty duty. Within half an hour, I received a call from the Casualty for an emergency case.

A girl of about 12 years was lying still on the cot. A crowd of about 15 to 20 people surrounded her. Still I couldn't miss spotting two figures amongst them, her parents. Her mother's face bore all the emotions that a mother could feel for a critically ill child. Her father was extremely anxious but quiet.

By the time we reached the Casualty, Our Professor Dr. M had already handled the case with his typical professional skill & efficiency. We were into the fourth month of our Internship & so had got very well accustomed to his way of functioning. He was a clinician par excellence, an excellent teacher & above all, a compassionate human being.

The patient was shifted to IPCU & was administered the necessary preliminary treatment. Sir explained to us her case history & examination findings.

Chandana, a 12 year old girl

A case of snake bite that had resulted in complete respiratory failure. All other parameters were within normal limits. She was bitten by a poisonous snake on her way to school.

The year was 1988. Our rural hospital lacked modern equipment's & facilities. But we were privileged to have dedicated doctors as our teachers. The only equipment we had with us to fight the case was Ambubag. All the interns were allotted round the clock duties of 4 hours each. Days got extremely hectic. Blood collection in the mornings, followed by maintenance of TPR/BP charts of Indoor patients, then rounds, case presentation & Ambubag duty for Chandana. We started reading various text books, reference books to know more about cases of snake bite. We were also enlightened by our teachers regarding the same.

Days were crawling. We had started getting a little exasperated due to complete absence of respiratory response from Chandana. However, Sir was confident & we had faith in him. " Medical literature is full of such cases. Her respiratory center will start functioning sooner rather than later," he kept on reassuring us.

Chandana's parents were optimistic. Occasionally her mother shed tears of despair. She had almost abandoned her home & other 3 kids & had adopted the hospital as her second home. Days, then weeks passed. The page on the calendar showed a month & a half to be over. Air was filled with with doubts, desperation & dejection too.

In IPCU, lay Chandana, like a statue with a beating heart. It was a day like any other day, or was it? Something flickered. Was it her first breath or was our imagination playing havoc with our senses? We couldn't be sure. As per the strict instructions, Sir was immediately intimated. He rushed to the IPCU within a few minutes. He examined her. "Are you certain she breathed? "he questioned. "Yes Sir, "the movement of the head indicated the opposite! He smiled. "She's on the path to recovery. Well done, everyone, "he said. We were speechless, devoid of any coherent thoughts & emotions for some time. The impact of his statement was beyond words. When we returned to our senses, we were literally on cloud nine. Her parents wept a bucketful of tears.

Initially her breathing was irregular, but later it regularized. She became conscious. It was her reincarnation really, after a long haul of 53 days in another world.

We treat, He cures... proved to be the universal medical truth!

Dr. Sanhita Walawalkar