Dr. Pawan KB Agrawal
We all are bound to experience pain at least once in our lifetime in one form or the other. The severity of pain is subjected to individual experience and determination to tolerate. At times the pain bound us to kneel in front of someone whom we expect to be powerful enough in a hope that we will be relieved.
Being a doctor, determined to face the rural challenges to bloom a light of happiness in those desperate faces with excruciating pain coming across such helpless yet hopeful patients is a routine.We do grade pain but often we are not able to address the individual experiences adequately.Nevertheless we always thrive amidst our limited resources and destitution of our fellow patients to help them sustain through their difficult times and at times these turmoil carve a beautiful story to inspire courage and hope in a doctor patient relationship.
A week back I had this patient 32 years in one of the emergency beds during morning rounds.Two hours earlier I was informed by my colleague medical officer about receiving him in agonising pain in his abdomen which started from his scrotum the previous day.The pain had started the earlier morning.Since there were no vehicles to carry him and he could not walk for three hours with the pain, helpless he prevailed throughout the afternoon alongside his ignorant wife and three small children not knowing what was awaiting him.
Rather than taking him to a religious healer, they preferred him receiving care in a hospital. A wise and often rare scenario in most of our deprived areas where these religious healers are the only prospects.
With the dusk, some of his relatives finally fetched a jeep and a ride of two hours along the bumpy gravelled roads and finally landed him in our emergency ward. Whatever be the reason pain must not happen. This is what we often emphasize to our fellow medical service providers.
He received some pain killers while he was being examined and investigated. We established the diagnosis of right obstructed inguinal hernia and explained the patient & his relatives that he needs to be operated as soon as possible in order to save the part of his intestine that had come out as hernia and had been stubborn not to go back.
We could not be sure though if the part of his intestine needed to be cut and repaired. As a general practitioner, a generalist, we are regularly operating hernia that goes in spontaneously but a situation like this where a part of the intestine might need to be cut put us in dilemma given limited instruments, anaesthetic expertise and post operative care.
Another challenge poking us was his referral, a journey of 10 hours by jeep depending on a driver to the nearest higher hospital in Dhangadi,far western Nepal in case the patient party agreed.
We explained and discussed the scenario with the patient party, scrutinised every option in details. It would have been best if we could refer him in an ambulance with a paramedic to Dhangadi. But it was yet far from happening.
The turmoil of helplessness,poverty and health care resources in each of us endured the entire night and settled in the afternoon as we, doctors and patient party eventually concluded to put the situation on faith and proceed with surgery in our hospital.
The patient party agreed that if surgery goes wrong or he dies,they would not raise any claim.A life was on our hands then.How could we not do our best and help him survive was a challenge.
He was rushed into the operation room almost forty hours later.Together with another generalist Dr. Bikash who is also my mentor since I started working with Possible in Accham two months back.
We put him under spinal anaesthesia and took every precaution available at our disposal. As we explored, the faith or whatever we name it served us with a hope that the part of intestine might survive.It was almost on the verge to die, had we opened him few hours later or had referred him.The anxiety diminished with a sigh of relief.
After he was shifted to the ward, we prohibited him to eat and had him keep on intravenous fluids.After two days we started with liquids and had him have usual diet on fourth day. He was then walking happily without pain and discharged on seventh day after we are pretty sure that the complication would not happen.
Sometimes we do end up with a climax where a family turns upside down with an unexpected helpless death of the beloved on a hospital bed.But to our faith & the conviction of his fellow relatives,this time a life in despair was restored with balance and smile for his new journey back home with his small family.