The Dilemma

The Dilemma

8 mins

Aarushi had a quick shower and dried herself. At first she noticed nothing, but when she put the towel on the rod, she noticed something which seemed to be a blood stain. Not believing herself, she looked closely and yes, there it was – staring at her face a large blob of blood clot and fresh blood. She looked around to find out where it came from and for a moment she just went blank. “How now? After forty years, when hysterectomy has been done?”, she kept questioning herself. All of a sudden, she felt lost, desperate and hopeless, that she could not share this with anyone.

After the passing away of her dear husband, she had faced several problematic issues, but she had been able to face them squarely. This was unexpected and totally a bolt from the blue. She had to hurriedly leave for a meeting, but she could not bring herself to get ready and go. She sent in a lame excuse to the meeting convenor and sat on her recliner wondering what to do. 

This was such a delicate issue that even when there was a 24 x 7 nurse available in the community, she felt awkward to speak to anyone about it. She was past seventy but she felt like a child not knowing what to do. She sat outside on the verandah, blew in a breath of fresh air and said to herself that firstly she should not panic. Secondly, she should share her concern with someone. The best person would be the duty nurse who was very kind and helpful. She took out her mobile and dialled her number, but when she got connected, on an impulse, she switched it off. This happened once or twice, until the nurse herself called back.

This time, she came out openly and confided her predicament in her. Anisha lost no time and within seconds, she was before Aarushi. “Madam, do you mind if I examine you?”, she asked to which Aarushi did not reply, but walked with her to the bedroom to facilitate the examination. The glove carried the stains and both of them decided that it would not be wise to sleep over it. Anisha suggested that Aarushi should consult a lady doctor who lived close by at once and not delay the consultation. She also rang up the clinic and got an appointment for her at 1.30 p.m. Not stopping there, she even arranged for a vehicle to take her to the doctor and sent one of the staff members with her as an attendant.

Aarushi had no option to refuse and she went to the doctor, who was very kind and gentle as well as reassuring. After examination, she found nothing amiss and related the sudden bout of bleeding to the strong antibiotic she had been taking for an infection on her knee. However, as the symptom warranted further investigation, she wrote out a couple of blood tests and an ultrasound scan of the abdomen. They then went to the Scan Centre and waited their turn which came late in the evening, and had to stay back to collect the report. While the scan was being done, Aarushi kept asking the doctor whether there was any abnormality, but received a blunt reply that she was busy concentrating on her job and dictating the report. When the procedure was through and she was getting down to leave, sha again requested her to reveal the findings but was snubbed. 

Anyway, once the report was delivered, she hurriedly ran through it. It detailed fatty liver and hernia and with a sigh of relief, Aarushi tossed the report in her bag and reached home. There, when she read the report again calmly, the words in the last line stood out bold and clear: ”CA cervix likely”.

Her face drooped. She shared the news with the nurse who had attended to her in the morning and she too was put off. At home, it was as if gloom had descended. Aarushi lived with her sister-in-law and she did not wish to share the findings with her lest she was disturbed, but with the whisperings going on, she could make out something was wrong and finally got to know of it. Aarushi then thought of the next step. It was tough for her to decide if she wanted to inform her daughters or not. She personally did not wish to disturb their peace but on an earlier occasion when she had hidden her husband’s heart attack from them, they were very upset. Under the circumstances, she made up her mind not to conceal anything from them.

It was a rude shock for both of them and they even started preparing to come and personally console Aarushi, but she forbade them to do so. She decided to consult her surgical oncologist who had previously done her mastectomy and then follow her advice. She could seek her appointment at 3 p.m., the next day. The oncologist too, concurred with the local practitioner and found no abnormality, but to be on the safe side, took a PAP smear and also advised her to undergo an MRI Scan.

It was a harrowing experience for Aarushi who was quite obese, to fit on the platform which slid into the chamber. With hands tucked tight and belted all over, she felt claustrophobic but could do nothing about it. She had been strictly instructed to breathe normally and not move at all and this was forever ringing in her ears. Try as she might to breathe normally, she felt that she was breathing rapidly in short breaths and she could herself make out the way her abdomen kept rising and falling with each breath. She kept chanting the Lord’s name closing her eyes, but it did not help in the least. The varying sounds of drumming and clanging were disturbing and deafening. All of a sudden she would feel as if she was shaking. The ordeal did not last long. She was pulled out and asked to get off. She was surprised as she had expected the procedure to last for at least three fourths of an hour, and here she was told to leave within ten minutes. The mystery was solved when she was told that the images were shaky and wavy and would not help the investigation in any way. She was asked to fast that night and report for a fresh scan at 9 the next morning.

It is only when one is forbidden from doing a thing, that it becomes a very difficult task. As she was asked not to drink even water after the night, she felt all the more thirsty and her lips and mouth felt parched, but there was no other alternative, but to face the “music” once again.

The next morning, she was again strapped and wheeled in and subjected to the various noises and magnetic sound waves. She felt as if birds were chirping on one side while drums sounded and cymbals clanged. She tried to figure out if there was a pattern in the magnetic sounds, but they were as varied as could be. This time the tenure of her confinement was longer than usual which made her feel as if the imaging was good. After what seemed endless, she was finally wheeled out and asked to collect the report after six hours. She decided that she had had enough for the day and left for home. She would seek an appointment with the oncologist for the next morning and meet her with the report. In the meanwhile, she had collected the reports of the blood and PAP smear, which were quite clear. In fact, the Smear report distinctly ruled out any malignancy. This was good news, but she had to wait for the MRI to be sure.

It was again another sleepless night. The previous evening, after reading about the likelihood of cancer of the cervix, she had spent the night writing out all the passwords of her net banking accounts, credit cards and debit cards, just in case she had to be hospitalised. She had decided to keep this sheet of paper in a sealed envelope with the management of their retirement community, to be opened if and when necessary. The next night, she went over the will she had made some time back and kept it updated. She had already mailed copies of this to her daughters. Towards early morning her tired eyes closed and she caught up with some sleep.

At ten in the morning, she was all fresh and ready to face the report – good or bad. With this positive frame of mind, nothing could go wrong and nothing did. The MRI Scan gave her a clean chit. There was no malignancy detected whatsoever!

She conveyed the good news to her daughters who were very much relieved. She herself felt as if a big burden had been lifted off her shoulders. The agony that she had lived through some years back had presented themselves once again during the past three days, not allowing her a moment’s peace.

Though she was relieved that all was well, the results had surfaced only after hours of mental stress and a significant expense. She wished to personally meet the doctor who had done the Ultra Sound Scan in the first place and give her a piece of her mind. 

She asked the driver to stop at the Scan Centre and went inside. As soon as she entered, she was surrounded by the entire staff working there. The doctor was nowhere to be seen. “Madam, madam,” one of the girls who sat at the Reception Desk pleaded with Aarusi. “A serious mistake took place yesterday, Madam. Th report given to you was that of Arushi and not Aarushi. Arushi is 58 and not 72 years old. We sincerely regret the blunder. This came to light only when Arushi collected the report and pointed out the error. We tried contacting you but the mobile was not reachable.”

Another staff member came forward to represent her colleague’s case: “Please, Madam. We beg of you. Our Doctor Madam does not know of this lapse, Madam. She has joined our team only yesterday and in her excitement to work fast, she committed this unpardonable mistake. She will be fired if our Madam comes to know… We promise you that we will be extra careful hereafter. Kindly excuse her this one time, Madam, please…” Aarushi could not hear any further, but felt sorry for the poor girl. “Anyway, learn from your mistake“, she said and walked out.

While on one hand Aarushi was calculating the expenses for the various investigations and three trips to the hospital, both in terms of money and time, the other kept dinning into her : “So what? You have now had a complete medical check- up at a subsidised rate!! Look and think positive!”

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