The Intern7 mins 362 7 mins 362
Megha rushed into the emergency room, throwing her half eaten roll into the bin. The shrill call for the "Interrrrnnnnnnnnn!" did its part.
The emergency unit of the hospital, was at its peak - midweek, 9.30pm.
It was one of those nights where the hospital was buzzing with patients, and there were far more people to be looked after, than there were people there to do so.
"Game night", that's what the interns called it. 'Cause it was on such nights that the fresh-out-of-med-school rookies got to do something worthwhile.
She was excited, the call for help meant something important for her to do.
Shouts from around indicated that a bridge had collapsed in the vicinity, injuring enough number of people to render the emergency unit understaffed.
The Medical Officer on duty was panicking. Calamities were a rarity. And each one had to be handled differently.
Residents rushed in. She recognized them as they raced about, Surgeons everywhere, General surgeons-Orthopedic surgeons-ENT specialists-OMF surgeons!
A lot of patients were being brought in as she watched, confused, and excited. Adrenaline rushed through her veins.
All pumped up!
Everyone was working on a patient or another. The Medical Officer gave her pathetic clueless figure one look and pointed her in His direction.
There He lay, still on the stretcher that he was brought in on.
Triage Rules meant that the victims most likely to survive were to be treated first and the ones highly unlikely to make it were to be given last priority.
As ruthless as it sounds, it makes the most sense in cases of calamities where time and resources are scarce and the number of casualties needs to be reduced as quickly as possible.
She knew that patient being assigned to an intern meant that the Officer didn't think he would make it and would rather have the professionals work on those requiring immediate care to save them.
She gulped and ran towards him.
He was a middle-aged man, probably a construction worker, going by his uniform and appearance. He moaned in a semiconscious daze and barely responded to her attempts at calling out to him.
He seemed to have no family, no co-worker, none who could claim his side.
She decide to gauge his injuries first. He was covered head to toe in mud, muck and blood. Each time he moaned, he spat out some blood. His forehead had a huge gash on it which was oozing out a lot of blood.
His shoulder seemed to be held awkwardly on his side. Dislocation, she guessed.
His abdomen was distended completely and she could see bruising all over his chest and back.
The fellow had been recovered from under the biggest pile of debris from the fallen bridge.
As she assessed him, his moans ceased and suddenly he became motionless.
Her eyes widened and she tried to feel his pulse. Nothing.
"Ok Megha, relax. You know CPR."
She told herself, gulping.
CardioPulmonaryResuscitation. (With the Cerebral, of course.)
"CantPossiblyRemember! A thing!"
She pulled herself together, and pulled him onto the floor. He slid easily, not very heavy.
There was a heavy stench of mud, urine, and blood emanating from him. She tried to ignore it.
"Sense of smell, most adaptable, Meghs. In a minute you'll get used to it." She thought.
Talking to herself always calmed her down. She started when she was 7, the night her twin passed away.
The fever had gotten to her brain, the doctors had said.
So used to always having someone around, she would have imaginary conversations in her head, with Riya.
"Calm down, Meghs. I'll talk to Riya here." She thought to herself. Meghs to Meghs. No Riya.
Her parents were taken aback by her.. their child that didn't even shed a tear, for her twin.
The patient lay on the floor, motionless and soundless.
She remembered her training, and putting her palms on his chest, began to apply pressure.
"30 Compressions, then mouth to mouth."
30 down, no movement, no pulse. Nothing.
"Mouth to mouth now, Meghs."
Gulping in some air, she placed her lips on his. The stench got stronger now.
2 Breaths. Nothing.
He still lay there, as if her efforts made not a change in his collapsing world.
She took his hands into hers. A spontaneous move.
They were creased and rough, with broken nails.
A lifetime of working she felt in their toughness.
A lifetime of working with your hands, and your feet, and all your muscles and all the strength you could possibly muster.
Physical strength, brute force.
Imagine waking up every morning, without having slept your fill.
Walking in the sun, the rain, the cold, anything, to your workplace. Working until your feet give way and until you back aches with the weight.
30 Compressions. Nothing.
She saw a tiny ring on his ring finger.
Married? Probably has a wife and a child somewhere.
Maybe back in his hometown, maybe in a hut somewhere in the city.
Waiting for her husband to return, huddled around a cold stove. Her children waiting for their father.
Possibly the sole breadwinner. Family.
Possibly his reason for continuing to work on the bridge. Inspite of the others leaving due to the warnings of a possible collapse.
Workers earn by the hour. That extra hour would mean more food for their makeshift, metal, secondhand table.
2 Breaths. Nothing.
She glanced at his thin, frail frame. So thin, so starved. Each meal is a struggle.
Sometimes he wins, many times, probably loses. Gives up food for the little ones.
Gives up food to save for their education.
Gives up food, simply because he couldn't manage to get any.
Imagine worrying about every meal you wish to have next.
She was panting now. Her hands were exhausted, movements becoming slower.
But she wouldn't give up, she couldn't.
She kept on.
"18,19,20,21…Don't stop Meghs. 23,24.."
30 compressions. No movement.
She had to do all it takes.
And suddenly, he mattered. This man, his struggles, his joys, his needs, his Life. She wanted to save it. Save him. Save his probably family from their probable doom.
His wrinkled muddily, blood smeared clothes had left their stains all over her white apron.
She stank from his stench. In touching his bare skin she touched his life. This man who didn't matter, who nobody even knew, she wanted to wake him and tell him he did.
2 Breaths. Not. A. Thing.
She was shaken awake from her stupor, by the Medical Officer who came to stop her.
"Megha, he's gone. Stop now. You tried enough, child."
This voice wasn't in her head.
She rose, and watched as the nurse informed the worker to move his body, and wait for someone to claim it.
The words echoed in her head, "Stop now, you tried enough."
She had spent more than her time on the man, she had spent her energy and her emotions on him.
Something she was warned never to do in the first day of Med School.
The next day she went to the morgue, on a whim.
Outside stood a small group of people, weeping silently.
A thin, middle aged woman, and two children holding on to her. A tiny little boy with thin arms and legs, and a tall, lanky girl.
The Medical Officer from last night was there, talking to them. When Megha reached there, he was surprised. He pointed out to her, and the family turned to look at her.
They looked at her, their faces contorted in grief. They said nothing, just looked.
Megha couldn't help herself.
A lone tear made it out of her eyes, the first one in a long long time.
Many others followed it.
She stood there looking back at them, crying too.
That strange group of people, bound by a death.
Saying nothing, silently weeping.
Tears for him, tears for Riya.
"You tried enough, child."
She had. So many years of holding it in.
Not any more.
She left from there a lot lighter, and stopped thinking it was Riya she needed to converse with in her head.
She finally let go.
Years later, a thin, lanky boy entered her clinic.
"The new intern? Welcome." She smiled and told him.
"Thank you, ma'am." He said.
She smiled at him quizzically.
"Thank you." He repeated.
It only took another look at him to recognize him. 15 years later and those faces were still forged into her memory.
That little boy, had grown up!
Had managed to survive, to study, to even enter med school!
She was proud. More proud than the 14 years as a doctor had ever made her.
That man had mattered.