Recently, I’ve started interning at a local hospital pretty close to where I live. For the most part, it’d really been pretty ordinary, up until today. Usually, we’d just listen to talks, tour the hospital, talk with doctors, patients and, well, just get an overall feel for what the hospital’s about and how it functions and all. Today, though, was much more thought provoking than that. Today, we had our case studies. Our job was to interview specific patients, to ask them about their illnesses, diseases, life, anything we fancied, really, and to form a report from the information we gathered.
To be honest, I didn’t expect too much from the case study. I thought we’d go into the wards, talk to someone with a mild, much less than debilitating illness, write a few points, convert them into a report and then cross another thing off our to-do list for the day. But, as it turns out, I was wrong. The patient I met, Muhammad Awais, was a dark, aging man of about fifty, with greying stubble around his chin and cheeks- an almost beard- and eyes that were slightly yellow, that continually looked up at the ceiling, even as I talked to him.
“Excuse me,” I said, “We’re doing a report on the patients in this hospital and the treatment they’re receiving. Would you mind answering a few questions for me?”
“No, no,” he said, “Ask me whatever you want.”
And so I did. I asked him about his illness. The man had diabetes. He had high blood pressure and, on top of that, as if God were adding the cherry atop some sick twisted apple pie, he was blind. I don’t know what, but, something compelled me to keep on talking to him.
“Umm. Do you work, by any chance?” I said, realising the stupidity of my question the instant I’d posed it.
“No, of course not,” he said. “I can’t do anything like this.
I’m like a living corpse now.”
And here’s the thing about what he said. Sitting wherever you are, reading this, you’d feel that it’s just another cliche, but, it’s when you’re there at bedside, and a person like that is lying right there on the bed in front of you and you experience everything for your own self and you see the truth of what they’re saying, manifested in the form of an actual bed-ridden man who was probably at one time or another healthier than either you or I, incapable of doing anything and everything that he once could without the help of another person and in doing so becoming an unbearable burden upon the person and realising it for himself and who really wants to live that way, after all?
So, I guess, the point of me telling you all this is, that, well, you really never know what’s going to happen to you, is all. Like, Awais himself didn’t know he had kidney problems until he went to get his eyes checked because of the pain he’d felt in them owing to his high blood pressure and all. And, then, even when he did, it wasn’t early enough to do anything but begin dialysis as they began to fail completely.
So, yeah. I suppose you never should feel you’ve gotten the short end of the stick in life. As unsettlingly reassuring as it seems, there’s always someone worse off than you.