(This is the sixth part of a fictional short story - In you we trust. You can find the first part here.)
Aparna used to read up a lot about her condition. She also read up a lot about dialysis. She was a member of an online forum of dialysis patients too where she would get a lot of information about the dialysis process and the various factors involved in it. Over the months she had developed a very good understanding of the concepts involved. She was completely on top of her dialysis settings and would insist that she dictate the parameters rather than the technicians.
Prakash, on the other hand, got all his dialysis knowledge from practice. For the past so many years, he had encountered many situations which helped him to handle most complications fairly well. However, his theoretical background was weak. The diploma he had done was like most other diplomas in the city. Theory was rarely taught. The students were simply expected to come to the unit and then learn the practical aspects of dialysis from the seniors. They did what the seniors did. If some senior learnt something the wrong way many generations back, chances are that several generations of dialysis technicians down the line were repeating the same mistake.
For the past few weeks, Aparna noticed something peculiar about an elderly male patient who used to generally be taken in the bed opposite to her on the same days as her, in the same shift as her. He would come in with barely a liter of extra fluid but about halfway into the session, he would get severe cramps. The technicians were simply not able to pull off even that minimal amount of fluid. This baffled even Prakash. Aparna had an idea. But she was wondering how she could tell Prakash.
Aparna knew exactly how Prakash would react. He was the kind of guy who would feel so belittled if someone else gave him an idea in his field of expertise that actually worked. It would be much worse if that someone was a patient. And even worse if Aparna gave that idea. Aparna realized this. But she couldn't let the patient suffer any more!
"Increase the conductivity!" she shouted out as Prakash was discussing the problem with the junior technicians while starting the man's session.
Everyone turned to look at her. Prakash's face turned red. The juniors turned to look at Prakash. The patient looked at Aparna and then at Prakash. Aparna regretted it instantly. What have I done?
Prakash burst out laughing. He shook his head in disbelief. There was silence all around. He did increase the conductivity however. He increased the Prescribed Sodium setting. The conductivity came up to about 14.5 in a few minutes. Prakash kept returning to the patient to check if he was cramping. He was doing quite well. The fluid was all successfully removed. For the first time. Aparna was also keeping an eye on the patient. She was happy to see that the fluid was removed as well. She knew what keeping extra fluid on meant. Prakash did not talk to Aparna that day. He closed her session. But did not say a word.
Prakash went home that night very dejected. Why didn't I think of that? There was nothing great in what she suggested. It was not a new medical discovery. It was the obvious solution. But still, why didn't I think of that? She is not even qualified in dialysis. She has no experience. She is only a patient. How did she think of that and why didn't I?
He recollected all the nice things patients said about him. They treated him like God. They brought gifts for him. He thought about all the times he thought of innovative solutions to the issues patients were having on dialysis and how he had relieved them of their problems. He kept picturing himself cannulating different patients. He remembered patients allowing only him to cannulate. It felt good. It felt good to have so many people look up to you. It felt good to have so many people revere you.
And then there was this patient. What did she think of herself? Who did she think she was? Telling me what to do! Look at her guts. The way she shouted out in front of everyone. She wanted to insult me. That was her only intention. She had no interest in the patient. All she wanted to do was to insult me. The bitch! She must be taught a lesson. A lesson she would never forget.