(This is the seventeenth part of a short story which is entirely a work of fiction.)
When the two doctors entered the ICU, they saw Dr. Som was asleep. Vasudha was sitting next to him. She sprung up as soon as she saw them and asked them what the matter was. They signalled to the ICU Duty Doctor to look after Dr. Som and they ushered her into a chamber.
Vasudha was anxious. “What do the test results say, Doctor?”
“Ma’am, Dr. Som’s creatinine is 8.4.”
“What? How can that be? He did not have any signs of this until now? Suddenly? How can it be? Send a repeat sample.”
“Already done ma’am.”
“I’m sure there is something wrong.”
“Let us hope ma’am.”
The Serum Creatinine test was one of the basic tests of kidney function. The normal range is between 0.5 to 1.2 mg/dl. Dr. Som’s was about seven times the upper limit of normal.
The doctors went back to the lab to personally supervise the testing.
Vasudha returned to the chair. She remembered the bits and pieces of her conversations with Sheshu about kidney disease. She remembered him saying that Kidney Failure was almost always progressive. It started slowly when there would be no symptoms. Gradually the symptoms would build up and the kidneys would lose more and more of their function. She tried recollecting if there was anything unusual with Sheshu’s health over the past few weeks. She couldn’t remember anything out of the ordinary. “There must be something wrong with the report. It cannot come suddenly like this. Maybe its just exhaustion. Once the report comes and he becomes stable, we should go for another holiday. Hospital be damned. Health comes first. This has made me so scared. What is the point of all this?”
Sheshu opened his eyes again. “Vasudha, I want some water.” Vasudha signalled to the nurse. The nurse brought some water and gave it to him.
“What is happening here Vasudha? Where are the doctors?”
“They are at the lab. Just getting the reports. Once they come and everything is ok, we can go home.”
Even though Narayana was their own hospital, Vasudha felt suffocated inside the ICU. She just wanted to be back home with Sheshu. She could not bear the sight and feel of the place. Monitors beeping, an eerie silence otherwise, Sheshu on the bed lying like a patient, various probes connected to him. The entire feeling was terrifying. Even though she had come numerous times to the ICU in the past, for the first time in her life she was experiencing it as a patient’s attender. She would do anything to get out of there as soon as possible.
Sheshu looked around him. He was also experiencing the ICU for the first time from a patient’s bed. He saw the nurses attending to the other patients. He noticed the probes attached to his finger, to his chest and the monitors beeping next to him. He felt quite intimidated. He had walked into the ICU multiple times every day to check on his patients. He felt completely weird being on the receiving end. He started wondering what he could change about the setting to make it more friendly and less scary?
Maybe, the beeping of the machines could be muted? Maybe the lighting could be brighter? The probes, what could he do about the probes? Maybe a television? He needed to give this place a makeover! He discussed his thoughts with Vasudha. He asked her to pull out her phone and take some notes. “This is a great opportunity Vasu. Let’s note down what all we can change here!” Vasudha played along. He dictated and she typed out into her phone. They had about eight or nine items on the list when the doctors returned from the lab.