ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 47

A lonely avurudu with the neonates

By Anedu

It was something I had been looking forward to for some time. It was convocation time, one last time to meet up with the guys we had spent five years of our life with. We had together got scolded for not taking histories (as details of patients are called), slept in the back seat during lectures, and unnoticed, slipped out of ward classes to have a cup of plain tea. But we had all passed. We were now spread out throughout the country.

We were given just 24 hours off and the two of us (my roommate and I) had a four hour journey to make; one way. But we were looking forward to meeting all our old friends.

Unfortunately the whole episode turned out to be a total anticlimax. There were over 1500 graduates and the 150 of us got lost and diluted in the mass of cloaked figures. Nobody had the time to stay back after the ceremony as all had to rush back to their units. Some couldn’t even make it, the numbers in their units being too small to allow them to leave.

And so the final hurrah turned out to be a mere formality. As if in confirmation our bus back to the city had a flat tyre on the way back, and it was well past midnight when the two of us made it to the hospital.

In the meantime, five months had flown by and it was my turn to do the neonatology part of our appointment. (Neonates is the term given to all babies less than a month old). It was a welcome relief to be at a different place doing something different, even if only for a while.

The neonates’ anatomy appears so tiny and delicate compared to even that of a six- month-old baby, that the first few ward rounds were carried out with extreme care.

But in truth neonates are much tougher than they appear to be. After all many of us would have endured that monumental journey through our mothers’ birth canal, and before that endured all those doctors pressing on our heads when we were yet to be born trying to access whether we were pointing up or down, and finally the midwife pulling at our necks just as we had our first peek at the real world. (Fortunately I’m not one of them, I was struggling in my early days and managed to get my cord around my neck so much so they got me out via a caesarian section!)

But in reality the sight of a baby coming out of a mother’s womb, leaves you breathless every time; real magic in the real world.
It had become my job to see that the babies were all set for surviving in this harsh world. It was a bit like giving a quality assurance to vehicles at a car plant but it was much more. Unlike a car you could never reject a child even with the worst of defects. It was your duty to make them live. A fine challenge for a trainee PHO.

The New Year too was drawing nearer, the first that I would be spending away from home. It was a lonely feeling but the only way to survive for long in a hospital I had learned was by thinking of each day with a fresh mind and taking every minute at a time. That was what I was planning to do.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.