“I got married to him when I was 19 years old. He has never Ill-treated me. Never a rude word has come from him towards me. His condition is worsening. He has become like a baby. I take care of him like he is my child. And he needs me all the time. I know he is never going to be the same old person again. But I just want to see him. I can’t think of losing him. I will take care of him till I’m alive. No matter how difficult it is. Because he is my life.”
There are the words an elderly mother had for us during rounds one day. Her husband lay before us. Alzheimers disease; hydrocephalus with brain atrophy. The man in front of us was a 65 year old child. Afraid of strangers, he would cringe at the sound of a door being closed. He watched us closely as our unit chief examined him. He reached for ma’am s hand- His way of communicating with strangers. He was admitted with chest infection. And after 2 weeks of admission, his condition was deteriorating.
He might have been a really good man in his time, mused my unit chief. Madam had drawn that conclusion from the love that his wife was showering on him. As days went by, we as a unit watched the love that this husband and wife shared. We were all deeply affected by it. And as the situation was becoming more grim, we were all pretty worried about how the wife is going to handle this. Even as his condition sped downhill, madam was against admitting him in an ICU. She explained to his children that she felt he would benefit more from his wife’s presence and care. It would be better for her as well.
A love story- now marred by tragedy- greet us daily as we enter that room during rounds. Our whole unit- unit chief Dr.Asha, 2 senior residents, 1 junior resident and 3 of us interns- have been affected by this story. I watched in awe as Asha ma’am explained the grim situation to the bystanders. The grace and expertise with which ma’am was making the bad news palatable was admirable. I dont know what will happen in the next few days. Will he make it alive out of the hospital? Only the Almighty has the answer. But the love that the old couple shared will always remain in our hearts.