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Sunday, 12 July 2015

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The surgery

Mihin was born to educated parents, the second in a family of four, two boys and two girls, and grew up in the suburbs of Colombo. Since his parents were keen on providing their children a sound education, they were sent to well-known leading schools. Though they were never pushed to secure high grades, the parents wanted them to achieve something worthwhile and be of service to the country.

Mihin loved music and painting, and was an all-rounder, but, never thought he would end up as a Doctor, least of all, a neuro-surgeon. He was an extremely bright student, and on the insistence of his teachers, he opted to study science.

At Medical College, Mihin was a brilliant student, topping his batch at all examinations, winning prestigious Gold Medals, which made his parents very happy and satisfied. He was awarded a scholarship to one of the best Medical Schools abroad, specialised further, and became a neurosurgeon of no mean repute. It was his desire to serve in the country he loved most, the country where he was born, establishing himself as a reputed ‘brain-surgeon’. So many successful operations did he perform over the years, on the young and the old, rich and the poor, the affluent and not. His concern was not their status, but how he could cure them.

Ailment

His father’s death due to an undetected heart ailment, made Mihin feel at times that had he been a Cardiologist, his father may have lived longer. He was close to his patients, kind and friendly, spending time enlightening them on matters relevant to their ailments. He tells them about the risks involved, but he offers them hope, because he is hopeful.

He had a number of operations on his a waiting list. The brain operation scheduled for the following day was on a female, in her late sixties.

She was a very gentle, pleasant character, who, he knew had great confidence in him. Though she had been having minor symptoms such as headaches and giddiness for some time, she spoke about it to the Doctor, only when she had an unusual problem with her vision.

“How long have you had it?”


“For about a week or so”.


“Headaches? Are they frequent?”


“Yes, lately, they are frequent, and at times, very severe. I feel unsteady on my feet too.”


“And why didn’t you tell me earlier?” Dr. Mihin seemed annoyed, and very concerned.


“I didn’t want to trouble my children”.


“How stupid”, he muttered under his breath.

After a series of tests, and X’rays, it was revealed she had a deep-seated tumour in her brain. Dr. Mihin confirmed that she would have to undergo brain surgery very soon, for the removal of the tumour.

The patient was terrified. “A brain-surgery”, she queried; in surprise. “What would happen if it is not done?”.

He explained, and assured her she would be fine.

Trust

The confidence and trust she had in him made things go a long way. The Doctor knew that brain-surgery involves one of the highest degrees of risk, of any medical procedure, and that the tumour was in a dangerous location, but yet, he was optimistic. Pre-operative examinations were done, the patient’s children ‘briefed’, and a date fixed for surgery.

The operating theatre was ready, and so was the Surgeon, the other Doctors and medical staff assisting him, and the patient too. The patient seemed composed and calm. She looked around. The surgeon went close to her. She held his hand tight. He remembered how, as a little boy, he had held his mother’s hand in fear, the same way, when he was being given an injection after a fall that bruised his knee. He gently stroked her brow with affection. She smiled - a smile that conveyed confidence and trust. What must this elderly lady’s feelings be, at the moment? he mused. Her long greying hair was cut in one place to expose her scalp. Her children were anxiously waiting outside.

Happening

Soon, she is deeply sedated and is oblivious of what is happening around. The surgeon starts on the operation. A silent prayer escape his lips, a prayer his mother had taught him to remember, for protection and success.

The tumour is larger than what he expected. He has to work with intense vigilance. The slightest slip could be disastrous. He is aware that only a biopsy can confirm if the tumour is malignant or benign. His medical staff is standing by. The hours passed. The tumour has been completely removed. The biopsy reveals that it is non-malignant. Mihin is overjoyed. Those who assisted him say - “That was excellent. Such an intricate surgery, so well done. You have flown to greater fame”.

“She was the wind beneath my wings”, says Mihin. The patient is still asleep. He stands by her bed like a mother watching over her child. When she finally wakes up Mihin holds her hands and says - “Amma, you are going to be fine. You can resume your normal activities very soon”.

She whispers softly, - “Thank you Putha”.

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