Patient comes from coma after a whisper in the ear

Patient comes from coma after a whisper in the ear

Date: 13 May 2017 11:46

I have not had the heart to disillusion her by telling her what the professor told me just before she arrived

A couple of years ago, I heard a very funny story which has already done the Rotary and surgical “rounds.” I have not shared it with readers of the Surgeon’s Diary because I did not have a true surgical story to go with it. Now that I have got one, where my patient came back to life from a coma, after what was whispered in his ear, I can put the matter right.

To revert to the story which drew laughter at the lunch table, it concerns a young lady who was flying from London to Montreal and stubbornly occupied a seat in the business class, despite having an economy class ticket. The legal occupant of the seat arrived and seeing his seat occupied, showed his boarding card to the usurper but she did not move. He complained to the head stewardess, who politely asked the lady. “Can I see your boarding card and ticket please?”

The lady showed both documents to the stewardess and said.”I am flying to Montreal and am not moving from this seat.”

The gentleman in an effort not to create a scene relented and said.”I don’t mind occupying another seat.”

“Thank you,” said the stewardess, “but we are running a full flight today and I have no spare seat.”

She tried again but seeing that the lady was not prepared to budge, walked up to the cockpit and brought the captain. She explained the situation to him in front of the lady and the gentleman.

After listening carefully to his senior stewardess, the tall Canadian captain bent down and whispered something in the ear of the recalcitrant lady. When he finished, the lady vacated her seat and walked down to the economy class cabin. The highly astonished business class passenger and  stewardess asked the captain what he had whispered in the lady’s ear and he said: “I told her that the business class did not fly to Montreal!”

The story of my patient started when my gynaecological colleague, Dr Kaberia and I shared the management of an infertile couple who went to see her when the wife failed to conceive after being married for three years. She sounded in a hurry and said.”Please check Mr Bett for any problem with his potency and fertility” Then, as if she sensed my concern at her skipping the usual greetings, she added. “I must run because the Labour Ward Sister just rung me to say that my patient’s, cervix is fully dilated and she is a primipara.” In non-obstetric language, she meant that her patient, who was delivering for the first time was in an advanced stage of labour.

In due course the Betts came to see me and on detailed questioning of the couple and examination of the man, I found nothing wrong with him. His semen examination was also normal and I informed Dr Kaberia accordingly.”I have no choice but to put the wife through elaborate investigations,” she said in response.

A month later, I met her in the hospital one morning and I asked her out of clinical interest.”Did you find anything interesting in Mrs Bett?”

“I drew a blank on her despite doing many investigations,” she replied.

“So what advice, do you give?” I asked.

“We label the condition as Biochemical Incompatibility and advise the couple to persevere.”Dr Kaberia explained. “We tell them that the best time for a successful conception is when the woman ovulates. “Occasionally we provide them with tips on technique, for which I intend to send the couple back to you.” Looking at my gaping mouth, she added. “I realise that the young people of today don’t need any tips on such matters. In fact they can give a tip or two to the oldies!”

“Why pick on me?” I asked. “I don’t run a sexology clinic!”

“Simply because I think that this sort of advice is better coming from one man to another man,” replied the lady gynaecologist

“And what is the outlook?” I inquired to be able to reply truthfully to answer any queries from the couple.

“Fifty fifty,” Dr Kaberia said. “Half the couples are rewarded with a baby of their own.”

The Betts came to see me again and because of the intimate questions, I had to ask,  the professional barriers came tumbling down and in time, Mr and Mrs Bett became Simon and Nancy to me. Happily, they fell in the successful group and five years later, one fine morning, Simon Bett rang me and gave the happy tidings.”We are in Dr Kaberia’s office and the pregnancy test on my wife is positive.”

“Congratulatios.” I was equally excited.”This calls for a celebration. When is the due date?”

Simon gave me the date, provided by Dr Kaberia and I made a note of it. Around that date, I was rung up by Nancy Bett when she said.”Can you please rush to the male surgical ward?”

“Surely you mean the Labour ward?” I asked thinking that in her excitement, Nancy had given me the wrong ward.

“I mean the surgical ward,” she insisted and sounded in a panic. “My husband has sustained severe head injury because his car collided with a truck as he was driving home from a late meeting. The police, who arrived at the scene found my phone number in Simon’s wallet and contacted me. They also called for an ambulance and we brought him to A&E.” As I held my breath, she went on. “As I am speaking, he is being examined by your brain surgeon, Prof Sande in your ward.”

I rushed to the male surgical ward, where I found my friend and colleague looking at the CT scan on Simon’s head. “I am glad to see you here; Mrs Bett told me that you are a family friend.” Handing me the CT scan, Prof. Sande added. “As you see, there isn’t any localised lesion. Unfortunately there is generalised haemorrhage, which as I would teach my students calls for leaving our scalpel strictly in its sheath. We wait for the blood lying around the brain to clear.”

“And what’s the prognosis?” I asked.

“Hope for the best and be prepared for the worst.”

 On hearing this dismal outlook, I went out to see Nancy Bett, who I knew was waiting for me. “I am sorry I jumped the gun and asked if you meant the Labour Room,” I apologised.

“Anyway, when is the baby due?” I asked.

“Today, according to Dr Kaberia.”

While we were all on tenterhooks, hopefully waiting for Simon to recover, Nancy stayed with him all the time, despite her full-term pregnancy. One early evening when I went to see Simon, I could see that Nancy was starting her labour pains and I arranged to transfer her to Labour ward and rang Dr Kaberia. Nancy delivered a boy at around midnight. Not wanting to disturb my sleep, Dr Kaberia rang me early morning. As soon as I finished my operating list, I walked to the maternity wing, where I found Nancy cuddling her newborn son. Just then, a new father came to visit his wife, carrying a bouquet of red roses. That is when Nancy broke down.

“To bless me with a miracle pregnancy and then to render the father unconscious is height of cruelty,”she lamented.”

I said a few words of comfort and walked over to my ward and found Prof Sande looking at the latest CT scan of Simon.

“Miracles never cease to happen in our line of work. All the blood, lying around the brain seems to have been absorbed and I expect the patient to wake up any time now,”he said pointing at the images on the viewing box.  After giving me the happy news, he left and soon after I saw Nancy with her baby being wheeled in the ward. Looking at my bewildered face, Nancy got out of the chair with her baby and put him on the side of his father. She walked over to the other side and whispered something in Simon’s ear. After a few minutes, Simon took a long deep breath, woke up in a daze and gently kissed his newborn son. Highly astonished, I asked Nancy. “What did you whisper in your husband’s ear?”

“I said to him,” replied Nancy.”’ You have a son who is going to carry your name. He is a spit image of you and has come to say hello to you.’”

To this day, Nancy believes that her whisper revived her husband and I have not had the heart to disillusion her by telling her what the good professor told me just before she arrived. We surgeons are used to the credit of our clinical judgment and sound management of patients, attributed to someone else! Usually God Almighty gets the kudos and it was nice to see a change of assignee!


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