The corridor of uncertainty..


I was coming towards the last half hour of a frustrating and hectic day of work. A day after a` night on call is usually turbulent with me bereft of sleep and keen to run back home to catch some sleep.

The last scan I did was what I felt as a routine one. It read on the requistion sheet – chronic liver disease. Now there’s nothing unusual in that. I went about it my way documenting each and every relevant finding and once done dispatched the report to the patient’s bystander immediately.

While I was stretching out glad that the days work is over, I was told that the last patients wife would like to talk to me to discuss about the patient;s illness. It took me over ten seconds to respond to my staff whether to entertain it. Many a times I was lost as to where to draw the line when it comes to discussing the imaging with a patient especially because the colleague who is sending the patient to me would not want me to plant any ideas into the patient’s head.

But since I had a half hour left to run the day down, I agreed. When she met me, her question was simple, to the point, yet so so complicated. She asked, “ What’s his current status? “ I gave the typical radiologist response – “If you have some previous imaging documentation with you I could offer you an opinion on his current status.” She fumbled in her handbag for documents of his health care available with her. They were handwritten consultation notes from a physician with clinical and lab documentations, without any imaging. So I was in a loss on where to start.

No longer working in a teaching/academic environment, I felt this was a good opportunity to open up a lecture on the natural history of the disease. I went about it in such a manner so that I could attempt to simplify the language to the taste of a non medico, neither being too abrasive, nor too soft on the state of affairs her husband’s liver has found its way into.

But the more and more I kept explaining to her, or rather translating medical terminologies and the disease, more I realized how we are left to be mere spectators or rather succumb to being victims to the disease.

Offering hope to a patient does not really fall on the academic menu of a radiologist and neither does the profession demand such skills from the men who sit behind pixelated monitors appearing to be making foolhardy judgements about diseases that have a life and course of their own. When push comes to shove and you are free falling, one can only look skywards and hope there is something beyond life.


Dr Babu View All →

Radiologist l Cyclist l Blogger

2 Comments Leave a comment

  1. “more I realized how we are left to be mere spectators or rather succumb to being victims to the disease.” – Beautifully put. Good to be reading a doctor’s mind. Glad to have chanced upon your blog.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: