Sunday, August 31, 2008


I was on call a few nights ago, admitting a 4 year-old for some chemotherapy. David* had been diagnosed with cancer in infancy and had been successfully treated until a few months ago when the cancer recurred. The nurses on the floor all knew him well. They had seen him grow up and, like all the cancer patients, they spoiled him lavishly. It was my first time with David, however, and I had to take a complete history starting from the beginning.

In the middle of the interview, I noticed him touching my forearm. I was wearing half-sleeved scrubs and my arms were bare. He ran his hand up and down my forearms, apparently fascinated. I asked him what he was looking at.

"What's that?" he said.

"That's my arm."

"What's on it?"

I looked at my forearm. He was feeling the hair.

"Hair," I said.

David looked at it thoughtfully for a moment. His own arms, much like the rest of his body, were devoid of hair.

"Who put it there?"

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. It was such an innocent question from a child whose chemotherapy had left him smooth and bald.

"It just grew out," I told him.

He ran his hands up and down, still mesmerized by the sight.

"Will you cut it off?" he asked.

*Not his real name.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

God bless David. God bless doctors. Good bye to noble medical experiences.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

this made we want to cry, much we take for granted.

3:36 PM  
Blogger karrvakarela said...

Prasanth: God bless doctors and patients indeed. But why "Good bye to noble medical experiences"?

Geetha: thanks for your comment! we do take a lot for granted. it's always a sobering experience to see how the other half lives.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Burhan said...

That was so incredibly touching! Thank you!

4:11 PM  
Blogger workhard said...

That is so sad, no one can imagine what kind of pshycological trauma, it is, especially for kids.


9:53 AM  

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