Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Eternal Peace...

Being in the field of Medicine for quite some time now, I have been witness to countless examples of people in distress. Be it a patient in a hospital or someone known, I have been able to relate their pain to the obvious or most probable cause according to medical knowledge.

A few weeks back, my uncle (Dad’s younger brother) called me up to consult me about the ill health of his sister-in-law. Being a lady in her seventh decade of life, she was admitted to a hospital due to severe weakness after an episode of viral infection. As her blood investigations revealed, she was severely anemic and thus had to be transfused with blood. They being rather unaware of medical details and being in another town, my uncle regularly used to update and consult me about her health and the treatment she was receiving.

One day, as the lady complained of abdominal pain while still at the hospital, the doctor in charge ordered for an ultrasound. And to everyone’s shock, the ultrasound suggested it to be a case of liver cancer which was confirmed by a subsequent CT scan. On consultation, even the oncologist confirmed the cancer to be in the fourth stage and declared his helplessness to consider any sort of curative treatment any further. Hence, she was taken back home by the family after giving up all hope of her getting any further treatment at the hospital.

Though her condition continued to deteriorate by each passing day, the family members tried out all sorts of medication they could possibly get their hands on. Meanwhile, my uncle kept me updated of any and every minor complication the lady used to develop.

Just the other day, when my uncle called me up late in the afternoon, he told me how she had developed severe swelling all over the body, specially around her face and that she was in severe distress being rather dis-oriented mentally. He said the doctor had come to check on her and ordered some investigations. I told him to inform me about the results of the investigations as soon as they arrived.

In the evening, when my uncle called up again and started to read out the investigation reports, I was already anticipating severe derangement in them. But I was surprised to hear that each and every aspect of her blood and urine investigations were not only within normal limits, but were almost the ideal values that a healthy human is expected to have.

For example, her SGPT (a liver enzyme) which has a normal range of 5-38 units per litre was found to be 20. While without doubt, a case of liver cancer is sure to have this value in several hundreds. Likewise, her serum creatinine was stated to be 0.62 (normal range 0.5-1.0) which was highly unlikely seeing the bad state of her kidneys. Similarly, all the other blood values and electrolytes were stated to be the ideal values.

On a reflex, I told my uncle that the lab had simply not done the tests. I asked him to get it done again from some other lab immediately. By midnight, I got a call from him once again informing me that they had got the investigations done again from another reputed lab but the results were still the same. Though they had also sent for the investigations from a nationally reputed lab whose results were expected by the morning.

It was beyond my understanding as to how all investigations of such a critically ill patient could be not just within the acceptable limits, but also be almost the ideal values. Though it was an extremely low probability, but could two labs commit gross errors in their reports at the same time ?

I was woken by my uncle’s call early next morning. And he gave me the most unfortunate news that the old lady had passed away in her sleep. Before he ended the call, he informed me that the third report had just been received and it had nothing different than the first two.

Though this was completely against medical logic, but if one was to believe the reports, everything inside the lady’s body (at least in her blood) was as perfect as it could be.

This incident has made me wonder whether everything does become perfect at the end. As if all the cells in a person’s body are at complete peace with themselves and with one another just before the end. As if the body is in the final preparation of the eternal peace of the soul.

I don’t really know. It still defies any medical logic. But as I ponder over this I can’t help but remember the title thought on the blog of a blog-friend Preethika….

“Everything is OK at the end. If it’s not OK, then it’s not the end…”

Do you agree ?

(Image courtesy : Google Images)


  1. Well, in this specific sense, if that were to be true, much of the uses of autopsy would not have existed.
    In the broader sense, doesn't it depend on what we define or recognize to be "OK"? Or for that matter, "the end"?

    1. theconjecturegirl :

      Yes. It depends what one recognizes to be OK. Maybe in this case it was the internal environment of the person's body. Maybe in some other case it may be just the mental state. I'm not so sure. But I still can't find logic to what happened in the above case as per the medical knowledge.

    2. Blind guess (& of course curiosity) : Can't the enzyme levels have been lowered - quite a dramatic drop - by some strong medication or even a side-effect of the combination of medication? It may be that this drop can not be sustained + sudden drop leads to adverse reactions from the body & hence the fast deterioration & subsequent death? And by chance, samples were drawn when this drop occurred?

      P.S : I get to throw haphazard ideas without knowing any of the biology - simply because I don't know any of the biology! ;)

    3. theconjecturegirl :


      Some of the greatest discoveries in science (Medicine included) have been made accidentally by people who knew nothing about what they were going to stumble upon. So your ideas are more than welcome. :D

      According to what medical texts say, at least the liver enzymes (specially in such a severe case of liver cancer) cannot even touch their normal values. In fact, they are elevated to several hundred folds.

      Though maybe by chance, a combination of drugs can lead to a sudden drop of enzyme levels (such a combination is not recorded yet), but since this lady was not taking anything orally since a few days (including any medicines) this appears highly unlikely.

      Also, though she was not taking anything orally, still the levels of electrolytes and even proteins came out to be normal.

      Me being a person who always searches for scientific logic in everything that happens, I'm still bewildered. The only possible probability (though however small) that seems to account for the case above, is that probably, the technicians in all the three labs that day were too busy with something else and hence didn't even care to analyze the samples and sent in a fake report. :-)

    4. Ah well, I did not want to say that possibility aloud - what with me being already wary of the medical service providers! I am going to keep myself in denial on that - at least till I get my latest set of tests done! :P

    5. theconjecturegirl :


      I sincerely hope that you don't have to get any sort of tests done let alone end up getting fake reports for those tests. :D

  2. First of all, thank you Shobhit :) Din see that coming actually. Like all your posts, I was reading this one slowly, understanding every line properly and then came that line which ended with my name! :D First I din believe my eyes. Then started believing when the link actually was to my blog. lol!
    As u know, my fren has also been through this so I just remembered her while reading the post. I thought u r referring to that post f mine when I first saw my name.
    It is actually possible u know. We always complain you have some or the other problem in our lives but have we even realized that if there were no problems, we would love our lives for a few days. But what after that? We are going to be damn bored. So I believe in the line which makes it to my blog title.
    About your uncle's sister in law, I don't really know what to say. Will share something I know. My hubby's grandma had quite a lonely life after her husband had passed away. And around 20 yrs back her daughter had passed away which had broken her down. Then recently her younger brother passed away. After that, there were 2 wedding ceremonies in which she mostly spent her time with me and I have to tell u she had a really good time and was very happy. And in one of the weddings she met her childhood friend (who is her sister in law and lives in Mumbai). After the two ceremonies she looked very contented, very satisfied and had that look on her face like she got everything she wanted. Just one month passed by and she was admitted to hospital and within 15 days she was no more!
    My dad's mom's sister also happened to have a similar time. She used to tell her 6 month old grand son that he will not remember her. He will only see her in photos and then 15 days she was in hospital and then she was no more.
    What do u say to that?

    1. Pritz :

      About the incidents you mentioned, I'm sure people seem to get the feeling that the time is up for them. I have been extremely close to my grandparents (Mom's parents) and I could see exactly when both of them sensed the same before they passed away. Whether or not it also affects the physical condition of the body is something I can't really say about.

      And about the reference to your blog, :-) that was exactly the first thing that came to my mind when my uncle said on phone that probably everything becomes ok at the end. And though I don't know if it happens with medical conditions, but in life, that statement seems to be true.

      And yes, even I believe that everything nice would make life so boring. Problems give us something to use our character for and show our worth by solving them. :-)

    2. Also if everything is nice, we will remain the same. When problems come, we learn something, we become better people.

    3. Pritz :

      Exactly ! Problems are great teachers. They give us experience to make us better to handle further problems in life.

  3. The post reinforces my belief that despite huge advances in medical research we know so little about the human body. New studies keep contradicting the old ones. There are no answers for so many questions....

    1. Alka Gurha :

      I wouldn't say we know very little, but yes, we don't know everything there is about the human body.

      And I guess the reason medical practices differ in regard to different people is because of the immense potential of the huge genetic material to behave differently in similar conditions.

      One reason why new studies keep contradicting the old ones is continuous process of evolution. The main object of medical science is to keep searching for such unanswered questions. :-)



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