He was/is a 52yrs old man and we were in final year that time.
We were having lunch one day, suddenly we got a very pungent smell that we looked out from where is it coming and saw a person going in the gallery with his face covered. We looked around but couldn’t find any source of smell. Then one of our colleague who just came to the canteen said – “he is the oral cancer patient, come for the dressing regularly and the smell is coming from him”. We do face such patient diseases but this smell was something I remember till today. It was our surgical posting that time and thus by default we got in interaction with him.
He developed mouth cancer involving his right side of tongue, right cheek spreading up till his ear. And tongue cancers do smell pretty bad.
He was sitting in the dressing room and we all were standing outside looking at each other as to who will go and do the dressing, that finally we decided let’s do it because who else will. We tried to console him and give him some strength. We asked for his attendant as we need to explain certain things. Initially he didn’t utter a word, then after asking him again he spoke and below are his exact words that he said:
“My mouth smells so badly that my son has thrown me out of the house. They say they just can’t bear the smell. Everyone say i smell like a dead dog. I stay in a room in the fields and every morning evening they send my food there. I no more go to my village and come only to hospital for treatment. I know I smell bad that’s why I hide my face all the time. Whenever I enter ward, all patients either shout at me saying I should get out or at times they will move out. Only the dressing doctor is the ONE PERSON who come near me. I never had the guts to say anything to them because I know I smell bad.”
Suddenly he asked us a question which we didn’t expect he will –“ doctor, don’t you feel the smell?” For a second we didn’t know what to say -“ we do but if we don’t do the dressing who else will”. He didn’t say a word thereafter.
After the dressing was done we were about to leave that he wrapped his face, looked at us and said – “ doc saab ek baat kahun, agar mujhe kisi or mere jaise patient ki dressing krni pad jaye to shayad me kabhi na kr paun. Dhanyavad”! (Doctor. If i have to do the dressing of someone with the same condition as of mine, probably I will not have the strength to do, Thank-you ).
It happened when I was in the college three years back, don’t know what happened to him but then there must be some other young doctor doing his dressing now and it will continue to be so till the time god give him breath to bear that.