When Dr. Benjamin remembered his early life as a medical student, he felt so stupid and sometimes ashamed. At times it amused him. He had never told and will never tell anyone why he became a gynaecologist.
Benjamin was the fourth child in a family of six children. From his very childhood, he had the habit of wanting to know the inside of everything. When he gets a toy, he had to dissect it to see from where the sound was coming; why some parts were moving; when somebody gets hurt, why blood comes out and so many endless enquiries.
His father could not answer all his questions. He used to avoid Benjamin’s questions by telling him that if he would grow up to become a doctor, he would know everything. From that time, the idea of becoming a doctor had been implanted. He was also told that he had to study very hard to become a doctor.
His siblings and friends did not like to play with him. Nobody wanted his or her toys to be dissected. He ended up sitting with his father, shooting questions.
In the school his favourite subject was science, especially biology. By the time he was in his secondary school, he had dissected more than 50 toads. He would show the heart of the toad that was still throbbing to other children. No big cockroach could run around his house, he would nab them which made his mother very happy.
He completed secondary school, passed very well. He was selected for studying medicine, his dream coming true. He was all set to become a doctor.
Their house was about half a kilometer from the medical college. As it was not compulsory to stay in the hostel during the studies, he opted to be a day scholar.
In his first year of Medicine, the only subject that made him feel a medical student was anatomy.
The first day of his dissection class in anatomy was disastrous. He never thought that it would be so bad.
The moment he entered the dissection room, the strong, pungent smell of Formalin gave a little jolt in his stomach. In his school biology laboratory, he had already handled preserved specimen in Formalin. He never felt so bad. He consoled himself quietly “Benjamin if you want to be a doctor, this is it. Hang on boy.”
He saw the cadaver. It was a female cadaver. The eyes looked still very lively. Benjamin thought for a moment the cadaver was looking at him. He shifted his position. The eyes did not follow him. He felt better. He was trying hard to concentrate. He preferred to stand in that new position, towards the head of the cadaver; there he could escape the glare of the cadaver.
Suddenly he heard a “oook” sound coming from one of the female students. It induced the jolt in his stomach again. Second “oook” sound from the same female student. The lecturer got disturbed. He enquired “ is there any non medical student in this group”?
Everybody kept quite. A second jolt in Benjamin, this time not in the stomach, it had reached the throat. While he was fighting to suppress the jolts, he heard the puking sound from the same girl. Before he realized, Benjamin found himself joining the girl student in puking. Both of them were ordered to get out of the class.
When he came back home, Benjamin lied. He told everybody he was thrilled and happy to work with cadaver.
Next time he came prepared but he avoided standing near the girl who puked. The Formalin smell was tolerable, he touched the cadaver to convince himself. It worked. He was not feeling the discomfort anymore.
When he was in his 3rd year of medicine, he started clinical subjects. They were taught about different diseases; causes of the diseases and learnt the symptoms of the diseases.
During those days when they were having lessons about pneumonia, he could not sleep at night. He was always feeling chest tightness. The air in the room was not enough. He was breathing rapidly and very shallow. He often felt chocked. The chocking sensation would trigger spasmic coughs. For days he would be waiting for the fever to come out.
When a new chapter about a new disease started, his pneumonia became better. The chest tightness lessoned. He could breath easier.
They were in the heart disease lessons. Then his heart started thumping. He felt his heart beating so loud and longer than necessary that he felt dizzy and near collapsing. Cold sweat beads from all over his body. When he put his stethoscope on his chest, he heard heart murmurs. Several times he had rushed to his mother and asked about all the diseases he suffered in his childhood. His mother could not provide any confirmatory answers. He tried to check his pulse whenever he felt discomfort but his fingertips were numb. He would not feel any pulse.
In the hospital before the lecturer come to take their class, he would rush to the nurses and request them to check his BP. He did not trust the nurses who declared his normal blood pressure. He knew he was very sick and day by day he was deteriorating.
When they came to the digestive system, he really became sick. He could not eat food. He became very thin and weak. He was admitted to the hospital several times. He had to undergo scores of tests. But the specialists could not find any problem.
He tried to forget about his own disease and focus on the studies. “May be when the symptoms get worsen, he thought, he would ask his father to take him to Europe.” But he did not like to skip his studies. That was his priority. He had to become a doctor first.
As the doctors had not found anything, he concluded that whatever disease he had was not in the advanced stage. He had time to complete his course.
He was feeling better. He forced himself to eat food and do a bit of physical exercise.
He was in obstetrics and gynaecology rotation. He liked the subject very much especially obstetrics. A new life to be brought out in this world! The idea thrilled him.
He became stronger and vigor as the days passed. He excelled in the subject. He had forgotten all about his sickness. He prayed the relapse not to happen before he completed his course.
He was already in his final year. While he was doing his psychiatry rotations, that was when he was convinced that he was healthy all throughout. During the obstetrics and gynaecology rotations, the symptoms of the diseases were not of male sex, so he didn’t have any problems. The realization made him ashamed. But whatever the reason behind, he decided to become a gynaecologist in future.
The only one last time he felt nauseated again was the day of the post mortem during his forensic medicine rotation.
They were informed that the body for the designated post mortem was found in a very strange atmosphere, in a remote guesthouse. Apparently, the deceased, a female of about middle twenties checked in to the guesthouse with a man posing as husband and wife and paid in advance for three days.
On the fourth day of their arrival, after the checking out time lapsed, the guest house owner sent a messenger to contact the client and enquire whether to extend the occupation of the room or not. There was no reply to the knock of the messenger but he felt a strange, foul smell near the door. The guesthouse owner had to force open the door and found the body soaked in a pool of blood. The police brought the body to the hospital for post mortem.
Despite the fully swinging ceiling fan and the wide opened windows, the disgusting foul smell was felt from far even before entering the post mortem room. Most of them felt the churn of their stomachs. Benjamin, by then already had become accustomed to the Formalin smell. But this was different. The rotten meat smell was intolerable. This time he did not like to pretend as if things were all right. He did not like to suppress the vomiting. The earlier he vomited, the better he would feel. He rushed to a corner and vomited till he felt exhausted. He was not the only one who vomited, they were many.
He felt relieved. When they entered the room, they saw the dead body on the concrete table with the blood stained cloth. The intestines were out of the abdominal cavity. The interest of knowing the inside (as he used to be when he was a child) masked the nausea.
With keen interest they watched the experienced pathologist conducting the post mortem.
The cameraman had taken several shots as the pathologist continued examining the body as he found. The pathologist described everything in detail, the type of the dress, the type of the material of the cloths, how was worn, how torn was it and how soiled was it, everything.
After the skull was sawed, it was opened wide exposing the brain; then the brain was removed carefully, examined thoroughly and sliced some pieces for chemical testing.
That was the first time they saw a fresh brain. Interest mounted, nausea forgotten, smell vanished. They continued observing and listening to the explanation of the pathologist every step he was conducting.
The exposed part of the intestine was checked, several bruised site noted.
In the lower part of the abdomen, there was an opening of the abdomen, which appeared cut with an ordinary knife. Through that cut, the intestines were protruding.
The abdomen was then fully opened starting from the chin up to the place where it was already opened with the supposedly killers knife.
All the internal organs were checked systematically. Sliced specimens from almost every organ were collected for tests.
One organ was found missing, the uterus of the dead body. There were all the signs that it was cut off recently.
When the examination was over, all the internal organs were returned inside the body, stitched up, washed and kept ready for preservation.
Benjamin asked the pathologist whether he could get a copy of his post mortem report.
The pathologist remarked-“Am I talking to my future colleague in this mortuary”
“Sorry Sir, I want to be a gyanecologist”-Benjamin replied.
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