Sandwiched Saturdays

The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is the sandwiched one. Sandwiched between the sorrow of the loss and the resurrection the next day. A friend of ours asked this question today. “In some church traditions, today is called 'Holy Saturday'. It is mainly remembered as the day where Jesus' body was in the grave. Many others believe while is body was still in the tomb, His spirit was alive. For the disciples, Jesus' mother Mary and other followers of Jesus it must have been a day of silent mourning. They must have remembered fondly the experiences of the years; must have been a day of fear. They were not expecting the resurrection... so they were getting ready with the spices for the body. Wonder what they would have done differently, if they had believed Jesus' words about His resurrection?”

Reflecting on this I was doing rounds on this sandwiched Saturday and the day before. I realized that for most hospitalized people stay in the hospital is like the Holy Saturday or the Sandwiched Saturday. An unexpected illness has affected their lives and they are waiting around for a turnaround. 

The rounds in ICU was educative.

For the patient in bed number 1 with COAD, in ICU, it was a day when she was being weaned out of ventilator and moving on to the wards, hoping for full turn around in a day or two. But they were not keen to wait for a full turn around, since finances were an issue. Not the hospital finances alone but the all the supportive systems they need to take care.  

But for another patient with the same illness in the next bed, that was not to be. After being extubated, she was still quite unwell. The family after much consultation, was deciding to wait for a day and then stop treatment and take her home if she is not showing signs of a turn around. For them money was not the issue, but the indefiniteness of the chronic illness , patient being a lady, and bleak chances of a full recovery were the deciding factors.

For the next patient with a cardiogenic shock and on ventilator, there was a fast and full recovery. The one whom we had thought, she may not make it, did a fast turnaround in less than 24 hours. And it was not our treatment alone that made the turn around! It was the invisible hand of God. This was a blessing for them since they would not have been able to afford long hospitalization anyway.  

In the next bed, the previous day we had a senior doctor from the town with acute MI and pulmonary edema being ventilated. Having had a fast recovery from the immediate issues, the family wanted a much more full and complete turn around and had taken a decision to shift him to the best centers in New Delhi as soon as possible, since money and connections were not issues. And their faith was in the Health care corporate bigwigs in Delhi.

In the next bed, was a young lady with acute pulmonary embolism in shock and on ventilator. By the end of the morning rounds she had died. The turn around the family expected was not to be.  All because of she undergoing a not so required surgery in another center and being referred to us late in the illness with no BP and feeble respiration.

And in the same bed couple of hours later, a patient with severe Interstitial lung disease in heart failure was being brought in to ventilate. He is still there waiting for a turn around. Having been to multiple small centers all over the place, this was their last stop most likely. If a turnaround does not happen, I am not sure if they would be able to take him elsewhere.

I can keep on writing more such events each day – any health care institution will have many such stories. But the fact is that, in health care at contexts like where we are, turn arounds are influenced not by the disease alone but many other factors. Money, value for life, cultural and social expectations, health care ethics, lack of alternative support systems all influence turn arounds.

I was reminded by the lady who recovered despite we giving up on her, that in the midst of these factors, there is that invisible hand of God, who promises us a full turn around if we wait on Him. A good reminder on this Sandwiched Saturday. If I have the hope of resurrection Sunday, I will live with the assurance of a turnaround tomorrow, though today seems bleak and other voices tell me to give up!

How can I me the channel of hope in my daily contacts with people struggling through sandwiched Saturdays? 

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