Volume 5 - Issue 05
By Ashwin V
Heart disease can be very cruel. Ask Little Rishi. Barely into pre-school, his little heart struggled to keep up with the little bundle of energy he was. His teacher noticed him cough and sniffle frequently in class. His mother noticed that he fell ill and caught infection easily. His friends noticed that he wasn’t as big built as most of them, and barely stood one round in friendly brawls. And so “Chotu” was born.
Chotu came to our hospital in a bright red T-shirt, clutching a little toy in his hand. His mother had a hard time containing him in the outpatient department. As soon as she let him go, he would happily scamper away to the playroom. I first noticed him near the aquarium, tiptoe, sticking his nose against the glass, his fingers busily pecking at the school of fish he saw inside. He looked adorable. I bent down to strike a connect.
Which fish did he like?
Why did he like red so much?
He flicked his little head away impishly, as all bemused children do.
Rishi had a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD), a small hole in the heart, and like most children with this condition, was totally oblivious to it. Small VSDs rarely present with severe symptoms. He perked his ears up and looked confused when he heard the blood rush from one chamber to another on the heart scan, and his anxious mother was told that it was a relatively small defect and immediate surgery may not be required.
What are the fish doing?
They are ‘playing’ in the water!
Does he like to play too?
A frown that told me that was a stupid question. He scuttled across the corridor to his mother, and with a hurried wave, was off.
It’s hard to let go when a child has captured your heart so much, but its one of the tougher lessons learnt here. Children come. They are treated. They leave. We meet. We share His love. We part.
Six months passed but no sign of Rishi. A year and then six months. His infectious smile faded, with the likes of a hundred others, into a distant happy memory.
When I least expected to see him, there he was again. The unmistakable red outfit scurrying about the fish tank. “Rishi,” I gushed delightedly. His mother happily related how his health had substantially improved. He was doing well at school, and his newfound appetite showed. But better news lay waiting for them at the heart scan.
There was no hole in his heart.
In a remarkable play of providence, a structure adjacent to the hole had gradually plugged the opening, leaving Rishi with a normal heart. Some call it chance. Doctors see it as natural coping. Some, as divine intervention.
Rishi seemed unfazed by all the celebration. Towards the end of the day, the child was seen at his favourite spot, watching fish at the aquarium.
“The red fish has grown,” he beamed happily.
And very playfully, unaware of the profundity of what would follow, added, “I won’t call him chotu (little one) any more.”
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Vol 5 Issue 05 - MAY 2007
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