Written by Dr. Geeta Sundar

He lays there. E1 VT M5. In other terms, a GCS not very supportive of his brainstem activity, given the trauma he suffered and the surgery we did. I look at him, probably the 20th time in that day, double gloves adorning my hands given the universal precautions tag, pinching and rubbing his sternum to recheck his GCS and response, my mind running a million a minute…at his retroviral positive status.

I imagine all the possibilities as to where this young lad of 25 could turn to, um, achieve that status of being retropositive. And to back it all up, this lad worked as a school bus help/conductor. My mind goes into the deep dive, making up all conclusions and leaps to a scenario capable of gratifying movie screens. 

I shudder at my own intense vivid thoughts. He is still an E1 VT M5. I look at him again, and harshly judge. Judge like a scorned doctor, judge like I’m better than him, and judge him in reprobation. Judge him for all the things he may have done, for all the effort it would take from a country’s perspective to take care on the health awareness that a sexual relation of such an individual would create, and judge the poor family who had absolutely no idea how their son and brother could have gotten such a tagged diagnosis.

As I mull these thoughts, another sample from him is sent to a technician sitting at a desk somewhere, as per the ICTC guidelines, and she goes on to furnish a report that states his report to be negative. And the feeling I felt was humbling. I felt cheap, felt sick at myself for the thoughts I had and the way I had unnervingly judged this lad for all possible below the belt actions.

I am no one to judge anyone. I am no one to judge another individual for what they do. I am only a means to an end for a good health.


It was late night, around 12 am. One patient in the ward was not in a good state. Elderly lady, hypertensive, admitted for primary intraventricular hemorrhage and DSA done on the same evening. I rattled off the details as I rang the consultant to inform about the patient. 

“Yeah, Geeta, I know the drunk lady.” Came his curt reply. He was tired I guess after consecutive duties for the last 2 days and long OT cases. That was my cue to stop the rumbling.

“BP is high sir. 220/120. I will start labetalol infusion.” 

“Yeah, do that.”

“Sir, she is also having headache, vomiting. Should I get a CT scan done for her?”

“No. There is no need for that. Maybe along with that give her a nice strike of 90 of whatever she usually likes, that might help with her condition! Maybe if you have time at this hour of the night, counsel her on the damn stupidity of her alcohol obsession!”

And he dropped the call. Irked as he was, frustrated at me and the patient, somewhere I could sense the harsh judgement rolling off him in waves. A pot calling the kettle black, it seemed too near fetched for a harsh call out by someone who walked the same path as the patient. And just because she chose alcohol and that affected her with withdrawal symptoms or the like, didn’t necessarily mean we had any right to judge her approach. Counsel, yes, advice, surely, but no judgement was necessary. People often did things that made sense in their own distorted perspective.

I am no one to judge anyone. I am no one to judge this lady on her choices when my own are so rattled in a dirty cage, somewhere. 


The bloke had an alleged road traffic accident. Odontoid fracture, couple of temporal and frontal contusions, E2 M5 VT response, and overall, a possible recovery chance with time. Each day in counselling sessions, I had never met the mom or the dad, and saw an uncle, hovering around, asking sort of intelligent questions in English and acting like he knew what was being discussed. We had mentioned trachesotomy, cerebral edema, dens fracture, surgery with an odontoid screw and so many more complicated words for a layman to otherwise grasp, but this uncle was keen to learn and absorb more.

As the days passed, my curiosity with the absence of the parents grew. What was the story brewing there? Where were they? How could their son laying in the hospital for a whole week not awaken the motherly feelings? How could they focus on whatever work was more important and let this “uncle” take important life altering decisions?

However, one day the so-called uncle walked in with a woman, and I assumed her to be the mother of the patient. Happy that someone close to the bloke had shown up, I went to her and asked her about her absence for the last few days.

She shook her head and indicated that she was the uncle’s wife and not the mother. The bloke’s parents were no more, died years ago when he was little boy in some tragic accident and he was raised solely by his grandmother, who with the most misfortune stars had also succumbed just the previous year to bad health and now the bloke was all alone. 

The lady got chatty, enthusiastic to spill the beans about the story of how the bloke had left his home, joined a college for some diploma course with grandmother’s hard-earned money, fallen into bad company and was probably in the present situation owing to that bad company and their bad ways. 

Whilst I nodded and got the predicament, I felt a chilling sense to my very bones. I imagined a scenario where it was me on that bed, with multiple restraints, tubes, pain, and a subnormal GCS laying awake to constant sternum rubs and pain, ICU sounds, lights, distress and all unsupported without even the love and care of my parents. Even in imagination, I could feel the hurt.

I am no one to judge anyone. I should have known better than to assume a possible silly excuse. 

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