Saturday, July 6, 2013

Touch

Do you remember the first time someone handed you an autograph book and asked you to write something in it?

If you do, I am also sure that no matter how hard you resisted reading other peoples entries, you did actually read them.

My first autograph book was that of my chubby friend Sonia whom I had met in math tuition, she was leaving the city and wanted to do so with the best wishes of her close friends.

The book was full of excellent autographs. While most of her friends were after tickling her funny bone; a few others had put in some very touching entries.

Among the funny ones, one of her friends had pasted a stamp of Gandhiji instead of his picture, to the question What was your first crush? The same guy had written ‘I crushed my classmates foot while I was in first grade’

By far, the funniest autograph in her book was from a friend who said- “Keep in touch, but don’t keep touching”!!!

So, What exactly does it mean to keep in touch with someone?

The way I see it, It’s probably just a way of saying ‘Hey, I may be far but I still remember you’.

What we all have experienced is that sometimes despite our best efforts we fail to maintain contact and people we swore to be our best friends forever become part of just good memories that’s all, in other words we ‘lose touch’ of each other.

Another usage of the word is in the form of describing how deeply one’s remarks or actions have affected a person.
It’s common to hear people say ‘What he said touched me ‘or ‘That song was touching’ and so on.

What about the literal interpretation of the same word?

To touch someone means to establish some sort of physical contact with them, it can be something as obvious as a sound thrashing on the street or a subtle handshake, an arm around your shoulder when you feel low or a pat on the back when you do a good job.

When you touch someone, to some extent at least, you are establishing a sort of connection with them, for a brief period in time you are in contact with another human being.

Extrapolating on this, if you give a little more thought to it, for that moment in time you are in ‘touch’ with their hopes, their longings, their dreams and their ambitions.

This thought came to me out of the blue, it sent me spiraling down into a dream like state that was interrupted by the arrival of my latest patient, a 3 year old kid.

Over the years I have heard the heart sounds of thousands of people, it has always been a routine part of my process of examining a patient, I’m not sure if it was because of my confused state of mind or something else, but on that day things were different.

I approached the little boy offering him a handshake, he gently squeezed the tips of my fingers and tried to move my hand up and down, I lifted him off the ground and made him sit on my table.



Lightly holding his shoulder I placed my stethoscope on his chest.

His heart sounds were clear; it was as normal as it could be.                                                                                             

I patiently listened to his heart beat, lubb-dubb, lubb-dubb, lubb-dubb, there was a definite connection there.  

My stethoscope had provided a conduit for my senses to connect with the child right to the core of his very existence-his heart, the seat of all his joys and sorrows on life, the home of all his emotions.

I saw unlimited potential in his wide set eyes that stared back at me innocently and at the same time I wondered if he felt the same connection with me as well.

Trust me, ever since that day it hasn't been easy for me to auscultate a patient, it’s no more about just trying to hear the first or second heart sound or trying discern if there any anomaly therein, I try to look beyond.

Maybe the meaning of all this is that at some level or the other we all are connected.

Probably,how we touch other people’s lives is by becoming part of it-with or without our knowledge.

As Always, Your’s Truly


TGV