“It was during, one of our rotations in Covid duty during my internship last year. I was posted in the triage ward, which had patients who were symptomatically similar to patients infected with the Corona virus, but who had not been confirmed yet. We had to don the PPE suits and wear face shields atop N-95 masks and felt breathless, just like our patients. The pandemic was at its peak, so the situation warranted all precautions as a protocol.
A 79 year old man was admitted for breathlessness. Preliminary investigations revealed that he had a problem with his kidneys for which he had to undergo dialysis. The slots for the day were full and along with a number of tests before the procedure, was that of a Covid swab, as the situation called for that too. He was immediately started off on essential medications and put on oxygen support.
When wearing masks was difficult for us, it was all the more difficult for him. As it was irritating he would pull it off. So it was now the bound responsibility of the resident, staff nurse and intern, that is me, to appraise him of the importance of the mask and convince him to wear it, to save his life. All of us, were so exhausted, because this dreaded disease had death looming all over the place, spreading sorrow and fear.All the three of us, in bright blue PPE kits wearing face shields tried convincing him to wear the oxygen mask, but in vain. As we stood, discussing amidst great tension, our next course of action, we suddenly felt he was smiling, which slowly turned into peals of laughter. This went on for a while. We were stunned but later realised that the old man was amused, on seeing us. We realised that we were aimlessly persuading a man who couldn’t hear. To him, all of us, seemed like huge toys bobbing their heads in unison which made him laugh through his pain. Apparently all our efforts to revive him, had gone into actual deaf ears.
It was absolute courage(Veeram) on his part not to use the mask to ward away pain. His worried wife stood outside with love and hope in her eyes(Shringara). The resident was angry because she couldn’t do anything and was helpless(Roudram). The nurse was trying her best to alleviate the pain of the patient(Karuna). I, the intern was perplexed and surprised at the turn of events(Adbutha). When he was battling for his life amongst complete strangers, in acute pain, in an unaccustomed environment(Bhayam) with monitors plugged, needles inserted and an irritating mask to top it all(Bheebatsya). Yes, he chose to entertain himself with the weirdest players, healthcare workers in PPE suits, ventured into an imaginary world filled with fun and laughter.Haasya, the emotion which differentiates man from animal making him the superior being, the only creation of God that can outright express this emotion.
The air was full of varied emotions in several hues. But it was only “Haasya” that worked wonders, the one that won them all. Two days later, after the procedure he was shifted to the normal ward, still accompanied by his bewitching smile. He had tested negative for Covid and was carrying on with life as usual. ‘Laugh and be merry’ had been the motto, that had served him.
Laughter is the best medicine, goes a famous adage. I had always perceived it as a myth, a product of a writer’s elaborate imagination. For the first time, I was happy that I was wrong. Maybe the saying wasn’t a myth afterall.”