What My Grandmother Knew About Dying


Comments of Dr. Karthikeyan, Consultant in Geriatrics and Palliative Care, Kauvery Hospital, Salem

My memories go back a few years ago. When I assisted a bronchogenic carcinoma patient, in his 85+ years, with malignant pleural effusion.

He said every day I visit- “Dr, I want to die ”

As a geriatrician, it wasn’t new to me.

But the Duty Medical Officer who accompanies me on rounds would always have a weird look when I say in response “You can die”.

His wish was to see all his relatives once before he died.

When I guessed his time had come, I called his son, and arranged three generations of his relatives to stand round his cot, chanting mantras and holding his hands, daughters rubbing the feet.

As the saturation and pulse slowly dropped, and as he began gasping, he looked at me with the satisfaction which meant a lot to me.

He said in a low mumbled voice “Thank you, Dr”.

Though quitting my evening OPD and standing in a room for three hours was not an easy decision for me, I felt satisfied doing the best for him at as a geriatrician