modern medicine, when spirit meets science

A Message From A Butterfly

I was in a meeting when I had a weird sensation in my head.

It felt like I was conscious of the world around me, yet looking through a haze.

It was a routine school day in 2008. I had just said goodbye to the children in my class and was in a meeting with a co-teacher when these uncomfortable sensations kicked in.

Thankfully, the discussion ended soon and I packed my bag to leave.

I wanted to call Suraj. But I knew he had a long surgery scheduled that day. And unless things got out of hand, I didn’t wish to disturb him while he was operating.   

I headed straight home. I thought eating lunch and resting at home would help me feel better.

But the funny feeling got worse, in spite of being in the comfort of home.

“Something is seriously wrong,” I said to myself.

My mind raced with thoughts and worst-case scenarios popped into my head.

“What if I collapse? There’s no one around to help me! The neighbours are all at work”

“Gosh! What if I die by the time someone realises I need help and takes me to hospital? Oh my God! What do I do now?”

My heart began to pound.

At that moment, I remembered the times during our courtship days when I had waited for Suraj at the hospital. I mostly waited outside the Emergency Room (ER) of the hospital, as it offered comfortable seating under a canopy of trees. Every time I sat there, I observed the activity outside the ER with tremendous interest. I saw cars, auto-rickshaws, and ambulances bringing in sick, unconscious, and injured people every few minutes.

“That’s it!” I said to myself, “The area outside the ER may be the safest place for me to be right now! In case things get worse, I am certain to get some help.”

I sent a text message to Suraj describing what I was going through. I informed him I would be waiting outside the ER until he was free to come and see me.

I rushed to the hospital in fear, praying nothing would happen to me on the way!

I reached safely and found myself a comfortable place to sit underneath the canopy. As I waited, my body was on high alert, ready to run into the ER should my condition deteriorate!

I didn’t get better. But I didn’t get worse either. So, I didn’t feel the need to run in and continued to wait outside!

An hour later, I saw Suraj walking out of the building adjacent to the ER and heaved a sigh of relief.

From his smile, I knew he had read my text message. But I was surprised he didn’t look one bit anxious.

Cool as a cucumber, he came up to me and said, “Did you take your medicine this morning?”

I was on a course of medication for a suspected bacterial throat infection.

I said, “Yes.”

“Did you take the correct pill?” he said.

“Yes. I suppose so,” I said, feeling bewildered, “But why do you ask?”

He checked my pulse and said, “I’ll tell you. Come on, let’s go home.”

I was shocked to hear this and said angrily, “What? I’ve been feeling awful! Something is terribly wrong. I am not going anywhere until I am evaluated thoroughly and declared fine!”

“You ARE fine. I am telling you” he said, “Come on.”

I was frustrated. I felt like he wasn’t taking my symptoms seriously.

I insisted, “How can you dismiss my problem so casually? Don’t you believe me when I say I am seriously unwell?”

“You are NOT seriously unwell. Let’s go home,” he said reassuringly.

I wasn’t convinced but I was left with no choice but to go home.

Once we were home, he checked on the medicines I had been prescribed and waved them at me.

“This is the culprit,” he said.

“What do you mean?” I said, going closer.

“You’ve taken the wrong pill this morning,” he went on, pointing at a strip of pills, “This one was supposed to be taken just once last night. Remember?”

“And this other one was for the morning,” he said, pointing at another strip, “You’ve missed this and taken a second dose of last night’s pill. That’s why the funny feeling in your head.”

When I inspected the medicine, I saw for myself that I had made a mistake. I had been in a hurry that morning and ended up being reckless.

“Oh,” I said, feeling relieved despite my irritation, ”Is that all?”

“Yes,” he said, “Go, get some sleep. You’ll be fine when you wake up.”

I decided not to second guess my symptoms anymore and to trust him instead.  I followed his simple advice and slept soundly for a good two hours.

And sure enough, when I awoke, the unease had disappeared!

My vision was clear and my head felt normal.

I walked out of my room and saw Suraj in the kitchen.

“So, how are you?” he said, looking amused.

“I’m feeling fine,” I said and smiled.

“You’re just in time. I am making tea. Would you like some?” he said.

“Oh yes! I’d love some. Thank you,” I said.

As we sipped tea in the balcony, I said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t trust you when you said there was nothing wrong with me. It’s just that I was so scared. I’ve never experienced something like this before and I thought something was seriously off.”

“It’s alright. I understand,” he said.

“But tell me,” I said, “How were you so certain that nothing was wrong?”

“Well, I know your medical background – healthy young woman, no underlying health issues, pulse was fine, face wasn’t flushed, just recovering from an infection, on a pill to decongest the throat, which in excess doses can have unpleasant side effects and multiple other observations of a similar nature. Often, medical evaluation happens in a fraction of a second, especially when we know the patient well.”

“I see. That’s pretty remarkable,” I said, nodding my head, “I didn’t know evaluation could be that quick!”

“Medicine is not just a science,” he said and smiled, “It’s an art too.”

“Yes. Makes sense,” I said.

At that moment, I noticed a yellow butterfly sitting on a potted plant near my feet.

To me, the butterfly is symbolic of lightness, positive change, and transformation.

I knew I had something to learn from this incident.

I whispered to the soul of the butterfly, “What message do you bring, beautiful soul?”

And I heard in my heart –

“Release the need to be in control always. Allow others to take the lead when necessary and trust the path that they show. Lighten your load. Life is built on trust, dear one.”  

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