A tablet for death

From the time I entered the ward I could hear the cry. I had to pass through the front of his room and the nurses’ station to reach our meeting room. While passing, I had noticed the resident physician beside his bed.

We started our daily review of cases, and all through it, the cry was getting louder. His voice was rough because of his thyroid problem and sounded like a frog croaking. He was yelling also at the top of his throat, something which I could not decipher at the time.
I asked the doctor what was his problem.
And he said” Ah...nothing.. It is his usual tantrum ”

I knew this old man for some time. He was very old at about ninety years,  was unmarried and living with some of his relatives. There was no one to take care of him except a Bengali boy and the old man survived on his allowances from the government. He had a heart problem and thyroid disease and was  confined to bed.
I was not convinced of the explanation for his yelling. After the meeting, I went straight to his room. The Bengali was beside the bed and trying to console the old man. He was still crying at the top of his voice.

I asked him” Baba, tell me what is your problem”
He didn’t seem to listen and continued his tantrum, the cry now getting louder when he saw me.
I asked him again.
It was the same slogan, louder. I could make out” tablet for death”
“What is it that you want?”
“Give me tablet for death”
“OK, fine, I don’t have it with me, but tell me your problem”
“Tablet for death”

I was losing my patience. But I made a quick examination and found his abdomen was tender and he had a distended urinary bladder. Retaining urine, and not able to pass it, is probably the worst problem one can have .It is unbearably painful.
I gave instructions to pass a urinary catheter, and about 1.5 liters of urine came out.
I told him I would bring his tablets when I returned.
During the rounds I noticed that his cry was getting less aggressive and after some time,  faded and ceased.

While going to the outpatient clinic, I peeped in to see that he was sleeping comfortably.

The next day I saw him during morning rounds. He was lying comfortably and greeted me with a smile.
“I have brought your tablets” I said.
“What?” as if he was surprised.
“The tablets for death you asked yesterday, I brought them”
He grinned from ear to ear, and said
“Not now, I will let you know when”


  1. Nice one..Being able to live the life of a doctor is a luck

  2. Beautiful. You are a gift. I'd prattle on about really seeing one another, but the old man's smile said all that really needs to be said. namaste

  3. Poor man. Then the agony of his suffering was too unbearable and he wanted out. It must have seemed like a miracle to have it eased. Thank you Doctor Tony.

  4. Quite good Doc!
    If it was in one of those elite private hospitals here ,doctors would have send the man through a CT/MRI an Ultra an X-ray and all other tests to which they could put their imported gadgets to use. And the poor fellow would have passed away without the “tablet of death”.

  5. I wish there were more doctors like you.

  6. Poor thing. He thought death would be less painful than his agony.

  7. I know how it feels!Nothing wrong doc in him asking for his "tablets for death"Pian is the most unbearable emotion on earth.With that I remember ny maternity ward pain which lasted for 5 hrs and I repeatedly kept saying "please take me in "and the nurse constantly said that the distention was not upto the mark!That process of wait with cruciating pain was like hell.

  8. nd there are many who think that after the age of 80 or even 70 one is making too much fuss out of living.. it is only a few doctors who care to see the plight of older folks the same way as that of younger ones..

    Thank God for doctors like you...

  9. Ah doc, great that you could be of service to him and taught him a lesson in a humorous way :).

  10. God bless you for this kindness.

  11. It just goes to show that we should not always takes things as they first seem. This poor man must have been so so uncomfortable and in such pain - thank goodness you took the time.

  12. ..that was so cute post
    he must be relieved from that pain and discomfort which was gone after the procedure..you must be getting lot of blessing Doc..its priceless!
    God bless!

  13. Very nice Dr. Antony. :))) Relieved pain is the heaven on the earth...

  14. Trust me @Doc, I was reluctant to read the post thinking it was going to be about 'assisted suicide'.

    What a relief it was to see you could help this person in a beautiful way, which only you could do Doctor. A! Keep up your good cheer! Your reward is greater.

  15. hmmm...this was nice..indeed a full bladder is going to be as painful as death..the relief is instant, that he should've been thankful at once..

  16. Wonderful Dr.Antony. I appreciate for your great work. I feel that there should be more and more Dr. like you.

  17. I enjoyed this post for your sense of humour, Dr. Antony. And it seemed like the old man has one too. : )

  18. A wonderful anecdote-full of wisdom and compassion. Reminds me of the Aesop fable, "Death And The Woodcutter."

  19. Yes, pain is something that is so terrible..! And then there are conditions when we are near death, almost dead but not dead..! I always think that committed doctors are like angels who do God's will...! God bless you!

  20. great experience
    excellent story explaining when Doc is good he can turn the view point of patient.
    tablet of Death

  21. For Bad doctors and hospitals such patients are like lottery as they would have ended up doing all the tests from a to z.
    For good doctors they do the magic like you did it

  22. Would all the poor and forgotten have a doctor such as you. Bless you, Dr. Anthony. Have a great day.

  23. Gr8 done Sir....

    at my place its very rare to see a Doctor who has some emotions left into them n listening their patient properly, all are so money minded...

    wish we have few like you, Sir.....:))

  24. Wow! these days we hardly have doctors who care to listen to patients. Good job!

  25. I always miss working with you Dr.Antony, you are a good doctor and also it was fun.

  26. you always had such a good sense of humor

  27. To all my friends,
    Thanks for all the good words.
    My aim was to show that thoughts of death,are just momentary.When that time passes,everyone would love to cling on to life.
    Good to see you Nasrin. I have posted something new,specially for you !

  28. I can relate to your story, thanks for sharing.

  29. WOW. This post brought tears to me.. God is blessed u with the worlds best job.. and he knew he is giving it in right hands.. Good Job !!

  30. Thanks to God for dr's like u , who after God gives us a comfort feeling..... "that, yes we are in safe hands..........!!!!!!".


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