The ‘unremarkable’

Last Updated 09 October 2019, 02:29 IST

The report had ‘unremarkable’ marked in several places! I’m talking about a medical report.

My mind raced through my younger days as a student. Conventional mentoring proposed during childhood underlines that success in life comes through sustained educational performance and it being termed ‘remarkable’ matters most. ‘Unremarkable’ was not kosher in our dictionary.

It was twilight when I stood at the threshold of the specialised diagnostic lab to collect a family member’s medical reports; her day punctuated with pricks that drew the last drop of her blood and other body fluids, and a battery of tests. All this to conclusively prove the presence or absence of disease.

A good friend once said that the dreaded 6-letter ‘C-word’ is an uninvited invader into one’s life. Incidence of cancer has been on the rise; attributed to early diagnosis with better screening techniques while deterioration in environmental standards around us, termed ‘lifestyle,’ play a significant role too. Today’s lab results would unravel the mystery for us.
PET-CT test reveal the extent of the spread of this disease internally into the different organs. Positron Emission Tomography - Computerized Tomography (PET-CT), for us lesser mortals, is where a mild radioactive drug injected into the body travels throughout. The cancer cells have an unusual appetite for uptake of this material, so it glows brighter on the image. The brighter the glow areas the surer is the area afflicted with cancer due to presence of increased cell activity.

As I glanced through this report, my head started reeling and my salivary glands went dry. My heartbeat raced through the plethora of minefields laced in one’s life. What caught my attention was that most organs were reported as ‘unremarkable.’ With my limited medical knowledge, I even fell back on today’s omnipresent physician, our partner-in-crime Dr. Google to throw some light.

It is prudent to hear it from the doctor though! As the oncologist scanned through the report, I was engulfed in an uncomfortable silence. He identified the presence of a localised tumour growth, which was to be taken in a positive frame of mind for there was a set treatment path. The ‘unremarkable’ must be read as no evidence of a spread into other organs. That was music to my ears since it was a foregone conclusion about the presence of a malignant tumour from earlier tests.

With mixed feelings I exclaimed: “Doctor, do you agree in this case that ‘unremarkable’ is the new ‘remarkable’ for the patient and the immediate family?!” The doctor’s smile lit me up when he nodded in agreement and lo behold, I found my silver lining around the dark cloud! It was a grand entry of the word ‘unremarkable’ into my thesaurus. Hope is eternal and that was my disposition as I stepped out of the lab.

(Published 08 October 2019, 17:18 IST)

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