Sunday, June 5, 2011

Living with a Twin


Last night, my husband and I could not sleep without watching the ending of the Discovery Channel documentary on the life and life changing operation of a dear gorgeous Indian 7 year old. It was past midnight and we were glued to the TV screen.

The gorgeous boy had his undeveloped twin grow from his belly.  They were conjoined twins. The twin had four limbs, genitals and a small abdomen. His feet were dangling from Deepak's abdomen which prevented him from being as active as he wanted to be. He knew that he could not do what other seven year olds were doing and it frustrated him. He was made fun of by his peers, treated as a god by some adults and a freak by others. Some others, felt sorry for him and gave him money but his parents who were living in pain and anguish for their son did not want him to live his life this way. They wanted what was best for him and they kept praying to their Hindu Gods to save him.

Some doctors in Bangalore were made aware of this amazing young boy and were sent his x-rays. They decided to perform an operation on Deepak to release him from his restrictive binding twin so that he could live a normal life. They needed to make sure that the twin did not have any shared organs and discovered that he did not have a head, brain or heart and therefore was not alive but was considered a parasite and growing. In my head I kept saying... a Parasite? A parasite? It is a twin.... do not treat it as a parasite.... it definitely is NOT a parasite to Deepak!

During the show, I was more concerned for the kids' emotional state. I was afraid that the doctors were taking this as a chance to further their caeers and reputation... I did not want them to think that this was another great achievement. My dad is a doctor you see and the first issue he deals with other than the patient's physical situation is his or her emotional state. He is not a psychologist or psychiatrist but he needs to make a patient feel comfortable with any medication or operation that s/he would undergo... Doctors should be extra careful with a kid's emotional state... it is easier to mold and shape when a kid is young... and therefore, it is very important to deal with that.

The doctors who were going to perform the four hour surgery knew that this twin has been with Deepak for seven years and therefore would definitely feel some kind of attachment to him. Shouldn't they have addressed that? The poor duckling was anxious whenever they touched him or tried to examine him... once they had to sedate him to be able to examine him.... doesn't that picture seem weird... strange... abnormal? Deepak knew that they wanted to do something to his twin... take him away... and so he was protective of him... it is his twin for goodness sake... and yet they kept calling the twin a parasite.... when IT IS NOT!

The father was left to explain things to his beautiful boy... when it was really a therapist or doctor's job to take over as the father and mother had dealt with so much already.... The kid needed debriefing... he needed time to mourn his brother... you see... Deepak called his twin 'his baby'.... They asked Deepak what was the name of the twin but that was it... they did nothing after that. 

Having said all this and after all my worries... it was apparent that the operation was the best thing that happened to this miracle boy.... He is happy and is leading a normal life. His parents are ecstatic because now he could love, marry, work and have the same kind of chances as his peers. I still think that this lovely boy needs his feelings to be addressed. We all need to deal with people as living things with feelings, emotions and not as subjects that could further our careers.


Birdie said...

You are absolutely right. I hope someone will help this young lad deal with his grieving.

Jan said...

Yes I hope that Deepak is helped to come to terms with what has happened, the whole thing is so complex! To just remove the twin without ensuring Deepak has some level of understanding and acceptance would be possibly damaging and definitely insensitive. Hopefully his parents will be able to help him process it all but as you say he may need support himself. Thank you for sharing this Lana.

Tabouleh said...

Thank you for reading Jan... it is a complex thing... The parents are ecstatic and I am sure Deepak is too... but something needs to be done at a deeper level... as you said... let us hope that something is to be done!