Life brings with a plethora of experiences, each with a flavour of its own. I wish to share with all my readers these various experiences and observations that I have made during my time here on this planet. They may be funny, thought-provoking or simple reflections. I do hope you will find these enjoyable and interesting.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

A Story of a Valentine's Day And A Few Days That Followed - Part IV

Adversities and the blessings they bring

Previous part here

As I have mentioned in the past, I have had a rough time over the last couple of years when I have been restricted to home and unable to go out much or do much of my own jobs. I have had to be dependent on domestic staff to help keep my home running – something that I was never used to. But I have learnt to accept the situation.

But above all these what came as a huge blessing to me was the fact a friend (yet another in-law) introduced me to IndusLadies. The chance to make a lot of friends, meet them personally, the opportunity to discover my ability to write, blog and use other skills enriched my life like no good times had done in the past. The need to stay at home gave me the opportunity to open my eyes and look at the natural beauty all around me. The kindness of so many people touched me – be it relatives, doctors in the hospital, nurses in the ICU who kept hovering to look after me when I was sick and to chat with me and encourage me when I was better, the friends who prayed so hard for me and kept sending words of encouragement and love and affection, waiting to see me back on line - has touched me like nothing else has before. These nurses were all old enough to be my daughters. Their affection and cheer was so infectious. Their smiles in the toughest of work situations was a revelation. Their happiness to see me smiling and chatting was so wonderful. Why should they have cared?  I was only a job, but they did not seem to think so.  God bless them. I can never forget those moments when I was lying in bed uncaring, not wanting to eat more than a morsel of food or drink a sip or two of water (under compulsion), moments when they would come along and ask so caringly if I would not like something - just a little more?  Some coffee?  No?  Perhaps some fruit juice or water, then?  Just a sip or two more?  I really should .....  This was the first time I had so many people younger than me really showering their care and affection on me and to one who is generally used to being the youngest around, it was really heart warming.  What I have not experienced otherwise - the bonding with a daughter - I enjoyed through this situation of pain and suffering.  It is so good to be able to see that even the worst of situations are never purely bad.  They do come with their mixed blessings.  

The doctors were relieved to see me well and able to move about.  Bless their skillful hands and their knowledge which they bring to the help of suffering individuals.

I can go on endlessly like this. But all I can say for now is “Thank you Life, thanks God for all you have given me. You have shown me the toughest times but also equipped me with an inbuilt helmet to take all the blows you showered on me. I ask for no more”.

Thanks to all those friends who stood by me and encouraged me all along.  I should be out of ICU tomorrow and back home in the coming week.  I know the road to a full recovery is going to be an arduous one.  But it will be done and I know I should be back to blogging regularly very soon.  Till then I shall content myself with making occasional appearances whenever my body, opportunity as well as time permit me.

(Source:  Google)

A Story of a Valentine's Day And A Few Days That Followed - Part III


Previous part here

The time fixed for me to go in was fixed. They would come for me at 7.15. I was told the surgery would last 5 hours. OK, so be it. Spent Valentine's day – the day I was admitted – in going for pre-op tests and signing consent forms in between chatting with friends on line – my dear friends on Indusladies, many whom I have met personally and many whom I have not as well as a few others. It helped me keep my mind diverted and we indulged in a lot of light banter. Evening saw a friend and her husband (actually cousins on my mother-in-law's side – but I prefer to say they are friends than in-laws) come over with flowers to pep me up and spend some time with me.

They left and I tried to get some sleep. For reasons unknown to me (maybe there was some anxiety which I was not fully conscious or aware of) I was not able to sleep too well. Hubby dear did manage to snatch some sleep, but I could tell there was a degree of anxiety in him. It is never easy for a doc to know all the implications of a surgery and watch a near and dear one go into surgery. For that matter it is not easy for anyone. He came up with me upto the doors of the OT and told his colleague the anaesthetist to take good care of me.

The next thing I remember was the process of going under. Considering it was around 8 am I expected to be out by 1 pm. When I finally came to and was being told the surgery was over, am I OK, is there any pain etc. it was actually 4 pm. The surgery had gone on for 8 hours. Back in the ICU I was told I had lost about a liter of blood and I had to be given blood. Something broke inside me. I have always believed in giving blood as a gift that belongs only to me to give away – a gift of love towards humanity, but never imagined taking it back. And that is precisely what it seemed to me I was doing. I can never give it back again – for various reasons they do not accept my blood anymore. I wished I had thought of this event before hand and had opted for auto transfusion. But I had not been in mentally in a state to think of all these things. Anyway, what was inevitable could not be avoided.

What was worse was a searing pain going down my left hip and leg which the doctors assured me was post-op pain which would settle within 2-3 days. I was not so convinced – why should post op pain radiate downwards? This was not the first time I was experiencing a post-op situation. Anyway I did not argue at that point. Did not think I would cut any ice.

I could not turn on to my left side nor lie on my back. Any such effort would send the shooting pain back. It was a night in hell in the ICU. There were 3 patients there and I was lying awake for much of the time. Many times when I opened my eyes I would find a couple of nurses hovering around me and looking down with great concern. The feeling was like having angels standing by your side knowing you needed their tender help. At one point in the night, I heard some nurses near the desk talking in Kannada and said something that sounded like “sicktilla”. I asked the nurse who was standing besides me what the word meant. It sounded very incongruous to me in an ICU with all “sick people”. A sense of relief flooded over me when I realised that I was able to laugh at something through that pain. I was still there. Heard one patient telling the nurse he was in an apartment and wanted to go to the hotel. When she told him where he was, he insisted she was talking nonsense. Part of my mind was taken by the absurdity of the situtaion, part of it went out to the patient who was obviously not aware where he was or what he was doing and part of it went out to the nurses who probably experienced such patients every other day. I asked the nurse how they handled such difficult ones. She told me they could sometimes turn violent and slap them too, which was really terrible. After all this they are so cheerful and laugh through the situation. Next day this patient wanted to go to sleep early. The nurses told him it was only 6 pm and if he went to sleep, he would be up by 1 am asking to go to the hotel. So better he try and keep awake for some more time. :-D Could not help being taken in by their sense of humour.

The next morning came. Time to get mobilized and to try and walk. They tried it. I went along, but could barely manage to drag my left leg behind me. It was in severe pain and I could not move it properly. Something worried me immensely. A fear swept over me and I wondered if I would ever walk properly again. Who would look after me? What would I do? Had I done a major mistake going in for this surgery? The pain only intensified through the day in spite of all the narcotics, steroids, antibiotics and pain relieving drugs that were given to me.

Next morning the doctors finally decided that something was not quite right and went in for a CT scan. My haemoglobin had plummeted to around 8. The effects of the general anaesthesia and the medications were ravaging – I was immensely sick and could see my body as a chemical factory. That was another cause for alarm. My mind was already travelling in the direction of detoxification treatments. :-P  The mention of another scan immediately told me that I was going on for something major. I was taken for the scan. The movement from ICU to the radiology department and back only made me feel sicker – motion sickness. I was grateful when the bed was stationary again in the ICU. I don't know how long it was – maybe half an hour later perhaps – when my husband came and said “Satchi” in a tone which told me that the news was not good. What else could it be?  Another surgery was required.  I knew it inside.  A screw was not properly placed, there was a lamina was fractured behind the screw and a nerve going down to the leg was trapped between the two.  This was no surprise.  I just told him “Well, I knew that was coming. What to do? If it has to be done, it has to be done. Don't worry, all will be OK”. Then we got into the mundane details of trying to organize another 3 units of blood with the help of a blood bank where I had worked a few years ago. It was so heartening when they remembered me with great affection and assured me not to worry, they would organize whatever was necessary. Then came more transfusions and I was moved back to OT. The same routine again and then 2 hours later I was being told it it was all over, could I move my leg, was there any pain, move my toes up, push my foot down – all of which I did but could not open my eyes. That made me panic. Tried desperately to open my eyes which I could do about after half an hour later. But to my great relief, the pain in the leg was gone. I was out of the shadows. Finally. I could deal with the post op pain. I did not feel the need for any great doses of pain killers.

The night passed relatively peacefully. Was able to sleep on both sides which was immensely relieving. The next morning I had a vision – not once, but twice. I saw dad lying in my place. Saw his face very clearly. It was not an imagination. No imagination could bring him so clearly to me. The only sense I can make it was he came, lay in my place, took my suffering away from me, told me all was well and went. I know I can count on him to come back whenever I want him again. I am sure there will be many who think I am totally nuts ….. but I can live with that.

The morning saw me feeling positively chirpy – chirpy enough to tell hubby dear that I was ready for the third surgery if necessary or alternatively to go for a drive. There was jubilation all around. Hubby looked so relieved. Everyone kept telling me how anxious he had been, going up and down between his department and the ICU and asking all the time if I was out of surgery, how terrible he had looked over the past couple of days. He told me how he had been unable to think straight and he had tried to find relief in chatting with his colleague for some time. My heart went out to him when I thought about how painful it would have been for me had the story been the other way round.

This was what Valentine's day was all about. Keeping up promises. Living out one's promises. How many times do we hear of husbands or wives who break under the pressure and abandon their partners in the toughest of times! I am grateful to the core to have a husband who has stuck by me through thick and thin, in health and in sickness, for better or for worse. He might not be the type to spend a lot of time with me, but I can depend on having a tower of strength to lean on when the chips are down.

.....contd here

A Story of a Valentine's Day And A Few Days That Followed - Part II

The events thereafter

Previous part here

My upbringing has never allowed me to put up any face other than a stoic one, no matter what the circumstances. Besides my own pride does not allow me to be otherwise (except when I underwent a surgery as a child and literally ran away from the hospital to be caught and delivered back to the docs). The years have also brought a tremendous degree of acceptance and courage to face life as it comes. I have developed a stiff upper lip over the years.  The knowledge that there is someone with me all the time looking after me – be it God, my guardian angel, my father who I firmly believe is always with me (more than he could be if he was in the physical form) has given me immense strength to walk in and out of Operation Theatres as if I had gone in to pass the time of day.

It was slightly different this time round. There were innate doubts about whether the decision to undergo surgery was the right one. There was no one statement on outcome. Whether it be taking opinions from more than one doctor, or talking to  people who knew people who had undergone this surgry or watching fusion diaries on Youtube or reports of friends who had undergone the surgery, the outcomes were very varied. But then sometimes life gives one very little choice – you either choose the devil or the deep sea. And when being with the devil gets you nowhere, you have to per  force opt to jump into the deep sea and check out what is there. So it was that I chose to undergo the surgery. There was basically no other choice. But getting mentally prepared for it took some time. Maybe that is why I was forced by “Circumstances” to postpone it twice after the dates were finalized. I came to a point where the pain was unendurable and I was finally ready (or should I say desperately keen) to take the plunge and see where it led me.  Mental preparation came automatically with that.

......contd here

A Story of a Valentine's Day And A Few Days That Followed - Part I

For better for worse, in sickness or in health

(Taken from Photobucket)

Valentine's day – a day which has captured the imagination of the entire world and come to become something of craze, hysteria, fad, a commercial opportunity - whatever you choose to call it. To some, it may be a day of great significance.  Why do I choose to talk about this day 5 days after it is over? I never bothered about it all my life. I have always wondered about the meaning of this much touted word “love” which seems to be bandied about so easily these days. However, this year the day came to me with a difference. It brought back the words of the wedding vows to me.

"I, take you to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; and I promise to be faithful to you until death parts us".

I am not a Christian, but I love these vows as they are so meaningful and taken consciously by both the bride and the groom knowing fully well what it is that they are promising and the enormity and purport of the vow. It is taken in front of so many witnesses in front of the altar, in a language they clearly understand and cannot claim ignorance of. So neither can say later that they did not understand what he/she said and wants to backtrack.

This time a friend asked me how I going to “celebrate” Valentine's day and it brought back the wedding vows which we did not take in those particular words to mind – especially the bit about “in sickness and in health”.

So that I can make clear what I am going on about here, I shall just briefly mention that I have been through 9 surgeries to date in my life time. One of those was when I was a kid, the rest in during the last 12 years. Life has gone on nonetheless and I can confidently say I have achieved whatever I have had the potential for (even if it has not been anything spectacular) despite all the setbacks.

This Valentine's day saw me getting admitted to the hospital for my 8th surgery – a spinal fusion for a problem which has been with me for the past few years. Although I knew that it would involve a considerable amount of endurance, I had not bargained for what followed – I knew these possibilities existed, but they always happen to other people, not to oneself or so one thinks. More about that follows. So it came to pass that and my other half spent the day after Valentine's day holding hands in the ICU.

.....contd here