Thursday, July 30, 2009

Misinterprentation of blinks

Many people used to think that when I blinked it meant 'no' which was the exact opposite of the convention that had been established in the hospital. Problem was that they will not tell me what I should do for 'yes'. I will stare for some time and they will wait till I blink and they will interpret the answer to their question to be 'no'. By the time Jaya comes into the room everything will be a mess. I will explain the whole story to her and she will clear the confusion.

A friend of mine used to say that if two people are understanding each other they are said to be 'connecting'. And what do you say when people are not 'connecting'? Connecticut, of course!

Visitors and I being 'connecticut' resulted in some unforeseen consequences. If the misunderstanding was not material, I will leave the error uncorrected thinking that it will be too tedious to correct it. This slightly distorted story will come back sometime later with a small mutation. Again I will let it go. This process will continue till I suddenly realise that the story had changed considerably from its original version but by now it will be too late to change it. The process was somewhat similar to what in military parlance is known as 'salami tactics'.

After several such incidents, I thought it prudent to rein in my 'loquaciousness' and decided to maintain the eye equivalent of the stiff upper lip in front of visitors who may not be familiar with my communication codes. There is a lot of truth in the old saying that "it is better to keep your mouth closed and have people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Otherwise fine!

Once a friend of mine rang up and asked Jaya, "Kesu (that is my nickname) can't walk, can't eat, can't talk, otherwise how is he?" Jaya was taken aback at first, then assured him that otherwise I was fine.

We had a good laugh about it later.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I return home

There were suggestions that I can be discharged. The doctors also said that there should be no problem in taking me home and physiotherapy can be continued at home. (Read : don't waste your money.)

I had been admitted to the hospital for six months. Before my stroke, I had never stayed in a hospital, so I sure had made up for lost time. At first I was enthusiastic about returning home but as the date of discharge drew closer, I began to worry whether Jaya and a new nurse will be able to handle any problems that may arise. (What problems? I don't know.)

The journey home was uncomfortable. Having stayed inside a hospital for so long, the road travel got on my nerves- the noise, smoke, ambulance siren, etc made me nervous. When we reached home and my stretcher was brought out of the ambulance, I could see some heads peeping out of various balconies. I kept my eyes firmly fixed on the blue sky above. It helped that I was not wearing my glasses so I could not see anybody clearly. I was relieved when I finally disappeared inside the building.

Our house was on the second floor and the building had no lift. My stretcher was carried up by four people. It was the most harrowing journey I have ever had. With every pitch and roll of the stretcher I felt as if I would roll off into an abyss. I cried out. No sound came. I was afraid of putting more effort into producing sound because it might have caused severe cough which might have been hazardous on an unstable stretcher. I don't know why I did not get a few heart attacks by the time I reached the second floor.

It was an emotional entry into the house. The walls seemed much darker than what I remembered. Perhaps I had got used to a lighter shade at the hospital. The first thing I did when I entered my room was to inspect the railings on my bed. My heart was still racing after my frightening journey up the stairs.

Over the next few days I slowly got used to my new old surroundings.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Sujit turns eleven.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

When it rains it pours

When I was admitted in the hospital, many family members developed some medical problem or the other. Of course, before my stroke Jaya and Sujit were away in Hyderabad because Jaya's mom had to undergo a surgery.

My sister developed a growth on her abdomen. The doctor said that it may not be malignant but advised her to get it removed nevertheless. This necessitated a minor surgery.

My brother-in-law was in Coimbatore on leave because of my stroke. When he was coming to the hospital one day on his scooter, a dog decided to explore the terrain in the middle of the road and he had to apply the brakes suddenly in order to avoid it. The dog escaped but he skidded and fell down. His injury required him to put an arm in a sling for a few days. (One doctor said this was why he considered two wheelers dangerous and advised his patients to drive only cars!)

My father-in-law decided to go to Hyderabad for a few days in order to tie up a few loose ends which he had left pending because of his hurried departure to Coimbatore following my stroke. The night before he was to travel, he developed some chest pain. He was admitted to K.G.Hospital where the doctors said that he had suffered a heart attack. They advised him to undergo bypass surgery as soon as possible because he had multiple blocks in his arteries. He underwent the surgery a couple of months after I was discharged.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Nurse who mistook 'one' for 'on'

The pillows in K.G.Hospital were very thin and in order to feel comfortable I needed two pillows under my head. Once, I thought I will try using one pillow and see how I feel. At that time only the nurse was in the room.

I looked up to indicate the pillow. The nurse started guessing: ceiling, fan, light, head, hair... everything except pillow. She had seen Jaya using our communication system (we call it 'pad') and decided to use it to crack the puzzle. She did not know the distribution of the letters and had to start every time from 'a' but that was only a minor inconvenience. I was delighted that she had got this idea. Archimedes was not so ecstatic when he jumped out of his bathtub.

I wanted to dictate 'one pillow'. She got 'o', then 'n'. She was thrilled that she had got the first word 'on' and thought that the next letter was the beginning of the second word.

I knew this was trouble. I had the sinking feeling that those folks of the Light Brigade must have had when they suddenly saw cannon to right of them, cannon to left of them and cannon in front of them that volley'd and thunder'd. (At least that is the way P.G. Woodhouse would have described my predicament.)

I continued nevertheless. I was sure that she would soon spot her error and then it would be plain sailing. Bigger miracles have happened before. But hopes are dupes, say old-timers (but they balance it out by saying that fears are liars).

The next letter was 'e', then 'p', then 'i'. By now the nurse was in a panic. 'On epi...'? What the hell was this guy thinking about? There was a baffled expression on her face as she considered and rejected various alternatives. Nothing seemed to fit. Luckily, her English was not strong enough for her to speculate on 'on epistemology' or 'on epicurianism' or 'on epigenetics', otherwise it would have been a very long day. She decided that the wise thing to do was to throw in the towel and wait for Jaya to come. Recognizing that we were at a dead-end, I acquiesced in her decision.

When Jaya came an hour later, I couldn't wait to tell her the story. After I was through, everyone started laughing. The nurse did not know where to hide. We lived on that incident for days. Everyone who came to our room heard the story. Inevitably, the nurse had a new nickname - 'on epi'. I may forget her real name but 'on epi' is etched indelibly in my memory.