Sunday, September 6, 2009

The patient must minister to himself

After I returned home and settled down to the new routine, I had the problem of deciding how to spend my time. I am not very interested in watching movies and TV programmes. I used to watch news headlines, some live sporting events and some programmes on Discovery and National Geographic channels. The other channels were not of much interest to me. The prospect of vegetating in front of the idiot box watching prolefeed for the rest of my life was not a cheerful thought. While I did not get depressed, I did feel a Macbeth-like despair:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.

Like Rajesh Khanna, I did not want to get into an analysis-paralysis (pun unintended) loop of self-pity. Moping around the whole day wearing a 'Death, where is thy sting?' look on my face was not going to help either me or my family. But suppressing negative thoughts is a doomed endeavour. (Unless I had access to some futuristic drug.) You can only spend so much time thinking about whether a zebra is a white animal with black stripes or a black animal with white stripes.

At that time my physiotherapist was a lady named Kamala who used to stay with us. My escape from boredom was facilitated by her suggestion that I should spend more time sitting rather than just lying on the bed. Pillows were kept in front of me and the reading material was clipped onto it. I found that the letters were easier to see because no one was holding the material and so there was no blur due to constant shaking. I read the newspaper in some detail after many months. I read some magazines and books that were with me. My brother-in-law and some friends gave me new books which I enjoyed reading. Like the humorist Robert Benchley, “I do most of my work sitting down; that's where I shine."

I read a lot about evolution and astronomy both of which were new subjects for me. I enjoyed reading and trying to understand topics about which I knew next to nothing. For perhaps the first time in my life I was reading a lot of non-fiction books without any specific goal: I was not preparing for any exam, I was not appearing for any interview, I was not going to show-off my new found knowledge to anyone. There is a book of short works of Richard Feynman called The Pleasure of Finding Things Out. The title expresses clearly the reason why I enjoyed reading about these things. There was another benefit: during the long hours that I had to spend lying on the bed I used to think about the various things that I had read. My mind was no longer idle and the devil had one less workshop to fool around in.

Some years after my stroke, Jaya decided to do MBA by correspondence and asked me to help her in some areas so that she did not have to attend contact classes. She completed the course in the required time in spite of having many other things to do. That was the only time after my stroke that I seriously read any management books. Now I am not interested in business matters. Occasionally I read some things about it but soon my interest wanes and I start reading about transitional whale fossils.

Once Sujit started getting into higher classes and had subjects with a little more meat in them I used to think of how to explain some concepts more clearly than what was given in the textbook. And now I am writing this blog, so I spend some time thinking about what to bore you with next.

So I have a lot more things to do now than in the months following my stroke. Thanks to family (especially Jaya) and friends, it looks as if I have managed to survive the stress tests without major mental damage.

1 comment:

  1. but of course you show off. we are all better off for it....