Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pains before a much awaited trip

Towards the end of November last year, I developed a side strain that made it difficult for me to sit. The pain used to come off and on at a lower intensity for some months. I used to feel better after ultrasound treatment and applying cold packs. This time I strained the muscle more severely than usual due to a bout of severe cough and it was not responding to the usual treatments. I was advised more rest.

Around the same time, I started developing an infection around the feeding tube which started paining.  The doctor prescribed some antibiotics and said that he would come home in a couple of days to check how I was doing. When I have antibiotics I develop loose motion and the regular cleaning meant that my anus started paining. With all these troubles vying for attention and getting bored lying on the bed, it wasn't a very pleasant time.

What made it an even bigger issue was that I was supposed to attend the reunion of my batch at IIM Ahmedabad. When the idea of my travelling to Ahmedabad was first mooted by a classmate some months back, I was taken aback because after my stroke I had not imagined travelling so far.  After I had agreed and the logistics were being taken care of, I was rendered hors de combat.  Daniel Kahneman says that it is better to be a pessimist because then one is rarely disappointed by anything so I thought it may be better not to keep hoping for a timely recovery.

When the doctor came, he found that there was some problem with the position of the tube. There was also a blood clot which was removed by a minor surgery. (Surgery is a dramatic word for what was a small procedure that was not as painful as the menacing instrument in the doctor's hand suggested.)The pain around the feeding tube reduced and I was advised to stop taking the antibiotics. The exercises advised by the physiotherapists for the back pain continued.

Meanwhile preparations for the trip continued apace whether the trip finally happened or not. The doctor's certificate for me as mandated by the airline was prepared. There was the problem of ID cards for me and the nurse. Jaya hunted down my PAN card which I  had prepared almost 20 years ago. A certificate attested by a gazetted officer was prepared for the nurse. (It was a more innocent age when I last flew when all that was required was a valid flight ticket.) We were told not to worry too much about a domestic flight which turned out to be correct.

Since a classmate of mine is stationed in Coimbatore, it eased the planning of the trip. When the tickets arrived, I found that the direct flight to Ahmedabad would take about 4 hours. A direct flight has its advantages and disadvantages -  it meant that I did not have to shift to another flight but I could not sit continuously in the same position for 4 hours. It would cause a lot of pain in my bottom which could eventually lead to pressure sores. I have to be lifted up at intervals to relieve the pressure on my bottom which was managed during the flight.

Thus it was that on the evening of 3rd January I reached the IIMA campus along with Jaya, Sujit, my brother-in-law and the nurse. A small, well fed, well stocked army is required to haul me around. If my brother-in-law had not got leave at that time, I may not have gone for the reunion. Jaya is getting on in years and would have found it difficult to provide the necessary manpower to shift me in and out of vehicles. She also often has pain in her left elbow so I was not going to take  the risk of aggravating it.

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