Farewell to a friend

Two members of my online support group had happy news to share with us in the past two weeks. One is a working woman aged 40 plus, has a family, and also a good financial background. She kept working on and off all through her treatment. She has completed her treatment and she is back to her normal life.

Another is a young woman of 31, unmarried, no parents and still a student doing her research. Six months back, more or less the same time, I was diagnosed with the malignancy, she joined the group and I remember her first post even now. She mentioned that she needed financial support as she was still a student and her parents are no more. All the members and the moderator of the group suggested a few places where the treatment would be good and also the expenses would be reasonable. After that I dont know how she managed her finances. Every now and then she would post her queries regarding the side effects of the treatment. Couple of days back she informed us that her treatment which comprised of a breast conservation surgery, 6 cycles of chemotherapy, and 27 sessions of radiation have all come to an end, and she walked out of the hospital feeling really free.

All of us were very happy for her and poured out sincere good wishes in abundance. Now there is so much for her to do.. She has to finish her doctorate, get a job, find a partner, who would be selfless enough to marry a cancer survivor…, bear children, overcome the fear of passing on the defective gene to the girl baby, monitor her own health and watch over possibilities of recurrence…. We all wish her the very best to  tackle all the challenges and emerge successful just as she won over this disease.

money..money..money

Cancer claimed a young life yesterday. A 33 year old young man who was working as a peon passed away.

Yesterday morning, my husband got a message asking for help to admit this young man in a charity hospital for treatment. Immediately he contacted many people and somehow managed to get admission for the patient on priority basis, and also on partial payment. Then he tried to arrange donors to meet the expenses. Before he could complete his calls, he got a further message informing that the young man was no more.

We came to know that this man had been knocking at the doors of the charity hospital for the past three months. Though he was given treatment as an out patient, he could not be given admission for that very important surgical procedure which could have saved his life, and the reason was that the waiting list was too long. It is understandable because people from all over India come to this particular hospital for treatment.

On hearing this news, I recalled all the success stories of people whom I know personally. The 40 year old NRI who beat a deadly tumor because he has the dollar magic. The 50 year old police officer, who is today continuing with her gun-toting job as she had the support of the government. The 55 year old publisher who hails from an affluent family.. A 64 year old teacher who is this day fighting a valiant battle, with the promise of 100 percent survival as she has a good bank balance. Though I am happy for every one of them, my heart grows heavy, that young lives are lost and their families are left without the bread winner, as they have neither money nor the right contacts. Wish that Indian population were small enough and the waiting lists were not there! Wish tht no one should be deprived of their right to education, right to live,  just because the population is huge!

Light at the end of the tunnel….

A young friend of our family who is just in his forties, has survived cancer of the brain, and after a yearlong hospitalization has just returned home in time to enjoy  the festival of lights. You can see a photograph showing the myriad glow of lamps lit up to welcome him home. 

My treatment is almost over. Though the food is still tasteless, and the tummy is squeezy and my legs are week, I am glad the chemo cycles are over. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.. So I am determined to celebrate Diwali in a way that will be comfortable for me. This is what I have done.

I have drawn the rangoli on canvass and decorated it with gold tassels and glass pieces. Because sitting down on the floor and drawing the traditional kolam with powders is impossible this year. The flip side is I can preserve this rangoli since it is on canvass. The diyas (earthern lamps) were purchased and decorated by my daughter. will order a sweet or two to stick to the tradition. Mysorepa specifically, as it is a constant reminder of my dear mother who is no more. My daughter has newly acquired a passion for baking. So she will bake a cake for diwali. I have posted a photograph on the FB to greet all friends. Will take a drive to enjoy the sights and sounds of diwali… Perfect.

At this moment my heart goes out to all those people, especially the children and the elderly who are in the low immunity bracket, and who still form the major chunk of cancer patients. Though they would not be able to go out and enjoy the festivities as the Diwali pollution is harmful for them, I wish they get to watch TV and browse the net and social sites to keep afloat. 

My one request to you is call up and talk to people who are lonely or in distress, they will feel good and you too will feel good.

Image

my grand niece(3yrs old) will wear this outfit.Image

 my brother will eat this ‘murukku’  and i am glad looking at a picture of it and talking about it with him.Image

They attend….

I am glad to note that the human kindness is still alive even in this fast phased life.

During my 6 -month-long-experience in the hospital, as an inpatient, opd visitor, lab visits and so on, I have noticed several good people whose kind gestures we are likely to forget in a moment or two.  I wish to record some of those meaningful deeds with gratitude.

  • Once when I was struggling to reach the fruit platter, a lady who was obviously an attendant, picked it up and gave it to me with a smile.
  • Another day, when I had to amble to the wash room, dragging the portable i v stand, a gentleman took it from me and even opened the door, in spite of my refusing any help.
  • The book I was reading slipped and fell down, and I was trying to reach it from my bed.. You know the hospital beds are such contraptions, with too many controls sticking out of them. This person who was passing by my bed, quietly picked it up, gave it to me and walked away without even waiting for a thank you.
  • Sometimes the patient’s voice wouldn’t be loud enough to reach the nurses. At those moments, the attendants for the other patients would go to the nurses and tell them to attend so and so.
  • Many times they look at you and just smile which is very welcome anyday.
  • I remember the little child who wandered to my bedside, looked at what i was drawing and brought her mother to have a look at it. The little one was more fascinated by my eraser rather than my painting.
  • The young girl who had accompanied her mother all the way from Jaipur to Bombay, for treatment. Just 20 plus and wow,  what a maturity and how compassionate!  I wish her well all through her life!
  • The girlfriend who was attending her youngman with grief written large on her face.
  • There were scores of others like a security guard, whose silent acknowledgement was all packed with good wishes.
  • The faint smile I have come across on the faces of the fellow patients, in spite of their ailments deserve a mention in this post.

As I mentioned in the beginning, many such gestures I have forgotten as a typical citizen from a fast phased city. However, now that my in- patient days are over, someday I would read these posts, and remember at least this many good people who gladdened my heart.

Haunted by a pretty face…..!

A pretty face,  fringed by soft wavy tresses has been haunting me for the past three days!

I had been to the oncology ward for an injection… There my eyes caught sight of a young woman lying down on the bed, with chemo drugs flowing in… Her eyes were closed.. and her husband was sitting on the bed holding her hand.  I felt a little sad and then almost forgot all about her..

Then, while chatting with a doctor friend, I came to know how this young lady ended up in this ward.

The couple had been taking fertility treatment.. What they got was not a baby, but breast cancer!!

My doctor friend was very sure that cancer has been caused by fertility treatment in this particular case and she also added that medical research is going on to establish the link between fertility treatment and breast cancer. It seems the debate is not yet in the open. This was a shocking revelation for me..As soon as I returned home, I browsed the net and found out that, with the increase in the age of marriage and postponing of child birth, women seek the help of fertility treatment and that several cases of consequent breast cancer have been reported.

My heart goes out to the young couple, who will have to go through months and months of physical and emotional trauma…

I wish the young generation start their family in the right age! Supposing something goes wrong and child birth becomes a challenge, why not adopt a child instead of subjecting the woman’s body, mind and soul to so much of stress?

Matters of Heart

 It is a romantic comedy.

Venue: oncology day care ward.

Main actor: a freshly minted nurse, who had been assigned the job of flushing the catheter and removing the needle from the chemo port.

Spectator: Only me.

The shot begins:

The nurse came to me with her tray and took out a tiny bottle of saline i think which had to be syringed in and she was half way through.

Now comes the climax..A young man of abt 22 or 23, walked into the ward, must be an attendant for his mom or some one dear to him. He just noticed the nurse and flashed a smile at her…

anti-climax

The next thing that I noticed was that everything slipped from her hand and the medicine spilt on the table…She was completely flustered, mumbled something and ran to the station…Meanwhile i was amused by the axe effect the boy had on the girl..Of course, I also thought about the extra payment i will have to make for the new injection needle and medicine. And also heaved a sigh of relief that it did not happen when chemo drug is injected, as it can burn the skin of the patient if spilt over.

Okay, apart from these worries, I also reflected over the fact that even the over worked and yelled at nurses also have their share of adrenalin rush when encountered by attractive young men… Well, they deserve the break, but god save oldies like me, from impending disasters!

                            /The End/

 

 

 

Some exceptions..

This is not going to be a tirade against the nurses as in my previous posts. it is about some one I could relate to and another one who saved my life.

First about a nurse who saved my life..Soon after a major surgery, I was sent back to my room. But within a few hours all the parameters failed. BP sank,  urine output was nil and what else i don’t know…The nurse raised an alarm, and a team moved in to shift me to ICU and revive me…My heartfelt thanks to her for monitoring me carefully…Her name is Smitha.

The other one is a nurse who comes to my house every now and then to collect blood sample. She knows pretty well that I am a chemo patient but doesn’t treat me like one…She is friendly, casual and cheerful. After so many visits, now she has become my personal friend, FB and also What’s app friend. Her name is Nehal.

By the by, neither Smitha, nor Nehal is a Mallu….

Nursing blunders…..

Well… my previous post was abt the nurses and their shortcomings.

This one is also in the similar vein.
My sis who read the post, mentioned a similar experience that my father had while he was hospitalized. He was 80 plus and was a true representative of his times…aloof, quiet, dignified and not used to physical touch even by his own children. But as fate would have it, he was in for an unpleasant experience.
The young nurses and the nurse trainees, used to surround him, call him ‘thatha’ and pinch his cheeks and giggle, saying that he is very cute. Dad hated that with all his heart, but how sad, he couldn’t do anything about it as the nurses giggled more when he said that he doesn’t like to be touched…
My sis had no idea that such a thing was happening as she had no access to the ICU. She came to know all about it only after he was shifted out of the ICU.
I wish that the  nurses were taught that the patients lying down totally helpless in the hospital bed wearing those silly gowns would also have been highly learned, and might have held high and powerful positions in their lives and that people might have looked upon them with respect and fear.

Mallu nurses

They say that Punjabi girls make the best air hostesses, Kerala girls make the best nurses, and the tamil girls make the best maths teachers! I have no issues with punjabi girls and tamil girls….but this ‘mallu girls making the best nurses’ I have some qualms about it. The statement could be ‘most of the mallu girls become nurses’.I have made such a blunt observation out of my own experience as an inpatient in the hospitals.

Even in high end hospitals, nurses are under paid and overworked. The  20 something mallu girls  who look malnourished, underweight, manage to put on a plastic smile, address the patients  as ‘aundy, ungle’ and go about their work systematically. But if an extraordinary situation arises, where they have to respond orally to the patient, they are at a loss. Most of them are no good in English nor can they speak Hindi as they hail from non hindi belt. Even if they speak these languages, it sounds more like Malayalam than English or Hindi. So they choose to work silently…Here is how it is…
It was one of my chemo sessions.  The intravenous  bottle was fixed and the needle was stuck in my port. The nurse went on turning my head this side, that side and all sides for a few minutes..I got annoyed and demanded to know what was happening..The girl was frightened and ran to her senior, who came to me and explained that the flow was not satisfactory and that the nurse was adjusting the position of my head and neck…I said the nurse should have told me that and also instructed me, ‘turn your head to left, right, up, down etc.’..instead of manipulating me like a rag doll..
Now in retrospect, I can understand that the young thing was
lacking in communication and performed what she knew, silently.
Hope the mallu girls learn the art of talking and live up to their reputation!