Left behind

All my posts so far have been about the patients and what they go through..

But this time it is about a person whom the patient has left behind.

This young man (42) with two little boys has been left behind by his wife who succumbed to the dreaded disease of cancer. Understandably his first reaction was anger. He posted all his frustration about the doctors who treated her. He was convinced that the treatment was wrong and finally he declared the allopathic treatment which involves surgery chemotherapy and radiation is all wrong and one should seek alternative treatment.

Now for the past few days his posts in fb are all indicative of deep depression. He has given a list of his family members who have died in the past 30 years.

And one of his recent posts was about how his future is all bleak and that he has lost all hope of any happiness. He doesn’t find any purpose in his living. He has made a request to his fb contacts to delete his name.

The worst was yet to come. Yesterday he made another post from the id of his departed wife, which declared that they just got married a day back. This made me panic. He has surely sunken into deep depression.

Everyone is asking him to be strong, prayerful, to live for his two young sons etc etc. I don’t think this is the right advice. I think he should be encouraged to live for himself first so that he can take care of others later. An adventure holiday, a robust game, even an affair might help him to come out of this misery.

Do u have any suggestions other than psychiatric help?

The pity is his birth family is all no more. He had lost his parents in his childhood and he recently lost his only sibling. Naturally the untimely death of his wife is haunting him.

I hope someone reaches out to him before it is too late…….

How far?

One of my support group members had posted that he and his wife travel 200 kms every Monday morning for the radiation and they have to do it for 5 weeks. As a result his wife suffers a low grade fever.

In reply to this post another member had written that his wife suffered still worse. She was travelling 150 kms every day for her radiotherapy

I just cant imagine the physical hardships these ladies are enduring. Imagine the effect of such a strenuous journey on the body of the cancer patient which is already battered up by surgeries and chemotherapy.

Only those who live in major cities have easy access to medical facilities in India. There are tall talks about how India caters to the medical needs of people from overseas. They brag about medical tourism and the resultant revenue. But our own Indians from villages and small towns also have to go on medical tourism to metros. Is it fair? That too right now when the politicians are making tall claims to great achievements in all walks of life.

Good quality schools and hospitals within the easy reach of everybody is what we need and no amount of communication satelites, luxury sedans and all the freebies can compensate this inadequacy.

Many NGOs are conducting awareness programmes about cancer screening. Good job…but at the same time the hospitals should be equipped with infrastructure for diagnosis and treatment. Who will do that?

Ammu’s birthday

Amu's bday2

It is holi . The neighbourhood has come alive with music, colours and of course a lot of pollution. Still it is a good feeling.

It is also Ammu’s birthday. The birthday party was very enjoyable as u can make out from my big and hearty laughter.
There are several reasons why this day was important for me. Ammu is two years old now and it was exactly two years ago that I visited her in the hospital and then proceeded for my treatment. At that time, her birth was a sort of good omen for me. In these two years, the uterine cancer was treated, cured and I thought it was all over and done with, but only to be reminded that it is the emperor of maladies and that I have to fight many more battles. There was a recurrence of primary cancer and this time it was in the breast. Right now I am okay and almost forgotten that I have just got cured. I enjoyed myself, had cake and all the goodies and also a generous helping of biriyani. The result was I had a sleepless night with tummy ache.
Never mind.. it is all worthwhile. Another reason, my daughter prepared a beautiful audio visual covering the life of the little angel Ammu and it was appreciated by everybody.
The next big reason is today she is going to get her first payment as an intern. The little baby who held my hand firmly with her silky touch 21 years ago, is finally marching to independence. Any parent would be happy at a moment like this, all the more so with me as the sword of Damocles is still hanging up there.

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!

The Title

470702_243130412461572_1111715003_oWhy this title ‘Arrow at the dark’.

You know that I am a cancer survivor and like every one of those thousands and thousands of survivors, I too went through a bout of severe depression.
 At that time I didn’t realize it was depression. I was angry, skeptical, rude, dictating, defying, and so on, which are all not my normal characteristic traits. I thought that I was talking like an intelligent, well informed, learned lady from the upper strata and questioned my doctors, nurses and other health care providers, and even challenged their actions.
All of them were defensive of their statements, actions and put on an expression, ‘oh..we know, you are a patient and behaving as unreasonably as a patient would.’  The smirk in the face, and the all knowing attitude annoyed me, and I started shutting them out.
It was at that time, Amol Pradhan, an anesthesiologist who had the misfortune of putting me off to sleep on the Operation table four times within a short span of 40days, helped me come out of my anger.
He said that treating cancer is like shooting an arrow at the darkness hoping that it reaches the target. Since it is dark, we have to shoot many many arrows that would destroy other things as well.
This wisdom, this simplicity, this humble admission of trial and error, restored my faith in the attempts of the doctors.
Isn’t it very ironical, that an anesthesiologist , who is not seen, heard or spoken to by a patient, is the one who helped me become my normal self?
He went to the extent of asking me what are my favorite songs and playing it in the operation theatre before i could fall asleep. He has held my hand several times.
So, now nearly after 150 days since my treatment began, here i am, writing a blog, and what better title than the words of Amol.
‘An Arrow at the darkness’
( P.S.)   You may wonder why it is an arrow ‘at’ the dark, and not ‘into’ the dark!.
Simple.. That preposition was not available, so i took the liberty to use ‘at’ and moreover i didn’t want any other title.