Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Day of the Operation

Recently, I was admitted to a hospital to get treatment for the pain I was enduring in my left hip bone since the past few months. An MRI scan had showed I was suffering from a condition called Bilateral Avascular Necrosis (Bilateral AVN), meaning both my hip bones have been affected with this condition (although I never felt pain in my right hip bone but the MRI scan showed my right hip is also affected and is in its earliest of early stages of the condition). So, an operation called Core Decompression was performed on both my hips on 5th of March and I have been confined to a wheelchair ever since. I am not supposed to walk for the next 4 to 5 weeks at least.

I had written a series of logs documenting the “Day of the Operation” while I was in the hospital and had saved them as memo files on my cell phone. I would like to present them to my readers. Initially, I wanted to keep them only to myself but later on I changed my mind. I haven’t changed the verbatim or the sentence structure too much except if I have mentioned them in brackets. So the below few paragraphs will showcase my exact state of mind on the day of my operation.

I have been on empty stomach since last night, I was a little agitated thinking about today but somehow managed to have some good night’s sleep. My operation was supposed to take place at 10AM but with my prior experience with Manipal Hospital, I can safely say I am in for a long day. (I was also made to wait a long time when I was admitted here for my ITP issue two years ago, a procedure called Bone Marrow was supposed to be done by 10 in the morning but it didn’t happen until 01:30PM.)

My visits to the loo became a bit frequent in the meanwhile and I kept asking myself, “Will this be the last time I answer my nature’s call on my own for the next few weeks?” I tried not to let thoughts like these bother me but it was becoming difficult as the wait was killing me. 

As I was on empty stomach since last night, my mother also refused to eat anything which upset me a lot as I didn’t want my mom to suffer because of me. I kept forcing my mom to eat something, she finally did which gave me a lot of relief. 

Its quarter past 12 and I still haven’t got the call to go to the Operation Theater. It seems the OT is full and many patients are still in waiting so I was made to wait even longer. I was getting restless by the minute but held myself together. I had no fear but just wanted to get it over with.

Finally at 3PM, I get the call to go to the OT, was taken to OT on a stretcher, felt a bit odd though. Reach the OT, a spine tingling moment but I was made to wait again as there was some cleaning up process going on after an operation. I was dumped just outside the OT in a restricted room. I just laid there watching few Doctors and helpers walk back and forth by me. The wait seemed endless and my restlessness grew even more. In the meanwhile a Doctor who was at the end of her shift apparently, spoke to me. Asked me when did I eat last, I answered “Last night”. She felt bad and she said, “Oh, this is why we don't like to make the patients wait, but the OT is very busy today”. I just nodded. While she left she just waved at me and said “Good Luck”, I replied with a “Thank You” and a smile.
Operation Theater
Image Courtesy: Google Images
Finally I was taken in to the Operation Theater, I saw the time, it was 05:05PM. I said to myself, “Freak, that was the longest two hours of my life”. I was given the anesthesia and I was asked to breathe heavily into an oxygen mask to go to sleep before a caring pat on the back by Dr.Varma, my orthopedic surgeon. And that’s the last thing I remember.

When I woke up, I remember shivering profusely. It took me three whole seconds to realize the operation was actually over. First thing I read was the Post Ortho OT room board right in front of me. I was still shivering but I was in my senses, so much so that I asked the lady who was there in the Post OT room, “Was it really that cold in the OT?”, barely managing to say those words in a single breath. She smiled and said, “Yes”, indicating I need to rest now. A heating instrument was placed right above me to increase my body temperature. I overheard the lady talking to someone on the phone that my operation went on for an hour from 05:30 to 06:30PM. I asked her what time it was, she said, “Ten past seven”. So I was unconscious for over two hours, I was kept in the Post OT room for another two hours. Later I was to be taken to the X-Ray room to get the X-Ray of my hips after the operation.

I was to be shifted to another stretcher to carry me to the X-Ray room which was in the -1 floor. A couple of nurses and helpers came along. A junior Doctor asked me if I can move to the stretcher on my own, I immediately nodded in approval. When I tried to move my legs, I couldn’t move them an inch. Both my hips were heavily plastered and the pressure was so immense, I couldn’t even move them. I could feel my legs but didn’t have enough strength to get them across to the other stretcher. I told them, “I can’t move my legs”. When I uttered those words, it was probably one of the most significant moments of my life. I couldn’t believe I said that. So a couple of nurses held my legs and placed it onto the stretcher. A male nurse tried to hold my shoulders to help me move to the stretcher but I refused, I said, “I can do it on my own”. My ego was already bruised so I wouldn’t let that happen again. I garnered all my upper body strength and managed to move myself on to the stretcher on my own. A triumphant moment and my ego restored. Considering the fact that I hadn’t eaten or drank anything for 24 hours now, I still had some strength left in me.

I was carried to the X-Ray room by a cute nurse and another female helper. I felt like vomiting along the way because of the anesthesia but tried to hold it in. We were in the middle of nowhere so the nurse couldn’t find anything like a bowl or a cover for my vomiting sensation. Along the way I felt somewhat okay so was taken straight to the X-Ray room. There was again another struggle here to get me across to the X-Ray table and then back on the stretcher, once it was done. Finally, I was going to be taken back to my room on the 9th floor. While coming back, finally saw my mom and my brother with a concerned look on their faces. I just looked at my bro and gave him a thumbs up, as if to say I was doing great. Before we could enter my room, I vomited on the floor. It was an embarrassing moment but was unavoidable. I was placed on my bed a few minutes later, did most of the moving myself yet again. And so it was finally done.

But the real battle starts now!

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Idol Rahul Dravid Retires - A Nostalgic Tribute

"I leave with sadness but also with pride"
Image Source: Rediff.Com
This will be extremely difficult for me to write, my mind is completely blank and I absolutely have no idea what to say. I feel numb and emotionless. I didn’t even cry when I heard him say those words, I didn’t believe it then and many hours later I still can't believe it. I am still in denial. It still hasn’t hit me yet; maybe I need a lot more time to finally accept the fact that I will no longer be seeing my Idol and my Inspiration from the past 16 years on a cricket pitch wearing the white jersey to represent India again. Yes, my Idol Rahul Dravid announced his retirement from International Cricket today.

I feel devastated. Even though I was expecting it for sometime now, knowing Dravid for all these years I knew he wouldn’t just hang up his boots after just one bad series. I knew he will take his time and contemplate on his future and he will go out on his own terms before someone else asks him to. And he did just that.

I don’t feel any emotion right now as I type this. I don’t know whether I am sad or confused, I just feel weird. My emotions have clouded me once again. Rahul Dravid does that to me all the time. But I shall try to recover and try to put some meaningful words to my thoughts on a precious day like today, instead of rambling something meaningless.

My first image of Dravid was in 1996 when I saw a photo of him in a newspaper. This was the day he made his Test debut against England and went on to score a memorable 95 in his debut Test. It was heartbreaking he didn’t get his 100 on debut but those 95 runs were enough for me to become a fan of Dravid. And I have idolized him ever since. I still remember the exact moment when Dravid scored his maiden Test and ODI centuries against South Africa and Pakistan respectively. 

I became nostalgic for a while remembering all the numerous fights I used to have in school with anyone who used to say a word against Dravid. In 1998, Dravid was dropped from the ODI team citing he was not suited to play the shorter format of the game. He was ridiculed and made fun of for his supposedly slow batting. He still had a strike rate in the higher 60’s at that time which was not that bad, so I had no idea what those fools were talking about. Most part of my High School life consisted of defending Dravid and his prowess in any format of the game. Sometimes those healthy discussions about whether Dravid should be a part of the ODI side or not used to turn violent and we almost used to end up giving physical blows to each other and most of whom were my closest friends back then. Our class consisted of 53 students in my 8th Standard and I was the only true blue Dravid fanatic. All the 52 others were Sachin fanatics of course. That year Sachin was having the best year of his career and Dravid was made to sit out of most ODI’s and played only Tests. I was clearly outnumbered but still fought hard quite literally to defend my Idol. 

The following year, Dravid made a stunning return to the ODI’s by scoring a century against New Zealand to earn back the place in the Indian ODI side and also went on to become the highest scorer in the 1999 World Cup, shutting each and every critics’ mouth over his prowess in the 50-Over format. And in my class, no one even dared to say a word against Dravid after that. All my friends even started calling me Rahul Dravid, the name kind of became a code word to call me out of an examination hall, in particular. I still remember back in 1999, my friends shouting from outside the exam hall in frustration, “Hey, Rahul Dravid come out man, how much longer are you gonna write?.” I also believed in the notion - “slow and steady wins the race”. Just like my Idol.

Rahul, ever the team man always sacrificed his personal gains for his team. He kept wickets for 4 years so that we could include an extra batsman in the side. Just because he kept wickets and also played the role of a No.6 Batsman, it gave numerous chances to up and coming young Cricketers like Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif to cement their place in the Indian team. Also this move of Dravid keeping wickets was instrumental in India reaching the finals of the World Cup in 2003.

When he was called to open the batting in some extremely tough batting conditions, Dravid has always put his hand up for the team and withered the storm. He has batted in each and every position conceivable. I was really upset when he was demoted down the order in that historic Kolkata Test in 2001 where Laxman was the No.3 batsman. Dravid came in at No.6 and joined Laxman with India following on and staring at a huge innings defeat. Well, I guess I need not mention what happened later as that glorious partnership between Dravid and Laxman has been and will always be etched in every Indian’s minds and hearts forever.

In 2002, another outstanding innings came from Dravid in the Headingley Test against England. Dravid’s stunning 148 on a seamer’s deck was the benchmark for everything that followed, not just the result of that particular match, but also the fortunes of the Indian team’s performance overseas for many years that followed. It was also the first time the three stalwarts of the Indian team, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid scored centuries in a single innings. Maybe Dravid’s century was overshadowed by the centuries of the other two greats but if it wasn’t for Rahul's magnificent defiance in the initial stages of the innings on a bowler friendly track, it would have been almost impossible for the famed Indian middle order to showcase their mastery. Dravid was the reason we were able to win that match by an innings. He was aptly named the Man of the Match, deservedly so.
The man who never stopped trying
Image Source: Rediff.Com.
I remember Dravid shedding a tear or two when he was speaking to Harsha Bhogle after another historic victory against Australia in Adelaide in 2003 where Dravid was once again in a stunning 300+ run partnership with Laxman. This victory gave India their first Test win on Australian soil in 23 years. That was the very first time I saw my Idol showcase any emotion on or off a cricket pitch, at least in front of the camera. It was a really precious moment which I can never forget, his voice choking a bit while expressing what that victory really meant to him and the team.

I will also cherish all the arguments and discussions I used to have in many Cricket forums on Orkut and elsewhere. I know Sachin’s fans were still miffed about Dravid declaring that innings in Multan in 2004 when Sachin was batting on 194. Dravid was very clear as a captain that team’s victory is more important than a player's personal milestones, even if that player was Sachin Tendulkar. I have argued with many Sachin fanatics defending Dravid’s decision of declaring that innings although most of those arguments turned futile.

Dravid again proved why he is the team man when he scored his career high score of 270 in Rawalpindi against Pakistan in 2004. More importantly, I remember the way he got out. India had already got enough runs on the board to declare the innings and bowl Pakistan out, twice. But Rahul Dravid, a self-less team man, realized his team needed some more quick runs, so he went after the Pakistani bowling attack and got bowled while attempting to play a reverse-sweep when he was on 270. He had a great chance of scoring a Triple Hundred which may have been once in a lifetime opportunity but Dravid, never played for personal milestones. His mammoth effort gave India their first ever Test series win in Pakistan.

Critics say his Captaincy was a failure, maybe the statistics show that his captaincy stint from November 2005 until September 2007 was average. But in this very period we held the World Record of chasing to win most number of matches consecutively in ODI’s. A Test series win in West Indies and England and a Test match win in South Africa. 

Dravid was absolutely outstanding in the fourth and final Test in Jamaica against the West Indies in 2006. He scored 81 and 68 in the match on a really difficult pitch where no other Indian batsman even came close to scoring a half century. His dogged determination was instrumental in India winning that test match and with that, the series. A rare series win outside the sub-continent, first in 35 years against a major opposition. These wins kind of removed the tag Indians carried for a long time, ‘Poor Travelers’. 

The World Cup in 2007 was extra special for me because my Idol was in-fact the Captain. I wanted him to have the tag of a World Cup winner, that too as a Captain before he decided to hang up his boots, but those dreams came crashing down as India was shockingly knocked out in the group stage itself. The memories still haunt me.

In 2008, when he was going through probably the most terrible phase in his Test career, I prayed each and every day hoping Rahul will be back on track soon and would definitely recover from this slump. Many skeptics were already gunning for this throat and asking for him to retire. But Dravid fought back that lean phase and made a stunning return to form. He remained consistent for the next four years until his retirement, today. Only blemish would be the South African tour of 2010-11 and the tour of Australia in 2011-12 where he performed way below his potential averaging less than 30. He even made a brief appearance in ODI’s in 2009 and 2011, finally announcing his retirement from the shorter formats of the game last year.

The year 2011 will be remembered for Dravid’s remarkable return to form where he scored centuries against England and West Indies, five in all. Also went past 1,000 runs in a calendar year for the third time in his Test Career. Dravid scored three unforgettable centuries in England, two of them while opening the batting and facing some stunning and ruthless English bowling attack. Dravid was the only batsman to score a century for India in that series, aggregating 461 runs while no other Indian batsman went past 250 runs. I can never forget Dravid opening the innings in the Final Test at The Oval, he fought like a warrior as his team mates succumbed to the pressure again. Dravid kept on fighting and carried his bat all the way through. He became only the 7th Batsman in history to carry his bat through the innings and walk back in just after a few minutes to a follow-on. Just thinking about this moment, gives me goose bumps.

Thank you, Rahul Dravid for being what you are, a thorough Gentleman, a Role Model, an Icon and most importantly, a great human being. I will miss your batting, your amazing catches in the slips, the way you dab the ball gently and run to the non-striker’s end for a quick single with your bat being held only by your right hand and not both hands. I will miss seeing you running behind the ball to stop a boundary; I will miss the look of determination in your eyes while you are chasing that ball. The way you examine the pitch before the start of a match, I love your love for such details. Your shy yet candid press interviews which shows your intellectual ability. The way you mention “obviously” before or in the middle of almost every sentence to clear your thought process. I will miss those days when I used to go to school in the morning on a match day, you had already walked into bat, I come back from school and you are still batting; which used to make my day. I will miss when someone tells me, the score is 28 for no loss and I gasp and say, “Ahhh, wish it was 28 for one”, so that I can watch you bat. Nothing in the world gives me more happiness and satisfaction than watching you bat which I will miss the most. I can sit and watch you bat all day long, I can watch you build an innings, one ball at a time, brick by brick in a pain-staking manner in the only way you can, which would give me immense pleasure and happiness.

I will miss you Dravid, Thanks for all the wonderful memories. I will cherish them for a lifetime. You did leave the game better than you found it.

Your Greatest Fan,
Akshay Kumar G

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Another Devastation, Another Fightback!

A Fightback!
Image Courtesy: Google Images
I knew it was not going to be a normal day, I didn't know why but I certainly felt it. The day started with the delivery guy from Flipkart calling me up and asking me whether I would be home to to receive the package. The package was all the books I needed to prepare for my Civil Services exam. My dream is to be an IAS Officer and that dream has finally started to materialize, I was happy to receive the package. My preparation had been unofficially underway since the past few months but now it finally became official. I had been through a torrid time personally of late, so this small step to realize my long cherished dream was definitely a confidence building measure.

The day was important for another reason as well. I had to undergo another blood test (have to do it every three months) to check if my platelets are still holding up in the normal levels or not. I was completely off tablets since last November so it was very crucial for me to know if my platelets are holding up well without the help of any medication. For those who are not aware, I was diagnosed with a condition called Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura almost two years ago and I have been struggling to recover from that condition ever since. So today was the D-Day so to speak to know whether I have completely recovered from my illness or not.

So I went to the hospital to get the blood test done and consult my haemotologist for further actions. I felt really good and was confident the results would be positive, so I wasn't worried. The report was good, my platelet count was normal and safe at 326,000. I felt really happy as I have finally recovered from my condition after almost two years of struggle and hardships. But, I do have to come again for another round of blood tests 3 months later.

And there was one more reason for me to feel happy. My beloved Indian Cricket team was annihilating Sri Lanka in their last group match. They had to beat SL with a bonus point to have any chance of qualifying for the finals in the ongoing CB Series. As a genuine Cricket lover I have been really disappointed by our team's dismal showing in this series, I had almost given up hope. But their stunning performance against SL restored my faith in my beloved game. As I was watching the match in the hospital lounge, I have to say, I was more worried about the result of the match than my blood test report.

But all that happiness I had been experiencing since morning was about to be short lived.

When I was diagnosed with ITP, I was given a whole lot of medication, including steroids and innumerable number of tablets. Obviously the medicines had taken a toll on me, I had gained a lot of weight as well back then. Since the past few months I started experiencing pain in my left-upper thigh bone (femoral head), I used to feel some discomfort while walking. Initially I suspected it to be a cramp but as days went by and the pain not subsiding I suspected something was not right. For some reason I kept on delaying to consult a doctor, I don't know why but maybe I was punishing myself for my sins. I know it doesn't make any sense to anyone reading this but my state of mind was such, I wanted to endure the pain and live with it. In-spite of repeated attempts from my mom, I kept delaying to consult a doctor regarding the pain in my hip bone. 

So I finally complained about it to my hematologist when we consulted him day before yesterday, asked him whether the pain was due to the side-effects of the steroids or was it something else? He suggested I immediately consult an orthopedician and they would check my medical records and come to a conclusion as to why I was experiencing the pain. An X-Ray was done on my thigh bones and after examining the X-Ray the Orthopedician told me I have been suffering from a condition called Avascular Necrosis - It is a disease where there is a death of bone components due to interruption of blood supply. The reason for my condition was indeed due to the steroids I had received to overcome my other illness. My fate is such, the medicines given to me to cure one illness has become the cause for another. I am thankfully in the early stages of the condition (Stage I), so for young patients like myself a procedure called Core Decompression is to be done. It will be done on both my hips as the doctor suspects my right hip might also get affected in future.

They hope to achieve three things by doing Core Decompression:

  • Lower - Decompress the blood pressure.
  • Restore the blood circulation to the dead bone tissue.
  • And hopefully relieve my pain. 

The doctor said there is only a 50 to 60% chance of complete recovery with this process. And later he said something which had me completely stunned. I will be confined to a wheelchair for more than 6 weeks after the procedure. The thought of me not able to walk on my own frightened me. I have never been dependent on anyone ever, so this thought of depending on crutches or others to help me to even walk or not able to go to the bathroom on my own is something I am not able to fathom.

An MRI scan was done on both my hips, report is expected tomorrow and based on that my Orthopedician will decide the future course of actions.

I was really devastated when I got to know about my hip condition. On the day I overcame one illness, I had to deal with another. This is the newest battle in my life and I am ready to fight it and overcome it with the same resilience and defiance as I have been fighting all the obstacles in my life. Now, I am all the more determined to do really well in my IAS exams. I wont let my condition affect my preparations. 

Some live to fight another day. I fight to live, everyday.