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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Recovery From Cardiac Bypass Surgery: Day 15

Got up at around 7:30 AM. By the time, I came out of the shower, my father had started having breakfast. He had not taken the medicine he had to take on an empty stomach in the morning. I had been in charge of giving him his medicines every day before and after every meal, and my mother had forgotten in my absence. Hopefully, after the checkup in a couple of days, the number of medicines and their dosages and timings will be much easier to remember and my mother will not rely on me to give my father his medicines. We decided to give my father the empty-stomach medicine just before lunch time instead.

After my breakfast, I sat down and put together another Vedic Mathematics lesson. The lesson I had originally wanted to put together about division was still a little confusing to me, and since I was not entirely clear on the method or its algebraic explanation, I decided to go with a different, simpler lesson about subtraction, and wait till I understood this tougher lesson fully before starting to write it up. I am not sure whether the tougher lesson is tougher because the method is inherently more complicated and advanced, or whether the book I was consulting was not well-written. I decided that I would wait to get back home, consult a few more books on Vedic Mathematics to see if a better explanation was provided for this technique, and then write it up properly so as not to cause confusion or make mistakes.

Writing up the lesson involved mention of the activity of balancing checkbooks, and I tried to remember the last time I had actually done it! I used to maintain meticulous records of my bank account. I used to sit down with each statement and balance my checkbook down to the cent. In fact, I carried a checkbook for each credit card I carried with me and noted each of my transactions in the appropriate book so that I could reconcile them against the statements also. Then, came Quicken and MS Money and I used such software to maintain records of my checking accounts and credit card accounts.

I also had specialized software to track my stock holdings. This software enabled me to calculate capital gains easily (which was a big help when filling out tax forms). In addition, it could be used to update prices on my stock holdings off the internet and enabled me to track my portfolio minutely. Some time in the late 90's my broker started calculating and providing me detailed, downloadable capital gains information on my accounts. Moreover, my portfolio took a swoon due to the dotcom bust of the late 90's, and it became depressing to keep track of it. So, those records also fell to the wayside.

In addition to transaction records, I also used to use Quattro Pro to maintain a detailed budget and categorized expenses. I maintained such records from about 1993 until 1996. After each shopping trip or any other expense, I used to write down what I had spent on what categories, whether I had paid cash, written a check or used a credit card, etc. It was painful especially when a single bill contained expenses in multiple categories (like clothes and household items), or a single bill was settled using more than one payment method, but I made a valiant effort at it and did the best I could.

It was a habit I had developed from my parents, who still maintain such categorized expense records on a daily basis on paper ledgers. I think they have ledgers going back 40 or 50 years, and I may still be doing it if I had started out doing them on paper ledgers. As it turned out, Quattro Pro decided to corrupt and scramble my computerized ledger one fine day and I could not recover the file whatever I tried. The file was also password protected, so everything I tried led to one dead end after another. Reluctantly, I threw my hands up and gave up on the whole exercise. I remember that maintaining these accounts used to be a source of some friction between my parents as my mother sometimes forgot some minor expense, resulting in the accounts being off, causing both my father and my mother some irritation. Perhaps, I should be thankful for the fact that I am not such a source of irritation to my wife!

So, at various points in the past, things just seem to have gotten away from me. I don't remember making an entry in a checkbook (either physical or electronic) in years now. My use of my checkbook has become so infrequent that I don't even remember the last time I wrote a check. All my bills now get paid either by credit card, by direct debit from my bank account or using my bank's electronic bill pay facility. Moreover, the internet has enabled me to check up on my transactions on a daily basis if I wanted to (both on my bank accounts and credit cards), so maintaining my own records has become redundant, and more trouble than it is worth. But writing about balancing a checkbook did bring back memories!

Just before lunch, I gave my father his empty-stomach medication. Soon aftwards, we had lunch. And then I gave him his after-lunch medication. I was getting so familiar with his medication schedule that I could pick out his medications for each time of day by memory and consult his prescription just for confirmation. I could also recite the names of his medications (like Clopilet, Betaloc, Nacfil, Lasilactone, Imdur, Eptoin, Delisprin, etc.) by memory, probably even if I were woken up in the middle of the night and asked to do so!

After lunch, I worked on another Vedic Mathematics lesson, covering some more stuff I actually understood. I also helped my mother put some stuff away in the attic while bringing down some stuff she needed from there. I found a bunch of books in the attic that I had read when I was much younger. Some of the more relevant books, such as some IQ tests and things like that, I put away along with other stuff to be packed so that I could take them back to my kids and introduce them to the books I had grown up with.

In the evening, after dinner, I went to the apartment complex where my parents-in-law used to live before my mother-in-law moved to the US to be with her son. I had to collect some stuff for taking back to my mother-in-law from a neighbor of hers. It was a 20-minute walk either way between my house and my parents-in-law's house, and I enjoyed the opportunity for the quiet walk after dinner. All the stuff I needed to pack and take back was coming together, with only a couple of items left (which I hoped to get delivered at home tomorrow). All I had to do after that was pack it all up as best as I could, and hope for the best at my father's checkup.

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