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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Recovery From Cardiac Bypass Surgery: Day 7

I woke up at around 6 in the morning. It was a weekday, so things were pretty hectic around my cousin's house. Breakfast and lunch were getting ready in the kitchen. My cousin's son came back from his tutoring class just after 6:45 and got ready for school. He grabbed a quick bite to eat, packed up his lunch and left the house by 7:15. He takes a school bus to his school which starts at 8 AM. After that, my cousin's daughter got ready, and she and I had breakfast together. Then she left for college at around 7:40. After that, I helped my cousin's wife do the laundry (helped may be a bit of an exaggeration. The problem was that the procedure for doing laundry was so different between what I was used to in the US and what it is here, that I was mostly lost and was forced to stand around and watch rather than actually help most of the time).

Once that was all taken care of, I played a couple of games of carroms with my cousin's wife (she won them both handily). Then she left for work. I left for the hospital at the same time. This time, I was carrying both lunch and my laptop so that I could use my time at the hospital more productively than on the previous day.

About half an hour after I reached the hospital, an orderly came by to take my father for an echo-cardiogram. This was the last of the pre-discharge tests to be done on my father. I accompanied my father to the laboratory and waited as the procedure was done. It was a very short test and we were back in the room within half an hour. My mother told me that earlier in the day, a doctor had come and removed a wire that was sticking out of the bottom of his chest incision since the surgery. That wire had supposedly been connected to his heart and removing it was one of the steps towards preparing him for discharge. I have no idea what the wire was used for, whether it had actually been attached to his heart or any other details. But, evidently, its removal had been totally uneventful, so I assume that is a good sign!

After that, I worked on my laptop, putting together a few blog posts detailing my activities in the past few days. At 1 PM, we had lunch, then I went back to working on my laptop. The duty nurses and the physiotherapist stopped by and asked my father to refrain from exercising until later in the evening today because of the removal of the wire earlier in the day, so I was pretty much useless most of the time. In the mid-afternoon, an orderly stopped by and gave my father a shave to get rid of his 7-day growth of facial hair.

Later in the evening, my father was wheeled out of the room in a wheelchair and taken to see the neurologist who had prescribed the EEG. My mother and I went with my father to see the neurologist. Why the neurologist could not come up to my father's room and instead wanted my father wheeled out to his consulting offices in a different part of the hospital is not very clear to me. The man was very taciturn, and with no explanation, he just prescribed some medication for my father. He wanted the medication to be started right away. He also mentioned that the medication could cause drowsiness for up to 72 hours after taking it.

On the way back to our room, I expressed my misgivings about putting my father on some drug that affects brain function without a full understanding of what it was and why it was being prescribed. My mother and father agreed with me, so when the nurse came by to give my father his first dose of the medication, we told her we were going to start the medication only after talking to my father's cardiologist and/or getting a second opinion from a different neurologist. The nurse seemed a little put off by our stand, but we held fast, and she left.

The neurologist did not inspire much confidence in us, which was another reason why we were reluctant to just go with his call. He was not very communicative and would not give straight answers to questions posed to him. He emphasized that the medicine he had prescribed was as important to my father as food and water, but if it was that critical, why wait until 2 days after he saw the EEG results to start the medication? Too many unanswered questions, and this man was providing any of the answers we wanted to hear.

My mother tried calling my father's cardiologist, and also a general physician friend of the family to get more details on how to proceed. Unfortunately, the calls could not go through because of various problems, so all I could do was suggest that she try to call again later. Talking of differences in technology, I was astounded by the following fact: if you keep your cell phone off for whatever reason, callers are simply told that you are not on the network. There is no option of leaving you voice mail! Go figure!

It is one of my pet peeves about where I come from. My friends who visit back home from the US always sing praises about the latest innovations being introduced back home and how things were changing rapidly back home. Every time I visit though, it is always the same as far as I am concerned. The more things change, the more they stay the same. I was not interested in staying back here or coming back 15 years ago, right after I finished my graduate studies in the US. I am still not interested in doing so for reasons which seem obvious to me.

Yes, there are more vehicles because people are becoming more prosperous, but the roads are the same, so traffic is unbearable. Yes, new roads are being built, but during the process, construction causes more bottlenecks, making traffic even worse. Yes, everyone has a cell phone now, but at peak times, all circuits are jammed, calls drop like rain during a thunderstorm, and there are implementation quirks such as the lack of voicemail when someone's cell phone is turned off or otherwise inaccessible. Yes, broadband internet access is cheaper than in the US, but the quality is poor, the speed is lousy and there are download limits. And that is when the internet access actually works. More times than not, it is out. My mother gets very irritated when I point these out as reasons why I will probably never come back from the US and settle down here. Some people have a very strong sense of roots and will put up with hell on earth to go back and brave the conditions back home. I have no qualms admitting that I am a hedonist who is much more comfortable in the US, and have no interest or desire to look on the bright side of a dismal situation just to keep myself sane.

Anyways, at this point, it was past 7 PM, so I told my parents not to worry themselves about the whole brain drug issue (after all, we had told the nurse not to start the drug and therefore, we did not have to worry about how to proceed at least until the next morning). I bid them goodbye and made my way back to my cousin's place.

I got a call from my mother soon after I reached my cousin's place. She had managed to get through to the cardiologist and had also spoken to the family doctor. Both of them had reassured her that the dosage of the drug that had been prescribed was extremely mild and was nothing to worry about. Moreover, they agreed that even such a mild dose may not be critical right away and could wait until after a second test and/or second opinion. So, the issue seemed to be resolved and my mother sounded very relieved.

At my cousin's place, I played some card games with my cousin's kids and wife, had dinner, and then sat at the computer and looked through some family photographs taken during a recent wedding in the family. There were many people in the photographs whom I had not seen in years. Many of their kids, whom I had last seen when they were my daughter's ages, were now full-grown young men and women whom I wouldn't recognize if my life had depended on it! Ah, what memories...!

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