Thursday, December 14, 2006

Mind Over Matter

When my physician complimented me on my medical awareness, calling me her best patient, due to the fact that I pay much more attention to any thing unusual happening to my body and even mind, I walked on Cloud Nine for weeks.

Lately, I have begun to re-analyze my thoughts. On one hand, I think of one of my best friends, whom I barely met five or six times in a period of fifteen years, but due to our common passion for high quality Hindustani Classical music, we got along like a house on fire. Girish Patel, a hunk of a man, heftily built and one who relished such a wide variety of junk food with his spirits, upped and died last year having suffered barely a week of illness. His perceptive wife, later told me, the doctors had warned her that all his vital organs had been damaged beyond redemption and he had only a few days to live. That's total disregard for your health. Dying suddenly when you have reached the point of no return, and when life has just begun -for being in late forties or early fifties is one of the best periods in life, sounds like height of stupidity to me.

Two months ago, I was summoned by circumstances to travel from Chennai to Baroda to infuse some badly needed confidence into my own younger brother, Ashphaque whose medical awareness and physical fitness fanaticism borders on pure obsession. He had got paralysed. How can a healthy young man in his late forties, who jogs three hours day, avoids junk food painfully, eats perfectly calculated diet with expensive supplements like dry fruits and juices etc., could suffer paralysis? Looking back, I was also aghast to realize that since Abbajan died when my younger brother was just an adolescent, I have been a father figure to him indeed. Today, he reflects every good taste in life exactly according to my personal likes and dislikes, barring a few.

It turned out that a lady dentist who had known him for decades, had tried to dislodge a painful wisdom tooth. Since he complained of too much pain despite a local anasthesia, she gave him a double dose without checking his papers. He has been hypertensive like all males in my family, and the result was predictable. He burst a vein his brain, after three hours. He realized he had forgotten how to swallow -and that cause a wave of panic that disturbed his family with ripples reaching me in far off Chennai.

Gujarat was reeling under an unprecedented rainy spell. I had to get into adventures to reach Baroda from Mumbai, a 12 hour journey that took 22 hours. I saw several feet of mud piled up along side road, where village folks were unearthing dead and rotting bodies. I suffer from a sugar problem too, and had nightmares when no food and water were available for such a long period. God bless the enterprising Gujarati bhais for they come to stranded buses on the highway with no hope of unsnarling the traffic jams, to sell eatables. Fresh khaman (some non Gujaratis erroneously calle them Dhoklas) never tasted so good. The best sauce in the world is hunger, according to a Spanish proverb.

I reached Baroda, and Ashphaque lying in bed, with a plastic tube going through his nose for force feeding, smiled and welcomed me. His wife and daughters were enthraled because he spoke for the first time in two weeks... on seeing me. He had to struggle through a rigorous regimen for the body and mind to come back to normal, which he did. Our two days together peppered with hours of music, helped too. Within a month he was back to normal, and left for Oman on a teaching assignment.

The heightened sense of medical awareness can really help.

I am applying that to my vexing condition. My right foot went numb, one day, when I kept the laptop pressing on some nerve near the right side ankle, as I sat writing on the sofa. For two months it went on becoming worse. I started stumbling and falling at home, especially in the bathroom, on stairs and even once on a busy road.

The good doc said I need a brain scan, that scared the daylight out of me. I decided to put my sense of medical awareness to a test immediately so that a brain scan could be avoided.

More soon.

(c) Max Babi