‘It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had. ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Probably God read my FB post which said ,’I am going to be very busy in my afterlife’ ,as the list of people I need to haunt is growing bigger each day and he realized that I can be a pain in the neck so preferred my haunting people in this life . We as human beings have two options ,either we can cry and lament or perceive happiness and fun in everything. I somehow have been lucky and belong to the second category of people and love to explore, hunt happiness in each and everything in life.
I had high fever and was shivering , the Doctor said I had viral so I gulped the medicines but on 30th Dec I could not breathe , I was sick and could not express what was the problem with me . I was rushed to the hospital and as I was wheeled into the ICU on 31st Dec 2014 my mind was blurred and I was scared and in pain. The question which kept emerging to me was why me? There are certain things in this world for which there are no answers.
So far I had been proud of the fact that I never fall sick and now am at the verge of maybe not returning forever. So I would love to recount my days at the hospital wherein I tried to find that fun element in each and everything.
Wheeled into the ICU and hardly able to breathe I suddenly noticed that there is absolute silence except the hard breathing of people all around lying on the bed some with eyes closed but all with tubes and pipes inserted all over. Suddenly as if the main Doctor clicks Action, like a movie Director in an action movie I am surrounded by a host of faces all over me trying to cover my face with a green cloth and inserting some tubes in my neck, and Hallelujah they would not listen to you. Like an army which has been ordered by their Commander to not stop till over. I was trying to tell them to stop and like a parrot they kept repeating ,’just 2 minutes’ which seemed like eternity. Maybe these guys were from Pluto and their concept of time was different than us.
I had got Septicemia, a life threatening disease and I had no idea about it as my mind would go off and on like an automatic fridge. As I lay in a hospital bed, with a needle in the crook of each arm, and my body throbbing with pain, I was amazed by how quickly life and our perspective of it could shift in such a short space of time. Less than 48 hours before, I had been happily interviewing people at school.
In the ICU amidst rows of other suffering people the bed seemed like a total paradise. My mind was constantly thinking of the several human beings who suffer each day and endure far worst situations.
By the time I got to the ICU they determined I was in a septic shock. They didn’t tell me any of this. I just answered the questions they asked, was I on any medications, did I drink, did I smoke, did I travel , did I use Public toilets , did I do that , did I do this and so on. Even at an interview for a job I had never witnessed such weird questions. Maybe I was in such bad shape that telling me what was going on would’ve been a waste of time; maybe since my family was there, the doctors figured they could relay the message. Whatever it was, I was oblivious.
I remember being awake all night. I didn’t sleep at all that night, and as night turned into day, the good doctors continued fighting to keep me alive. They pumped me full of antibiotics, fluids, things my blood needed (iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, They hooked me up to oxygen, so I had a super oxygen mask over my face.. I truly had no idea the gravity of my situation.
By this point I was on day three of very little sleep, and now I had a machine pumping air into my lungs on top of the other patient’s snores keeping me awake. I was feeling as if I was in a Disco as due to the pain in the calves of my leg they put a machine which kept going grrrrr. Grrrr. And no matter what , like one of those stubborn DJ’s in a bar the music will not change.
There are things about the ICU you don’t really think about unless you’ve spent time there. The most notable, I think, is the complete lack of privacy. Since I was hooked me up to a catheter, so I didn’t have to get up to pee, but if ever I wanted to take a crap, it was a public ordeal. I was supposed to call the nurse, who would disconnect all the necessary machines, walk me the two or three feet to the commode in the room, pull the curtain around me, and wait. I did not enjoy being the center of such attention.. Most of the nurses would come in, see the pulled curtain, and tell me to let them know when I was finished. I, of course, would sheepishly get myself back in bed, reattach everything, and then let them know. They did not appreciate that , it was as if I had stepped on their job and all would give me a disgusted look , but I counted these little things as small victories.
The most miserable thing about the ICU is- No showers. No bathing. I didn’t even get an offer from a hot nurse for a sponge bath! I don’t know if you know this, but being on your deathbed can get kind of STANKY. 5 days in the same bed, fighting for your life, no showers, MISERY, I TELL YOU. My hair was disgusting, smelling and standing up as if I had had an electric shock. . The only thing that made it bearable was that each day, the nurse would come in at 0430am , unearthly hour to sponge you , put lotion, put loads of coconut oil in your hair so that you look clean before the doctors came in . Wish all nurses had Beauty parlor training. On insistence they give you a mirror and one look at yourself and you get freaked out as it seems a stranger is looking back. Hollow eyes, hair which looks as if one has had a dread lock hair do. It is funny how I refused to recognize myself and took a vow not to look at the mirror till had reached home , let the other people who come to meet you experience that unkempt horrible ghost like look of you. God save them.,
Everyday a smart looking dietician with a red coat would come to check your options for Breakfast/lunch/Dinner and the menu would look exotic and hold your breath because each day the trolley of food will be wheeled in with almost similar looking food except the name change.
My knowledge and vocabulary was sure increasing and secretly my desire to teach science will be fulfilled, at least when I next am invited for a Science symposium, I will not yawn and have that Blank look on my face as through all of this, I’d been seeing doctor after doctor, I can’t even remember all the departments. Pulmonologist, nephrologist, infectious disease, internist, pathologist, rheumatologist, ER doc. All of these doctors, all with very clear ideas about what my treatment should consist of and be focused on, none of whom were talking to each other. It was around that time that things started turning around. We started seeing results from the treatments, and around day 3-4 or so, they even brought in a physical therapist to get me to walk a lap around the ward. I just wanted to get out of this hell , ICU and step into the heaven , the general ward -an enchanting land where rooms had bathrooms with doors and showers. Around day five, I started asking at least 3 times a day if they would let me out of the ICU yet.
I think I spent a total of 4 days in the ICU, but I couldn’t tell you for sure. I remember they told me around 6 in the morning when they came in for my daily sponge that I’d be transferred to the general ward right after shift change. I couldn’t contain my excitement absolutely bubbling with joy but I think the nurse was more excited than I was as my questions whenever I would be awake had made them miserable.
My memories of being in the general ward are so much brighter. The exhaustion had finally lifted, and I no longer felt quite so weak. My breathing was still labored, and I still had the nasal cannula pumping me with oxygen, but I was getting better… I still had to have breathing treatments, and they gave me a little thingy I had to practice breathing with to exercise my lungs. I felt like a 2 year old sitting with the breathing exerciser and practicing.
On my ninth day in the hospital, I made up my mind and asked ,’So I’m going home today, right?!” Doctor said of course as soon as the Insurance people clear your bills. Honestly if you ever look at the hospital bill 8 out of 10 people will get a heart attack there and then and that is the reason for discharge it is mandatory that a family member comes and the bill like a Graduate degree is handed over to him.
Now after the ICU. General ward the ordeal starts with the insurance people who take their own sweet time to clear it as they need so many sanctions and while you are miserable and in pain on the bed they come and click your pictures to ascertain you are sick. They do not even give you a chance to dress up . Finally at around 0300 that evening, they discharged me.
Life is indeed unpredictable thus we need to have faith in the power of the mind, and even in tough situations, we can overcome things by having a positive attitude.
Of course there are those moments when I get paranoid, scared at the thought of what could have happened to me and it does have a psychological impact.
I am not saying that all pain can be wished away. I was lucky I survived, so it was easier for me to stay calm, check my mindset and search for a bright side. But, I’ve also heard incredible stories of amazing people who have grappled with terminal illnesses, horrific car crashes and trauma, and who’ve said that with positive thinking, meditation and visualization, they’ve been able to endure far more than they ever imagined was possible.