My mother-in-law has been ailing for some time. She would get breathless quite often and when we went to get her checked up, the doctors felt that it was because her heart was not pumping blood effectively, and that a pacemaker would help relieve the pressure.
We got a second opinion within the day, and realizing the urgency of the situation, we completed all the pre-op requirements (booking the blood transfusions in advance) and scheduled the operation for September 20th. Unfortunately, a bandh (strike) on D-day forced us to postpone the operation by 24 hours as the doctors could not guarantee they or their staff would be able to reach the hospital without issues.
Within the day, my MIL was in serious distress and we realized bandh or no bandh, she needed immediate medical care, called up an ambulance, and rushed her to the hospital. She was immediately put on oxygen support and external pacemaker. On hearing the news that her pulse was close to flatlining, the doctors rushed to the hospital and performed an emergency operation to place the pacemaker.
However, the various delays – the time we took to unsuccessfully try to revive her, the inordinately long time it took the ambulance to get home, the fumbling trying to get her on the stretcher and out the door and on her way, caused a lot of damage. Although the operation was successful, her liver, and kidneys (and now, her lungs as well) are not functional. We ended up transferring her to a specialty hospital and since then, she’s been continuously on the ventilator, and attached to a dialysis machine for most of the day.
She’s so sedated that they do all sorts of invasive procedures right there on the CCU bed, without bothering to move her, right under our aghast eyes. They nonchalantly cut through her skin, insert tubes, and stitch her up just like she were a pillow case, and it’s just terrible to see through the glass partition without feeling an almost physical pain at what she must be going through.
Aah, the glass partition, that’s another terrible thing. So far, I have not been allowed to even cross that partition. It’s impossible to even squeeze her hand, or talk something to her. All I do is wave from about 20 feet away helplessly knowing that she can’t see or hear me. Thankfully, my husband and my father-in-law were able to make occasional visits to see her, but still…it seems a terrible thing that in her worst moments of pain, she is surrounded by doctors, and not one single familiar face.
The doctors, and there are many, all highly qualified serious gentlemen – a cardiologist, a nephrologist, a gastroenterologist, a haematologist, a whatnotologist, they come in droves, huddling together near her bed, blocking our view. They engage in serious discussions, lasting almost 20-30 mins. We watch through the glass partition wondering what’s going on, using non-existent lip-reading skills.
Once they come out, we corner the most approachable looking doctor to receive a brief two sentence status update. It varies. Some days, her status is status quo, no change. Some days, she is marginally better, some days marginally worse.
We exclaim with joy when we receive a good status – her WBC (white blood count) has come back to normal, or her heart is beating fine, no damage to brain…and immediately start wondering when she can be moved from CCU (Critical Care Unit) to ward. Only to have our hopes dashed at the next status.
It’s been 14 days in the CCU now. It’s been 14 days of mind-numbing waits in the hospital, stress and grief. On Friday, we were told that she’s developed pneumonia, that we should call all loved ones to see her, that her condition is grim. So, we did, my dad flew in from Delhi, my brother-in law and family flew in from Dubai, snubnose and I rushed to the hospital.
And then she became better. Her blood counts stabilized. She could even come out of the ventilator within 48 hours. We rejoice again and talk among ourselves about her long-term care. And then, we get the news that she is not emitting enough carbon dioxide out of her lungs. And so, she cannot come off the ventilator. Back to the dumps again.
And so it goes…we play the waiting game…we are starting to get quite good at that now