Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Best things in life are only demowares!

I have started this post with a cartoon.
You will know the reason as you read on.

Few days back I was watching news on TV and the news scroll at the bottom was showing something which caught my eye. It read `Salmeterol causes death'. Something in me churned and I felt sick. Because I have been using Salmeterol for my allergic bronchitis since five years and it has helped me live a normal and pleasant life.

How much I have suffered! In the peak of my days of suffering I remeber I had written a small poem in which there was a despair call to death, the great saviour and comfort giver!

When did it start? About three decades ago- I was in 10th standard. One Sunday afternoon I went to tuition near Sharada Talkies on my bicycle. It was late and I pedalled fast. The class had started and I joined late. There was silence except for the teacher's words. But the students around me were watching me. My wheezing had caught their attention. I felt uneasy. I tried to control my breath in vain.

My sleeps were restless and disturbing. I was taken to hospital. I was given some tablets and syrup which helped me a little bit. I was taken to Dr.P in ETCM Hospital. All the medication never solved my problem completely. In fact it increased day by day. Every night was an uncertain one.

Once I went to Bethamangala to a relative’s house. That evening all of us went to the enjoy the beautiful lake (which is 1000 years old). The cool breeze was soothing. But the night was a suffering to me. I was taken to a doctor on a bicycle. Doctor gave me an injection which helped me a lot. A number of doctors were consulted. Every one said that there is no cure and only it can be managed.

My food was restricted, my movements were restricted. More than the cure I received a lot of unwanted sympathy. One day a sardarji with a bag was visiting every house telling that he would cure every disease on earth. He came to our house also. My parents believed him. They desparately wanted a cure for their son. He gave a powder and asked me to mix it with honey and eat it. He took some money and left. I ate it; it was nothing but coriander powder.

Another day my father said that an ayurvedic doctor at Bangalore is very famous for his medicines. One early morning, even before sun could rise we left K and went to Bangalore by bus. We went to the clinic. There was already a long queue. By the time the ‘Doctor’ came the queue and still grown long. There were a lot of people to control the rush. ‘Doctor’ had no time for consultation. He grabbed the money and thrust in to our hands a packet with small packets of some powder and asked us to take it three times a day with milk. I thought, so many people have come to visit this Doctor; surely they cannot be fools. I believed the ‘powder drug’ would work and indeed it worked. I felt better after somedays. Everyone at home was happy, but it was shortlived. We read in newspaper about our miracle ‘Doctor’. He was mixing steroid tablets powder in some herbal powder.

Back to square one. I joined college. Because of my frequent visits to my University Doctor, he became a friend of mine. One day my father asked me to go along with him to consult yet another doctor, who he said is very famous. But he is not an ayurvedic doctor, but an allopathic. He prescribed some tablets and asked us to taper it slowly. I felt tremendous relief after taking them. I looked and felt very healthy, gained weight- till somebody warned me. I was given steroids and I was told they are very dangerous. It was as if I was addicted to it. I had to struggle a lot to stop taking those drugs. The wheezing attacks were now much more severe and uncontrollable.

I learnt yoga and learnt to face life and trauma as it comes.

One day, after a year or so after my wedding, we were at K and on that day I had an attack which did not subside till evening. I asked my brother to take me to a doctor, who was my classmate during my PUC days and there I requested him to give me a intravenous steroid injection. Those were not the days of disposable syringes, particularly in a small town like K. I remember the needle piercing my vein, then suddenly everything went blank. When I opened my eyes, it was a day later and I was in a nursing home. Everyone around me had a frightened look. I was almost dead. My brother narrated the incident. When the doctor inserted the syringe needle in to my vein, suddenly I collapsed. Both doctor and my brother were scared. Immediately my brother ran out and had great difficulty in getting an autorickshaw. When he found one they took me to a nursing home. It seems two or three doctors examined me- there was no heart beat and no breathing. They took me almost for dead. Then a young doctor named Sudhakar examined me and gave me injections of adrenalin. It was like coming back from my death. If that was how people die I thought it was very easy and painless. Pain is only for living!

I was at Virajpet for almost 6 years. The most happiest and the treacherous life I have lead there. As I had already said, nights were uncertain. When the whole world is asleep, I used to be awake waiting for the twilight, so that I can go to a doctor. I kept syringes and medicines at home. R learnt to give IM injections. Sometimes when I was alone I learnt to inject myself with bronchodilators. Sometimes when they refused to work the nights seemed endless and every gasp for breath was an horrendous experience. There were no autos. Even when I could barely stand, I have tried to ride my bike. If I cannot at that time, probably I would never be able to. There were many such night rides.

I never thought, an involuntary and very easy activity like breathing would be so difficult when every inhalation and exhalation was like climbing a mountain. In the middle of the nights I cried, ‘Why me?’. I remembered Alexander Solezhenytsin’s words in his ‘Cancer Ward’ book: ‘Every man should have atleast one illness, or else he will not know his limits’.

Inhalers had entered Indian market. I was prescribed Bricanyl. It never helped me. In fact many a times it aggravated the situation. One day I travelled from Virajpet to Madikeri as I used to visit Madikeri Branch also on Mondays. That day’s journey is unforgettable because of the wrong reasons. I had slight wheezing and but it kept on increasing as left Virajpet. I kept on inhaling the drug though it is dangerous to exceed the dosage. I thought every other inhalation would decrease the attack, but every inhalation kept on increasing it. I had a miserable and torturous journey. 32 kilometres journey felt like a life time journey. I knew there was a nursing home at the entrance of Madikeri. The moment the bus stopped there, I ran to the doctor (though I could barely walk) and asked him to inject me a bronchodilator quickly. Though there were patients, he rushed and gave me medication and asked me to take rest. I wanted desperately to breath normally. After 20 minutes the attack subsided but not completely. Again I went to him and asked for another injection, which he obliged. After half an hour I thanked him and walked towards my Bank.

But later gradually frequency of attacks subsided. I started to use Asthalin inhaler which helped me a lot. A doctor at Bangalore prescribed Solmeteorol which further eased my breath. I was back to my ‘normal’ life, enjoying all facets of it, when I suddenly saw this news item which I mentioned in the beginning of this writeup.

Can somebody tell me why best things in life are only demowares?!!

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