Painfully yours (5)

15 years later: 

My dearest Geet,

I write to you to tell you how wonderful our marriage has been. It has been a privilege to be your husband, your support and your problem-solver.

It doesn’t feel like 18 years have passed by, since I underwent the surgery and suffered from pain as a result of the surgery. I remember conversing with you, till the early hours of the morning, and telling you about my travails. At that time, never had I experienced your silence in a conversation. But you stayed silent, listened to everything, and broke down with me.

You’ve been nothing but supportive ever since. I didn’t need anyone to tell me what was wrong or how I could fix it. I needed you to be there and tell me that it was alright to crib and cry about my problems, as long as I would at least attempt to heal them.

You have been the biggest support, both in sickness and in health. You took care of me at my worst and have consequently seen me at my best. Life and health have been kind to me for the biggest part of the last 15 years.

However, and unfortunately, the chronic pain has come back to haunt me. It has been lingering on since the past 5 years. I ignored the symptoms, initially, as it was bearable. It has now progressed to a form that is no longer tolerable. I haven’t told you about it, as I didn’t want you to worry about me. I have been on a cocktail on medications. My pain specialist even asked me to try marijuana again, to help myself get through it.

The pain that I experienced years ago pales in comparison to this pain. Its constant, nagging and feels like a pin is poking me all over my thigh and back, all the time. I have seen all the doctors, the old ones as well as the newer ones. The solution is elusive, if at all possible.

A miracle is my only hope, and we both know that its unlikely to occur. Some doctors say it is a reactivation of that latent infection that my spine and vertebral column suffered in the first place, some say it is a cry of the dying nerves, and still others say it is completely psychological. To the last group, I say ‘to hell with you’ll’

There is nothing even remotely psychological about this pain. I feel it, I endure it, and I try to forget about it. But to no avail. If only, I knew how to overcome this barrier.

I write this letter to re-iterate my feelings for you, and to tell you that I wouldn’t do this if I wasn’t in pain. I have cherished our life together and enjoyed every moment. But I can’t carry on any longer.

Some will say I’m being a coward, some will sympathize with my plight. I do not care about them. I do care about you and I don’t want you to hate me for doing this.

My reasons are simple. I have lived a long and fulfilling life thus far. I have dispensed most of my duties towards my family and have secured their future.

But, what about my duty towards you? 

Would you like to see me living a crippled life, whining and crying in pain all the time! If I carry on, my misery will not be limited to me, but rub onto you as well. We will not be as happy as we have been thus far.

This quandary has been plaguing me for the past few months. But, I have realized, the time has come. I wonder how people suffering from such chronic pain manage to lead their lives in such misery for prolonged periods of time. A big salute to them.

I am not one of them. I am a part of the other group of sufferers, who end their lives before their condition disrupts their family and engenders hatred amongst their loved ones.

I am extremely apologetic for doing this without consulting with you, but, have faith in my judgement. Even after I leave the worldly creations, a part of me will always live on inside of you.


Painfully yours,

Samar.

P.S.- I will always love you.


[This is the concluding part in a series of 5 blog posts that follow Samar’s journey in dealing with his chronically acute pain.
Chronic pain is one of the leading causes of depression and anxiety, eventually causing the sufferers to contemplate or attempt to commit suicide. This series is dedicated to all those suffering from chronic pain.]

Painfully yours (4)

A recovery which just a few months ago seemed impossible was shaping up. Samar had never felt better in the past year and a half after his surgery. The electrical stimulation, exercises and his own doggedness lead to him being relatively pain free.

The nerves had responded to his agonizing cries and his repeated benedictions. The misfiring nerves had suddenly stopped firing altogether. Their impish behavior had transformed into one of sudden calm.

Nerves are under constant tutelage of the brain. If the brain commands, the nerves respond. If the brain stops commanding, the nerves stop responding. The nerves are essentially conduits of the brain, which reach every part of the body. Had Samar’s mental agony and impudence caused his brain to perceive a more severe form of the pain, than he was actually feeling?  Was Samar unwilling to let go of the pain till he realized that the time had come to do so?

The brain is such an amazing conglomeration of uncertainties, that science has still not been able to fully explore. A transcendent part of the human anatomy, which never ceases to amaze.

Samar’s progress did amaze Geet and the doctors, who were beginning to lose hope gradually. The recovery started when Geet was beginning to lose patience with Samar’s attitude and behavior. Maybe Samar had realized that it was time to move on, otherwise he’d have to pay the cost.

The pain relieving medications, the marijuana, the electrical stimulation packs were being phased out from his life. He planned to kick them out within the next year. He yearned for a pain free existence without any dependence and was working towards it.

The weight gain was the next problem to be worked upon. Samar had gained 15 kilograms of weight over the past year, primarily owing to his lack of physical activity and laziness. The exercise regimes became more stringent as he recovered and Samar was eager to comply with all of them.

He wanted to be a fitter, better person. The pain had all but disappeared and left behind a numbness. An area of no sensation over the course of the nerve, a problem that didn’t bother him as much.

Samar had planned to marry Geet in the following year. He planned an elaborate proposal and wedding with her. Would she agree? He had no doubt in his mind. But before he could do any of that, he wanted to show her, his true self. A pain free, physically fit Samar. He wanted to prove himself worthy of her. And he had a year to do so.

Samar went from strength to strength in the following year, working diligently and exercising rigorously. This helped keep his pain at bay and also helped him lose the excess weight that he was carrying.

A year later, Samar proposed to Geet. It was not as elaborate as he’d planned. But it surely was romantic. An open field, the night sky, a carpet on the grass, some champagne and the ring.

Samar’s life had seen all the ebbs and flows over time post his surgery. Having endured chronic pain for that period of time and then helping himself find a cure, was an arduous task, one which seemed even more grueling owing to the lack of social support.

The entrance of an old friend who’d eventually became his wife proved to be the catalyst for a change. His impervious nature had softened over the course of time, to eventually give rise to a never-say-die attitude that he held onto for a long time.

[This is the fourth in a series of 5 blog posts (may be extended depending on feedback and responses) that follow Samar’s journey in dealing with his chronically acute pain.

Chronic pain is one of the leading causes of depression and anxiety, eventually causing the sufferers to contemplate or attempt to commit suicide. This series is dedicated to all those suffering from chronic pain.]

Painfully yours (3)

There were rehabilitation exercises and then there were electrotherapy sessions. Samar was determined to bid adieu to the pain that had plagued him for that long. Thrice a week, Samar would visit the physiotherapists office, unfailingly, to undergo the rigorous exercise regimes that were prescribed to him.

Samar’s pain had become persistent now. The regenerating nerves were punishing him for having been severed in the first place. However, the intensity of the pain had reduced. It was a constant pain of a lower intensity, a fact that bothered him more than the kind of pain that would oscillate between periods of no pain and those of impassionate pain.

Exercising and using electrical impulses to fool his misfiring nerves was his last resort. While Geet would help Samar forget the pain and focus on other things, there were still times when there was a recrudescence of the that severe pain and he’d spiral downwards.

Samar had thought about committing suicide more than once. However, Geet’s chirpiness and positive outlook made him want to give life a second chance.

His physiotherapist always told him, “Samar, your pain is never going to vanish, but with the right mix of therapy, we can certainly manage it better.”

Her words of encouragement and Geet’s constant support helped Samar get past an important psychological barrier, one where no matter what happened, he just didn’t want to get better.

And then one day, it happened. The day that Samar’s physiotherapist, Geet and Samar himself had never imagined would arrive.

On a bright sunny Wednesday afternoon, when Samar was being driven to his therapist by Geet, Samar spoke out.

“I think I need to get a job now. My pain is manageable, my health has improved leaps and bounds, I feel good about myself. What do you say?”

Geet welled up. For the past three months, she had been juggling between her work, her parents and Samar. She’d tell him to go and work even if it was only for himself and not for the  money. Samar always refused. Staying at home and being alone all day was not doing him any good.

Samar was not confident, then, that he could pull off working even for smaller durations. He had a handsome inheritance from his family. He would survive on that for the foreseeable future, at least.

He had come to realize though, that money was not the reason why he needed to work. There was something more to it. He needed a job to feel important again, to make new friends and instill some confidence in himself.

Using the connections, he had established in his heyday, Samar got himself a part time job as an attorney at a non-profit organization.

Samar was doing two things he had always coveted, practice law and volunteer. This coupled with the re-emergence of Geet in his life was the perfect tonic for all his problems.

Samar regained all his lost confidence and was dealing with his disease in a mature manner. Geet, who had been doubling up as a nurse for Samar was thrilled to see this transformation.

His days started with work, with his physiotherapy sessions interspersed in the midst of his working day, which was followed by an early evening trip to the clubhouse and ended with him talking to Geet about how each of their days were spent.

Samar had never been happier. The pain which had been an annoyance to him for so long, was not as bothersome any more. He had just started leading the perfect life and was atingle with enthusiasm for the road ahead. Who would’ve known! Samar had just defeated his own demons, both physical and mental.

He was now focussing on the present with an eye towards the future. Marriage, raising kids, all the things that had seemed impossible a few months ago, seemed realistic now.

Looking at Geet, he knew he’d found the perfect girl. One who stayed by his side not only in health but in sickness as well. He saw his future in her eyes, and it seemed perfect. Or was it?

[This is the third in a series of 5 blog posts (may be extended depending on feedback and responses) that follow Samar’s journey in dealing with his chronically acute pain.

Chronic pain is one of the leading causes of depression and anxiety, eventually causing the sufferers to contemplate or attempt to commit suicide. This series is dedicated to all those suffering from chronic pain.]

Painfully yours (2)

“Hello, is it Geet?” Samar’s voice almost choked, as he asked to speak with Geet. Two years and ten months had flown by, since he had last spoken to her.

“Samar, is it you? I can’t believe this! Is everything all right? It’s 2:30 am,” Geet chirped, not as mindful of the time as she wanted to sound. After all, it had been so long. She wanted to speak with him too.

Geet and Samar were inseparable during college days. They attended classes, ate meals, watched movies and went for drives together. They interned at the same firm too, often working on the same projects. It was obvious that they were meant to be, but still somehow it wasn’t. Inspite of their proximity, they’d never dated, never thought of their relationship as anything but friendship, a chaste and pure one.

After graduating, Samar got busy with preparations for interviews and planning for his future. Geet would try to call and text him, but he’d rarely respond. Life caught up with the both of them and they drifted apart.

Tall and slim, but by no means lanky, she was naturally gifted with beautiful looks and endearing eyes. Her claim to fame was the perfect jawline, endorsed by her sister who was a cosmetologist.

Geet was the quintessential chatterbox, blabbering her way through every situation. Her mouth stayed open so often, that she had now forgotten how it felt to keep it shut. Opportunities to talk with Geet around were limited, and if one was wise, he’d take the opportunity and make the most out of it. If Geet allowed you to talk, it was either because she was tired of talking, or that she had no interest whatsoever in listening to you speak and would switch off.

But early that morning, not only did Geet keep shut, but also listened intently to what was being said. The backache and swelling, the surgery, the unbearable pain post surgery, which continued to get worse as the days went by, incapacitating him.

“Gosh, Samar, I didn’t know about all this. I wish I could’ve been there to help you through this,” she exclaimed, after patiently listening to him.

Samar’s pain had worsened. A month had passed by since the surgery. He’d tried every legally available painkiller both alone and in combination, but to no avail.

The knife piercing had now turned into a pins and needles pain, one where he felt as if some one was poking multiple needles into his back and right thigh. While the earlier pain was temporary with spells of numbness in the interim, this most recent form of pain was more like a silhouette. It had no form and shape, it remained in the backdrop, only to emerge akin to a pestilence in an unpredictable fashion.

Frustrated, he eventually turned to illegally obtained marijuana, something that offered him solace and comfort from the pain. The loneliness did not help and Samar needed to talk to someone about his troubles. He was facing depression and he knew that the only drug that would work, was social interaction. It was then that he thought about Geet and called her.

It was his fault that Geet and he had drifted apart. He had an agenda and was rigorously pursuing it, only to lose someone that he now realized he valued so much.

Few months after internship ended, he met Sanya and forgot about Geet altogether.

The next day he met Geet for dinner. His gait still exhibited a limp and his demeanor reeked of discomfort, but it disappeared when he met her. Geet was so effervescent.

Not once did she talk about his illness. Neither did she tell him what people had been telling him all the time, that it was all in his mind. She never told him that it will be ‘okay’. She knew it would never be okay, she knew that she could do nothing about it, but by talking to him and diverting his mind from the illness and the pain, she was helping him cope.

Samar was averse to socializing for the same reasons. He despised people telling him that the pain would subside, that he just had to stop thinking about it and then he would be fine.

“Try living with this pain and then tell me to take my mind off it. I wish all these so called well wishers have to go through his same thing. Only then, will they realize,” Samar often thought to himself.

In Geet’s calculated snub to his illness, he found a reasonable chance at redemption. Maybe not from the pain, but from the associated depression.

Samar and Geet started where they had left off after college, like nothing had changed. The winds of time and the maturity they’d gathered over the years hadn’t changed their affection towards each other. Without the associated depression the pain seemed tamable. Samar found some meaning in life and Geet had rediscovered her long lost friend.

[This is the second in a series of 5 blog posts (may be extended depending on feedback and responses) that follow Samar’s journey in dealing with his chronically acute pain.

Chronic pain is one of the leading causes of depression and anxiety, eventually causing the sufferers to contemplate or attempt to commit suicide. This series is dedicated to all those suffering from chronic pain.]

Painfully Yours

Samar woke up in a haze. His mind was wandering as he could hear muffled sounds all around him.

Suddenly, some one came up to him and screamed into his ears,”Samar, are you awake? Your surgery has been successfully completed. Are you experiencing any pain?”

His immediate response was, “Oh, its so unbearable.”

“Don’t worry, we will give you something for it. Get some rest.”

Almost immediately, Samar felt a gush of cold saline surging through the veins in his arms. Before he could feel it reach beyond his shoulder and into the major veins in the body, Samar fell asleep again. There are some events in life which are eerily intimate, happenings that can’t be shared with anyone, surely this was one of them.

The atmosphere around Samar was chaotic. The recovery room of the Operating theater complex was replete with patients, recovering from the recent controlled, legal assault on their bodies by the ‘demigods’. Some had undergone complex cardiac surgeries, some were recovering from procedures performed on their brains whilst the others were clutching their belly, indicating that they had undergone gastrointestinal surgery.

Samar, however, proved to be the exception amongst the lot. Amongst a room full of middle aged or elderly men, Samar was just twenty seven years of age. At that tender age, this was the third surgery he had to endure. The transition from adolescence to adulthood had been a particularly difficult period, one where he had endured family troubles, break ups and diseases.

The latest health problem was a fracture in his spine, a sequale of an infective process that had chewed into the bony structures supporting the spine, the vertebrae, leaving him with an abscess that extended form his spinal cord to his right thigh. These abscesses had a notoriety of tracking along the most superficial nerves i.e the nerves that supplied the skin, thus presenting with a swelling over the back and the thigh.

Samar had undergone surgery to remove the infected and subsequently fractured bits of his vertebral column and drain the abscess tracking down to his right thigh. A procedure of such complexity, that it required multiple surgeons form different specialties to perform the surgery, in conjunction with one another.

Samar regained full consciousness only in the evening, following which he was allowed to start drinking some water. The effect of the anesthesia and sedation had worn off.

The following morning was when Samar experienced that severe pain. Exercises were meant to do more good than harm, but that morning, while trying to walk, Samar felt that weird sensation for the first time.

As he walked, a sharp shooting sensation emanated from his back and ended near his right knee. It felt as if someone had pierced a dagger into his spine and viciously dragged it downwards. His back and right thigh felt as if they had been cut open with the kind of surgical precision that had been on display during the assault on the previous day. He wanted to scream out in pain, but couldn’t. The agony made him numb, listless and incapable of thinking about anything else. He lay down and didn’t venture to get up on his two feet for a while.

On discharge, three days later, his friends were kind enough to transport him back to his apartment. Samar lived alone. He had no family, his parents having suffered a premature death in a car accident, years ago and his girlfriend having broken up with him a month ago, for reasons that were unknown.

His weight was down by a couple of kilos, his eyes sunken in and his hand was permanently clutching his right thigh in a gesture that probably classified it as a no touch zone.

There was numbness and then there was pain. Sharp, shooting, like a knife piercing his body. Then it went numb again. Over the ensuing weeks, not once did Samar experience normal sensations in his thigh. The physicians told him it was temporary, a sign of regenerating nerves, the pain specialists told him that it was all in his head, the psychiatrists prescribed him some medications to get over the pain and the support groups that he went to just added to his misery.

Tests revealed that the surgeon had accidentally injured one of the nerves while performing the procedure and that this nerve was misfiring. Every once in a while, this nerve developed a mind of its own and tormented its master, firing away at an unimaginable rate. Between such episodes, the nerve would lie dormant, as if it were dead, killed by the surgeon while operating, resurrecting itself at its own whim.

Samar was a lawyer, one who had come through the ranks, studied at the best law schools and interned at some of the most successful law companies. What he lacked in stature or family background, he made up with hard work. His stocky framework and his coarse features were devious. They didn’t reveal his softer inside, his love for prose, music and art, his passion for playing the drums and his zest for life.

Two years ago, he had met the girl of his dreams, or so he thought. Sanya, a fair skinned, light eyed petite girl, whose passion to study the human body had translated into her becoming a physician, one who was completing her training in pediatrics. The initial period of attraction translated into love and led to a tumultuous relationship, which ended just a month before he underwent surgery. Sanya left without giving him a reason. That seemed like the toughest thing he had to deal with, not knowing what fate had in store for him. No sooner had Sanya left, than the backache commenced. It started as a nagging pain which soon turned into a swelling that spread from his back to his right thigh. Then the surgery, following which ‘the pain’.

Life would never be the same for Samar. The pain had become a constant companion, almost like a nagging wife, bursting out every once in a while, whilst laying lucidly in between these outbursts.

[This is the introductory and first in a series of 5 blog posts (may be extended depending on feedback and responses) that follow Samar’s journey in dealing with his chronically acute pain.

Chronic pain is one of the leading causes of depression and anxiety, eventually causing the sufferers to contemplate or attempt to commit suicide. This series is dedicated to all those suffering from chronic pain.

When there’s no pain ,there isn’t any gain, but when there’s nothing to gain, why endure that pain? ]

Motherhood

mothersday

 

She lay there in the hospital bed with the monitors beeping, the hospital stench making her feel nauseous, the nurses crowding around trying to do something useful and a team of doctors discussing their options. The world to her seemed blurred, the powerful lights were dimmed out and all that went through her mind was, “NOT AGAIN”

Ally had been married for 10 years, yes 10 years and still hadn’t given birth to a single child. She had conceived twice already, but both had ended in an abortion, just a few weeks into her pregnancy. And this one was no different. Or rather it was. Her previous abortions did not pose any problems to her health per se, but this one did. The third one proved to be unlucky. Her unborn child had died inside of her and had caused the venom to flow into her blood, damaging her internal organs, instead of expelling itself out. Who’d imagine that an unborn child could cause such harm. And yet it had and Ally had to bear the consequences.

She wasn’t in her senses. She was blinded by her need for a child. The doctors had warned her to avoid any further pregnancies without appropriate tests and yet she didn’t listen. Gerry, her husband, would try to convince her to go to the City and get the tests done. But, Ally was a stubborn girl. She never wanted to leave the comfort of her magical life in the small town, surrounded by tall tress and trimmed grass and wooden houses.

And here she was. In the hospital bed, semi-conscious, barely able to breathe with a dead foetus in her womb and poison in her blood.

The doctors had decided to operate on her. To remove the dead foetus and cleanse her womb of all the impurities. Even then her chances of seeing the other side of anaesthesia were minimal. Gerry just wanted to save her life. Ally just wanted to have a child with Gerry. Was life worth living if she couldn’t have the child with him?

“I love you, sweetie. Everything’s going to be all right,” Gerry said, his thick accent blurred out with the tears in his eyes.

“We have each other, baby, we don’t need a child to prove our love. Once you get better, we’ll have those doctors from the City come over and test you all right!”

That was wishful thinking on Gerry’s part. His job as a lumberjack and Ally’s as a school teacher, would never allow them to afford the luxury of having a City doctor come over to their quaint town. But hope was all he could offer at that time.

Two hours later, the doctor came out of the operating room and spoke to Gerry.

“We have done our job. The rest we must leave to the powers above.”

Ally was wheeled out of the theatre and into the Intensive Care. She was on a ventilator, blood was flowing into her veins from a bag and tubes were hanging out from almost every part of her body. Would she ever survive this?

Ally didn’t survive it. She passed away the next day. Gerry was distraught. His life seemed over.

 

A few months passed by, when Gerry received a call from Dr. Green.

“Gerry, I need to meet you in person. I’m coming to the town this weekend. Please drop by at the hospital and we can have a talk.”

Gerry wondered what that was all about, but played along. The weekend came and he went to the hospital to meet Dr. Green. The doctors cabin was big, quite big actually for such a young doctor, Gerry thought to himself. It was adorned with medals and certificates from various places, most of them Gerry had no idea about.

Dr. Green entered as Gerry was admiring his cabin. He had a brief conversation with Gerry and gave him instructions. Gerry was in disbelief, but decided to find out himself.

That night Gerry went home and opened the medicine cabinet. He hadn’t seen the medicine cabinet in years. He was a healthy man with a frugal diet with physical activity factored in too. He had not seen a doctor for years. All the medicines in the cabinet belonged to his late wife.

As he went through the medicines, he found a container with a label which read T.Mifepristone. He slumped. His eyes welled up with tears.

Mifepristone was the tablet she had taken to kill all his babies while she bore them in her womb. It was a medicine used to cause abortions.

Gerry was angry and yet upset at the same time. He couldn’t fathom the fact that Ally had done this! He wanted answers to his questions, he wanted to know why!

Dr. Green was intrigued by Ally’s case and had taken her blood and urine samples to the University Lab for testing. He’d expected to find something pathological, but the only abnormality in the samples was traces of Mifepristone in her urine. He’d normally not check for it, but he had seen cases of mothers-to-be with recurrent abortions and normal labs, test positive for Mifepristone. It had something to do with the mother not accepting her child and going through intra-partum depression. She would thus end up aborting the child with Mifepristone.

Ally was depressed. Depressed because she wasn’t sure what kind of a mother she’d be. She was worried if she would ever give her kids as much love as her mother gave her. She was worried that her kids may turn out to be junkies or gypsies or dopeheads or whatever the current crop of children land up doing when they enter their teenage.

Ally would constantly fight against these images in her head and reassure herself that everything would be fine. But the next moment she’d become a nervous wreck again. She couldn’t take it. She thought her apprehensions would disappear after the first, but they only became stronger.

When she had her third, she carried it for much longer than the others. But, as time passed by, she developed the same apprehensions. She was depressed and took the pills. Not knowing that taking those pills in her second trimester would be disastrous.

What Ally had never considered was talking to Gerry about it. How could she? Tell him that she wasn’t ready to be a mother to his children!

If only Ally would have spoken to Gerry, if only she had communicated her feelings to him. Maybe things would’ve been different. Maybe Ally would’ve been alive and a mother today. But, it wasn’t meant to be….