Sunday, 9 September 2012

Pulmonary Fibrosis

7th September 2012


There are three words in the English dictionary that joined together I absolutely loathe. Those three little words are ‘I am sorry’. People say this sentence over and over again in their daily life so everyone may wonder what exactly is wrong with it. Five months ago, these very words were uttered by my grandmother’s doctor who gave up on her entirely before even wondering if he was capable of ridding her off her disease – pulmonary fibrosis, which is a rare illness – or not. This disease builds up scar tissues which makes it difficult for a person to breathe.It does not really have an antidote. An average human being’s oxygen rate should be ninety. My grandmother’s oxygen rate dropped to forty.

 When my grandmother was admitted into the Intense Care Unit (ICU) at National Hospital, dark clouds penetrated my thought process. After three days when the doctor said that sentence the lightening struck and the rain drops pelted inside of me, rendering me cold and shaken. At that moment I felt like a trapeze artist slipping off the trapeze bar and falling nose-first into a black void. The doctor informed us that this may be the last time we could be seeing her.

I remember entering the ICU with my arms wrapped tightly around me and my frantic, tear-filled eyes darting across the spacious, hall-like room trying to locate my grandmother. I found her frail self lying on a stiff bed, to which I came closer. An oxygen mask covered half her face as she feebly tried to inhale the air. I tried to shake her out of the doze she was medicated into but no amount of prodding and earnest calling could wake her. That was the last straw. I saw my feeble strength weakening and my hold of sanity fading as I dissolved into hysterics. The nurses shooed me away, chastising me for disturbing the patients.

It is funny how when faced with something drastic humans reach out for God and fail to remember Him at any other time. I did exactly the same thing as I went home. With my head covered and skin purified, I sat and started with my relentless devotion, praying as earnestly as I could. For four days and nights I continued with my prayers without any mind to stop, during which the only time I got up was to use the bathroom or, because of my parent’s insistence, to fill in my stomach.

Miracle of all miracles, my grandmother’s gained some strength and the scar tissues started to slowly disappear. The entire family breathed a sigh of relief and felt joy as we saw my grandmother smile or act like her old self. Upon seeing her getting better, the doctor sent her to a separate room. She gradually started eating and drinking without the oxygen mask. Her glucose level which had risen to an extreme, slowly moved down. As my grandmother got better, she demanded to go home. After a week of fruitless tries, the doctor finally agreed to let her go.

My grandmother entered the threshold of our house on a stretcher, a wide grin on her pale face, with her oxygen tank in tow. Her grayish-blue eyes shined with tears as she took everything in. She was home and now was finally serene. The entire household was lined up, eager to meet her and embrace her. She grabbed everyone’s hand and let out tears of joy while everyone scrambled to be of any service to her- the mistress of the house had returned.

A few days later, my grandmother started to feel unwell again. Agitated and frightened, my dad and uncle made her go through various tests. However, the reports were fine. Confused, my dad called my grandmother’s doctor who assured my dad that my grandmother was fine; she just had a bout of cold which would eventually go away. My grandmother was given fever pills and syrups. However the medicine failed to work.

On 5th March, as dusk rolled in, my grandmother’s oxygen level started deteriorating. The oxygen tank was turned on the maximum level but still the oxygen rate dropped steadily. Panic-stricken, my dad contacted the doctor and he told my dad to bring my grandmother into the emergency theatre. An ambulance equipped with oxygen tanks was called upon and my grandmother took another trip to the emergency in a couple of weeks. However, this time she failed to come back.

Thinking back to my grandmother’s funeral, seeing her getting taken out of the cold storage and covered in white cloth sends my heart spiraling into depression. I wish she was still here, giving me warm hugs and humming to me in her rich voice. However, if I have learnt anything it is that you do not always get what you wish for.

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