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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Seductive Quality of Leisure

Surgeon Masood Shaikh, in his usual matter-of-fact way, stated, "Your TURP surgery was successful, which means that you're now healthy and have the same chance of contracting prostate cancer as any other person." The biopsy report that came, after a suspense-laden week, was 'clear', putting many minds at peace.

Even I was relieved at the knowledge, for, despite being prepared for the worst, I must admit that I felt too young to die.

The aftermath, however, has been disastrous in other medical ways, not necessarily directly related, I think. Numerous doctors were unable to diagnose it, covered me in creams and ointments, bathed me in solutions and herbal teas, stuffed me with numerous pills and tablets, poked and punched me in unmentionable spots (hopefully for more than cheap thrills), sent me off to specialists of all sorts, and subjected me to a second biopsy (and another round of the accompanying suspense for family and friends).

In jargon, designed to sound inaccesible, the biopsy report told me what I knew only too well: I had lesions and they itched badly! But it did rule out the Big C, again! Nothing like getting another confirmation of this kind to get the spirits high. It added that my condition seemed to be a drug-induced reaction. The extreme discomfort that I have lived with, as confirmed by a new doctor at the very first look only yesterday, was caused by a specific medication (Amaryl 2) that was administered to control my diabetes during the surgery period. Well. Better late than never, as the cliché goes ... so I am now using a new set of ointments, creams and tablets. But I am confident that, this time, they'll work. [Please do not be a moron and ask me why I did not go to him in the first place!]

Because of all this, my visits to my office, b.i.t.s., became less frequent, often lasting only for the few minutes that I was needed to offer support or advice to the wonderful team that runs on ideology for fuel. I must confess that so enjoyable and seductive is this lifestyle that I, who - until recently - was proclaiming, "I am 64 and hope to be 24 next birthday", am beginning to flaunt my age around in order to convince myself and those around me that what I am looking forward to is to live a retired life.

Of course, you will not see "(Retd.)" written after my name; that's an abbreviation, in my book, for 'Retarded'. You will find it most prominently used by newly appointed heads of public sector corporations - old cronies who have retired from their life-long jobs in, generally, the armed forces. This really means that they have been asked to handle challenges they are most likely incapable of taking up --- since 'retirement' implies that they been decreed to be no longer capable of performing well even those tasks that they trained for and specialized in for 40-odd years.

What is most tempting about this semi-retired state that I find myself in? I can read and listen to music without let or hindrance, almost all day and night, if I so wish. (Sadly, I cannot say that for my other love: movie-watching - but that's another story).

I had always considered strange how we all listen repeatedly to our favourite pieces of music - serious and pop - but rarely re-read our once-loved books (other than those that duty requires). I decided to do that and see if it afforded me the same kind of pleasure that the deja vu factor in musical experience does. Well, let me state emphatically that it does! And in Spades!!! This is especially true of books that I had bought between the ages of 12-15, when I was feeding my voracious appetite for philosophy, especially my new-found agnosticism. This time around, they are affording me another kind of pleasure, for I now have the experiences of my life to test those philosophies against. In any case, the books in my collection are a reminder of the roads I mentally travelled, of the guides I chose along the way, and of the prejudices I re-arranged in my mind as I encountered new ideas.

A renewed respect, too, has emerged for people who were far ahead of their time, for their visionary statements are becoming clearer in the light of recent events and societal changes. I shall end by sharing two re-visited passages that, while certainly not the profoundest among my recent readings, will, I hope seem relevant to many:
"I have no doubt at all that we will progress industrially and otherwise, that our country will advance in science and technology ... But what I am concerned with is not merely our material progress but the quality and depth of our people. Gaining power through industrial processes, will they lose themselves in the quest of individual wealth and soft living? ... Can we combine the progress of science and technology with the progress of the mind and spirit also? We cannot be untrue to science because that represents the basic facts of life today. Still less can we be untrue to those basic principles for which we have stood through the ages. Let us then pursue our path to industrial progress with all our strength and vigour and, at the same time, remember that industrial riches without toleration, compassion, and wisdom, may well turn to dust and ashes." Jawaharlal Nehru - Addressing scientists at opening of a technology institute / 1961
"The central theme of my discussion is that I believe that one of the greatest dangers to modern sociey is the possible resurgence and expansion of the ideas of thought control; such as Hitler had, or Stalin in his time, or the Catholic religion in the Middle Ages, or the Chinese today. I think that one of the greatest dangers is that this shall increase until it encompasses all of the world." Richard Feynman - Addressing scientists at the Galileo Symposium in Italy / 1964
Oh, and given the fact that retirement is not a lucrative business, re-reading does help reduce the expense of buying more books.

[Don't know when this post will get published. Internet services are still dead. For the record: this piece was completed at 11.54 on June 28, 2005.]

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Blogger Sidhusaaheb said...

I gave a few anxious moments to my folks too, though probably not for as long as you did, when I had severe Hepatitis and the doctor ordered tests to find out whether it was the dreaded Hepatitis-B (I had not had myself vaccinated for that). It turned out to be Hepatitis-A, of course. This happened in late 2001.

Another time something similar happened was when I was bitten by a very sick little dog, who died soon afterwards. I took the rabies shots and, needless to add, lived to tell the tale!

Very recently, I realised what a bad diagnosis can do, when I lost a little puppy I had been bringing up and had come to love very dearly. The vet simply did not prescribe the right medicines and I didn't take him to another doctor in time. I think I am going to regret that for the rest of my life.

I hope you are taking very good care of your health these days and pray for a long, healthy and happy life ahead for you!

24 January, 2007 02:31


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