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Saturday, October 15, 2005

Yet Another Health Update

Since my arrival in Delhi, I have seen several specialists — an Endocrinologist, a Dermatologist, and a Gastroenterologist — and have undergone a variety of tests, including a biopsy, and a procedure at Apollo Hospital's Department of Nuclear Medicine, which proved entertaining and educational.

The entertainment bit: The B.Sc. in Nuclear Medicine, who was administering the procedure, had a rather lilting accent. Out of curiosity I asked him where he came from? "Bhitri", he said. Having heard this name so frequently from my Maamooñ (I recall Kodarma as the only place mentioned more often) this led to a general conversation while I waited for a capsule to dissolve inside me. After 10 minutes he said he was puzzled as to why I had been educated in India, because my medical form showed my address as Pakistan. I told him that I had not studied here, or anywhere else, at all. He then asked where I had learnt to speak Hindi so fluently. Not wanting to get into a Hindi-Urdu discourse, I said, "In Pakistan." He then had me in stiches (wrong phrase for someone visiting a hospital, I realize) when he asked why Hindi was taught in Pakistan. I left him with this information to use as he will: "It's the most popular 'foreign language' taught in the jehaadi madrassahs, you know."

OK. Back to the update.

A few results have arrived and have indicated nothing of much concern, except for a really bad stomach condition, discovered during my endoscopy, called H. pylori. This year's Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to its discoverers on the day I arrived here!

Synchronicity or Coincidence? Anyway, if Tarun Tejpal wins the Nobel Prize someday, I can claim some equivalence (don't you just hate it when your friends are so much better than you?), by at least having had a Nobel Prizeworthy disease.

Sorry for this bit of Kathaakaari. I'll stick to the facts from now. Tests also revealed a slight thyroid problem that, subsequent tests have indicated, was a passing aberration. Treatment for the H. pylori, via a strong dosage of antibiotics, ended today and I will now be checked for its effectiveness. The diabetes is well under control. A biopsy report, on scrapings taken from my intestine, will come in next week and will govern the treatment and the duration of any further stay here or the need for a later return. As for my earlier-diagnosed 'Gluten intolerace', the condition seems to have subsided and no fresh lesions seem to have appeared since my arrival.

Under medical observation, I was asked to discontinue Dapsone and eat a variety of 'normal' foods to see what I specifically react to. I was to rush for a skin biopsy as soon as the expected lesions erupted, so that the daanaaé raaz would reveal their secrets. I was provided with strong anti-histamines to take immediately after the biopsy and, at that point, also to restart Dapsone. I lived in fear every day, keeping both medicines in my wallet (once the repository of better things). I scoured my body - on one occasion, I even did so with a magnifying glass - for the tiniest of spots to appear. Images of my earlier condition haunted me in my sleep. I had no idea how much, more that the taste of breads, I was missing the feel and texture of all things wheat. Fondling the phulkaas each morning was a turn-on. Stroking paraathaas could have been even more so, but the local name, praañthaas , proved counterproductive for the libido.

However, buttered buns, in the mornings, were pure ecstasy. Geetan peeked slyly out of her bedroom one Sunday morning — after hearing me going "Mmmnmhmm ..." at my early-dawn breakfast in the adjoining dining room — probably suspecting I was having it out with their maid. Even their generally friendly but very pschycotic dog, Astro, got off his first syllable to run in and confront me with a quizzical growl. Note: In the interest of preventing scandals in this house I have stopped bringing buns back home ... and, honest, TT, that maid's attempted suicide the following day (True, dear readers — I am not making this up!) had nothing to do with me.

So far, after a whole week of sinful "Gluteny", no signs have appeared. A Kermitian "yayyyyyyyyy" would be an excusable interjection at this point, na? Hopefully the problem has disappeared and not just temporarily abated. Of course, it is possible that, with so many lesions in a variety of shapes sizes and colours, the 'real' problem could easily have been masked and I was/am not gluten intolerant; or was merely having a terrible, but temporary, reaction to drugs, creams, and lotions. Even to Gluten. If that was the case, I will forever regret not having gorged myself on the variety of breads, with their mind-tingling smells, during our recent South of France vaction. Over the next week, more things than just the skin will, hopefully, be clearer — and I will be back home again, soon. (Too soon?)

The time spent in Delhi, between tests, has been truly awesome and would have been even better, but for the depression of the recent earthquake weighing heavily. What more could I have asked for, than devouring real Dossas, Idlis and Uthapams with old seafaring friends Vipin and Mukta; being pampered by Geetan; exchanging views on books and life (generally spelt s-e-x) with Tarun; sharing family gossip over Barista's amazing coffee with workaholic niece, Sahar; 'talking tech' with Arun; discussing and listening to music with Shubha and Aneesh; and dining out with childhood friend Salma and her family.

Oh, I finally managed to take a moment off and call up Rinku, to apologize for not being able to find time to get together. Discovered that she lives just a few houses away, in Soami Nagar. Will probably go out for a late night walk in the park with her and plan something interesting (I hope Shamim doesn't have to be paid royalty on the use of this word!) during our partially overlapping stay in Lahore next month. 

Of course, Delhi has so much to offer on the cultural spectrum that I could live here forever and more. This is something that, for years, I had only felt about London — the city that, IMHO, only needed to add mango-tree lined avenues to rival Paradise. Today, I'd choose Delhi without batting an eyelid. Have attended an evening of Susmit Bose, India's Bob Dylan - with a passing resemblance to Pete Seeger: with a combo like that how can an activist singer not succeed! The event was arranged (and FREE for the public, as most such things are here) by Shabana Azmi, on the release of Susmit's new CD: Public Issues. Yes, Ragni, I have got you a signed copy! The event took place at the buzzing-with-life Habitat Centre, where I might even be able to attend Yaadoñ Ke Baaraat - a celebration, through readings and music, of Josh Malihabadi's prose and poetry, unless I leave for Karachi before the 20th. But I will try to see Birju Maharaj perform at Puraana Qila, today. What I really wish I could stay back for - but Nuzhat will kill me if I do - is a Daastan-Goee session on the 23rd. Where else but in Dilli could one expect tha

And, at long last, today I will get to see "TV Doccy", niece-friend Nazli, the bubbling, running-madly-in-all-directions, wonder-woman who made this therapeutic trip possible by arranging my medical appointments with the best doctors, and constantly following up on them, despite - for a few days - being admitted to hospital herself. Final results of the biopsy and other Hitchcockian reports arrive on Monday. Will update.

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Blogger BeanZ said...


The last few days have been all-consuming and depressing as we continue to get bombarded about the earthquake by every imaginable media and communication source (IM, Web, E-mail, SMS, TV, Radio, Newspapers).

Yesterday, I laughed for the first time in 9 days whilst reading this - and immediately felt guilty. Thank you for providing much needed respite and momentary distraction.

17 October, 2005 17:38

Blogger insiya said...

ditto beanz.

and you are coming baaaack!!!


18 October, 2005 08:25

Blogger the olive ream said...

I've already emailed you my comments....and you know what I think about your work. Need me to contact a publisher (nudge, nudge, wink, wink)?

19 October, 2005 09:17

Blogger MAHARAJADHIRAJ said...

After reading about your various ailments and trips to Indian hospitals, I couldn't help pasting this list that I'd posted on my blog some days after....

Medical Science, Hindi mein

Gyanocologist: One who finds gyan in strange places
Dharmasuitical: A company that has different rules for diff people
Vairagra: A pill for old sannyasis/yogis
Department of No-clear medicine:
For no-clear diseases
Karmatitis: Khujli caused by past deeds
Laabhorotory tested: Tested for profit-making
Acute arthritis: Confusion due to multiple meanings
Dayabetes: Too much sweet compassion

02 November, 2005 00:41

Blogger MAHARAJADHIRAJ said...

'Some days ago' is what I meant!!!

02 November, 2005 00:43

Blogger Zakintosh said...

maharaja ji — It is obvious that Karmatitis comes close to what I had, and I suspect that that could have resulted from finding gyan in strange places.

02 November, 2005 10:38


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