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Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's been a year …

It's a sad day: Dr. Shamim's sister passed away in the evening and Nayyara Jamil's mother passed away later on. Both were people we knew for a long while. Funerals tomorrow at the same time. Guess Nuz and I have to 'split' and go to different ones.


A year ago it was I who nearly passed away, too. But, as things turned out, I am up and about. 

A pic taken shortly after the operation paraphernalia was removed.

Yes. A year has passed since I had my heart attack.

For most part - specially for those who see me less often - I seem to have recovered entirely. Others, like Nuzhat, Sabeen, Jehan - and even Ragni who sees me frequently on Skype - there are quite a few things that have not gone away. Not totally.

Forgetting proper nouns or using the wrong name for something has lessened a lot but it does happen sometimes. An occasional 'blueness' takes over on certain days, though the frequency has decreased considerably. The doctor says that each patient has a number of ways in which recovery takes place and a year-and-a-half would be a better time to consider in my case.

As someone who has had a borderline Diabetes II issue — no Insulin ... just walking and a diet, mainly, with a tablet of Glucobay* at some meals — has been my way of life for years. Glucobay was a strange medication that Dr. Shamim prescribed me. It's not like other diabetic medicines. It just makes the body believe that I've had my fill of sugar and it distills the sugary parts of whatever I am eating straight into the faeces. A little trick of the trade.

There have been days when I do have chocolates and cakes (specially at birthdays), but mainly have lived with sugar-free ice-creams, drinks (the sugar-free Ginger Beer is fantastic!), chocolates and toffees, and desserts from many places in Karachi — specially great stuff from Sohni and Rahmaté Shireen — plus the indescribably lovely Rab∂ee from Burns Road. Although Nirala has disappeared (why???) from here, I still get friends to bring its Laddoos, Barfis and Gülab Jaamüns from Lahore whenever they come. The Gulab Jaamüns are to die for!

The problem with Diabetes is that many of us don't feel any pain or numbness or other symptoms that other people do when getting heart attacks. I had no such feelings, though I always realized, somehow, that I would have the attack some day (probably because my father was Diabetic and had a heart problem). I always hoped I'd have some way to find out before it was too late.

I did! Not because of pain … but the feeling I had at the time of the attack. It was one of several attacks, I am sure, over the years … coz I had damages to all my arteries, some for quite a while as the doc said. But this was a massive one and I felt a bit of a strangish feeling. Luckily all went well ... and here I am. Alive. And getting better.

BTW, here's something I've got to tell everyone, Diabetic or not: Sugar — even tons of it — does not cause Diabetes. It's generally a generic disease but, sometimes, it could be caused by other problems with your Insulin producing glands. Sugar is not the issue!!!

Of course, once you have Diabetes, you cannot take sugar because your body cannot provide the Insulin needed to counter it. And you are off to a diet, walking, medications, and even Insulin injections, depending upon your level of Diabetes.

There is no 'cure' (yet!) for the disease, either. They'll cure it soon in generic ways, of course. Oh, and please forget about the wonderful medicines, duaas, taaveezes, whatever you see in the Press or TV. Yes, you may even know someone who knew someone who got 'cured' ... but what it was was not Diabetes but a Glucose related problem. Some often have symptoms that look a lot like Diabetes and some medicines do cure it. At other times it just cures itself.


*Glucobay (from Bayer) is something that you can use … but ONLY after your Doctor thinks it's OK and recommends the amount that you should take. Do not use it on your own.

A good brochure for Diabetes II patients is available in PDF here.

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Anonymous Sabeen Mahmud said...

I can't believe a year has gone by. You are certainly a whole lot better but as you say, you have your days. If you insist, we'll give you another 6 months to fully get back to being ZAK_ATTACK! Hang in there. We love you and need you around forever.

25 October, 2010 09:03

Anonymous insiya said...

cant believe its been a year since maleeha messaged and you scared us! and how everyone kept wondering why you werent at the qavvali that i ran from.

love you kaafi zyaada :)

25 October, 2010 09:17

Anonymous insiya said...

p.s and you taking me for some 'thurki' nurse who kept 'seh-la-ing' your hand! hahaha

25 October, 2010 09:22

Blogger hushed said...

I have only known the POST_ATTACK_ZAK but the days I hear people saying that "he reminded us of the person he was before the attack today" are way fun-ner than the other days.
I love you Pre and post.
Let's not talk about anyone passing away for some time now please. Lets all just hang around for a while :)

25 October, 2010 10:22

Blogger m2aslam said...

As Sabeen writes, "We need you around forever". Looking forward to see you at SOT.

25 October, 2010 10:39

Blogger jehan said...

Has it been a year already? It was a terrifying time for all those who love and care about you. We were all in a state of disbelief akin to trauma. So thankful that you are more or less back to your old-young self. Another 6 months? Sure. Whatever you need. But there are many days when we see a flash of the pre-heart attack Zak - and those days are increasing so maybe it won't be as long as 6 months. We all love you. The world is a much nicer place with you in. Don't give us a scare like that ever again.

25 October, 2010 12:09

Blogger Bolshevik said...

*hugs* :-)

25 October, 2010 23:45

Anonymous Vic said...

Seeing your post, just a day after my own first quarterly report fell due last weekend, strengthens my resolve to continue procrastinating.

18 months - what a relief! My greatest fear has been a rapid journey to normality, but hopefully I will never need to learn what that is. Many thanks.

26 October, 2010 15:44

Blogger jehan said...

@Vic just because Zak is taking 18 months to get back to being his pre-attack self, gives you no excuse to do the same. Who is talking about normality? Neither of you were ever normal so why start now? :D

26 October, 2010 17:20

Blogger Maleeha said...

[Sinatra's 'I did it my way' plays in the background of this comment]

You know, Naveen and I both think that you are sort of immortal. That's why I stared in disbelief at the text from Nuz auntie last year saying you'd had a heart attack and were at the hospital. I'd been out with my parents for their wedding anniversary dinner that night, and had made everyone leave the restaurant a little early because I started having a strange feeling accompanied by an ache in my shoulders and back (was it sympathy pain? I don't know, but it felt very strange).

A couple of hours later, at around 11:30 PM, I got the text from Nuz auntie and it took a few minutes of staring at it before I could connect the words 'zak' with 'heart attack'. I went a little frantic trying to get in touch with Nuz auntie or Sabeen, not knowing that you'd only had the attack a little while ago and were receiving life saving treatment when Nuz auntie had sent the first text. In this state of panic, I texted Insiya, hoping she would be able to find out exactly what was going on, as she did (while you wondered why you were being courted by a tharki nurse!).

The next thing to do was to book myself on the first available flight, and I think I had a little breakdown on Nuz auntie's shoulder when I arrived at the hospital (which is possibly the first public breakdown I ever remember having), but it was SO GOOD to see you and know that you were still hanging in there and that even in that state there was absolutely nothing wrong with your sense of humor! I found out that you had been THIS close to saying bye bye, and that the doctors thought it was nothing short of a miracle that you'd survived the attack, but that bit is probably not very surprising to those who know you, is it? You have a way of laughing at life, at death, at yourself, and others ;) and you be missing a few pronouns now and then for a few more months, but the attack certainly hasn't made you miss an opportunity to turn the world around you into something more musical, more humorous, more beautiful. And i LOVE you exactly the same before and after the attack. Or maybe a little bit more now, because your defiance has reached a new level by mocking death this way.

Happy defying-the-reaper anniversary! <3 And that Sinatra song was written for you.

28 October, 2010 11:30


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