I had been barely awake for last six hours of my train journey to Lucknow from Delhi. As the train pulled up on the platform, I looked around and found my dad waiting right by my coach. On my way back home, I got to know we had to pick mom from hospital. Her umbilical hernia surgery is due and the doctor wanted to conduct the routine tests before the surgery.
My dad parked the car on the other side of the road and I called up mom’s phone to tell her to come out. As my mom stepped out of the hospital, I felt something was wrong with her. She didn’t seem to be walking as comfortably. I asked dad if she had been unwell but turns out she had been absolutely fine. He thought it is her routine slow walk that is bothering me.
In the car, she complained she wasn’t feeling so good since the moment she had taken the medicine the doctor prescribed. We figured it was just an antibiotic that was causing that feeling. It is usual for certain stronger medicines to make you feel dizzy. We had normal conversations during our ride back home. Bua (my paternal aunt) was waiting for us. She lives close by and had just paid a fleeting visit.
“I don’t like this medicine, I don’t feel very good” my mother complained again as she sat on the bed. She says that about every medicine, she hates them. We made her drink water to feel better. But she wasn’t even close to feel better. Bua even suggested that if she wants to throw up, she should. My mom refused the idea. She could not do it.
Within next thirty seconds or so, she got this anxiety attack. She started to get breathless and uneasy. Me and dad sprang up to take her back to the hospital. Something was majorly wrong with the medicine that was given to her.
I held her tight and made her walk to the car while bua was supporting her and talking to her constantly. She had this extreme burning sensation and anxiety. I realised it was for the first time in my entire life so far that I had held my mom’s full body weight. I am not sure if this is a usual phenomenon but for me it was a huge feeling. I must have complained and climbed up to my mom’s arms a million times in my childhood. She must have carried me all day long to far away places without complaining of how heavy I must have been. I was definitely not ready for this sudden role reversal. On another note, I was surprised I was strong enough to hold her weight and help her get down the stairs all the way to the car.
My mom and bua sat on the backseat while my dad drove. We had hardly cover a kilometre when suddenly my mom went silent. Bua and I kept on calling her but she wasn’t responding.
“It is all getting numb…” she whispered slowly and tears fell down her eyes. She had now drooped on bua completely. I held her hands and felt them to be ice cold. My mom and I are very similar in terms of body temperature. Our palms are always warm, as if we have fever, even in the most normal, healthy conditions. Her palms going ice cold was definitely not a good sign. Her feet were equally chilly.
She was breathing slowly but steadily. Bua was on the verge of breaking down while I was completely dumbfounded seeing what was happening in front of me. I had to stay strong, calm and logical. Thoughts had already begun to wander off to places one doesn’t want to go. I was holding on as strongly as I could. I was definitely not ready for this. Nobody ever is. I was just holding my mother’s hands while looking at the street, calling her and looking at my dad. Everything had happened so fast that I was at loss of cognition.
We were zipping through the traffic and time inside the car had almost stopped. Each second was now like a minute. Me and bua were constantly talking to mom but she wasn’t responding. She would do little grunts here and there but that’s all. I could feel my heartbeat racing. I finally can relate to the most commonly used cheesy ‘heart beating’ sound effect used in films in such intense situations. Because when you are pushed to that limit, you actually can hear your heartbeats in your ears.
In all this chaos, I noticed my dad had not spoken a word. He was just concentrating on driving while just looking back and forth at the road and my mom. He was racing through the super crowded streets of Gomti Nagar without any sign of panic, anger or anxiety. He was just quiet. Looking at him, I thought, I want to be that strong one day. I want to be like my father. It is not easy for everyone to stay focussed on driving when your life partner seems to be slowly slipping into numbness. But he knew that his best bet was to drive carefully, safely and swiftly to the hospital. Nothing else would help at that point.
My father has always been my idol. I have found very few people who are as logical as my father. He used to talk to me about life and human psychology from a very early age. As much useless those things may have sounded at that age, today I remember almost everything he told me and trust me, they all make perfect sense. He always made me take my own decisions be it the color of the wall of my room or my career choice. He definitely had his apprehensions and prejudices, but he never let those affect me. Even though he is usually the emotionally vulnerable one, today he was playing really tough.
Once we reached the hospital, my mom seemed to gain some consciousness and she got out of the car with a little help. The doctors examined her prescription and immediately recognised the cause of her problem. She had taken a very strong antibiotic almost empty stomach. What had just happened was extreme acidity because of that. However, the doctors assured that this is a very normal reaction and can be cured easily. The situation was not life threatening and in next few hours, my mom would be fine.
The doctors advised she needed Digene and because she was highly dehydrated, she needed a drip. But giving her drip has always been a problem. Doctors can never find her veins. Or even if they find one, it probably would be very narrow slowing the process. They were facing the same trouble again. After much struggle, the nurse finally inserted the veinflan and began the drip.
After a minute or two of flowing normally, it began to slow down and eventually stopped. We called the doctors again to help. It turned out, the hand was to be held at a particular angle for the drip to keep flowing. Bua sat by my mom and held her hand at that angle.
Mom was much stable now though very uneasy still. But she was talking and breathing normally. Her palms were back to normal temperature. She was given more Digene and doctor scolded her for taken that medicine empty stomach. She assumed she had breakfast and that should have helped but the doctor made her realise the time gap between her breakfast and the time she took the medicine.
Halfway through the drip, she needed to use the restroom. That relieved her from most of the trouble causing stuff in her stomach and she felt slightly better after that. But the problem of finding the right angle for her drip was back. This time, the doctor showed me the pressure points and angles that help increase drip flow. I held her hand at that angle, giving pressure at the right points for the rest of the drip. If it would slow down, I would adjust the fingers or the wrist and it would get back on. By end of it I was pretty good at it.
Usually a full drip takes almost 40-45mins to complete. It took few hours in case of my mother. But she was feeling better though she could feel slight ulcers inside her stomach. Her intestines were still burning. The important thing was, she was out of danger.
A lot of people from my dad’s office had come by to check on him and mom by the time we left. We got back home around 5pm. I was exhausted. I had not slept the last night to begin with and last few hours had been a little too much on me. I had my lunch (or early dinner) and passed out.
When I woke up at around ten at night, all the events came back to me traumatising me slightly.
It reminded me of a similar incident in the past when I was a very young kid. At night, I was woken up by some commotion. I walked out to the living room to find my mother being held by my father and someone else. They were rushing her to the hospital. All she was murmuring was “If something happens to me, take care of bhaiya (me)”. I quietly watched her being taken away. I was scared and worried. I don’t remember falling asleep. When I woke up the next morning, I found my mother nearby. I was just too young to understand the gravity of anything.
I have always been greatly attached to my parents, have had an extremely healthy relationship with both of them. My dad has been my best friend. He has changed himself with the changing times, just to keep up. He embraced technology and is now at par with all the current techie trends. I have seen my father evolve with me. And trust me, it is a great feeling. My mother, on the other hand, has been a constant in our lives (me and my father). I think both of us are glad that she is the way she has been. Probably because she already was much evolved. She has always been a very patient, strong figure for me. Most of my childhood, my father has been busy (though I never felt his absence in my life, ever). My mother was my only friend during non-school hours. I would sit next to her on the kitchen counter doing my homework while she cooked, talking to me. For a decade, both of us had no other friends. This lead to a very unconventional telepathic bond between us. If she is not well, I end up calling her because I have been feeling weird the whole day. And if I get into any trouble, my mother just randomly calls me up to check if I am ok. This lucknow trip was a result of me feeing really homesick for weeks and the moment I got a opportunity, I booked my tickets since I was already going to be in Delhi for a shoot.
To think of it, how much ever traumatised I may feel, I am glad I was there when she needed me the most. I am glad it all turned out fine and I pray to God this doesn’t repeat, for anyone.
Two days later…
I woke up around 9am. There was an unusual silence in the house. I noticed my father, my cousin Shyaam and Alok (domestic help) were missing. They had gone to the vet with Knowey. He had been puking all night and needed urgent medical attention. I got a little bit worried but I could not do much.
Upon their arrival, I got to know he was given an antibiotic injection and a vaccination. The usual doctor was not available so they had to take him to another doctor. When the usual doctor got to know about the treatment, he expressed his concern over the decision of giving a vaccine when there is a treatment in progress. He did not find that an intelligent idea.
My dog looked very sick. He was just quietly resting in a corner. I thought a little rest will help him get back in shape. I left for some work. Last I saw him was in basement. He is not a dog that likes to stay aloof. So, this seemed unusual to me.
When I got back home, I smelled dog urine on the stairs. I saw deep yellow patches on various steps. I immediately rushed to find where my dog was. He seemed really weak now. He was just lying there with his eyes closed breathing rather uneasily. I called out for him but no response. Now this is tricky. My dog doesn’t really respond that quickly to his name. Unless it is mom calling him for food. He has a very selective listening when it comes to people calling him. So I could not judge if he was being just him or he was really not very conscious.
I called mom to have a look at him and she got equally worried seeing at his condition. I got him some water. He tried to drink but was too weak for that. Took a sip or two followed by another small outburst of urine. His bladder had gone out of control. He NEVER urinates while lying somewhere. I understood that he is an old dog now (10years old) but this condition still seemed far looking at his recent health.
Mom called my dad informing him about Knowey’s deteriorating condition. I wanted to see if he would eat something. I have observed that dogs usually give up food when they have to leave for good. From what I had heard from my friends who had lost their dogs, I was looking for symptoms and I could see most of them in Knowey right now. My mother got Paneer for him. But he refused to eat that either. In any other scenario, he would kill to eat Paneer.
I was trying to brush his hair and talk to him but his eyes weren’t responding anymore. They were just blankly staring in nothingness. I felt his ears really warm. When I left his head, it slowly dropped down at a very unusual angle. Knowey did not correct that. He just continued to stay that way. This got alarms go off in my head.
“RUN TO BUA’S HOUSE AND GET HER CAR. WE NEED TO TAKE HIM TO HOSPITAL”
Shyaam rushed to get the car. Mom started crying now. I ran back to Knowey to find his tongue half out of his mouth. I tried to open his jaw but was very stiff. He was completely unconscious now. His breathing was slowing down every moment.
“Come home fast…Knowey is not breathing” my mom gave another SOS call to my father who assured her that he was on his way.
I was absolutely helpless. I had no means to rush him to the doctor. Besides, the clinic opened at five and it was just quarter past four. I knew Knowey was not making it till five. My mom was now hysterically crying.
Even though I was the one who got Knowey home but for last ten years he has been my mother’s best companion. She has taken care of him like her son. He too reciprocates the love like a human baby. He would run to her every time she comes back home from somewhere and would demand what she got for him. He would always eat with my mom, no matter what happened. And to see a mother lose her baby in front of her eyes in an unbearable site.
My grandma had joined the crying charade now. She was screaming his name but obviously he wasn’t responding. I tried to give him more water but he wouldn’t move.
“Look child, he was with us for last so many years. He had a happy life. He is old now and you need to let him go. I will chant Gita and he will have peaceful passage to the divine abode. He will attain salvation” came my grandfather.
I was shell shocked. This definitely was not what I needed at this point.
“Alok, get some gangajal (holy water from river Ganga)” ordered my grandma.
I tried to lift him up but she stopped me.
“Don’t lift him up. It is painful for him…start chanting Gita (looking at my grandpa)” and he began chanting Bhagvad Gita loudly.
I was now losing it. I did not know what to do. I could see his breathing fade away slowly. It was reduced to just a little bulge in the stomach. He was losing it every second.
I ran to the window for any sign of my father or Shyaam with the car but none to be seen. I felt the volume of Gita chants grow with each passing second and it was getting unbearable for me. I went back to Knowey.
“Stop the Gita please, I am not leaving him to die here”
“You do what you have to do. Gita will not hinder with that” explained my grandma.
“He will be given a drip and he will be fine” I screamed. A part of my brain was praying for this sentence to be actually true. Somewhere, I too was losing hope. His nose was dry now, eyes tightly shut and ears cold, he was shivering slightly and breathing was extremely slow and weak.
My grandfather’s phone rang and it was very close to me so I checked, it was my dad.
“Get Knowey down, I am reaching”
Alok understood. He picked Knowey before I could and ran down. I followed him and saw my car speed through towards us.
“I have called the doctor, he will reach the clinic asap. I will drop you guys there and leave, will be back very shortly because I need to be in that meeting. I got your mom’s call and understood it was very serious” explained my dad while speeding through the mild afternoon traffic. He gave me some money as I had not carried anything.
I called Shyaam to reach the clinic immediately incase we need to take Knowey somewhere else. I asked Alok if Knowey was still breathing and he nodded a yes. I noticed he was breathing faster than earlier.
I lay him on the doctor’s table. Without wasting a second, he trimmed his front left leg and took a blood sample. He then took his temperature while his assistants prepared a drip to be administered. Knowey had high fever. He fixed the drip and asked Alok to hold the leg in case he tries to move it. His eyes were still non-responsive.
As the drip seeped swiftly through Knowey’s veins, the doctor kept adding injections to it. When half the bottle was empty, I noticed his eyes move. I was holding him tight feeling his breathing and it was getting better and had now moved back to his lungs from his stomach. His body temperature was now normal and his reflexes of closing his eyes upon my hand approaching his face were back.
When only a quarter of the drip was left, he lifted his head up and looked around. He must have recognised that it was the doctor’s clinic. He the made few attempts to get up and run but me and Alok held him in place. He was now struggling to get up but too weak to put up a fight. He was making the usual whistling whiney noises requesting us to set him free.
I took a sigh of relief. He was now alive and active.
The doctor further gave him Glucose, Metrogyl I.V. and a couple of more injections to get his infection controlled. Upon completion of glucose bottle, Knowey let out a never ending trail of urine right at the table and I understood the reason of all the whistling he was doing. We cleaned up the table and dried Knowey. This time, the urine was odourless and colourless.
“He had severe dehydration. The series of vomits in the morning took away most of his body water. He could not drink enough. Plus the vaccine given results in bladder incontinence. So he was peeing without his control. All this resulted in sudden loss of water from his body. Had he been late by ten more minutes, I doubt I would have been able to save him.”
“I have sent his blood samples for testing. Please meet me by eight thirty at night to discuss the reports. We will take further action based on what the reports say. He is absolutely out of danger as of now. Please don’t feed him anything, not even water. I have given him enough body nutrients and fluids to stay strong and alert for next twelve hours. You need to bring him back for another round of treatment based on his reports tonight.”
I was grateful to him from the bottom of my heart for acting so promptly and opening the clinic half an hour early. I actually wanted to hug him but didn’t seem appropriate at the point. Besides, I was still not very confident about Knowey’s condition and wanted to see the reports desperately.
Knowey stood on the table which was a big thing for me. Alok picked him up and got him down. He walked a little bit but was too weak. Alok picked him again and made him sit in the car.
Once home, Knowey wouldn’t want to leave the car. He almost bit Alok when he tried to pick him up again. I called him out while Shyaam pushed him out from the side. Slowly, he got out of the car. Now Alok picked him again and he let out another stream of urine. I was feeling so bad seeing him like that. He never had any bladder issues ever. And today, my whole house was stinking of canine urine.
We left him on the floor to walk to see if he walks and he did. He walked through everyone sitting exactly where I had left them. And I was so glad I was part of that moment. I opened the door to the bedroom which is his usual spot. He dropped on the floor, too weak to sit gracefully as he otherwise does. He was sleepy now, definitely tired but very stable.
I lay on the bed by him looking at him breathing, for I don’t know how long. My grandpa came by and tried to explain how I should let go off the attachment I have with him. He continued how it would only bring me pain and this is how the world is. I selectively blocked him out after that in my brain. I continued gazing at my white little dog, now sleeping and breathing steadily. I was thankful to everything that helped me get him back to life that day.
I am well aware of the fact that he is an old dog and sooner or later, the same situation might occur again and he might not come back every time. But we definitely can try each time. Exactly how we do with our family members. He has been a crucial part of my life, my family for last decade and I am not letting him pass away due to negligence.
His blood reports suggested a severe infection. His TLC count was way higher than normal, platelets had gone low. The doctor had suggested few more days of treatment. But he was sure that there was no more danger.
At night, when my mom fixed her bed, Knowey walked to her slowly wagging his tail. He tried to jump up but was too weak so he lay right below her. Me and mom were almost awake the whole night, taking turns to check on him. He slept soundly and seemed really calm.
He was given another drip the next day, which took a lot of mine and Alok’s strength to hold him in place. We had to tie up his mouth to prevent him from damaging the catheter or the drip and hurting himself. While Alok was holding his paw I was holding the rest of him, brushing him and soothing him. He was doing the usual whistling. I took my face close to his. And he rubbed his forehead on my face whistling loudly. I knew he did not like being there, being held like that, with that drip thing attached to him. Tears fell down his eyes. I kept distracting him by making the usual lovey sounds when I play with him, constantly talking to him and wiping his tears. The drip was flowing really fast and in half an hour, everything was over.
I took him for a little walk, he ruffled his hair (it was a relief to see him do that). He then peed normally with one leg up. And ran away from the clinic. He was not ready to wait there so I had to walk him to the nearby park. I had to catch my flight back to Mumbai in a couple of hours.
He rested peacefully for the rest of the time I was at home, packing and getting ready to leave.
My mom kept me informed about his situation. He is doing great now. He eats, barks and goes for a walk, climbed up the bed. Another week and he will be back to being normal. His blood reports are normal now.
What makes me really confused and question a lot of things is the fact that my grandfather was a compounder in govt. hospital and was very respected for his knowledge, dedication and humility. He has been a hero when it comes to his profession. He has saved so many lives that people still recall incidents of his bravery. He took care of his extended family while feeding two children and a wife, all on his salary and incentives which weren’t really a lot. He taught his younger brothers, married his sisters, bought acres and acres of land and what not. All from his profession – Medicine. Of all the people, he understands the possibilities science has, the miracles it can do (he himself has witnessed many) and what should one do in a medical emergency.
To see him, transform into what he is now was really shocking for me. What has changed? What happened in last couple of decades of his retirement? What makes a man chant Bhagvad Gita instead of suggesting medicines and injections that could save a life? What doctor would give up on someone dying?
I love my grandparents a lot. I still do, even after this incident. Because I can’t blame him entirely for this behaviour. There must have been a lot of factors that may have led him to become what he is now.
This incident shook me greatly from within. An illusion breaker. I never had any problems with my family practicing religion. This however, was a bit too much I think. Specially when no one is family is illiterate. They have all seen enough life to understand the value of it. When my mother was thanking Radhe Vihari for saving Knowey, I didn’t really say anything but felt a bit appalled. My father ran out of a meeting because he knew how important a couple of minutes can be to someone’s life. That doctor came to his clinic half an hour early because he knew how crucial that might be for a dying creature’s life. They saved him.
I am sure chanting Gita would not have granted my dog his salvation in case he died that day. But what about salvation of people who just watched someone die when they could do something? Would they attain it?