Saturday, October 21, 2017

Our Life Our Times ::10 :: Micro-surgery in Bhopal

Flanked by two brothers at the hospital
I am still in convalescence. I underwent a surgical procedure on 25th September at the local Bansal Hospital. My lumbar had seemingly packed up and made me almost immobile. I was not able to take even a few steps to go to the attached bath. Things became desperate and I had to consult a neurosurgeon.

The lumbar region has been bothering me for almost a decade restricting my movement especially in the mornings. The first casualty was inability to attend the meetings of the Saturday Club. I consulted the venerable Late Dr. BK Das who used to be the HoD of the Orthopaedic Department of the local Medical College. He suggested some exercises and advised me to manage it by physiotherapy and never to have a surgeon’s knife touch my spine. That was in 2007.

The internet too has sites for managing lumbar pain and even the HoD of the local All India Institute of Medical Sciences advised physiotherapy. I somehow survived – sometime with pain and some other times with absolutely no pain. I carried myself this way and after almost a decade the things started to worsen. Pains came more frequently and they were far more acute.

The trip last month to the AIIMS to consult its neurosurgeon appeared to have been like the last straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. With no wheel-chair around I had to walk the long corridors to see the amiable neurosurgeon. A day later all hell seemingly broke loose. The pain in the lumbar region and on the hip joints was such that no available pain killer could alleviate it. Touching terra firma with my feet produced excruciating pain. All this led us to Bansal Hospital to consult its neurosurgeon overlooking advice of numerous people never to risk a spinal surgery as a little negligence could result in a life to be spent on a bed with paralysed limbs or some other vital organ.

But we had to go and see a surgeon as there seemed to be no other way out. We met the smart-looking young surgeon, Dr. Nitin Garg who first suggested some medicines. He, however, effectively disabused our minds of the risks involved in a spinal surgery. He said what we were saying used to happen more than twenty years ago and not any more. He said he would do, if necessary, a micro-surgery. We immediately got the hang of it and were satisfied. The initial effort was to try some medication; if that didn’t help some injections would have to be administered and if even those didn’t help a surgery was the only alternative. I tried the prescribed medicines for as many as five painful days but there was no let up. We therefore wanted to skip the stage of injections and go straight for surgery.

Dr, Garg was somewhat hesitant as I was 80+. However, looking at our positive attitude towards a surgical procedure he agreed. I was, therefore, admitted on 24th September and was discharged on 28th with my limbs intact and kicking around. My folks, all older than me – the two brothers and a sister - along with the sisters in-law came over and were surprised to see me hale and hearty. A two inch cut was made in my lumbar region through which all the appliances including a high resolution camera capable of magnification of objects by 200 to 300% were inserted for the surgeon to see on a monitor the insides. He later told my wife that a cyst was what was pressing on a nerve which was cut away and some deposits were extracted and were shown to her. The whole process took less than two hours putting new life into me. I couldn’t be more grateful to Dr. Garg as our minds were freshened up by him making us aware of the new advances in medical science.

My mind travelled back in time to 1962 when my father went down with cardiac problems. He had two massive attacks when he was with me in Nagpur but there was practically nothing to be done about it except to watch him suffer with occasional fits of heavy breathing. I even saw him sit up on his bed and hold the sides as he was wracked by pain in his heart. I still remember, as we were organizing an oxygen cylinder, the Civil Surgeon, who had had a look at him using only his stethoscope, said that if members of the family were to be summoned, he said, they should be asked to come as there was not much time left, father’s heart was frightfully enlarged. A cardiac attack meant that time was up and nothing could be done except of waiting it out till death lurking near about came and claimed one.

Since then after around forty years, my older brother and I have undergone open-heart surgeries. Two other siblings have undergone angioplasty. Cardiac problems mostly are no longer killers. Human ingenuity has taken care of that. We seem to have leap-frogged from a non-existent or primitive technology to the most modern – the state-of-the-art in around thirty years. Micro-surgery in a Tier III town is something that one has to be immensely proud of. Perhaps we are still behind the West but we are not doing badly at all. There are numerous kinds of treatments which are sought from abroad and given here with great deal effectiveness. Medical visas for Pakistanis are given away in hundreds and even there is a waiting list. Medical tourism in the country is on the up-and-up.

Who says there has been no change in the last seventy years? Changes have come, only we did not notice them. In my sunset years I am happy to see the country doing so well to alleviate human suffering. I am sure things will become even better as we go along.
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