Friday, September 21, 2012

Blood in the brain...a healing journey continued

A subarachnoid heamorrhage is described as the accumulation of blood in the area between the brain and the thin tissue covering the brain, referred to as the subarachnoid space.

The usual sympton of a subarachnoid heamorrhage is a severe headache, often described by patients as the "worst headache ever."

When I had arrived home, baba's head was hurting severely and he was finding it dificult to keep his eyes open.

He also was vomiting a great deal, another sign of a subarachnoid heamorrhage.

In the high dependency ward, his consciousness was gradually dopping. He was in deep pain, and after a lot of pushing and pulling, would respond to questions. Gradually, this response level started sinking further and further, with him rarely opening his eyes, and rarely being able to respond to stimuli except to pain stimuli.

He was supported by a team of junior and trainee doctors.

The doctors took the time to explain to us in detail the different steps of the diagnosis. Both Debalina and I had a lot of questions and they took the time to answer these questions in as much depth as they could.

In the meanwhile, Shreyoshi and our brother-in-law Amod had also joined us in the hospital. Shloke was at home with Lalmadidi and she was taking good care of him. Our neighbors had texted and called Debalina and offered their support.

On the way to the hospital, I had called Ma, Piu (my sister-in-law), and Bhai (my brother) to inform them. I had also called my uncles and aunts in Dutta Bari, our ancestral home. Every half an hour or so, we had a family member call and check on details. My other mother from Guwahati (my mother-in-law) had called and checked on baba's status. So did Sarkar kaku, my brother's father-in-law. We were surrounded by a network of support that had very quickly reached out to us.

The doctors showed us the results of the MRI, with the image of the blood in the subarachnoid area. They also reported to us that the results of the initial angiography were negative, meaning that they did not find ruptured blood vessels. As we were learning these details, we were sharing them with Ma, Bhai Kaku (my father's youngest brother), didibhai (my eldest sister), and bhai.

By about 7 p.m., his consciousness had dropped severely. One of the trainee doctors on the team, also conversant in Hindi, was consistently trying to communicate with him in Hindi. Other doctors were asking him questions in English. But he was fairly unresponsive.

By later that evening, Dr. Lim, the attending neurosurgeon who was caring for Baba shared with us that he was going to order another MRI because he believed that the dropping consciousness was a product of increasing fluid level in the brain. The MRI report noted that the amount of fluid in the brain had increased minimally as compared to the afternoon MRI. He wanted to wait and watch.

As the night started setting in and baba's consciousness level kept dropping, Dr. Lim shared with us that he felt the need to go in and put a draining tube into the brain to relieve the building pressure. We asked him about the effects, side effects, and risks, and he presented these pieces of information carefully and in depth. I quickly went to the National Library of Medicine website from my blackberry to see what I could glean from the website about the surgery. Dr. Lim noted that he was going to go in to do the surgery right after midnight. We consulted Ma, Bhai, Piu and shared the information with Didibhai and Bhaikaku. In the meanwhile, Tuku had also called to inquire and so had Chotopishi.

We went home and returned, signed the consent form, and then waited for baba to be wheeled into surgery. By the time he was taken into surgery, his consciousness level was low.

The anasthaetist spoke with Debalina and I, asked us if Baba had any allergies and then the team was ready for the operation. We waited in the waiting area right beside the operation theater. Debalina and I sat there, ma, bhai, piu and our joint family waiting on the other side in India. I had told them that I would keep them informed throughout the night.

Through this journey, Ma had stayed amazingly strong. She did not have a Singapore passport because she was going to come visit us in January 2013 after Piu gave birth. Now, she had checked with Moitrakaku, our travel agent, and it was going to take between four and five days to get her Singapore visa. Also, she had left her passport in Kharagpur. It would take at least an additional day or two for someone in Kharagpur to courier the passport to Hyderabad, where they were staying with Bhai and Piu.

Debalina and I said our prayers. On my blackberry, I found the "Adya Kaali Mantra" (Prayer to the Goddess Kali) and started reciting it mentally.

The wait seemed to be for ever. In the silence, Debalina's company, the phone calls, and the prayer held me strong.

In 40 minutes, Dr. Lim came out with a smile. He shared with us that the operation went successfully. He was able to put the drainage tube into Baba's brain and had drained the excess fluid build-up.

The team wheeled baba into the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (mostly for neuro-surgery patients), and we were able to go in and see him after a while.

We called Ma and Bhai and Didibhai and gave them the update. They had been, like us, waiting into the night.

I was glad that I have a partner in Debalina to share this journey with. She held my hand and I am grateful to have her hand to hold. 


Sydney D said...

Thank you for the recount Mohan. Your family was and is still in my prayers.

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