” I suffered a heart attack about 5 days ago. Here is my account of what happened:
As I was rushed to the Cardiac ICU, I just had this sinking feeling in my heart (just like the one before you enter the Viva Voce hall and see the most khadoos examiner in place).
The resident doctor there was quite courteous, “Sir, How are you feeling?”
I looked at him groggily and whispered, “Just like Rakhi Sawant!”
He looked at me perplexed. I continued and said, “I feel an unnatural weight on my chest.”
The resident doctor didn’t know whether to send me off to the Psychiatry ward or not. I said, “Aare Baba, ECG nikaal, nahi toh main nikal jaoonga!”
The funniest part of my heart attack, or “cardiac event” as the doctor there insisted on calling it, was that there was no pain. That would come afterwards when they presented me the bill. But for now I was painless.
“Do you smoke?” persisted the resident doctor.
“I have never tried burning myself, but probably would.” My wife nudged me and intervened, “He does not smoke or drink. Just keeps cracking these pointless PJs.”
The resident doctor promptly scribbled something on the pad. He probably wrote that the patient was delirious. After peering with screwed eyes at my ECG he said, “Q wave changes.”
I said, “I give up. You tell me.”
“I don’t know Kyon wave changes. You tell me.”
The resident stopped telling me anything else. He turned to my wife and said, “It seems to be a Minor Infarct.”
I don’t know what it is with doctors. How can you call any heart infarct minor? If there is an infarct, it is a major thing, at least for the patient. There was also some depressing talk about ST depressions. Here I felt as if an ST bus was driving over my chest, who bothered whether that ST was depressed or happy?
I was immediately admitted to the ICCU and posted for an Angiography the next day. One piece of advice to all Cardiac care units: If you do not want your heart patients to have any further attacks, do not appoint such lovely young nurses. Most of the nurses in the entire world are from Kerala. If all the nurses return home, all the hospitals in the world will come to a stop. And there will be no standing space in Kerala.
There were big notices posted outside the door of the ICCU. “No Visitors” and “No Mobiles”. Okay, so there would be no breaking news dispatches from me. Soon a pretty, young Malayali nurse came and told me “Gaana Gaaneka nai.”
This came as a shock to me. Not that I wanted to break out into a song and dance routine. I could understand that visitors might disturb the patient, or even the mobiles. But songs? How could anyone be so unmusical?
I said Okay but was a bit miffed.
After many pricks and monitors on my body, half an hour later another pretty young thing came and told me “Gaana Gaaneka nai”
I was a bit angry. I said, “Yeah! Yeah! Someone told me before also.” But this really intrigued me. Why were they so strict about songs? If they had said that I could not dance due to my heart condition, I could have accepted that. But never in my long medical education had I been warned that singing was bad for cardiac health. I wondered if this was a new advance.
The mystery was cleared when the next Malayali sister, who appeared to be their head nurse, came and explained to me, “Doctor Shah, Aap ka blood samble subay saat ko hai. Toh abi Gaana Gaaneka nai. Phir Kaali pet samble lene ke baad Gaana Gaaneka.”
I immediately added an interpreter to my mental suggestion box. It must be really tough to interpret Gaana as Khaana. But the Mallus can’t help their accent.
After a relatively painless night, mainly because relatives were not allowed, and also due to the various drips and things, I woke up to the prick of a blood ‘Samble’. Then I was allowed to ‘Gaana Gaaneko’.
All the tests gave worse and worse news. There was an inferior wall infarct which the Cardiologist insisted on calling minor. (I hoped he would remember this while billing me.) My Trop T was raised. In short, this is a help call from the heart. I was posted for angiography and an SOS plasty the next day after stabilization.
On the morning of the procedure, I got the shock of my life, when a grim looking man entered my room and sent my wife out. He then locked the room and took out a large and sharp glistening razor. Omigosh!
This was not how they performed operations, at least not during the last century. Or was this a scene from an assassin movie? The man then turned to me and smiled and said that he had come to shave me for the procedure.
I sighed with relief. One always wants to look nice and presentable for important occasions even if they be the gallows. I smiled back at him and jutted out my chin at him for easy access. But he ignored my chin and pulled down my pajamas. I shrieked, “Hey, Its my heart that is amiss.”
“Yes Sir. We need to shave your groin!” Groan Groan!
Five minutes later, I was all spick and span and presentable for my planned procedure. Calling it a procedure, reduces the fear factor from it. If you call it an operation, which it is, you might suffer a further attack. If you call it a butchery, which it sometimes can be, then you need not go to the procedure. I proceeded with a sinking heart, if it could sink any more, to the operation room, which they call a cath lab. It’s all about euphemism.
When I entered the ‘Cath lab’, I found it extremely cold. Was the AC at full blast or was I frightened or was my heart not pumping enough blood? Probably all three. There was soft music playing Hindi songs in the background. The nurse told me to remove all my clothes and lie down on a narrow table. I have already mentioned the weather conditions, so it did not help that here I was completely nude like a fresh plucked chicken, lying on a table, with half my respective buttocks spilling out of the respective sides of the table. The AC vent was directed towards the exact centre of my body.
The Hindi song playing was “Haste Gaate yahan se gujar, Duniya ki tu parwa na kar.” That was very kind of my namesake Kishoreda to remind me how to face this ordeal. But I was very frightened. His next verse also told me, “Maut aani hai ayegi ek din, Jaan jaani hai jaayegi ek din, Aisi baton se kya ghabarana, Yaha kal kya ho kisne jaana?” I almost burst out yodeling along with him . OOdle di OOd le di Ooo oo.
The anesthetist approached me and saw me smiling. He was confused. Was this guy so frightened that he was smiling? How could I tell him that I was marveling at Kishoreda’s accurate advice to me, a smaller Kishore Kumar.
Then came the good part. Many layers of warm clothes were laid on me. I was shivering, but no longer like the Antarctica. It was more like Shimla now.
The Cardiologist told me that I would now feel a little pain in my groin. Most appropriately, the song playing now was “Dil hai kaha aur Dard kaha”. I smiled and said, “Yes Boss. Go ahead.”
I won’t go into the gruesome details, but what was visible to me and the entire team there was that my Right Coronary artery was nearly completely blocked. The doctor said, “Yes, a stent will be required. Dr. Shah, should we insert an Endeavor drug eluting stent?”
I felt ashamed to admit to him that I didn’t know a thing about stents. Being a Gynaecologist, I only knew about stunts. So I asked him, “What is the difference between this one and the other one?” I didn’t know the name of the other one, so I cloaked it in the anonymity of the other one. He said, “There are many differences, but the main one is in the price.”
“Then I think you should ask my wife, because she is the one with the purse as well as the purse strings.”
After a brief consultation, my wife decided that her husband was after all worth a bit more than this costly stent. But the effect was magical. In front of my eyes, I could see a withered autumn tree of heart vasculature suddenly burst out in full spring glory of new tributaries.
Thus I came out of the ‘lab’ a new and reborn man. It seemed as if I had thrown off my school shirt and worn a new comfy and roomy one. It was as if I had exchanged Adnan Sami’s new shirt for his older ones. No more tightness around the chest. The song playing in the lab when I came out was appropriately “Aaj Main jawaan ho gayi hoon. Gul se gulistan ho gayi hoon.”
When I returned home from the hospital after paying the bill, I realized that the old proverb was probably coined by a cardiologist. Jaan bachi, Lakho paye.
Thus my heart tried to spring me a surprise. So I surprised it with a spring into my heart.
Now I walk with a spring in my step and one in my heart too!”
(Contributed by amohanrao on 25.01.2011)