Monday, March 31, 2008

Jab we met

A couple of days back, while switching channels on TV, I realized that the film 'Jab we met' was going to start in 5 minutes.

I had already seen the film a couple of months back but I decided to watch it again because I had really liked it.

The film is really simple and not one of those 'masterpieces' that people will write too much about. A simple story with simple characters.

Kareena Kapoor has acted really well as a fun loving 'sikhni' from Bhatinda. Her motto in life is to do whatever you want to do without listening to too many people because later in life you should not regret that you did not do this or that. She is so right! The scene where she convinces Shahid to burn his ex-girlfriend's picture is too good.

Shahid Kapoor is so good in the role of a depressed millionaire. His transition to a happy go lucky guy after the few weeks he spends with Kareena is so endearing. His best scene was the one where he meets Kareena after 9 months at the hostel she's staying in. With moist eyes he says, "Tumne mujhe hurt kiya Geet."

The songs in the movie are also so good. The bhangra number "Nagada", the last song in the film, "Mauja hi Mauja", Kareena's "Ye ishq hai" and Shahid's "Tumse hi" stay with you for long.

All in all, a very beautiful movie that warms your heart.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A perfect Sunday morning

In Hyderabad, we've been seeing some unusually heavy rain for the last few days.

This Sunday too, I woke up and it was raining heavily. I was in two minds on whether to go to Poorna Tiffins for my weekly rendezvous or not. The roads would be water clogged and I was worried that my car might get stuck in the low lying area that this place was situated in.

But undaunted, I got into my car and ventured out. It was raining heavily.

As most of Hyderabad was snugly ensconced under their rugs enjoying the bliss of a rainy Sunday morning, I made my way to this place. There was a lot of water everywhere.

The lane in which Poorna Tiffins is was almost like a river with ankle deep water. I carefully took my car in and parked at a spot and went inside.

The next 20 minutes were like nirvana.

The heavy rain outside, the steaming hot idlis and the spicy chutney! Idlis were never this good.

I'm so glad I did not miss this.

There are times in life when everything converges to give you some moments you will always cherish. This was one of them.

Curiosity

Some people are really curious about everything.

Recently, I went for a hair cut to a salon. Now this place is close to my house and we've been frequenting it from years - in fact the owner knows my whole family.

So, I go there and get my hair cut, oil massage and shampoo done with (the whole thing is really relaxing) and I go over to the cash counter to pay. The owner is at the counter and he starts off: "Babu, kaise ho?" (How are you?). I say I'm fine, thanks. It does not end there.

"So, how is your health?"

"Good."

"You still have to do dialysis?"

"Yes."

"How many times a week do you do it?"

"I do it every night."

(shock and horror on face)"Every night! You need to do it every night?"

Now this is such a problem. How do I explain to him that I don't need to do it every night but I do it because outcomes are better, quality of life is better and I don't need to restrict my diet and fluid intake. All this would have been too much for the poor guy to understand. So, I mutter a quick response.

"I don't need to. I just like to do it every night. How much do I need to pay?"

I settle the bill. Before I can leave, he shoots, "How much does it cost you?"

Now, that's taking it too far. How does it fucking bother you?

But I'm too 'proper' to scold him. I say something like 1000 bucks a night and leave before he gets into the details of how I fund my treatment, my salary and my tax liability.

Now, I know the guy meant no harm. He knows my dad and of my kidney disease probably through him. But, it is really irritating to be asked these kind of questions.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Devotional Sufi Music

I've always been hooked to devotional sufi music.

Most of this genre that I have heard is from Hindi films. One of the early songs that comes to my mind is the one sung by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in 'Kacche Dhaage' - 'Is shaan-e-karam ka kya kehna'.

Some other favorites are 'Aaya tere dar par deewana' from 'Veer Zaara' and songs from 'Bose-the forgotten hero' and 'Maqbool' - Vishal Bharadwaj's interpretation of Macbeth.

A more recent favorite is 'Khwaja mere khwaja' from 'Jodhaa-Akbar'.

I wish I could get digital versions of all these songs. Unfortunately I do not have many of them. I've heard them while watching the films and the audio CDs are not available any more.

Can anyone help?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cricket Season

Our company, Effigent is participating in a cricket tournament. We have great fun going and cheering the team.

The whole atmosphere is festive with a lot of shouting, booing and sloganeering.

I got a small banner made with the company name and that has proved to be a lucky charm. Whenever that banner is on the ground, we win!
I get a little carried away during this hullabaloo. I do a lot of silly things and only realize what I've done on my way back home!

The transplant conundrum

Its been a little less than 10 years since my transplant. 11 days of bliss was all I got though. I've been thinking of the pros and cons of trying another transplant.

Dr. Tim Goodship of England has a project going where they have identified a sequence of genes which are responsible for 30% of the people with familial Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (my native disease) i.e., 30% of people who have HUS in their genes have this gene sequence.

I sent my blood sample to him and I have just got the complete set of results that say that I am not in that 30%. If I was, then I could rule out a transplant because if HUS was in my genes, it would definitely recur in the new kidney.

Now that I am not in that 30%, does it mean I can safely have a transplant? No. Because I could be in the other 70% that has HUS in the genes but whose gene sequence has not been identified.

I remember the days leading to the first transplant. The choice of immunosuppression was always an issue. Cyclosporin was most commonly used here. But there were papers that had shown that transplants with Cyclosporin did cause HUS recurrence.

On the other hand, there were people with HUS who got transplants with Cyclosporin and did not have recurrence.

There were other options like Tacrolimus and MMF.

I felt a shiver run down my spine when my nephrologist asked me what immunosuppression I thought we should use. Wasn't he the one who had to decide? It was not as if he did not know but this was a tricky situation and he knew that I had done a lot of reading up on the internet. But still, it was quite disconcerting for me to help with that decision. I got the feeling that he was not sure of what he was doing.

In the end of course, we used Cyclosporin and HUS recurred.

Recently I showed the pictures of my graft biopsy slides to Neeraja, a friend who is a Nephropathologist and she felt that the biopsy showed signs that were consistent with Cyclosporin toxicity or HUS recurrence.

So, the question that still needs to be answered is - if I go in for another transplant, what immunosuppression should be used?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Disturbed

I got to know recently of a very disturbing thing.

There was a person on dialysis who was HIV positive. I did not know him but got to know of this through someone. He came to a hospital to get dialysis and the staff was hesitant to dialyze him. But they did eventually. He had a few sessions over the next couple of weeks. But the staff were worried that the infection could pass to other patients.

The doctor suggested he go in for CAPD. So, he got his catheter placed and switched to PD for a few weeks. But he preferred hemo so came back to the hospital. The staff first refused. He threatened to take them to court for this. They relented eventually and dialyzed him. They did all they could to discourage him from coming for dialysis. But he persisted.

Apparently, his family was also tired of him and maybe scared too that they would get infected.

One day, the doctor, the dialysis technician and his family decided they had had enough. They decided to play god.

The life of an individual was no longer important. The trust the patient placed in his doctor was no longer important. The duty of the caregivers was no longer important. The love of a family was no longer important.

The ultrafiltration rate was set so high that the patient went into severe hypotension and died on dialysis.

Death was probably a welcome relief from the burden of life. Who knows? With the kind of people around him, the patient might have preferred this release. Had he only known.

For an outside observer these things are easy to say. But the desire to live, however compromised life is, is really a powerful force. It gives a person immense strength to fight. To fight against the most compelling reasons to give up. To fight against one's own destiny.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Time of my life

I got back from Goa yesterday. I had the time of my life. It would not be an exaggeration to say I've never enjoyed myself so much.

We got to the place we had booked called Riverside by about 4 in the evening on Friday, the 29th. The place was horrible. The river by the side of which it was located was more like a 'nala'. My brother and I started calling it Nalaside!

It was a one building hotel, no greenery and had no room service.

We immediately decided to change the hotel. We kept our luggage there and got into the taxi and went to this place called La Calypso. I had found it on the internet when I was in Hyderabad. It was a 2 minute drive from where we were.

This place was much better. The resort was spread over a huge area and had a lot of greenery. A few steps from our room was the swimming pool and a few steps from the pool was the beach. It was almost like the hotel had its own private beach.

We moved our luggage to this place and then went over to the beach. Getting my feet wet in the water was exhilarating. I sat in the water for a while feeling the waves on my back. It got dark soon and we had a few snacks and drinks and then headed back to our room.

After a quick shower we went over to the restaurent and had dinner.

The next morning we got up, had breakfast and headed over to the beach. We swam for a while and then took a motor boat to go dolphin spotting. Well, we did spot dolphins but it was a blink-and-you-miss affair.

Then we tried the water scooters. This was real fun. To drive these beasts in the choppy waters of the ocean can be quite thrilling. For a few seconds I was even airborne.


After some aimless swimming and lying on the beach, I went to the swimming pool. There were 3 showers by the side of the pool. The middle one was too good. Now, you might wonder what can be too good about a shower? Well, I like my showers to have a lot of force and this one was really forceful and the water was nice and cold.

After a long time under the shower, I jumped into the pool and swam and generally played around in the water.


That evening I was scheduled to go for a dialysis treatment. So, around 4:30, we left for Vrundavan Hospital. The techs there were surprised that I could cannnulate myself! And unfortunately, I did not take pictures of the unit (I saw your comment after I got back home Bill!)

After the session, we went to the Ingo's Saturday night market where there were about 95% foreigners selling different things from clothes to jewelery to food.

The next day was pretty much the same as the first - beach followed by swimming. But that day we did some parasailing which was not as scary as it looks.
And we did something really enjoyable called the Banana Tip. Basically, they make you sit on a long tube which is tied to a motor bot. They take the tube into the ocean and then suddenly make the tube tip and you go into the water. It was real fun!
That night we went to a casino which is located in a small ship on the River Mandovi. The casino is really good with slot machines and tables for Black Jack and Roulette. They also had some Russian dancers and complimentary drinks and dinner.

The next day was pretty much the same - lazing on the beach and swimming pool and doing some water scooter rides.

I kept trying to find out and fix some snorkelling through the trip but nothing materialized. That evening the driver of our taxi took us to a place called Goa Dive Center and they arranged a snorkelling trip for us on the last day of our trip.

So, on the last day, we left in a speed boat at 7 in the morning for an island called Grand Island. It took us about an hour to get there. And there we snorkelled. They give you these huge goggles and a tube with which you can breathe and then you can swim around and see life inside the water. It was truly amazing to see shoals of fish of exactly the same color, size and patterns swimming together.
That afternoon we headed back to Hyderabad.

All in all, the trip was great. I got a much needed break and had a lot of fun. Goa is really a nice place to de-stress. The trip was very relaxing and rejuvenating.