Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bottle gourd juice and other stories

Ever since Baba Ramdev popularized drinking a glass of bottle gourd juice every morning (after a dose of 4 tablespoons of Gooseberry (amla) juice and 4 table spoons of Aloe Vera juice), every morning, in our house you can hear the noise of the centrifuge churning out glass after glass of bottle gourd juice.

There are rumors that say that the price of bottle gourds has risen dramatically ever since the Baba started advocating it.

Now, my mother used to make my juice every morning. But you know how I like to do my things myself. So, I started making my own juice a few months back. I, of course, make myself only a cup of juice because of my fluid restriction.

Recently, however, my mother wondered aloud if I could make my grand mother's juice too. Excuse me, I said, I'm the one on dialysis here! Making my juice is one thing. But asking me to make juice for others is quite another!

But seriously, when you start doing things for yourself instead of depending on others just because you have some medical condition, others and indeed yourself too, forget that there is anything wrong with you. This plays a big role in overall well being.

When someone looks at me, I would rather he/she associate me with my work, my responsibilities and my sex appeal (ok, ok the last one was taking things too far) rather than my medical condition.

I would like dialysis to not be the most important thing in my life.

Ok, that was the bottle gourd story. What about the 'other stories'? Well, there are no other stories. The title of this post just looked nice with 'other stories'!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Leisure

Recently I was reminded of a beautiful poem I learned in school called Leisure by William Henry Davies.

We have become so obsessed with work and other things that we try to put in as much as possible in the 24 hours of our day. We don't have time to just 'stand and stare'!

Initially, I believe, man started working so that he could eat and survive. The irony of life today, is that we have become so busy at work that we don't even have enough time to eat our meals in peace. Its a hurried 10 minute meal because we have this deadline to meet or that meeting to attend!

Here is the poem. Really worth reflecting upon.

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Why there is no God

Let me explain:

Our definition of God can be summarized by the following:

- Someone who is just
- Someone who is really kind
- Someone who is all-powerful (can cause anything to happen)

Now, if such a God was there, why would there be suffering in this world? Why would people be born poor?

Why would disease exist?

Some argue that God punishes man for doing wrong. Then why are some babies born with serious health problems? They have not yet got a chance to do wrong. Things done in the previous birth? God is all powerful. He could have prevented anything wrong being done.

Why should God prevent someone from doing wrong? Because he is kind. If he can, he should not allow anything wrong from happening, mindful of the fact that if the individual does something wrong, he will have to face problems in the future.

Some people have said things like he does these things to increase his glory. That sounds very un-Godlike. He lets people suffer to increase his own glory? I don't think that's a convincing explanation.

That's why I am convinced that there cannot be a God that matches the conventional definition.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Body playing pranks

For the last few days, I've been having some discomfort in my chest.

It is similar to what I had a year back which ended in a diagnosis of Left Ventricular Dysfunction. My Ejection Fraction (EF) was 40% against a normal of (I think) 60+. I had to see a cardiologist and he put me on some medication for the heart.

With the medication, that discomfort gradually went away. After about a year, it reappeared a few days back.

This could be due to the climbing of steps I've had to do in the last week. The elevator at my office threw a fit recently and is being repaired. In the meantime, I'm having to climb four flights of stairs every day.

I was quite nervous. My EF might have probably dropped to 20 I thought. I started having thoughts that there's so much happening in improving dialysis flexibility (wearable dialysis machines, for example); will these things be too late for me?

So, I went to Care Hospital, Banjara Hills and got my ECG and 2D Echo and then met the cardiologist.

After looking at the reports, he said he was pleasantly surprised. My EF was 70% and he has not seen any dialysis patients have such a remarkable improvement like I did! (Thank you daily nocturnal???)

I asked him the cause of the discomfort. He said it could be due to the climbing of the stairs. He asked me to take a break between floors. I was already doing that but wold probably need longer breaks.

My body is probably playing a prank by getting me all worried and then behaving so well during the tests that the docs are actually happy with the progress!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Citibank IPIN generation - such a pain

In my credit card statement this month, there was a blurb that said I could pay my bill online by directly transferring money from my bank account. Great idea!

It would save me the hassle of writing out a check and then having someone put the check into a drop box. The blurb on the pdf statement had a link. But I could not click on it. So, I went to the Citibank India website and looked and looked. I could not find the link that would allow me to do this.

I tried 'Bill Pay' but that was only for utility bills. I thought maybe I need to generate an IPIN (some kind of password) to be able to access my account. I clicked on the link to do this and went through the motions. Finally I was brought to a screen where I had to choose an IPIN using a 'Virtual Keyboard'.

I typed an IPIN I chose twice (following all the rules specified - including one that said, "No two consecutive letters should be similar! Now what the heck are similar letters? Are i and l similar? Letters are either same or different. Never similar or dissimilar! It was clear to me by now that the site was designed by an imbecile). I clicked on Submit.

I was shown a page that gave an error. Now it just said there was an error and listed 7 possible causes of the error, none of which applied to me (most of them were about changing a HPIN rather than what I was trying to do which was creating a new IPIN!

I tried the same thing about a gazillion times before calling Customer Care who made me do it another gazillion times before concluding that there could be a 'System Error'. Now, he suggested that I make a request to have the IPN sent by snail mail. I agreed haplessly. Never mind if I lost the 100 points that would have been added to my account had I been able to register for this online. Never mind that the time spent for the 2 into gazillion times I tried to do it manually. Get the deed done, I thought.

In passing I mentioned that the reason I was trying to get the IPIN was that I wanted to pay my credit card bill online.

"You don't need an IPIN for that, sir"

"Then how do I do it"

He then talked me through finding the link to do this and that did not need an IPIN.

Talk about usability! They should have given the development of their website to Effigent and we would have done a much better job!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sony versus Moser Baer

I love to listen to music while driving.

Earlier I used to be hooked to Radio City. They had a very good mix of Hindi, English and Telugu programs. But recently they've switched to an almost entirely Telugu format.

So, I thought I should burn some of my favorite numbers on a CD so that I could listen to them while driving. So I bought a few blank CDs (Moser Baer, they happened to be; not that I specifically asked for this). And then burnt the current set of songs I like and tried playing it on the car CD player. The CD would not play. The player simply said "Error".

I was wondering what could be wrong. Was the player spoilt? I tried the CD on my brother Prasan's player too. Same problem.

I noticed that my other brother Karan had burnt some CDs and they were playing well.

There were only 3 things that were different - he used Sony CDs, a Windows PC for burning and of course, the songs!

I figured that the songs couldn't be the reason. So, it was either the computer that was used or the CD brand.

I somehow cannot believe that the PC can do something a Mac can't. So, I decided to try Sony CDs.

So, I bought a Sony blank.

Burnt the songs.

Inserted it in the player.

Voila!

"Yeh ishq hai" from Jab we met started playing.

Now, I can't say for sure that the Moser Baer CDs were the problem. Maybe I should try out a couple more and then reach a decision to only use Sony blanks for burning songs to play in my car.

'Arere Arere' - Happy Days

A couple of days back, by evening I was totally stressed out at work. I really needed a swim. I headed home at around 7, picked my swimming gear and left for the club where I usually swim.

I switched on the radio in the car and the song from the film Happy Days - 'Arere Arere' started. The song is so good. The melody really soothes your mind.

Though I don't understand the Telugu lyrics of the song, the music itself was enough to totally relax me. Of course I did go and swim too.

Music is such a beautiful thing. Especially if you happen to listen to the right music at the right time (as it happened on that day), it can really work miracles.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Double Standards

Why do people have double standards? One set of rules for some people and another set for other people.

I have seen this happening a lot recently. Maybe I am guilty of this too. I don't claim to be a saint. But many of us exhibit this trait.

For people we dislike, we find fault with things they do. If the same thing is done by someone we like, we don't have any problems.

We really see the world through filters. A good filter for things and people we like and a bad filter for things and people we don't.

That is why, I feel, perceptions are so important. In this world, what we actually are is not important. How we are perceived is more important. This is such a horrible reality. People judge you by how they perceive you rather than what you really are.

The ubiquitous apostrophe

The apostrophe is probably one of the most widely abused characters of the English language. I have seen so many people use it wrongly.

According to Wikipedia and another good article from Purdue an apostrophe should only be used in three places - to form possessives of nouns, to show the omission of letters and to indicate the plurals of certain lower case letters.

One of the most common errors I have seen is to use it for the plurals of nouns. For example, just this morning I saw a bus that had the name of the owner painted on it in large letters - "Kamineni Hospital's". Now it was not indicating that the bus belonged to a hospital called Kamineni Hospital (the possessive case). The correct text would have been "Kamineni Hospitals".

Now, I don't claim to have perfect English (I did miss my gold medal in English at school by 2 marks; Sandhya Rani pipped me to the post!) but the apostrophe is one place where I don't generally make mistakes!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Feeling lonely

Today, something happened because of which I really felt lonely.

I really miss my friends so much. My true friends love me so much. Its really difficult to journey through life without the support and presence of my real friends.

They were always there for me, standing by me through thick and thin. They were always there to help me take important decisions. They always provided a shoulder to cry on. They were always there to share my happiest moments.

We would have so much fun together. Sharing everything. And fortunately, those who got married too got wifes who were equally loving and caring.

How I wish I were closer to them.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Pain resolved!

I had reported the pain I was having yesterday and the day before.

Yesterday, just after cannulation, the pain showed signs of returning. So, we stopped right then and tried a few things before connecting the tubes.

One thing we tried was to make the tape that holds the needles just a wee bit loose. That worked like a charm. No pain. Good sleep. Bliss!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Pain update

Last night I had reported on the pain I had in my access the previous night. I was worried that the pain would be there in my next treatment too.

But, thankfully, last night's treatment went off well.

After the needles were removed, however, there was pain for about an hour. But its now settling down.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Pain in my access

I find that I need to inject a little Xylocaine in both my arterial and venous buttonholes before cannulating. Many people don't use any anesthetic but I find using it makes the cannulation painless.

Now, another thing I realized was that I need to use it for a few weeks and then I could stop using it for a few weeks and then I would need to start using it again.

These days I am using Xylocaine. Now, I am trying to do most of the starting part of the treatment myself but using the regular 10 ml syringes I found that it was very difficult to inject the Xylocaine. So, my tech suggested using Insulin syringes. I bought a few yesterday and used one. It was much easier to inject the Xylocaine.

But last night, after about half an hour of cannulation, there was a strong pain in my arterial site. I touched the area and it felt like the needle was touching the upper wall. The pain was becoming quite bad.

I tried adjusting the needle. I had to be very careful because if the needle got dislocated, I could bleed and it was tough to start dialysis again. But the pain did not reduce. I tried to ignore it. About 2 hours passed with my alternating between trying to sleep and trying to adjust the needles. No success.

Eventually I woke the tech and he did some adjustment of the needle and the plaster. After about 5-10 minutes, I think the pain reduced or I fell asleep, I don't know which.

I got up early in the morning - about half hour before dialysis would finish. I felt very uncomfortable in my arm around my access sites.

I had the tech close dialysis about half an hour before schedule.

Even after the needles were removed, the pain lasted quite a while.

For the most part, my dialysis goes off quite uneventfully. No pain, good sleep, good UF. but there are these days when these kind of things happen and it really frustrates the hell out of me.

These are the times when I yearn for a transplant. What a nice life it must be! No hassle of dialysis, no cannulation, no worrying about fluid intake.

Now, I am about to start my dialysis and am really worried that the pain might return. Let's hope it does not.