Thursday, September 20, 2012

No stranger bond - 11

(This is the eleventh part of a short story No stranger bond. You can find the full story here.)

Dr. Vinay Bhalla was worried. It was about 48 hours after the surgery. Sharada Subramanyam had passed no urine. Masih's kidney in her refused to kickstart. Many times, transplanted kidneys afflicted with Acute Tubular Necrosis (ATN) take weeks or months to recover. Dr. Bhalla did not want that to happen because in that case Sharada would have to go in for dialysis until the kidney recovered. He hated to have to tell a transplant recipient and his or her family that they would need dialysis.

Bala and Masih were soon told about Sharada's condition. There was panic all around. After all these obstacles, finally the transplant had happened. And if both Shuja and Sharada's transplants did not succeed, it would be a great tragedy. Yes, Shuja would go on to lead a normal life but it would be with a constant feeling of bitterness.

Sharada wondered why the urine bag next to her was empty. She asked the nurse attending to her. The nurse said she should ask Dr. Bhalla when he came. Sharada felt her heart turn leaden. She could easily sense that something was wrong. Yet, she kept hoping that Dr. Bhalla would have an explanation. The Gayatri chants became more rapid and impassioned.

Dr. Bhalla came to the KTU the next morning. As soon as entered, Sharada asked him, "Why is the urine bag empty?"

"Hello Mrs. Subramanyam, don't worry about it. It is a very temporary thing. It is called Acute Tubular Necrosis or ATN and you should be totally fine in a few days. Really, don't worry. Many kidney transplant recipients get this problem but I assure you, it is only a temporary thing."

Sharada felt a little relieved but she was still unsure.

Shuja was also told about Sharada's condition. He felt scared and then felt tears running down his cheeks. This was not fair. This was supposed to be a swap. How can my new kidney work and her's not work? He started praying hard as well.

Bala and Masih were discharged from the hospital the next day.

Madhu came back that evening to check on Sharada. She had already talked to her thrice since morning on phone and reassured her that everything would be ok. Sharada had started to show signs of being disturbed by the non-functioning kidney. She started asking questions like, "What if the ATN does not go away?" and "What if I have to go back on dialysis?"

Those were questions that Madhu had no answer to.

Madhu found Sharada in a grim mood. Through the glass window she could sense that Sharada was quite depressed. They used the phone to communicate. Madhu updated her about Shuja, Bala and Masih and said that everyone was praying hard for a speedy recovery. Sharada told her that she was getting tired. "How much more do I have to bear Madhu?"

Tears ran down her cheeks. Madhu told her she would have to be strong and this would be the final obstacle.

Madhu went over to meet Dr. Bhalla. She wanted to discuss what the plan was. Dr. Bhalla said they were planning to do a biopsy the next day. This would help ascertain the cause of the non-functioning kidney. Madhu was worried at the mention of a biopsy. She was wondering how Sharada would react. "What about the fluid and toxins that are accumulating inside her?" she asked.

That was the big question they would have to answer.

Getting a few dialysis sessions after a transplant is medically not really that big a deal. There would always be acute conditions which would settle. However, the mental impact is huge. You basically got a transplant to get away from dialysis. Now, after all the drama associated with a transplant, if you still need to get dialysis, even if for the stated "few days", you feel really bad.

This was what both Dr. Bhalla and Madhu were worried about.

"We'll see", said Dr. Bhalla.

Sharada watched TV for a bit and then fell asleep.

Sharada had a disturbed night. She had a weird dream. She saw her husband come to the KTU and gently caress her stomach where the new kidney was placed. He told her that everything would be ok. She got up and hugged her husband tight and said, "You left me to deal with all this. This is not fair." Her husband patted her head and said, "Trust me, everything will be ok."

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