Thursday, October 19, 2017

Why I’m not excited about tea houses anymore?


I like tea. Second Flush, Single Estate, Darjeeling Black please. I relish my three big cups every day, made with precision, measuring out the leaves in specially made spoons, boiling water in my own kettle and then steeping it for just the right time by using Siri on my iPhone. I absolutely hate it when people disturb me when I am sipping my tea. If you want to be my friend, don’t ever disturb me when I’m having tea!

So, when I saw Tea Trails open in Hyderabad, I was excited. I thought it would be a great place to hang out. I went there a few times. I was honestly disappointed. I don’t have any control over the types of leaves, the steeping time or the temperature. The result was some insipid cups of a drink that was supposed to be tea.

I tried a wide variety.The only two teas I liked were the Kashmiri Qahwah and the Second Flush Darjeeling (for obvious reasons). But it wasn’t close to what I had hoped it would be.

Now, I really don’t think it is the fault of Tea Trails. They were probably doing their job well. It’s just that I am too fussy about my tea.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What does happiness actually mean?

All of us want to be happy. What does it mean to be truly happy? What does it take to be truly happy?

I read this excellent article that talks about the work in this area by Emily Esfahani Smith. She has also done a TED Talk on the same topic. 

This article made a lot of sense to me when I look back upon my life and see the effect of the four factors that she talks about - belonging, transcendence, purpose and story telling.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Dialysis Olympiad Bike Expedition - Doing more with Dialysis kicks off today

We at NephroPlus are organising the second edition of the Dialysis Olympiad on October 29th in Delhi. The event is going to be held at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex. After the stupendous success of this event in 2015 at Hyderabad, the event moves to the Indian capital and enables a lot more patients from the North of the country to participate as well.

As a curtain raiser for the event, a one-of-its-kind bike expedition is being kicked off today from Jalandhar, Punjab where a number of people on dialysis will be participating in a 400 km bike relay to Delhi over four days. This expedition will halt at various towns and cities on the way.

This bike expedition and the Olympiad are in line with our overarching vision to enable those on dialysis to lead a normal life. We strongly believe that dialysis need not prevent you from living a full life. People on dialysis all over the world do things that otherwise healthy people do like work, travel, exercise and have fun. In India however, there is a huge misconception that dialysis is like a death sentence and people are confined to the bed or have to lead sedentary lives. 

Events like this help tremendously to change this thinking and get the patient, the family and indeed, the public at large to understand that dialysis need not stop you from doing what you would like to do. People on dialysis can and should lead normal lives!





Sunday, October 8, 2017

After twenty years, a new home

My parents, brother and I moved into our own house a little more than twenty years ago. We had built that house from scratch. That house has seen many major events in our lives. My graduation, my diagnosis with kidney disease, my brother Prasan’s marriage and my brother Karan going abroad. It also saw the birth of Effigent, the sale of Effigent and the birth of NephroPlus.

However, if you looked at how the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad were changing, you would be naive not to see that all the development is happening on the side of the newer - Hi-tech city. My primary barometer to judge the development of the city is to see where all the new restaurants were opening. Over the last few years, most of the good restaurants have wound up in the older twin cities and moved to the Hi-tech city area.

So, we’ve been thinking of moving to that side of town for a long time now and have been scouring the area for good apartments. Finally we zeroed in on one and here we are - in our new home!

Our apartment is on the 28th floor and the height offers a beautiful view of the city. I love to sip my tea every morning from the balcony that overlooks the city. Here is a picture I took one morning from the balcony:


 I love our new home. Many people ask me why we moved from an independent house to an apartment? The answer is simple. Our old house was too big for just the three of us. It was difficult for us, especially my mother to maintain it well. Added to that was the fact that the area we moved to was developing more rapidly than the old area. Staying in an apartment also offers some other conveniences - amenities such as a swimming pool and a gymnasium in the apartment complex itself, a store and maintenance personnel on call 24X7 etc. All this is just not there in the old house.

We are going to keep the old house for a while until we’re sure we like it here though!

Friday, October 6, 2017

A scare, then a Transesophageal Echocardiogram clears the air

So, my fistula infection has shown no signs of relenting. Even though there is no fever, there is a persistent ooze from the infected puncture site. There is no collection in the area that warrants surgical intervention. Then from where the hell is this oozing?

Protocol demands an echocardiogram to rule out Infective Endocarditis. This is common in dialysis patients. So, I went and got an Echocardiogram done.  It was not without drama. The cardiologist happens to be a senior doctor and he first went through the motions and declared that there was nothing to worry. As I was getting up, he exclaimed, “Just lie down again. I want to check something else.” I lay down and he put the probe on my chest and then a little lower and as if he had found something unusual, said, “What is this?”

For the next 5-7 minutes he put the probe in various positions and at various angles and tried to make sense of something. In the end he said he could see something that looked like ‘vegetation’ - a term for infection but he wasn’t sure and advised getting a Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE) or a PET-CT scan to get a better view of the ‘thing’!

I took the report to my Nephrologist and he asked me to meet another cardiologist and get a TEE done. 

The internet can be an amazing source of information. It is impossible to hide anything from someone who has access to the internet. The article I linked to above had a scary statistic - a 65% 1 year mortality of HD patients who got Infective Endocarditis (IE). I started fearing the worst. As I usually do, I started imagining life with IE. I started thinking about a preparing a will, about work, about my parents.
 
Today was the day of the TEE. I was asked to have a light breakfast before 7 am and no food or water after that. I had what I would call a heavy breakfast at 6:45 am. Believe me, my ‘heavy breakfast’ is very different from what you would call a ‘heavy breakfast’! I wouldn’t have it any other way as I knew my body better than anyone else and there was no way I would be able to withstand ‘no food, no water’ without a heavy breakfast. I took a nap after that and by around 11:30 we were at the hospital. 

After the customary explanation about the procedure and billing for the test, they sprayed some anaesthetic into my throat that numbed the walls. They then inserted a thick tube coated with anaesthetic jelly. The first few moments were very uncomfortable as the tube was pushed down my throat. But once it was in, it wasn’t bad at all. The doctor looked at the images being generated on the screen. After about ten minutes, they concluded that there was no infection!

I was a relieved man. I would have had a tough time being on the 35% bucket of the post IE mortality statistic!

Now that still leaves the question, “What is causing the freakin’ ooze?” unanswered. I met my nephrologist with the report of the TEE. He said let us stop all antibiotics and wait and watch. The risk of long term antibiotic usage is a fungal infection. Don’t ask me how and why!

So, for now, I have been asked to stop the antibiotics (after almost two months of taking them) and wait.