I always believed that we are products of our dreams, our pursuit of those dreams, and our experiences along the way. I may have been wrong. We probably identify more with our fear of the unknown, pre-conceived notions, and biases.
The last one year has been a traumatic, yet milestone period for me. I faced two major events. The first was last year when I was admitted in the covid ward – my first hospitalisation. Night had fallen. The attendant gracefully permitted my wife to accompany me up to the lift. The lift clanged shut as I looked at her, was it the last time that I would be seeing her! Such drama!
No visitors were permitted. I only had the company of the nurses, the attendants, and the other two patients in the room. I longed for physical visits by my loved ones, who tried to cheer me up through multiple video calls every day – but it was just not the same. I was almost paralysed by the terror of death. I did nothing to help myself.
It was also during this stay that I realised what it meant to be dependent on others, though dependence on others in daily life is a welcome, yet often unnoticed feature. For the first few days I could not even go to the toilet without oxygen support, which meant that I had to call the attendant, and hope that the limited supply of both the attendant and the cylinder was not in use by another patient.
The second event was more recent. I underwent surgery – again my first. The trauma came prior to surgery in the form of my apprehensions. What if the doctor started sawing me up before the anaesthesia had taken effect, or if I did not come out of anaesthesia, or worse if I did not survive the surgery.
I kept procrastinating and postponing on one pretext or the other as I passed through a myriad of such morbid sentiments. I was afraid to take the next step for fear of the unknown, till the morning I was on my way to the hospital. The rest of the morning was a blur, and soon I was walking to the operation theatre accompanied by my wife – often an unacknowledged support. Now that the moment was upon me, I walked in confidently, looking forward for the uncertainty to end.
The anaesthetist pricked my spine and I started losing sensation chest down. I was unable to raise my feet, however hard I tried, or even blow into the doctor’s cupped hands. I found that I could not even clear my throat as the act required me to cough from the pit of my stomach, which my abdominal muscles refused to support. I remained terrified of not coming out of this induced paralysis.
It was at this stage that the nurse tried to blindfold me. I have a phobia of blindfolds and I resisted, scared of not being in control of another sensory organ. It was also during the surgery that all those parts of my body which were not numb started itching. My hands were restrained, and I had no option except to ask the nurse to scratch me. I was dependent on others, and not liking it.
We take several things in our lives, and probably life itself, for granted, till we are reminded about our good fortune by events. People get paralysed, lose their eyesight, sometimes even their limbs. We do not take the next step fearing the unknown, afraid of failure. Yet, there are many instances of people overcoming their handicap through sheer courage. And are we not dependent on others even in our daily lives, without even acknowledging such support!
This past one year has been a defining period for me – to pause and reflect. Are we not scared of pursuing our dreams for fear of failure! Are we not fighting with each other over petty things – religion, politics, caste, community! They would mean nothing in the final reckoning as we eventually turn to ashes or dust. But till we face the eventual truth, should we be held back by our preconceived notions, biases, or even the fear of the unknown, or should we rather focus on our dreams!
Empty corridors in the night, nursing station away from the room, nurses and attendants dozing on their chairs – it did give me the idea of a plot, a crime thriller, as I lay on my hospital bed the first time. Maybe one day I will write another novel.