The year 2015 – it was a year perfect for me. I got married. I got an onsite opportunity in the UK for a very large FMCG company. Within 5 months of my marriage, I came to know I am going to be a father. Like in Will Smith’s movie, I was indeed in the little phase of “happiness”.
After my wife had flown back to India, my food habits became haphazard. A vegetarian by religion and choice, sometimes I used to cook with the help of my colleagues. When I couldn’t cook, I just skipped my meal and slept. Gradually, I became thinner. I soon got a dry cough which just wouldn’t go away and I decided that I needed help. I booked an appointment with the local doctor and then was advised to take nasal drops, but I didn’t see any signs of improvement.
My stint at the UK came to an end by April 2016, just around the time my daughter was born. I flew couple of days earlier than my end date of my project, just so I could be with my wife during labour. All my relatives were disturbed at the way I looked and advised me to go for a full health check-up. I was thin, pale and constantly coughing. I chose to ignore them and went to an ENT. I was given meds, which helped with the cough. Now that I was back in Chennai, with good homemade food, seasonal dry fruits, and nice hot weather, I regained some kilos. While not much but was encouraging signs.
When winter approached, I slowly started getting my cough back. One day in December, I went out to play football and hurt my knee. Generally I recover very quickly, but this time it took me weeks to walk without a limp. I convinced myself that it was because I wasn’t playing frequently enough. By the end of that month, I couldn’t eat properly and was losing weight rapidly. I couldn’t eat more than couple of idlis. Dosas – my go-to food, I could hardly finish one.
Come January 2017, things worsened. I started getting severe back aches. After work, I would just come home and head straight to bed without even change of clothes. All these things affected my mental health. I easily would become irritated and raise my voice
We decided to consult a doctor and booked an appointment with a Gastro Specialist in a famous hospital nearby. The doctor made us take few scans and then asked me to get admitted immediately. We were told that there was some infection and a then whole bunch of scary things. We were promised that spending few days would get me completely cured of it. Knowing we had health insurance to back us up, I got admitted. Little did we know, the doctor brainwashed us and the treatment given was in no way related to my illness. The doctor was also rude to me and my family members. Like a blessing, one of the attendants who got friendly with us told my mother to escape from the hospital or risk wrong treatment. We made up a family emergency and immediately got out of there. We then booked an appointment with another doctor, who initially diagnosed it as GERD and gave medicines. On a follow-up consultation, he was unhappy that my condition was not improving. He asked me to take a CT scan and come back again.
The CT scan report came, the impression said Tuberculosis. My entire family was shell shocked. I initially thought it is a terminal disease but soon came to know TB had medicines and is curable. I called in office and requested to take a month off. I started taking TB medicines, however none of the symptoms like back aches, vomiting or night sweats went away. The doctor requested us to consult with a pulmonologist. On consultation, I was prescribed a Streptomycin injection every day. As I continued with the medicines, slowly I lost sensation in my legs and soon lost my motor skills, meaning I couldn’t walk even a step. As days went by, I lost sensation till my chest. I got stiff scared and realized something was wrong gravely. When we reported this to the pulmonologist, he asked us to consult a neurosurgeon.
Ray of Hope
advanced stages of TB
We then met Dr Meenakshi Sundaram. He calmly asked me to describe every one of my symptoms. He then went through all my reports line by line and then gave me the news - I was at advanced stages of TB and that it has affected my vertebrae so much that two bones just behind my lungs have collapsed. He advised immediate surgery and asked us to take an MRI scan and rush to an orthopaedic.
Ray of Hope
Dr. S. Arumugam
Dr Arumugam, a family friend and a well-wisher, agreed to wait at KM Hospital at night 11 PM till we come to see him with the MRI Report. He went through the reports thoroughly and scolded us for not coming to see him earlier. He informed us that surgery was indeed needed as my vertebrae were badly infected and that D4 & D5 bones have completely collapsed.
Surgery is always scary
Moment of Faith
A surgery is always scary. No matter how small it is. In this case it was for my spine. We couldn’t digest the news. He warned us that a small fall could paralyze me for life. He then sternly asked me to get admitted the following morning. We were informed that imported bones in similar shapes to mine would be surgically implanted in the place of the collapsed ones. A day later I was taken to the ICU. Inside, I wished Dr. Arumugam Good Morning. To which he smiled and said, “Everything is going to be alright, we have the best team in Chennai for you”. I was introduced to his team of doctors. All of them looked calm and confident. Seeing their calm faces somehow calmed me too. Without much delay I was administered a full anaesthesia and before I could count three, I was out.
A New Dawn
”Me, with titanium implanted bones in my vertebrae, cured of TB completely, in January, gave a dance performance at my sister’s sangeet function.Ramakrishnan R