From Catch-22 and a favourite:
Don’t tell me God works in mysterious ways. There’s nothing mysterious about it, He’s not working at all. He’s playing. Or else He’s forgotten all about us. That’s the kind of God you people talk about, a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited, uncouth hayseed. Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of Creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did He ever create pain?
I’m going to say this once now, remain inspired by him, and retell a version of my awe every time the topic comes up – my brother is just the most spirited person I know.
It’s been a taxing week, the worst of which seems to be over with him having pulled through his little medical crisis of sorts. Suspecting a familiar weakness and loss of sensation in his limbs, he was, in a matter of hours, airlifted from some godforsaken spot in the desert with limited medical facilities to Delhi where he was quickly wheeled into the ICU. Docs confirmed the boy had had a relapse of what is not so much as a disease but a plight called G B syndrome. Lots about it on the net – but basically it’s an acute inflammation of the peripheral nerves that leaves ‘the patient’ flat out, bed ridden and paralysed for all practical purposes. The worse case scenarios are respiratory problems, facial immobility – expressions freeze, and a residual lifetime effect – tremor in fingertips, or something as ‘innocuous’. Depressing prognosis, but even being struck with the damn thing a second time round – he seems to have luck on his side. Touch wood.
That was last Friday – the 15Th -- talk about a freedom jinx. And in the last few days, he’s been through five cycles of a blood transfusion (Plasmapheresis) – apparently the most effective way to arrest any further deterioration, and ensure he doesn’t lose any more strength and limb function.
Today was the last round of the cycle; blood – plasma, rather – being drained out of his veins, and replaced with spanking new, more healthy plasma. And it’s made all the difference, or is starting to at least. This morning, his morale was soaring, and he said he should be walking by the 25Th – “don’t worry”, and that I should go right ahead and plan my birthday bash for that weekend because he promised to be home for it. Little cart before the horse way of thinking, but the optimism very welcome!
So from the feeblest handshake even three ago, he’s regained some amount of strength, and can – with some effort – lift his arms overhead. It’s like watching a child grow. Seeing him horizontal everyday with these damn tubes plugged into vein after vein feels a little unfair. He, of course doesn’t complain too much about the pain, but there’s only so much sensation you can loose -- who’s a fool to not notice a tightened jaw when a ruthless nurse jabs an anti-coagulation through a horse needle into the stomach of a body so brave.
Like I said, it’s the second time round this freak thing has struck him. It’s not genetic so you can’t blame our folks. It’s not self inflicted so no point shouting at the stud himself. The trigger is all conjecture and the docs can’t say what exactly causes it. But that it’s a one in a bizarre statistic seems to fascinate my brother. Then again, I might be reading too much into his wide-eyed state, but the tests are being done, and third fourth opinions sought, but he’s the most intrigued by his relapse. Like it’s a privilege or something. Blood ties are retarded, but his spirit really does amaze. With round the clock syringes and painful dependency, how can anybody’s only crib be to have the ac turned down, or an extra blanket brought. It overwhelms, and stings the eyes.
When his veins tire and don’t pump as much blood, he feels a little weak. Through the fog, he still asks the attendant: score kya hua – his way of finding out how many mls extracted, and how much more to go, and bites on the calcium tablets they give him to reduce the tingling he feels when the plasma return happens.
But despite the, shall we say, restrictive circumstances, his Casanova tendencies shine right through. On Sunday, his girlfriend was to come look him up and take over watchdog duty for a bit, respite for the tired mother father sister trio. And minutes before she entered the ICU, this 6”2 bedridden hulk beckons for me to make sure he’s looking ok, that he has no eye-keechad and that his hair is pushed back right! Stunned out of my wits, I go a step further and use my skin toner to make sure his oily hide was peck-able for the lady to take over. Finally updating my closest friend about what’s been up, and about this instance in particular, she laughed most relieved saying it wouldn’t be him if he weren’t like this.
So 25th is a Monday, which is by when brother dooley said he’d walk. And knowing that he will, but succumbing to the workings of a rational mind – I’m going to be a wet blanket and wait till then to decide – on a celebratory bash, what else. The only thing I know for sure is that above mentioned closest chick and I are going to make sure she’s in Delhi; I don’t care if just for a day. Eight months is an unnecessary, unhealthy long time to live without seeing your abusive pillar of strength soul sister.
The parents have seen better days, and possibly aged a decade in a fortnight. Once all this is over, and routines are back in place -- spines all vertical, as they should be, and strapping young lads back on their feet -- more rounds of golf need to be played – Pappy. And more holidays gone on – Mommy. Brother needs to outgrow his affinity to sterile spaces, and start caring about the collective BP of a family. And somewhere amidst the re-recovery and settling dust, I’m just going to make myself at home, get my eyebrows done, exhale a little smoke, and have you pitch in with a silent prayer.