How much downtime is enough?

Give enough time recover from illness!


We all go through health issues during our journey of life and recovery depends on seriousness, duration of the issue, and many other factors, the downtime needed by humans to recoup is decided. Doctors of course advise about the same but such advice is given based on needs of the average population. In some cases, it may vary to extreme ends of pendulum swing. But the fact of life is that, we and our body need time to recuperate!

I remember a case of two ladies, who were required to go through Angiography, both were  from similar age group on either side of 50. This is a comparatively minor procedure and 2/3 days is said to be enough for individuals to come back to normal. But in this case, there was a vast difference in the time required to come out of the situation. One of the ladies, a professional, had a meeting outstation. On third day she traveled and attended the meeting. I am sure she must have borne the discomfort and a bit of pain too! But the other lady also a professional but with less hectic schedule took one month to come out of it! Why does this happen? Is it about pain barrier levels? Is it about general fear? In the first case, doctors had said that there is no problem to travel. I am sure the lady would not have traveled against doctor’s advice. Other lady was also advised that 3 to 4 days is more than enough but she did not feel comfortable going back to routine!

Over a period, our body develops its tone, but there is a limit how much we can flog the body, and its energy stores. In normal routine, the body probably functions at 65 to 70% of energy level. Our body has its storage system to store the balance energy available. We have certain situations in life where additional energy is drawn from this storage system. This happens in “abnormal” situations which are quite normal in our life. These can be work or family related stress situations, these can be physical situations where fight or flight decisions are required to be taken. There can be illnesses. These also sap our energy. During sports events we always try our best as everybody wants to win. This is achieved on adrenaline drive. Adrenaline drive is nothing but accessing the reserve energy! Various events or adrenaline drives sap our energy! Downtime needed is decided by how basic energy plus excess energy is used by our body.

Years back I was down with sciatica. It was quite painful initially. After ¾ weeks of treatment plus bedrest, I was permitted to move out of the home. I walked to a vegetable vendor with Jaya, he was about 50 meters from home. I was so sapped of my energy, I could not stand there even for five minutes. After that I called my doctor and he said, “Pramod, the rest helped you to come out of sciatica issue but since you could not perform normal body activity like walking, your muscle tone is totally gone. You will have to walk slowly and build it up step by step.” Which of course I did. This took me about ten days. Mind you I was in thirties in those days! Later on, about twenty years later, I had a minor surgery, I could climb staircases just after 3 to 4 days. This shows that surgery had not sapped my energy, as much as sciatica did!

But about five years back when I went through radiations for cancer treatment , things were quite different again. First one month of treatment was quite ok. But then from second month onwards, the body started having side effects, my throat started swelling due to radiations. I had to switch over from normal diet and had to be fed using Rice Tube. The side effects started different bodily reactions, by the time the treatment was over in about two months, I was totally zapped. But surprisingly even all through the treatment, I could concentrate and read, e mail, I could drive to go to hospital, most of the time. Once the treatment was over, I really felt low. Probably, I was holding my flag high on adrenaline! It took me almost three months to come back to normal!

So, every event which zaps our energy should be treated with due respect! First and foremost is of course the doctors advise. Based on the advice, we should slowly try and come back to normal. This process is not as straight forward as I write. Other factors like age also play an important role! Especially, the regime that we normally follow helps to recoup faster. If we keep on doing exercise suitable to us, regularly, recovery is bound to be faster!

What should all concerned do in case of such events? The person who had that event should follow whatever we have already discussed; but relatives and friends are also equally important in the recovery!  First and foremost, if the illness is serious, let the patient be! We have tendency to try and meet the patients, even in ICU’s. Please don’t do it. These days there is another issue. Many surgeries are done using probes! What this does is to get a false feeling that some minor procedure was done. This is because there are no outside cuts and stitches and bandages, post-surgery. But let us not forget that the “probing” surgeon does same work as before, on the organ, without visible damage! Basic surgery remains equally serious and tough. Due to use of probe, we do not visualize the seriousness. When a heart patient undergoes angiography and angioplasty, it is a very serious ailment that is treated by a simpler looking method; hence everybody including patient may feel that the event was not major, especially if this is done after an attack!

So, friends, face life as it comes, but do not forget seriousness of events. Give these events due respect. Start with yourself and help others understand it!  There is no shortcut to recovery! In life there no shortcut for anything! It has to be done the hard way! Stay well, and recover fast, sensibly.

Cancer Survivors!

Corruption is not Cancer but Cancer is corruption of body!

Eminent cancer specialist and Padma Vibhushan awardee, Dr V Shanta has admonished the managing director of Punjab National Bank for misusing the word “cancer” in the context of the recent banking scam. In a letter to PNB managing director and chief executive officer Sunil Mehta, Dr Shanta shared her “outrage” at the scam being equated with cancer. “Corruption is a crime and something to be ashamed of; cancer is not,” wrote the Magsaysay award-winner, a pioneer in the field of cancer care.

Someone will say that is it not a matter of semantics? How does it matter if corruption is called cancer?  The meaning of cancer is “a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body”. With advent of technology and improvements in treatments for cancer,  humanity is fighting its war against cancer; now people discuss cancer openly. Others need to be very sensitive to what they say and how they say it.  

Probably in olden days, only cure for cancer was to remove the cancerous growth by surgery and hope for the best. Now, cancer gets detected much earlier than what it used to be. With better medicines and improved treatments available, prognosis can be much better than what it used to be. Cancer was a dreaded “C” word and was treated as a dangerous disease. Hence those who overcame cancer have been called “Cancer Survivor”. Anyone who overcomes a tough situation is a survivor, so why not heart attack survivor, why not stroke survivor? Maybe because in case of cancer, the cure rate 25/30 years back was very low. Hence someone who did not die of cancer was called “Cancer survivor”.  Friends cancer is still a difficult disease to manage but the society is slowly changing its mind set and facing it upfront!

This has changed for better during last 10/15 years, cancer detection has improved than before because of the awareness and imaging technology progress. I strongly feel that term “Cancer Survivor” needs to change. The term feels like a stigma; it is as if that person did something wrong and survived. I went through cancer treatment in 2013 end, 2014 beginning. When asked about the same, I don’t call myself “Cancer Survivor”. I tell people that I was treated for vocal cord cancer! This is a positive way of explaining things. People undergo bypass surgeries, people undergo brain surgeries. People have gone through bone marrow replacements. You don’t call them survivors! Whenever such “operations/procedures” are done, you start on a positive note by saying that the patient has undergone so and so operation; you don’t call the patient a survivor. The term “Survivor” smells of a defeatist thinking. 

Dr. Shanta has rightly communicated to PNB Managing director that what happened in the bank was corruption and/or a criminal act. Having cancer and going through its treatment is abnormal body process which some of us have to unfortunately undergo. There is a vast difference in these two events. The use of the word cancer is not right with reference to the fraud, because what happened in bank is crime and having cancer is not a crime, it is nothing to be shameful about. For that matter having any disease is not a shameful matter. Consider the case of AIDS! In initial phase of Aids occurrence, there was stigma attached to the person having Aids because of lack of knowledge. One can get aids because sexual relations with people who have this disease or maybe due to complex sexual behavior. One can also get it during blood transfusion, a mother can give this disease to her child during birth. Arthur Ashe, the tennis legend caught it during blood transfusion. All these acts are not criminal acts, there is nothing to be ashamed of having Aids!  

Human race should be proud of people who go through cancer treatment, tackle it in a very positive manner. I have friends who are being treated for cancer for ten to 20 years. They are setting an example that tough things in life can be handled, one can fight back. Yes, there will be some of these valiant people who may not make it. But these people’s cancer can never be compared with bank scams, corruption and all such ills in the society. It is insulting to compare disease fighters, maybe unknowingly, with corrupt practices prevalent in the society.  

This type of thought process will bring people out of closets, they will discuss things openly. Some of them can become torch bearers of a movement to guide people to handle so called “hidden” diseases in open. Their experience can create positivity and maybe people will start taking things in stride. We handle many aspects of life in a similar way; someone has financial set back, take it in stride fight it back. Some persons can have issues in love life, they overcome it and move on! Life is always full of pluses and minuses, supporting people to handle tough calls better will help them to take things on the chin and will help them to move on!  

So, friends, call your cancer, heart disease, stroke “corruption” within your body, about which we need not be ashamed of, it is not amoral, it is not illegal. This “corruption” in the body needs to be weeded out. In our gardens we do weed out the plants which affect the growth of plants and shrubs that we want to keep. Is it not a similar thought process? Change thinking, help each other. Remove corruption from your body and society; we don’t need to remove cancer!  Dr, Shanta ji, thank you very much for showing us the right direction. 


Bravado or Truth!

Accept the tough situation in life and face it upfront!

The other day my niece’s husband Dr. Makarand asked me a very pertinent question. He said, “Kaka when you were going through treatment for cancer, we all could see that you were very positive during and after the treatment. Can you share with me if this was Bravado or that is what you really felt?” It was a very valid question. In the face of tough situation as the cliché goes, “Tough get Going”! It is all fine to mention clichés, make a show of not being bothered or nor showing any concern. 

Makarand’s question got my thought process going and I went back four years, to 2013 Dec 1st, when my cancer was detected. This detection was done by Dr. Sant in his clinic and set the wheels rolling. Raju was with me; when we came out from the clinic Raju said, “You don’t worry, I will drive the car.” We had taken my car. I told him, “Oh, come on! What has diagnosis got to do with my driving the car? In fact, first let us eat something as I am hungry.” Our next step was the hospital where Atul was waiting for me to get the CAT scan done, to check the extent of spread. What were the thoughts in mind, besides deciding what to eat? Honestly, I did not feel worried, afraid or did not have a question in my mind “Why me?”. In the CAT it was found that there was no spread and the growth looked local. Was I relieved. I don’t remember having any specific feeling of relief.  

It was decided to perform the biopsy on 7th December. We took a family decision that managing newly born Kittu and my cancer treatment cannot be handled together, in our regular home. We had already hired one condo next to Priya’s. We took a decision to move stuff to the new condo. Next 4/5 days we were busy moving our stuff to this condo. That week was very busy, and I did not have time to think of anything other than shifting furniture. Did I have apprehensions about the result of the biopsy? Not really because Dr. Sant was very confident that growth was cancerous. I had totally believed in his judgment and did not get unduly worried when Lab confirmation was received on 10th Dec. 

Another ten days in deciding the logistics and getting the drug from Pharma Company. Jaya and I were busy setting up the new condo, plus my work continued. When I was told that the first immunotherapy was to be given in an ICU, I did feel apprehensive. What is the reason for ICU? What can happen? What can go wrong? Somehow, I had a feeling that cancer had luckily been detected at a very early phase then why this sudden change in threat level? I asked my Onco surgeon. He said, “Pramod, this is just a precaution we are taking. Once in a blue moon some patients have reaction against the drug hence this step.” I was relieved and was back to my normal mood.  

Ignorance reduces your anxiety levels. When the cancer was detected, I was told that there would be Radiation therapy along with Immunotherapy. My lack of knowledge prepared me for a couple of radiation sittings. When we had our discussion with Radiation Oncologist, the doctor told me that there will be 32 to 34 sittings. For a moment, I was stunned. But when the doctor explained, I understood the process. He said that 1 or 2 radiations are given in case of patients who have tough cancer and need palliative treatment. He also said that when chances of overcoming the cancer are good, number of sittings are more and depend on different factors. Knowledge acquired, I was back to normal way of thinking.  

Coming back to the question asked by Makarand. Was I truly not much concerned or was it my bravado? I can safely conclude that it was not my bravado. Why was I not worried? Why do people get worried? It is natural to get worried, anxious, it is ok to get terrified also. There are some situations in life which tend make even tough people panicky! In my case, I do not know why I was not worried. Maybe I have learnt to take things in stride. Maybe my mind is such that I move on. I am a normal human and I also get anxious, worried but somehow, I never remember being afraid of a situation. Maybe I have never faced a situation which can scare me,yet. Rather than being brave or tough, I feel that I am a normal person who is little luckier than others, who was never required to face a situation where I was almost required to give up. Another possible reason could be that I am pragmatic and accept situations which are not under my control.  

Am I the person to preach people how to handle the difficult situations? Definitely not! But I can share my experience with others. Did I pray to god? No, I believe in some high-level spirit which can be called God. But I am not into prayers, since childhood. I have always seen my father doing Namaskar to God but he was never into prayers and pooja! This was imbibed in me from childhood. Other than this, I always had great support from Jaya and my children, especially during my tough phase. Positivity of the whole family including my nephews and nieces went a long way I keeping me balanced.  

Makarand, yes, I was really not afraid, nor did any of us panic! It was not bravado but overall managing the whole situation as a project, keeping emotions in control, when it was necessitated. Thank you for asking me this question which made me introspect about the tough phase in our life, it was not only my life! I have not done something great that I can advise people but I have suggestions for all who get into any tough situation; it could be illness, it could be family issues, it could be money issues. Be in it together, face the situation upfront. Acceptance is the key to fighting back. Every fight is winnable to an extent. Leave rest to Him!  

Ignore body signals at your own peril!

Please do not ignore body signals! Doing so can lead to serious health issues.

Medical Illiteracy or Ignore body signals at your own peril! I was in two minds about the title for this blog. But the second option prevailed.

Not all of us are doctors by training and not all of us could have access to basic medical information, at least, during pre-internet days! It’s a highly specialized field. But in our day to day life health conditions keep on changing, as you grow older. Some changes can be discrete and some may be obvious. In our own and families interest, we should take care of having basic information and knowledge and decodify the signals our body sends.

Since this is a current ongoing medical event, I am not sharing the names, as I usually do! Yesterday, in my office I was talking to my colleague. Suddenly she said let me make an urgent call. She called and as the call progressed she sounded quite worried and anguished. After the call I asked her what happened? Her brother was not keeping well for ¾ days and she had called to find out how he was doing! She came to know all the details only after the call. He felt weak in the office; since he is diabetic and with BP issues, he asked his colleague to fetch a chocolate for him, to overcome low sugar issue, if any! He felt slightly better but decided to go home as he was uncomfortable. When he tried to use his scooter, he could not use his left hand properly; he felt very low strength in his left hand. Next day he saw a doctor who gave him some medicines and asked him to run tests. Sunday, he saw an eye specialist as he was feeling unease in the left eye!  The doctor indicated some distortion around the left eye. All signals were obvious but our friend probably lacked knowledge about the effects. I immediately coordinated an appointment with a neurologist. In next two hours he was hospitalized in a CCU. I shudder to think if my colleague had not made that call!

I will share many more such events but this particular event has made me very uneasy. It is just by chance, that I overheard a conversation and then got the wheels moving fast! There were specific indications, the person or his family did not understand the details of what was happening but can they also not understand that there was something going wrong with the body. How to inculcate this discipline in the whole family? These things are never taught in schools but these need to be picked up from someone or somewhere. A human being generally does not have detailed knowledge of most subjects other than his own subject. But health is one area which is common to all humans whether they are kings or paupers! I feel that this learning be made mandatory in school curriculum, so that people come to know basic symptoms regarding the emergency events, like heart attack, stroke and others.

In olden days there was the system of GP or general practitioners. GP’s were family friends, advisors, mentors for the whole family. I have known of GP’s who have treated four generations from families. For anything and everything related to health and not related to health too, the families would take advise of GP’s. So, they knew  most of the things about people in the family. If required, GP’s would ask the people to go to experts. In today’s times of no GP’s, I feel that a family should be going to a fixed physician and do things as per his/her advice and suggestions. Since our friend did not have “GP”, the doctors whom he saw, could not guide him properly.

It can be a good idea to guide people into basics of health management and emergency management. Basic training about patient resuscitation is one aspect but such emergencies don’t come so frequently. More than that, knowledge about basic symptoms is most essential. This will reduce time between symptoms and start of treatment. My friend Shashi has a history of stroke. A few months back when he had very high fever and felt faint, he immediately got himself checked from experts. This gave him peace of mind.

I will share one event with you to explain what I mean by lack of basic knowledge in other areas. A professor of arts with a doctorate, drove his car for two days. You will ask me what is so special about it? One of the tappets in the engine had broken and he drove the car with a lot of noise. To understand this, he did not need to know that tappet was broken but he only needed to understand that something was broken and was making loud noise. So, he should not drive the car! Period. But no! He drove on for two days accompanied by big noise! Is it so difficult to comprehend that there was something wrong with the car and not what is wrong with the car?

Two things generally happen. One is signals are simply not understood and sometimes signals are ignored. Our friend did not understand the gravity of the signals, the body was sending. However, I will tell you of someone, a few years elder than me. He apparently had good health, outwardly. He used to go to gym regularly. One day he went out, after  he came back he said that he was a bit tired and would rest for 15 min. 10 minutes later, he was dead due to cardiac arrest. He was diabetic but values were controlled. He was going to the gym regularly. Then why did this happen? When his papers were checked, the values were never good; he was informing his son, who lives abroad,  that everything was ok. He went to the gym every day; he always drove the 500 meters distance! Did minor exercise and chatted with friends, tea, have fried stuff and smoking followed. What he did was not accepting the true body condition, which further deteriorated with wrong food and smoking.

Let me assure you that our body and brain are very sharp in understanding the signals that are generated in our eco system. In young age we start knowing who our parents are, in adulthood we catch the right love signals. As we grow older, we know how to find better opportunities in jobs and in business. All this is done by capturing the signals, the indications that are emanating in our surroundings. But why can’t we catch our body signals which tell about our health? In life we master various things without formal training. Then why we cannot do it about our own health? Is it due to thought process that Cancer, Heart Attack, Strokes happen to someone else? Sudden deaths occur mostly in accidents, most other deaths  are because of ignoring the signal system created by HIM! So please keep track of these signals, it may be twitching of an eye, shaking of hand while holding a glass, heaviness in body especially on only one side, sudden sweating and so on. But at least “create” for yourself a GP system and take his/her advise as we grow 40 plus!

Cheers! Life is too beautiful to be wasted by ignoring signals from the world’s best design, “Our Body”!

Life’s Speed breakers- Reblogged!

Don’t Call Cancer as C word! Call it CANCER and face life’s challenges up front!

This is a blog written by me in 2015; today for some reason I felt that its a good idea to reblog the same!

Life patterns have changed for many in my generation in a way, at least I had never expected. In our parents’ generation 58/60 was the age for retirement. In those days most people retired and quietly went into the sunset. Deaths within a few years of retirement were very common, one of the reasons could have been there was nothing to look forward to! This was true in case of males, but women somehow remained busy with household chores, helping their daughters/ daughter in laws and grandchildren.

Our generation has seen things from bullock carts to electric/hybrid cars, snail mail (भारतीय डाक सेवा) to WhatsApp and god knows what in future! Going has been generally good. In our generations people try to work as long as possible because of reasonably good health, opportunities and will! When in life things are following a normal course, one tends to forget the human fallibility. Heart attacks, cancers, dementia, and accidents always happen in other homes not in my home! So we tend to breeze through and generally are in cruise control or auto pilot mode. We tend to forget that there can be speed breakers in our lives. I am writing about how I “flew” over a speed breaker, had rough landing and managed to go into “cruise control” mode again.

 Why this blog?

In life we have to face difficulties starting from family difficulties, to financial difficulties, health difficulties and so on. I thought I should share my experience with others to let them know that these are surmountable provided we keep a positive attitude in tough situations. Of course HIS blessings are the first thing you should have!! Which of above mentioned difficulties are tough to handle, everybody will have different opinion but in my opinion the above mentioned sequence is in reducing degree of difficulties. It is always good to have financial soundness plus decent insurance coverage. This puts your mind at rest about the expenses involved.

These tough times could be overcome mainly due family support and positive attitude. (By family I mean the family, extended family and friends) Probably the saying, “Tough get going when times are tough” is very apt here. During my treatment phase I have seen a patient go down as he did not have good family support. He required hospitalization and his wife never came to meet him! She was afraid of hospitals; he never recovered. So when there is a critical event in your home, it is not only you but your whole close family goes through tough times. Even if one cog in the system is weak, handling the same can be very very difficult. I was lucky we had no weak links!!

I have chosen to give this date wise activity to explain how my family and I took quick decisions to move fast with treatment. As they say Time (and Cancer) wait for nobody!!

The Story

I was continuing with my profession and was 64 years of age, in November 2013. Though my life was not very high speed life, it was reasonably busy. I was cruising in my life with manageable health issues and my mind set was as per previously mentioned thoughts, in short I thought I was infallible.

One fine day, I woke up with a squeaky voice (in retrospect, voice quality had changed a couple of weeks before) and thought maybe some oily foods or cooler weather is causing issues. I went to my ENT friend Vijay for the check-up; he suggested usual gargling and minor medication and said “call me when you get well!” After a couple of more check-ups and medications, including steroids Vijay said some more check-ups are needed. I was guided to Dr. Sant;

1st Dec 2013

On that day there was some health issue for our new born grand-daughter Rhea; I told Jaya and Priya that I will go alone for the check-up. I almost decided to go alone but Deepti insisted that Raju will go with me! Check-up was done using Stroboscope and Dr.  Sant said, Pramod I wish my diagnosis is wrong, but I am yet to make incorrect diagnosis. “You have cancerous growth on your left vocal cord and that is the reason for change in voice”! What a speed breaker! I bumped my head on the roof, was almost thrown on the wind screen! From Dr. Sant’s office, called Jaya and discussed. Called Dr. Atul (my nephew and physician) and immediately at 8 pm we went for CAT scan to check the spread, if any. Luckily no spread! On the way, ate something; diagnosis did not prevent me from getting hungry!

3rd Dec 2013

Second meeting with Dr. Sant and he had con call with Dr. Vijay and Dr. Bokil, Onco surgeon. Plan decided. 7th Dec Excisional Biopsy by Dr. Sant at Sahyadri Hospital.

7th Dec 2013

On 6th evening got myself admitted in the hospital, again Raju was great help! He stayed with me for the night. At admission counter, clerk said please get the patient; I said I am the patient! She was surprised, maybe I looked impatient!! At night, doctors wanted to take X-Ray. I walked out of the room towards X Ray area but the helper came rushing and said I must use wheelchair! I said why; he said that was the protocol and besides that doctors will blow him out if I don’t use wheelchair! Biopsy done on 7th, looks like everything went as expected. Was back in the room with major pain in the throat. Was back home in the evening, again Raju and Deepti took us home.

10th Dec 2013

The results declared, Dr. Sant passed with flying colours, cancer was confirmed.

14th Dec 2013

After discussions with Dr. Bokil, went to Ruby Hall to finalize radiation stuff with Dr. Maiya, Radiation Oncologist. Plan fixed. Dr. Maiya had told us at the beginning of the treatment, that in cancer treatment, upto 60% cure is due to family and positivity; balance 40% consists of medicines, doctors and equipment. If one remains positive, medicines and treatment are more effective.

  • Immunotherapy intravenous weekly- total 8 doses
  • 34 radiations

20th Dec 2013

First dose of immunotherapy given in ICU (just in case) and the radiations to be started within 2/3 days. Feeding tube inserted by Dr. Bokil through the nose for later use.

23rd Dec 2013

First radiation given; same day moved to new home next to Priya for easy management of the baby and grandpa!

Fell into a routine of leaving for Ruby hall 6.20 am daily.

24th January 2014

Radiation put on hold due to cough and minor fever. General weakness felt as Steroids, Antibiotics and drugs to check blood/sugar taking its toll! Sugar level checked thrice a day. Difficulty in swallowing solid food starts. A couple of feeds of liquid diet started. Body rash in head, neck and on back but manageable. Throat pain begins and so do pain killers; followed by cough bouts especially at night. I was not hospitalised but was at home right through.

2nd February 2014

Switched over 100% to liquid formula for adults; there are two of us on liquid formula in the house, grandfather competing with grand-daughter! For me it was delta change of switching from solid diet to liquid diet but for Jaya it was a logistics nightmare. Giving me first feed at 5 am so that we could leave home for Radiation at 6.20 am. Needed eight feeds to keep me going and in the whole process I lost only about 3 kgs. (Atul said weight goes down upto 10/15 kgs sometimes) My last daily feed was at 11 pm. Logistics for this feed was 15 minutes preparation, 15 minutes for feed and 15 minutes cleaning the stuff. Eight such feeds in a day plus tablets three times a day was also a feed because I could not swallow!! Plus managing day to day chores at home!! Phew! Plus managing phone calls, visitors (we had requested all to differ visits) How Jaya managed!!

16th February

Jaya had a very strong migraine attack and had to be hospitalised. On her way to hospital she called Ashwini, who rushed. She and Priya managed last couple of days of my feeds and otherwise!

20th February

Final radiation treatment!

Family Support

During all this process Dr. Gauri our niece came and stayed with us for 5/6 days. Priya was trying her best to support even while nursing the baby. Our son Sachin came from USA and stayed for two weeks. Last three days of the treatment was logistics nightmare. Jaya collapsed due to all the stress. She had an attack of relief migraine. Jaya went to hospital and checked in like hotel check in, got herself treated for 3 days, paid her bill and came back! Who managed me during this period? Our other niece Ashwini rushed at 1 hr notice and managed with some help from Priya. Who managed Jaya, God and family!! Of course Raju and Deepti were there to support all the time. Dada and Pushpatai was there for moral support. Situ, Ashwini and Anish came so did Mai & Nilkanthrao. Jaya’s brother Nanda a great support for logistics. Nikhil & Sushil were also a great help.

Friends Support

Jayprakash took Jaya to hospital when she had migraine attack, Sanjay came and met. Sharya, Ram Prabhu, Prakash Raykar came from Mumbai to meet. Chandru, Bhave, Bhide, Dada Parulekar, Santosh, Ajit, Pakya Nirgudakar (in spite of his own issues) barged in. Vijay & Madhuri came down from Mumbai. Jaya requested, Sudip, Rufus and many others to differ visit as she was getting overwhelmed! But Ranjith had come from Australia so came in with Rufus. Saurabh dropped in from Mumbai. There were so many emails, WhatsApp messages and so forth which was a reassurance that help was just one phone call away. I may have missed some names for which I may be pardoned!!

Unknown parameters

Initially I did not even know that there will be 34 radiations, I thought just one or two radiations and it’s done. I also did not know that immunotherapy was a full day affair of intravenous drug, and potassium support. Weekly blood/urine tests were also not known to me!!I also did not know that I had to wear Spiderman type of mask during Radiations!! Prognosis was the unknown factor but Doctors started indicating that cancer of vocal cords is a non-spreadable variety and there were chances that recurrence may not happen as the spread was also minimum. Fear of the unknown, honestly it was never there!

Medical fraternity professionalism

Atul, as the physician, was as usual there to indicate what can and cannot happen. Dr Maiya, Radiation Oncologist, was very clear in his thoughts and explained to us the complete roadmap during the treatment; it was like when the real issues will start, when they will taper off, what are the precautions to be taken; he was available 24/7 which luckily was not needed.


Once I was required to rush for chest x ray due to persistent cough, but things turned out to be normal. Once there was an indication of kidney function issue but Atul reassured that things were under control. No other emergencies cropped up.


Dr. Maiya had explained how recovery will happen by talking my language, in graphical form. It took exactly same path indicated by Dr. Maiya. Within ¾ days of last radiation, I could switch back to bland but solid food. My throat condition would not allow me cold, sour, hot stuff. But it felt good to eat normal food. During first week of recovery, while surfing on the net, bought two tickets for Cricket World Cup final at MCG, (in March 2015!) maybe my way of declaring to myself that I am on recovery path. Started some normal activities, small walk, office for a couple of hours a day on alternate days, and then daily office for four hours. In June I started full fledge office and in July I started with out of Pune travel for work. During this phase some weakness was felt. Later on I started to drive  myself to travel outside Pune. On the whole recovery path was normal with no hick ups. Mental challenge was more than the physical challenge.

October 2015

Except the throat infections, I now do not have any issues. Throat area was directly bombarded with Radiations, so I am sure throat infections will keep on coming at more than normal frequency for some time. Life is back to normal; once in a while I have started thinking that I am infallible!! I travelled to Australia, will be travelling end of October to meet my sons’ family in Seattle. Travel for work is normal plus the greatest benefit is we had 2/3 get together meetings with friends!! What more can one want from life! I can confidently say that I am back to cruising mode thanks to Him, thanks to family and friends!


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes- Who will Guard the Guards!

Give chance to goodness within you!

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes is a Latin saying which means who will guard the guards!  This is so true in today’s times! In Marathi there is a saying शेळीने कुंपण खाल्ले ! If your own sheep eats the bushes on the compound, there is nothing you can do about it! We see so many examples of this type of acts and behavior in our society that when I read the Latin saying, I became very agitated. I always avoid writing about things involving politics as there are too many experts in this field. My anguish would  not let me sleep well! This blog is my anguish about the people who care two hoots for the nation.  

During the British Raj in India, British had built a monument about 25 kms from Pune, the so called Vijay Stambh (Victory  Monument)! It was to celebrate their victory against Peshwas about 200 years back. Peshwas were like Prime Ministers or Chief Executives of the then Kings. When you have foreign rule for a long time, it is inevitable that some people will work for rulers as officers, clerks, soldiers and in many other professions. It has mainly to do with their earning of livelihood and not about their allegiance with the ruler! The British army had soldiers from the so called lower caste to fight for the them. Peshwas also had soldiers from that same caste plus they also had soldiers from upper caste; Peshwas themselves were from the Top Echelons of the Society.  

On the new year eve this year the lower caste people for some reason decided to celebrate the 200 years of  “the victory”. Why they invited “firebrand” politicians from different states in India, only they will be able to explain. This event was converted into political jamboree and was publicized as “Celebration of Lower Caste  Victory over Upper Caste”. Firstly people forget that it was the British victory and not the “Lower Caste Victory”. I am sure that without British Generals, there would have been no victory to celebrate! With current state of terrorism and economic uncertainty world over, we don’t need such stupid events. But our own people are creating an uncertain and dangerous atmosphere in the nation. This event led to riots and protests all over the state of Maharashtra; the state was held to ransom for a few days!  

I remember a caricature where the common man in India tells a group of terrorists to go on a holiday, he says we have enough amongst us who will take the nation down! For this event, we had one lady whose only qualification was that her son had committed suicide while completing his PhD! Reason, some social issues and probably poverty! She has now become a leader! Another was young PhD student from JNU whose main qualification is that he fearlessly shouted anti India slogans and was big supporter of a terrorist who was hanged for the act of terror against the state of India. One more guy got recently elected to Gujarat assembly and has vocabulary to incite the crowd! These are called firebrand leaders these days! I thought Bhagat singh and Rajguru were firebrand leaders! And so was Lokmanya Tilak. They were fighting against the enemy and not against own people. Current fire brand leaders are fighting in the same spirit against the nation; they feel that only they and their ilk are the ones who have difficulties in life!  

This is a cancer that is spreading fast in our nation and needs to be arrested. I don’t care if such guys are from lower, middle or upper caste! Cancer is cancer and needs to “arrested” and cut off as per needs of the situation. After all what is cancer? These are same “good” cells in our body which have “cancerous” thoughts, like the latest Fire Brand leaders. Those of us, who have similar thought process, for the uplift our nation, should come together and act! It does not mean that we have riots and hold people to ransom. We should talk openly with each other, about such “cancerous” thought process. Those who can, should write in newspapers or blogs or where ever they can write! Another thought that always comes to mind is that, people have time on hand to take part in such acts! We should come together as people and try and create more work for everybody. When one is gainfully busy, one does not get time to take part in such events. 

As usual, I am taking help of a Hindi Movie song to take my thoughts forward. I have displayed partial lyrics from a song, below. Hindi movie songs is another subject which calls for discussion, but let’s do it some other time. 

Also, my apologies as I am not a linguist. I have tried my best to explain the gist of the meaning from the lyrics.  

chingaaree koee bhadake,
to saawan use buzaaye
saawan jo agan lagaaye,
use kaun buzaaye? 

This means that if there is fire created because of sparks, rains will douse it! But if the rains stoke the fires then who will douse them!

koee dushman thhens lagaaye,
to meet jiyaa bahalaaye
manameet jo ghaanw lagaaye,
use kaun mitaye? 

We may stumble because of an enemy, then there are your own near and dear ones who will help you overcome the trauma! But if your near and dear ones back stab you who will help you overcome it? 

mazadhaar mein naiyyaa dole,
to maanzee paar lagaaye
maanzee jo naaw dooboye use kaun bachaaye? 

Your boat may sway and tumble in a storm but there is the boatman who will bring it under control! But if the boatman himself sinks the boat who will save you? .

Any thought process that goes against the nation is an absolute no! I hope all of us will give an opportunity to goodness which is there within each of us, a chance to overcome incorrect thoughts and acts!  

I am ending with a great thought I found on the net. 

One of Socrates’ interlocutors in the Republic, Glaucon, says “it would be absurd that a guardian should need a guard.” But Socrates returns to this point at 590d, where he says that the best person “has a divine ruler within himself,” and that “it is better for everyone to be ruled by divine reason, preferably within himself and his own.” 

To come back to a better mood listen this great Kishor Kumar song. It’s a sad but lovely song from where I have picked lyrics! Chingari Koi Bhadke! From Movie “Amar Prem”


पतझड- the Autumn Fallout!

Learn from Nature to make our Golden Phase more enjoyable!

पतझड is a Hindi word, which means falling of leaves from the trees in autumn, is a natural process which brings joy in autumn to our eyes, hibernation in winter and back to more joy in spring. Humans don’t hibernate like trees but reach a new phase in life! This season is aptly called Fall in English. The plants are preparing themselves for winter. The plants do not talk and think like humans, at least that is what I think! I am sure it must be a painful process for them but we are not able to understand their thoughts. But outwardly they don’t crib about it.  Just imagine our hair falling off every season and new crop growing after a few months! Ok we cut them regularly at different frequencies, ladies have their own frequency for managing their hair! To give an extreme example, we have seen people going through cancer treatment losing all their hair. They have a tough time handling the situation. The other day, I read a news item that a young person committed suicide as he had sudden hair fall for which there was no immediate medical cure! Why reactions are extreme, sometimes?

What do we learn from the plants? Autumn Fallout is a natural process and plantations take it in stride. Nature tells us to take things in stride! If we look at our life cycle, there are many changes happening in everybody, from childhood to adulthood, to mid age and finally, the golden age! In the childhood we do not really understand the changes. In the adulthood we start understanding changes but we are too busy to really notice them. In Mid age changes happen the we may not like but still we are too busy to bother about them. It is the golden age, post retirement, we have time to observe the changes. If we compare changes happening in childhood and in golden age, the golden age changes are much less but we have too much time on hand. So, we notice them more. In young age, changes in our height, weight, voice, the way look are quite predominant but we don’t worry about them. We must learn to take changes in the golden period in the same way! Is it because we think of the death in this period? Is that the reason we are more worried about even small change in us, during this phase of life?

We forget that nature shows us the way for everything but we tend to adopt them selectively. Autumn fall, is process which repeats every year in trees; similarly, women’s monthly cycles also happen every month. Don’t they take this in stride? Why do we not take the process of merging with the universe in stride? Why don’t we take ageing in stride? Birth and Death are two sides of the same coin. If the humans manage to handle these smoothly, there will be joy in the golden phase too.

Almost 15 years back, we had a reunion of our school Alumni in Bombay. I met some of the friends, after 40 years. But what fun we had! There were the usual changes in everybody; some had become fat and some had become thin; some did not change at all. There were different “hair styles” on view, thanks to the nature! A few had become bald, some had thin receding hairline, some had thick mop of salt and pepper hair. Some of course had white hair! But almost all the ladies had black hair. I jokingly told one of my friends that it looks like ladies have not become old! My friend Mangal entered, she looked at me for a moment then she was very happy when she recognized me with a mop of white hair; by the way, I describe my hair colour as “Silver Blonde”! She said, “Pramod, how can you move around with all white hair?” I said, ” Mangal, I know that you also have mostly white hair but you prefer to dye them black”! Nothing wrong in that. I told her that I stopped dyeing my hair the year my grandson was born!

Per say nothing wrong in trying look younger by dyeing your hair! But I also feel that there is nothing wrong in accepting that you are reaching the golden period of your life. A friend met me recently and said, ” Pramod, now I have entered a bad phase in my life!” I said, “What happened?” He said, “I am now required to take medicines for diabetes!” We all have some indifferent health conditions at different times. This is a natural process; some are lucky that they reach this stage quite late in life, some have to handle these things from childhood! Acceptance of things beyond control, is the best way of handling life situations; this makes even more sense in the golden phase of life!

Friends be with nature, accept nature’s ways, this will lead us to long, enjoyable life. I thought I will share with you some pictures with which will explain what I have said even better! After all a picture is equivalent of 1000 words!  30 year old, 60 year old and 10 years old Photos are of yours truly before fall, Fall and Spring !! I am trying to follow natures’ advise to accept things as they are!