Sudden ….

Some things happen gradually, and other things happen suddenly. What is reasonable, gradual or sudden? It depends on circumstances and events. In sporting events like hockey and football, there are sudden death goals. Till the last moment in the game, it is possible that team A is controlling the match but is not able to score the coveted goal. But at an opportune moment team, team B gets a chance to score that goal! The goal scored causes “sudden death”! The only word to explain such an event is destiny!

Many such events happen in life. We think that these are sudden events, but not all are sudden. Heart attack in sporadic cases is sudden. A friend ten years senior to me is a retired Air Force pilot. Once we were discussing heart attack, he said, “ Heart attack is a failure of hydraulic systems in different ways. Aeroplane and heart are very similar. In the aeroplanes only one hydraulic system needs to be checked while flying; crews can check all other systems on the ground. When a plane crashes, it is either due to pilot error or maintenance failure.”

I checked on the net and found that there are very few situations where death is instantaneous. The so-called sudden events always have some history in the background. The situation is getting developed which we miss out. In the case of health, we miss out on body signals. In case of relationships, we miss out on indications. In the case of professional work, there are precedents known, and histories are available about failures. But we think that those are sudden failures, which they are not.

Years back there was an event where I was deeply involved. I family friend called me, I was in the office. She said, “Please drop everything and come to my home immediately.” I rushed. She said that mother of her son’s girlfriend had called. The couple fought, and it appeared that the girl tried to immolate herself. But my friend said, “ This is sudden, and  it is impossible. They have broken off more than six months back. How can this happen?” I took some action by which would get some time. I made the Son “vanish” or sent him to a location not easy to find. The act was to buy some time if the police started looking for him. By that time, her husband came back from office. Her husband and I went to that girl’s home. The girl had locked up our man’s scooter to a pillar using a chain, proving that the boy had visited them. On discussion, we found out they were regularly meeting for the last six months even after the breakup. They had exchanged letters and gifts. Somehow we managed to settle the problem. But there was nothing “Sudden” as my friend had said. The boy’s family was unaware of their meetings, but the girls family knew everything.

Accidents do happen suddenly. In such cases, sometimes we get time, sometimes we don’t. US Airways flight 1549 was climbing up after take off. That afternoon’s events were at 3.24 clearance, 3.25 take off, at 3:27:11 there was a significant bird hit. At 3:27:33 the pilot declared MAYDAY, a major emergency. At 3.31 water landing in Hudson River in New York. The expert pilot Sullenberger and his co-pilot managed to land safely, and all 155 people survived. Could they have done something differently? I don’t think so. The expert panel had suggested the pilots could have landed at an airport based on the evidence available. But it was proven that there is reaction time to be considered in case of such emergencies. Humans take time to absorb the shock and react. After the bird hit, for about 20 seconds the pilots were stunned and could not respond. These 20 seconds converted the event into “sudden” catastrophe variety. Luckily there were no deaths.

A 42-year-old son of a friend died recently. He had some medical history and was going through rehabilitation under medical guidance. He was doing some exercise in the hospital premises, about 100 meters from a trauma care facility. But he got such a massive attack, one of those rare events, that he could not be taken across for treatment. This death is a sudden event, and there is nothing humans can do about it except accept the fact that the event has occurred.

Some unforeseen events give us joy, for example winning a lottery ticket. Nobody can predict the winning of the lottery, and it can provide humans with great pleasure. The death of the man is also a sudden event which brings extreme sadness in our lives. As explained the tiff of the lovers was not sudden but was unexpected for the boy’s family.

Falling in love in life is one of the most pleasant events in life. This event is also described as Love at First Sight! Such an event occurs in case of very few lucky people.


Consider the earthquakes. An earthquake is an event which occurs suddenly. The above diagram indicates the science behind earthquakes. This science is not yet perfect and even the scientists who are trying to track when an earthquake can occur, are still unable to do so. For you and me it is a sudden event, and all that we can do is pray! Volcanoes, Landslides also come under the same category as earthquakes, and we can hope that the eruption is not too severe!

Lately, a new man-made thing which is causing real worries, is Terrorist Attack! These have started the world over in late ’70 s and are unexpected events. There are many things happening world over like illegal migrations, the tyranny of dictators which lead to such attacks. Even the best of the security majors are not able to prevent them entirely. These attacks come under sudden category!

Another pleasant sudden event is Inheritance. Some people are lucky to get it, but most don’t.

Friends, my experience is that the “Sudden” events in majority cases, are not pleasant ones. Why does this happen? Is it because we always assume that bad things will never happen in our lives? There is a saying “Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst”! What does it mean? It means that we must have a positive attitude but be prepared for a bad outcome. But we don’t follow this idiom. By doing this, we manage not to get entangled in situations that are “Sudden”!

Cheers! I suddenly remembered that I was expected somehwere two hours back!


Ignore body signals at your own peril!

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”!

Sorrrrry but what about my EGO!

My wife and I go every evening to drop off our grand-daughter to join a group of children who play, sing and have fun in general. The place has a small ground and a mandir. There are some benches kept on the premises, for people to enjoy their evening chit chat. Many senior citizens have their adda and discuss all the things in this world. It is a fun place.

There was a small incident yesterday. At the entrance, one of the young ladies, who drops off her child, parked her scooter in such a way that it caused inconvenience to people. A gentleman came and declared his displeasure at the difficulty he faced. The lady was around, and the moment she realised her mistake, she said: “Sir, I am really sorry, I sincerely apologise for the inconvenience”! She removed the scooter and parked it properly. Matter ends!

No, it does not end. Why? I used to think that saying Sorry is one of the tougher things in life, especially when you are young (though I personally do not have this problem) but I realised that some people find it even tougher to accept the apology gracefully!

Why the event did not end? The gentleman, instead of accepting the apology gracefully, kept on arguing “today you are saying sorry, tomorrow there will be someone else and so on”. What did this argument achieve? Nothing. The young lady kept on asking the gentleman, “Sir, the first thing I did was to apologise and parked the scooter properly. Now, what more do you want from me?” The same argument kept on going for some time. The gentleman really did not have anything worthwhile to argue, but probably his ego came into the picture.

Some senior ladies, who knew the young lady, came into the picture. They kept on arguing the same thing with the gentleman, but he just would not budge! The young lady got a bit emotional, but through all this, she kept her grace, always kept the respect for the senior person. Another five-ten minute of back and forth arguments, with no proverbial end of tunnel seen anywhere in the vicinity.

Then I called the young lady to come and sit by me on the bench. I explained to her that, even as early tomorrow morning, she will not remember this incident. She agreed, but she was emotional and kept on saying the same thing. “When I apologised immediately why this gentleman keeps shouting at me?” Honestly, I had no answer. But I explained to her that she had behaved gracefully and it showed her proper upbringing! Even under stress, she kept due respect for the person all through his irrational behaviour. I also explained to her that we see children behave and they react differently to the same situation. The same children grow and become senior citizens. All of them retain their childhood straits!

On the lighter side, had this happened in the wild west in the USA, 200 years back, there would have been a duel, and one of them would be dead! I hear that Wild West still exists in northern India! I have read of people being killed for lesser reasons!

Friends the jury is still out, let me know your say!