Monday, December 13, 2010
Our Man Vickers
Tonight when I turned on the tap and no water came out, I thought about Vikram. Again. For, maybe, the 200th time today. Ravi and I have often remarked that without Vikram, our home would come to a screeching halt. Though we never take him for granted, we have only a dim idea of all that he does, and when he isn't around, we suddenly realize how much that entails.
Turning on the pump is just for starters. There is the locking of the gate each night and the shopping for Masiji and Mummy (they are running short of biscuits right now and one of them - he would know which - needs more medicines). Washing dishes after dinner (my hands are already rough and dry), tea-making at five, helping me lift Moy Moy from her wheelchair into the stroller - the list is endless. He has assigned most of his chores to himself, so it's only in his absence and slowly as the days wear on that we realize "Oh no. That too!"
Vikram had a cerebral hemorrhage on Tuesday. It began with a blinding headache, followed by vomiting, dizziness and disorientation. We didn't find out until the next morning when Ravi went upstairs to see how he was feeling, realized immediately it was more serious than Vikram had let on and called me to take over (Ravi is hopeless with anything medical).
I called Sebastian and the moment he heard that there was visual disturbance as well, he asked me to take him to a neurologist right away. An MRI confirmed the bleed and he was hospitalized here in Dehradun that night.
This could totally be a post ranting about medical care in India, about pseudo-hospitals where untrained nurses roam the halls and the dirt is pushed around the floors the better to spread the grime, but today I just want to talk about Vikram and the strange ways of the heart.
By Thursday we were convinced that the doctor in charge wasn't taking things seriously enough. Even with Sebastian right there at every step, we couldn't instill the urgency we (and all our medical contacts in Delhi, Mumbai and the US) believed should be there. So we decided to transfer him to Delhi by ambulance (another pseudo experience, grist for another mill: this is about Vikram).
These are just a few of the people who came to see us off as we set out in the ambulance on the long ride to Delhi. Two more were in the ambulance with me. Others had already gone home having spent the night with him in the hospital. Many more were busy orchestrating the cash needed for admission to the hospital (another rant, this is about Vikram) and still more were praying. Vikram is a dearly loved man.
It took us seven hours to get to Delhi and my doctor friend was waiting for us in the emergency room at Apollo, one of the largest private hospitals in the country. At last we felt like we were really in a hospital:
Systems were in place and Vikram was settled into a bed with speed and efficiency.
But the long process of understanding why a healthy 37 year old man could possibly have had a brain hemorrhage was only just beginning. Test after test after test - and so far, almost a week after the event, we are no closer to understanding that than we were the day it happened.
What we do know, however, is how much we all love him - healthy or not. The outpouring of concern and support has gone beyond any normal expectations. People from around the world - anyone, in fact, who has ever stayed in our house and encountered this quiet, lovely, funny man, eaten his amazing food, learned from him how to make chapatties - have written, sent money, prayers and messages of hope, joy and faith.
If the support and love of family and friends can work miracles, Vikram has no need to worry. Miracle will follow miracle and wonders will never cease.