Tuesday 30 April 2024

SAD BUT WITH SOLACE....MY ETERNAL JOURNEY !

Writing about the end of own life, that too after knowing that it could happen any time is hard to write for anyone. I am not an exception. But the specialist doctor Aju Mathew whom I am in consultation on a regular basis since early February 2021 encouraged me to write about the experience and feelings I had undergone from time to time ever since I was identified with the disease, made me to take up this hard task. This he specifically mentioned  after knowing that I was a regular blog writer!

This article is expected to be published  as soon as possible after I leave this world but not before for obvious reasons. Sure, if I live long enough, as the doctor had predicted, then also I would  publish it after few years. The main reason why I keep it this way is that my privacy would be intruded. I have been trying my best-although it fails at times-to lead a normal life and involve in everything as usual as I could. My apologies to all those with whom I interacted as normal during this period but did not reveal what I had been going through. Please accept my apologies.

I had made an arrangement with my children to publish this article once I am gone. Very hard decision but let it be done. If this helps anyone who would land up in similar difficult situations, to face life in a better way, I would be  more than pleased.

So there is a possibility that this could be my last article in this blog- I sincerely wish not, something I am happily involved over the last twelve years. Other than the fact that nearly 430,000 readers world wide have visited my blog so far from 110 countries, I enjoy sharing my thoughts with you  as always. I will miss your readership and your opinions which has reached over 2000. I am sure that this blog will be continued to be read for few more years to come, thanks to google technology......

Bye...Namaskar..Namaskaram ! Sad but with solace!!


How this was detected....
When Vinay, our eldest son and Anu his wife along with our grandchildren Maria and Serah came back to Kochi ,our home town after 2 years at Coimbatore  Geetha and I were exceptionally happy- more because of the fact that we could enjoy our sweet grandkids once again. Both of them -Vinay and Anu-are specialist doctors and they were at Coimbatore for a 2 year post PG fellowship at Aravind Eye Hospital for Anu, while Vinay was an Ortho surgeon at Kovai Medical Centre and later at Palghat. Over the past 9 months or so Anu hadn't visited Kochi due to her hectic training and travel restrictions due to Covid albeit Vinay alone used to make flying visits at times.

The moment Anu met us, she made  a comment on my health "Appa, you have pulled down considerably". I knew that I had. Later on, the same day as they settled, the children continued to ask few questions to me. How long have you been losing your weight? What is the weight now? Is your bowel movements as usual? What about your appetite? I answered  them sincerely. I was not feeling alright for quite some time on the subjects they had asked but thought I could come back to normalcy eventually on a normal course. "I think you have to undergo some blood tests tomorrow itself." They summed up.

Next day morning Geetha and I didn't go out for our usual walk at 6.00 a.m. Instead, I decided to go for the blood test. As soon as I came down from my bed room, a list of blood tests to be carried out noted down by Vinay was there on the dining table to be picked up. He had gone out for his morning jogging. The list was pretty long, I could notice. Obviously they were searching to rule out some diseases which shows the symptoms I had. I drove the car myself to DDRC, the medical testing lab which is close by and returned after 40 minutes. The results would be e mailed to me the next day before noon ,they had promised.

Among the abbreviations of tests Vinay had noted down, about one I had particularly remembered-CEA, may be because it resembles CIA-Central Intelligence Agency of America! I was curious and googled to find out more. It was right there- the test is exclusive to find out signs of cancer growth in  the body! My heart might have raced for some time but once done, decided to keep my cool  esp in my behavior to Geetha so as not to make her panic!!

01 February 2021
The D day came and the test results in mail on the next day. 01 February 2021- My hemoglobin level was found to be very low while CEA levels were very high. My God! I was almost on a black out for few seconds after I read it! I sincerely  wished it could end up as a minor gastrointestinal problem instead of cancer!! Once composed , the results were forwarded to Vinay and also a print out was handed over to him. He looked at the results which ran 4 pages silently ...perhaps twice as I could notice. Problems? I asked him. Yes, Appa.. he answered. Gastrointestinal? I asked him in hope but foolishly. There are nodes clearly marked, Appa. Perhaps you have to meet both specialists in Gastroenterology and Oncology and took leave from the room. I was sure that he could be going away from my ear shot to  consult his friends and seniors who are specialist doctors in those respective fields.

Vinay came back to the room after half an hour. "Yes, Appa. Tomorrow both of us and Amma will go and take a test for Covid RT-PCR which is mandatory to be admitted in a hospital now. And day after tomorrow we will go early in the morning to meet Dr Aju Mathew who is a specialist Oncologist at EMC- Ernakulam Medical Centre at 07.30 AM! I have enquired with my friends in the profession and zeroed on this person Appa. "He is well qualified in India, has done accreditation from US Board and the best in his field. He may be around my age. He is personally known to some of my friends and I have gone through his professional profile and am more than satisfied. Let us see and hope for the best". He summarized in one go.  Please get ready to spend two/three days at the hospital so that you will be subjected to a lot of tests. I agreed fully and readily. His tone was mixed.. that of a son as well as a professional doctor. 

I sat motionless ...alone for few minutes! So that's it. I am a highly suspected Oncology patient! My heart might have stood still for few seconds and then raced! Geetha was visibly  upset after hearing the news. I was really sad...very sad! In the evening while I was watching TV, I took a large whisky in a glass and sipped slowly on the rocks. I knew that it could be my last drink of scotch which I used to enjoy each day but limited to two pegs max! While having dinner, there was a sort of silence in the room in spite of the presence of Maria and Serah..our bubbly granddaughters at the table. I retired early that night without watching TV as usual to our bed room. I wanted to cry loud but didn't. After half an hour or so Geetha joined me. She had her usual prayers, as she lay by the side on the cot, she put her hand on my face and whispered but firmly. "Nothing is going to happen to you Jaison. You will come out of this! Her undiluted faith in God had made her tell me this sentence. I was very much relieved to hear her strong words! I never thought she had the courage to face situations like this but proven wrong. That night I could not sleep at all but lay motionless. I knew that Geetha didn't either....

The next day ..myself, Geetha and Vinay together went to have the test RT PCR done for Covid and the report came only by night. It was negative.

03 February 2021
Anu tried to force herself a smile as she waved to  the three of us driving out of the house. But I could read the anxiety on her face. Geetha was cool. So also Vinay as he took the car out to road.He had taken leave from his job for two days, he told me. "There are effective treatments these days for cancer. At least 10 years in your case, nothing is going to happen, Appa" He was trying to pacify me. Suddenly I remembered about Vishal, our younger son who was stationed at Bangalore. I asked Vinay to be in touch with him if not already and ask him to come down to Kochi as soon as I could get back home. For some reason I wanted to meet him also.

We reached the hospital at 07.30 AM sharp as the doctor wanted. Got into a room which was arranged the day before itself. Dr. Paul, Anu's father is a close friend of the owners of the hospital. The nurse came in and took blood samples for various tests. Dr.Aju Mathew the specialist Oncologist did not mince words. The earlier blood tests clearly indicates that you have cancer in the colon. Now you will undergo various tests to determine the extent of the damage done already for the next two days. By the end of the day I can tell you more about it. "Uncle, there are very good medicines and treatments for colon cancer" he summed up! Already my mind was self tuned to hear the worst news by that time. It is better to face it boldly than running from it, I thought. At the same time I wished foolishly  that the results of the tests would be negative!!

As I was about to be taken out for various tests on a wheel chair  I glanced at the face of Geetha. Her eyes were moist, looked sad but had kept herself cool. I knew that she must be praying silently. Vinay looked bold as usual, busy conversing with doctors and nurses. "Pray well Jaison" was what Geetha told me as I moved out. For the first time in my life I was admitted in a hospital during the last 71 years which is my current age. I never had any sort of major ailment till  that day as well, I remembered.

A lot of tests, scans were taken as I was moved to different floors and different rooms. About 4.40 PM I was taken back to the room. Geetha was ready with some light snack which I was happy to have. Dr. Aju once again came in along with Vinay. He confirmed that I was having cancer of the colon for sure. He did not tell me the stage of cancer (but it was 4th stage as I found out from one of the reports myself later).And I didn't ask either. If it was in the initial stages I would have been told, I knew. And he would start the chemo the next day since it is better that way. He tried to explain to me about the troubles I may have to face. I told him that I was ready for anything he decided but specifically asked about the hair loss I may have to face. He told me that he would start with medicines which will  not have that effect.He also offered me the choice of having imported medicines or Indian for which Vinay answered to go for the best , preferably imported. 

I also requested him that whatever be the period I live, let me have a normal life as possible. I enjoy reading, writing, interaction with close friends,socialising,good food, morning walks with Geetha, follow national and international politics, driving etc. I am a person who always looked for quality than quantity. He appreciated my courage and cooperative nature which he said was important for the treatment. As the doctor was about to leave the room, he stood up and  told us point blank but firmly " We are a bit late in diagnosing the disease and it has spread to few areas in a limited way but I can assure you that we will fight it out bravely. His words were sweet music to me. Geetha smiled for the first time since I was suspected with such a disease , as the doctor went out with Vinay.

As Vinay came back to the room, I never asked about the disease further but listened to  what he wanted to say. But I asked him how many  of our relatives were told about my disease. He told me that it is limited to my only sister and family and family of my only late brother other than Anu's parents and brother. I requested him to stop there and ask them not to spread the news to anyone further. Our society is so negative that bad news as this one can spread like wildfire with more and more complifications. I don't mind anyone to know about it but I never wanted sympathetic talks or negative approach from any one so that I could try to live as if nothing had happened as much as possible. Geetha and Vinay could understand what I meant and agreed.

Geetha, as usual was cool and remained confident even after listening to the doctor. When I returned to the private room where chemo would be induced, she came to the bed where I was sitting and sat beside me."Nothing is going to happen to you Jaison" pressing my palm... she said..may be seeing my unhappy face. From where she is getting all this fire to face unexpected hardships, I wondered!
 
04, 05 and 06 February 2021
I had the first chemo experience. Fatigue was there. Various tests continued. I was in a state of 'fighting- back' mood as much as possible but at the same time wanted to take all steps deemed necessary in case something happened to me. I asked Geetha to take note of few matters which were to be taken up as early as possible as soon as I was out of the hospital. Together we listed out the important matters to be done immediately in the small notepad Geetha used to carry in her handbag. I wanted to get ready for my eternal journey whenever it happened.

In between, the zoom meeting scheduled related to conducting the 50th Graduation day of my Engineering class alumni came up. And I attended it with a usual smile. No other participant had even an iota of doubt that I was joining them from a hospital that too after my first chemo for cancer! I felt bad that I couldn't reveal the truth to my friends. I am sorry for that even now- my apologies..

On 7th of Feb 2021 I am back to my home. Sweet home!!

07 FEBRUARY 2022...A YEAR LATER!
It is one year since cancer was detected in me. Definitely I am on regular check ups and medications. I was glad that I survived one year! Parameters related to my disease became almost normal after 6 months but continued the medicines and treatments as advised by the doctor on a regular basis. On my request once I knew that the CEA levels were under control I asked the doctor permission to have at least wine once in a while which he agreed. Now I have become more hopeful about the outcome. I will list out what mainly went through during the past one year.

*Apart from Dr.Aju who used to take personal interest in my case, I owe a lot to Geetha who remained very positive and supportive to me all these days. And whenever my confidence dipped for some reason, she used to pump it up  instantly! My medication process and comfort was her first priority. She kept on telling me confidently that nothing was going come to me in this regard! And I wanted to believe her although I knew that it need not be the truth. Her faith in God had  always been great. She was extremely punctual in giving medicines, take note of points to be discussed with the doctor on our next visit, my diet, living style ..... But what amazed me is her confident and positive approach to me in this regard as if she wanted to stand in front of me to fight with this dreaded disease! Vinay used to take interest in my whereabouts on a daily basis in spite of his busy schedule as an ortho  surgeon. Anu was always supportive to me and Geetha. Vishal who is at Bangalore was also given the day to day progress of my condition by Vinay !

*The first action was arranging a confidential meeting within immediate family members- Geetha, Vinay, Vishal and Anu. I wanted our children to know the current financial status of the family revealing briefly the details. I came to that conclusion for two reasons. First the money and assets we  have are to be managed properly on a regular basis if something happened to me for which children were to be involved. Second was that both of our children have become more or less financially matured to deal with such a situation. I didn't want Geetha alone to take the responsibility since she too is getting old. In any case money was a least interested topic for her!  We had made a joint will well in advance.

Dr Aju used to help tide over a lot of bad side effects of the chemo and other medicines I had to face. But I don't know why I used to face them cooly and Geetha's contribution in these matters was enormous. Combinations and permutations on the dosages were made by Dr. Aju to see that my life was almost as normal as possible.
I could fulfil a cherished desire of mine.. I could compile some of the articles I had been writing in my blog and publish it as a book titled 'Gandhi? Who's that?' The same was published by Notion Press and distributed through Amazon in India and the rest of the world! It was a success!



*I could organize two zoom meetings with respect to the tenth death anniversary of my late brother Thavo. One with his family members  and those of his wife. When some  his old colleagues expressed their desire to have a similar meeting, I could organize another one. I was satisfied that I could manage those meetings, despite my situation. It was the least I could do for my ever loving brother and a great friend.

*Due to the fears of Covid 19, my trips outside home was restricted but I could drive local trips in our cars.

*One family reunion took place at Bangalore at the residence of Vishal. And we all travelled to and fro by air and had a great time there.

*Regular zoom meetings- three in the last one year- I could organize with my mother's family members. Attended so many zoom meetings with MACE members (old Engg classmates) esp. related to an oncoming 50th graduation anniversary as a member of organizing committee.

*I could also make a presentation on 'How to develop one's own career- tips' for MBA students of SCMS Institute of Management online. 

*But the best I had among all was enjoying our grandchildren Maria and Serah during their weekend stays with us! I always considered that this regular interaction with grandchildren was a special gift for me.

All the above were positive experiences but what about negative? Sure I had. First few weeks I used to get depressed sometimes but I got over  that myself. I thought that in my life when I look back, I was a satisfied person with a good quality life and as such I should not complain. Even otherwise I expected a life span of up to only 80 maximum. Again I thought that it was not fair on my side that I should  complain to God since He had showered upon me a lot, much more than I really deserve!! 

#One negative aspect I had was whenever I saw an obituary note or visit a funeral, I used to think of myself in that position. But as months went by I got over that situation as well.

I lost a great friend of mine- Prakash in the month of November in 2021.

Now I stop here. Shall write AGAIN hopefully in 2023 when I complete two years of anniversary of the detection of this illness. Bye till then.

07 February 2023

My God, two years are over! Again a short narrative of the main events in life during the past one year.

*I started making long drives in the car along with Geetha, mostly for spending few days at good resorts in the state like at Thekkady and Munnar. That was a good change in me. Felt more confident to face the world under the circumstances.

* Finally on April 22 the much long awaited 50th Graduation day of MACE Alumni was conducted at Cherai with much enthusiasm from most of the members along with spouses. The function was grand, to say the least. A video CD was made. I had few physical difficulties attending the function but could somehow manage. Few of my old friends suspected that my health was not that well but could not point out what the actual reason was. I was in a sorry state not to divulge what was going on with me!


*Creation of my second book named "Kaleidoscopic Musings" started taking shape. It was published on October 22. Both of my books were presented to Dr.Aju as well.




*Unexpectedly, I had to be hospitalized and undergo surgery on 15 Aug 2022. Actually the colon developed blocks due to the disease. But again thanks to the surgeon Dr.Solomon and Geetha I came out of the hospital. I announced to my relatives and friends that I had to undergo the operation due to constant stomach aches but never revealed the actual reason behind it. Sure, few might have suspected that I was not that well.

*Unfortunately I lost another intimate friend of mine Govindankutty on the same day I had to undergo the operation. After reaching home when I was permitted to drive again, the first place I went was visiting his house and meeting Sathi, his wife. Kutty had to undergo few strains due to liver cirrhosis but never thought that he could vanish from my life this fast. Indeed he was a close friend of mine who brought a lot of sunshine and laughter to my life.I felt sorry that I couldn't reveal the ailment I myself was going through to him as well! Looking at the smiling picture of him which was hung in  his drawing room on my visit, I silently told myself  " Go peacefully Kuttysaab now...I may follow you soon"!

*In spite of the few side effects of medications, I continued to enjoy my life. And I don't have any complaints either. I continue to read a lot, write a lot and move around. Economically India is growing rapidly. But I long for the day to see that utter poverty doesn't exist in India. Hopefully in another 10-35 years it should take place provided a man like Modi leads the country.

*During October, Geetha and I could travel to Pune to meet Veena , wife of late Prakash. Again Prakash was an intimate and excellent friend of mine. On humility, simplicity, honesty and knowledge, he was an undisputed baron. On the way back we could drop at Bangalore and spend two days with Vishal.

* Geetha  and I made an exclusive trip to Kanthallur off Munnar along with families of old classmates of Engineering College. Interaction with old Engineering classmates was regular throughout the year. Also my interaction with COG members of business/professional club in Kochi restarted after Covid.

*  My interaction with local old friends of Kochi since childhood had been always good . I used to make sure that I was constantly in touch with them-in spite of the fact that I was abroad- since I used to enjoy their company. 

So my third year is running after I was detected with this disease.I consider this as a big bonus . Covid had almost fully subsided. But recently it has surfaced again. Hope India can make use of Indian made vaccines than the western ones as found in first hand experience.



7 February 2024..
 Three years are completed on this day while the 4th has commenced. I shall note down as usual the main points which have taken place during the last one year.

*My regular chemos, medication etc were going on well, thanks to Geetha for the support.I always thought Geetha would have been an outstanding doctor or  teacher, had she taken up one of those careers. She is unusually patient to listen to others, knowledgeable and empathetic!

* I always enjoyed the company of our grandchildren- Maria and Serah who used to come and stay with us every weekend without fail along with Vinay and Anu. Definitely, I have to appreciate Vinay and Anu for this gesture. Obviously, it is an unusual act. 

And in order to entertain the grandchildren I started another career-that of  a Magician. I used to get the necessary magic kits from Amazon, train myself on the trick and show them. They used to get thrilled. And I used to feel more thrilled than them!! I used to tell them that I had learnt these magic tricks from Prof.Swarovski of School of Magic, Romania though I couldn't convince the children for long.

Another matter I used to indulge in was asking general knowledge questions to Maria and Serah  while we had breakfast together on Sundays. The topics were India, Science, Space (Maria's favorite), Oceans (Serah's favourite), Animals, Volcanoes....anything under the sun actually. Both are intelligent and smart. 

* During the month of June,I decided that it was time that I share what was going on with Nebu, one of my close friends in confidence. He is known to me since childhood and he is a good hearted man. After conversing with him at Lotus Club, I felt a lot relieved. Definitely he was a bit uneasy but sure he will recover as weeks go by.

*During June/July Vishal was with us for 6 weeks. He had to undergo an operation on his knee following a complex injury sustained while playing football. 

*During July , the doctor decided to change the medicines of chemo as my CEA level was found increasing. The dosage also had to be increased. I may face few more side effects - more fatigue, diarrhea and hair loss, the last being a big challenge. Have I reached a stage where deterioration of health would take place faster hereafter? He said that all the medicines which were effective for the cure without the hair loss had been used. I think it was a polite way of telling me that I have reached another milestone of my journey.

*It was nice to have made a trip to Bangalore along with Geetha and spend two days with Vishal during last week of Sept for  his birthday!

*One of the articles posted on my blog titled "FROM NAZI TO NASA AND ROSCOSMOS " related to how US and Russia used the Nazi technology and scientists to their benefits to launch their own space vehicles in the initial years of space exploration was a hit. Indeed it was more surprising for me that NASA published that critical article on their FB page without hesitation whereas Indian space agency didn't!

*In October along with Geetha, I could make a 4 days trip to Colombo.It was a surprise  to me and Geetha at this stage of health and we enjoyed every minute of it.

*During November, I decided to reveal what I was undergoing to another close friend of mine-Britto. We had a very emotional meeting at my residence for almost two hours where I had shared my thoughts and feelings to him, I felt relieved. Another friend to whom I wanted to share this news was V.G Thomas, but since he was based in Doha, decided to wait for some more time.

*Today 22/11/23 Geetha and I had a meeting with Dr.Aju before my infusions of chemo. He didn't mince his words when he expressed that  my current status of CEA levels were slipping from his control since the options of medicines available were almost over. My blood counts were getting affected due to continuous chemo medicines! May be another one year to two could be the life span I could possibly have! Though expected, I was not happy to hear that. Once we got out of the room and was waiting in the patients lounge for a Uber taxi, Geetha was again quick in reacting. She whispered in my ears more sweet music - 'Jaison, nothing is going to happen to you. God will be with you,I assure you!'

*I have started planning to publish my third book...to dedicate this time to our grandchildren..possibly done in next March/April of 2024. Hope I can make it!

But the good points were that my brains worked as usual. I could enjoy jokes and crack jokes. I enjoy reading and writing. I enjoy TV and films.

  * Today (21/02/24) on my routine meeting with Dr.Aju, I was told that my CEA levels cannot be downgraded anymore. All he was trying to do hereafter will be to try to control the sudden increase in levels. That meant slowly my disease would control me. How long he did not mention. Unfortunate news for me. Fatigue to extreme level continued each day. Through Vinay I revealed what was going on to our vicar. So also to my old friend Thomachen of Doha. It was a shock for him. He told me he would visit me soon.


I shall write again hopefully when the fourth year is completed. For some reason if I am not alive or physically not in a position to write then my apologies...please take this as a bye from me. In this case I have to say bye bye to all friends - in India and abroad, relatives and neighbours. Bye bye to Mr.Sherida Al Kaabi and his family members in Qatar......Sorry that I could not reveal the truth to you all. Please pardon me for this...bye bye to all my immediate family members Vinay, Vishal, Anu, Mia, Serah...all except Geetha.

Geetha...As you firmly believe, allow me to meet you again 'on that beautiful shore'...one day! But please don't be in a hurry to do that. Enjoy the rest of your life as it is ushered to you each day.. our immediate family needs you .... as a 'woman who knows only to love and help others', you have been simply great! I am sure that you will be sad once I am gone. But always think what I used tell you: 'I am glad that I had an excellent life with you. Please allow time to get over your sadness and I am sure you will, as years go by'. Bye!! I am leaving sadly but with a lot of solace!!





8 comments:

  1. πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jaison Sir, You are always an inspiration to us and will be remembered for everπŸ™πŸ™πŸ™

    ReplyDelete
  3. PrayersπŸ™πŸ™πŸ™

    ReplyDelete
  4. This was heartbreaking to read... but thank you for sharing this beautifully written blog.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I personaly missing a great friend. We are all actors in this great theatre of the world. Everybody has to exit as soon as one's role is completed.
    Your bravery and strength in facing each day with grace and courage are an inspiration to us all. Your spirit will continue to shine brightly in our hearts. Rest peacefully, dear friend.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don’t have words to express my feelings for you and yours … I only wish to say that I love you all ….πŸ™πŸΌπŸ’•

    ReplyDelete
  7. Jaison, you have set an example that how to live and leave life. You will always live in my heart and I shall cherish those good old memories of days at Doha. I'm ever greatful to you and dear Geetha for your visit to Pune inspite of your health issues. .....................Veena Prakash.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This was heartbreaking to read... ..
    My deepest condolences to you all (Gregg’s & family)πŸ™πŸ™

    ReplyDelete

SAD BUT WITH SOLACE....MY ETERNAL JOURNEY !

Writing about the end of own life, that too after knowing that it could happen any time is hard to write for anyone. I am not an exception. ...