Friday, January 24, 2014

Some quotable quotes from Jane Austen's novel 'Persuasion'

Jane Austen's novel 'Persuasion' may not be as popular as 'Pride and Prejudice' but I think it is equally good. It's amazing that with limited education, little exposure to the outside world and hardly any encouragement, Jane Austen could write such wonderful books. She is often criticized for not including details of the revolutionary changes happening in the world around her. People forget that not every writer can be a chronicler. 

I have read all her novels more than once. Here are some lines that I liked from 'Persuasion': 

"Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.”

“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.” 

“My idea of good the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.'
'You are mistaken,' said he gently, 'that is not good company, that is the best.” 

“How quick come the reasons for approving what we like.” 

“If there is any thing disagreeable going on, men are always sure to get out of it.” 

“One man's ways may be as good as another's, but we all like our own best.”
“I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman's inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman's fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men."

“Anne hoped she had outlived the age of blushing; but the age of emotion she certainly had not.” 

 "If I was wrong in yielding to persuasion once, remember that it was to persuasion exerted on the side of safety, not of risk. When I yielded, I thought it was to duty; but no duty could be called in aid here. In marrying a man indifferent to me, all risk would have been incurred, and all duty violated."

“She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older: the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning.”

"One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it, unless it has been all suffering, nothing but suffering."

"It was, perhaps, one of those cases in which advice is good or bad only as the event decides."

"It is a sort of pain, too, which is new to me.  I have been used to the gratification of believing myself to earn every blessing that I enjoyed.  I have valued myself on honourable toils and just rewards.  Like other great men under reverses,' he added with a smile, 'I must endeavor to subdue my mind to my fortune.  I must learn to brook being happier than I deserve."

“Let us never underestimate the power of a well-written letter.” 


Monday, January 6, 2014

2013: An year spent in hospitals

Post angioplasty my mother suffered from lung infection after which she underwent a very high risk bypass surgery; Post open surgery of the intestines, my nephew contracted Dengue; Several very close family friends, who mean more to us than our relatives, were hospitalized. Two of them were diagnosed with cancer and had to attend several sessions of chemotherapy. Maternal aunt died. Important family occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, and festivals were all spent in hospitals. After 2002, the year my dad died, 2013, was the worst year of my life.

In February, my Mom fell down and injured her knee and arm. After this she stopped going for her daily strolls. But she remained active at home. She has always been a brilliant homemaker. In March, two days before Holi, I hurt my knee and couldn’t celebrate Holi with my colleagues.  On the 4th of April, my mother’s eldest sister passed away, following a heart attack. On the 12th of April, one of our neighbours, aged 40, passed away, following a heart attack. My brother and mother spent Vishu (Malayalee new year, the 14th of April), with the members of the deceased neighbour’s family.

On the 31st of May, my perfectly normal nephew suffered from extreme stomach ache and had to be rushed to a hospital, where he had to undergo an emergency surgery. His intestines had got entangled. He remained in bed for almost 20 days.

Things started normalizing and the kids in the family, were planning to celebrate both my sister’s marriage anniversary and my birthday, in the last week of June. On the 25th of June, late in the evening, my mother experienced chest pain and had to be rushed to the nearest hospital.  Now, we had a strong prejudice against this 5-star hospital (We now know that it is better than most hospitals). So after ascertaining that it was safe to take her to another hospital, we rushed her to Hospital H, in an ambulance. We were told that there was no cardio-care facility there. It was at 3 a.m. in the morning that we managed to find a hospital (Hospital M) where my mother could be admitted.  Post angiography we were told that three of her coronary arteries were blocked and that she would have to undergo angioplasty. We were told by Dr.SG, that a bypass was a very risky surgery and that it should be avoided. On my birthday, the 27th of June, my mother underwent angioplasty. On my birthday, I was praying for the life of the lady who had given me birth. It was successful. At least that is what we were told. What we were not told was that her arteries were shrunk beyond repair and only a surgery could have cured her.  At least this is what the cardiologists we consulted immediately before the bypass told us (verbally, not in writing).

My intention is not to incriminate anyone. I shall never file a case, sue or deliberately malign any hospital or doctor. I seriously do not have the time or energy to get into legal hassles. Besides, I am just a lay person who knows nothing about medicine.  I only want the people who read this blog post to not have blind faith in doctors.*1

May be an angioplasty, was the only solution at that time.  However, I would like to bring out certain facts. A bypass surgery costs around 1.75 lakhs in a normal hospital and 2.25 lakhs in a 5-star hospital. An angioplasty costs much more. People are often told, like we were, that stents are imported from Western countries. So each high quality stent costs around 1-1.5 lakhs. The metallic ones cost around 50 thousand to 1 lakh. Other costs are around 1 lakh. So a bypass is comparatively cheaper, that’s why, I think, it is not recommended these days!*2

 We visited Dr.SG at least twice, after the angioplasty. Every time she was very rude to us. We have been raised to respect doctors and teachers at all times, so we didn't lose our cool. Besides, my mother was up and moving within a week. It didn't seem that she had had any heart problem. She was more active than before.  It seemed to us that Dr. SG had cured her. May be she had, temporarily. Don’t know.

Things started normalizing but again in the first week of August, my brother-in-law had to get both his eyes operated. However, we could celebrate Onam happily. On his birthday, in September, my nephew was busy preparing for his exams. So, he chose to delay the celebrations. On the day of his last exam, he fell ill again. We were told that he had dengue. He was bed ridden for 15 days.

In the first week of October, my mother suffered from extreme cough. Since the mucus was neither yellow nor green, she was asked to take normal medicines for cold. On the 17th of October, late in the afternoon, when I and my brother had gone to the nearest bank in our locality, my mother again experienced chest pain. We rushed back home and took her to Hospital M, the place where she had undergone angioplasty.  Angiography was done again and it was found that the arteries with stents were blocked again. Now Dr.SG said that my mother will have to undergo a bypass surgery and the members of the surgery team told us that there was only 5 % risk involved. We were flabbergasted. We informed our family friends in the United States, both doctors, but not cardiologists. They asked us to consult their friend, Cardiologist A, in India, who in turn asked us to consult one of the best cardio-surgeons in the country, Dr. VeryGood and immediately shift her to Hospital N. My mother’s chest infection had to be cured before the surgery could be performed. Doctors at Hospital N tried their best to treat the chest infection for 5 days after which it was considered unsafe to wait. All the members of my family were running from pillar to post, to arrange for six bottles of blood, out of which 2 bottles had to be fresh warm blood, to be transfused at the time of the surgery. Most of our family friends have diabetes. Some were suffering from Dengue at that time. So we were finding it very hard to arrange for blood. Finally, 1 known and 5 completely unknown people, volunteered to donate blood. My mother had to be taken for the surgical intervention, with the chest infection. It was a 7 hour surgery. She was saved! She remained in hospital for a fortnight. It's been two months now, my mother is still bedridden. A lot of medicines don't suit her. My mother has always looked after others. This is probably the first time that others are looking after her. 

There is no way we can thank the excellent doctors, nurses and staff at Hospital N and the kind souls who donated blood to my mother. I am also extremely grateful to all our family friends who have stood by my family at all times. Some of them sat with us, for 7 hrs, at the hospital, when my mother was being operated upon, while the others prayed at home for 7 hours. I remember one 68 year old Punjabi family friend told my brother “Beta paise paddey hue hain ghar par, kyon phaltoo mein bank ja raha hai, le ja”(Son, money is lying in my home, why are you going to the bank to withdraw money? Take it from me). When my brother refused, he said, “ Achcha chal paisey nahi le raha toh mujhey at least khoon hi arrange karney de” (Ok if you are not taking money from me then at least let me arrange for blood). He did that. His older son is undergoing treatment for cancer and he had withdrawn a lot of money from the bank for his treatment.  May God bless all these people!

PS:  Every human being should have access to good healthcare facilities. There shouldn't be any class discrimination here. That's why I have referred to a certain hospital as 'Hospital 5-star'