Life is just a block away

Musings on everyday life

by

Suresh Pattali

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Published: Thu 8 Jun 2023, 7:43 PM

Having children who are medical doctors has its pluses and minuses. First, the negatives. They would behave as if they have become an apothecary by consuming an ocean of knowledge just to dispense materia medica to their own parents. They would pull you down from the parental pedestal to the predicament of a sickly person with an impertinent nudge — thrice a day — to gnaw a modicum of food they prescribe for you while they hogged, sitting across the same table, all that they ordered on Talabat or Deliveroo. They would later dash off to some 24/7 joint to bite the last piece of that cholesterol-seeping meat off a spicy shawarma cone, after tying up your conscience inside a pill organiser.

They would even exterminate a few vestigial vices that had stayed harmlessly in your system since the college days. The whole exercise bordering parentification would make you a valetudinarian. And, of course, a proactive patient, as my consultants outside of family now call me, who would call an ambulance at the drop of a hat because of a sting in his right toe.


“Something is wrong with my heart, doctor.”

“How do you know?”


“My right toe is aching.”

“How did you conclude it’s a heart issue?”

“Isn’t it true that the toe is supplied with blood by the heart?”

“Did you step on your girlfriend’s toes recently?”

Such conversations are not beyond the realm of imagination if you are a hypochondriac. You then become a joke at the nursing station and in the smokers’ corner at the office car park.

Now the positives. Your doctor-children could actually save your life by setting up an early warning system. Initially, it might sound like an unsettling conversation with a Chatbot on a medical website, but it still works if you follow their instructions in letter and spirit.

“Did you take your clopidogrel this morning?”

I tried to Google it when my son added: “What about statin?”

“You are talking all Greek, son. I am unable to remember all these names.”

“Do you forget your wife’s name?” My daughter added her two cents worth.

“She has been living with me for over 40 years.”

“You happened to learn her name after the tragicomedy called marriage happened to you. Am I right? Similarly, you need to learn these names as they would stay with you for the rest of your life. By the way, did you take your bisoprolol this morning? Dad, taking heart medications should be a diurnal rhythm like brushing and having a cuppa,” the children chorused.

I nodded, and for the rest of the day I filled all the holes in the medicine organiser until my fingers dropped off like in a supernatural horror film. After 13 long years, I am still struggling to get the words clopidogrel and bisoprolol right.

The last time he returned to Germany, my son hugged me at the DXB departure hall and said after rubbing my potbelly, half serious half joking: “You tick all the boxes for another health issue. Get your heart checked.”

“I haven't missed any medication in the last decade. All check-ups are done every three months. My LDL has consistently been less than the optimal 100 mg/dL. My lipids have been a tad lower than normal. So I need not worry, my son.”

“It’s all in the genes, dad, if not in the lifestyle.”

More than his words, my own little clairvoyance has since been haunting me. I did three myocardial perfusion scans and two angiograms. I walked several kilometres a day, played table tennis, drank less alcohol and humoured my heart with more coquetry.

“Why another angio? You are doing very well. Your recent nuclear and echo scans give a clear picture. Be positive,” said my doctor as he scrolled through the legacy files.

“Please, let’s have one more. Let’s listen to what my heart says,” I pleaded as he unrolled a scroll full of risks and complications involving a coronary angiogram. I signed on it without even asking ChatGPT.

As I lay down on the X-ray table and my docs bored through a 75 per cent blockage to lay the Red Line of life in a key arterial promenade, I could see a sense of jubilation on the team’s face through a thick veil of sedation. I didn’t know so much had changed inside of me during my journey from size S to XXL.

The smell of life permeated all through the ICU. I was the newborn and the concoction of innocence and mummy juice dripping from my lips was manna for everyone. The nurses, the doctors, the cleaners and even the caterer who served hash browns for lunch and salmon for dinner exuded the smell of life. The air in the long ICU corridor, where I toddled back to jocundity, was thick with the smell of life.

“Sister, why is this machine I am tethered to making noise?”

“Oh, it’s naughty.” The Egyptian nurse flashed a seraphic smile as she disappeared behind the self-closing ICU doors.

suresh@khaleejtimes.com



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