100 Days of Dialysis

100 Days of Dialysis – Part 1

Its been nearly a year since I have been on Dialysis. Two sittings per week meant about fifty weeks; since I was on 3 sittings per week for the first few weeks, I hit the 100 dialysis sittings in about 11 Months.

When I heard I was going to be put on Dialysis, I thought my life was over. I might have a few more years to go and I am actually looking down the canon waiting for fire. That scene changed really fast. The first and second dialysis sessions were administered under ICU conditions, but the 3rd session was the one that changed the scene. I was taken to the Dialysis ward and immediately could sense a change in the atmosphere. There was a sense of normalcy, an air of familiarity and an indication of things working as per routines and schedules. This was completely in contract to the ICU conditions, and made it that much easier.

Vasuki sister as I call her, is the supervisor of the day shift and an ever-smiling face. Much of her patient related job responsibilities are about providing special attention to the new patients. This includes technical duties like cannulating the young fistulas and monitoring patient reactions and responsiveness to the dialysis; and, a bigger role that she plays is of being a counselor.  Her attitude and enthusiasm flows through to the patient and we start feeling emotionally a litter better just by her presence. Don’t worry I’ll write about her in detail later on, maybe throw in a little selfie too.

The experience as one can expect has been surreal. Hard to accept at first, trying to deal with ‘eventual-istic’ thoughts, and finally embracing the new lifestyle and start moving again. Its been a ride, and when I look back, or rather look at it from a ‘100 days’ perspective a few things stand out.

  1. Hospital Protocols
  2. Core Competency
  3. Patient Entitlements
  4. Life and Death

The rest of the topics are technical observations and a little lite hearted. Life and Death seems to be the hardest topic to talk about, so let’s get that out of the way first. Let’s take time with the other topics.

Life and Death

The night I had my first Dialysis, there was an announcement. “Attention! Attention! Code Blue in Dialysis 1, Repeat! There is a Code Blue in Dialysis 1” I didn’t know what it meant but I would find out soon.

It must have been around 10 PM in the night. There were just 2 nurses in my ICU, the M-ICU, and there were probably 4-5 more nurses in the C-ICU and N-ICU. There was 1 doctor in my ICU and probably 2 more in the other two ICUs. One of the Doctors from another ICU was hanging out here, and maybe trying to flirt with the Doctor in my ICU when the announcement came. At a moment’s notice, they ran! The 2 doctors ran like they had just heard gun shots! They ran for their lives! Or rather ran for a patient’s life.

In about 10 minutes, phones started ringing non-stop and I could make out that there was going an admission. In fact, it was clear that the patient who had just been called a Code Blue was being brought into the ICU. The nurses immediately got busy and started readying the bed, setting up equipment, loading doses into syringes and making way for the patient. The patient was stretchered into the ICU and there were about 6-7 people around the bed. The ICU nurses also joined the group. There was a big fat nurse, who was the shift lead in the ICU, he started doing the compression technique CPR to thrust start her heart back, but it wouldn’t budge. The patient’s BP was falling, and the pulse was dipping by the second. They had already shocked her once in the Dialysis ward, they shocked her again! I had just seen these sequences on film, but when I actually heard them yell out clear! I couldn’t help but turn my head towards the new patient’s bed. That’s when I found out that It was a woman. She must’ve been in her late 50s or maybe even 60. The BP was rallying around 40-50 systolic. They put her on a ventilator and inserted a central line. It was about 11 PM in the night now and she had become unresponsive. Alive, but barely.

The ICU staff had phoned up her doctor who incidentally happened to be my doctor too, and he actually came down to the hospital at that hour! He saw the patient, spoke with the ICU staff, summoned the Dialysis staff and tried to hold a small scrum and understand what had really happened. He spoke with the family, asked them to get an emergency admission and made it clear to them that the situation was very critical, and they couldn’t say anything with certainty for the next 12 hours. For those in scrubs, it had become clear, she wouldn’t survive the night.

I was woken by a nurse at 5 AM for the first pricks of the morning. Blood was drawn and I went back to sleep. In an hour I was woken up again for a sponge bath and change of cloths and sheets. I went back to sleep. Shifts changed at 8 AM, and the day time ICU registrar walked in. At around 12 noon, his voice casual, but making deliberate eye contact with the junior doctor and the shift lead, he said ‘I’m declaring it at 12:30’. The ‘it’ was the dialysis patient from the previous night and declaring was pronouncing her dead.

I was a little scared, for 2 reasons; 1, I had seen someone slip into death, and 2, the lady had just come to the hospital for a routine dialysis sitting and ended up dead, could it happen to me too when I start my dialysis?

Since then, about 5 people have passed away from among my dialysis buddies. Three of them from Dialysis 1 and two from Dialysis 2. Luckily none of them died in front of me. There were cases when some patients developed complications and were sent to either the ER or the ICU, and in some cases went on to get admitted to the hospital, but none among these have died.

My biggest blow came in the December of 2019 when a close friend passed away. He was a normal, healthy, vegetarian, non smoking, non alcoholic 30 year old. Like everyday, he bathed himself and walked out of the bathroom, took out his phone but soon fell to his knees and passed way. When his father found him, the towel was still soaking bath water and his body was still warm. They said it could be an SDC – sudden cardiac death due to unknown reasons. All of us, were taken by shock and couldn’t respond to the news. I was hit the hardest by the sight of his parents who were inconsolable. That night was particularly hard for me, because I constantly heard the haunting cries of his parents and given my proximity to death, more and more versions of ‘eventualis-tic’ thoughts came up in my mind. Luckily, I have been taught coping mechanisms and more importantly, I have friends to hear me out.

The deaths at the hospital somehow don’t emotionally bother you as much. Maybe its because of the professionalism of the hospital staff that rubs off on the patients and their relatives. We talk of the deaths, both with the staff and with other patients since the deceased had been a fixture in our daily lives. Because of the fixed routines and schedules, most of the patients and the relatives endup befriending each other and maintain a cordial relationship. So even after the death of the patient, when the family ceases to be in our daily lives, it almost feels like a whole family just got wiped out of our relationship radar. Its strange, that 1 death means the end of 4 or 5 people from our circle, but it happens. 

Not all is bad though, there have been 3 successful transplants this past year and those patients do pop in at the hospital occasionally with treats and greets for the nurses and doctors. They also stop to say hello to the patients as well. Transplant is the other end to the dialysis saga, the longer end to the story – but the happier of the two. Fingers crossed I can write about that soon.

~*~

Empathy Upgrade

Exhibit A

On 5th December 2017, just a little less than 2 years ago, a young woman killed herself. August Ames was 23 when she hung herself from the ceiling fan and asphyxiated to her death. August was a Canada born pornographic actress who had gotten herself into a twitter controversy.

August tweeted on December 3rd that she had turned down a job offer to work with a male artist who had earlier worked on gay porn and had not got himself tested adequately before offering to work with her in a boy-girl scene. She made the tweet less than subtle in expressing her disapproval and disappointment over the lack of ethics in the agents of the industry.

The LGBTQ community wouldn’t take this kindly and lashed out at August for the next 48 hours without rest or respite. She was massively criticized and was called Homophobic and discriminatory. Although a few pornstars and people from the industry backed her freedom to make choices of her costars, the LGBTQ community wouldn’t give her a break.

The bullying took to a fever pitch in just 2 days. Gay porn star Jaxton Wheeler wrote on Twitter: “The world is awaiting your apology, or for you to swallow a cyanide pill. Either or, we’ll take it.”

Finally on the 5th of December, she made one last tweet and killed herself.

Friends and near ones emphatically complained that August was a victim of cyberbullying. An autopsy conducted post her death also revealed that her body contained traces of cocaine, marijuana, Zoloft and Xanax.


Exhibit B

Incels are members of not so underground online forums. These online forums are mostly men, generally young heterosexuals who are incapable of finding sexual or romantic partners despite having the desire to socialize and form such bonds.

The group is explicitly violent in their ideology and openly endorses and encourages suicides. Discussions in incel forums are often characterized by resentment, misanthropy, self-pity, self-loathing, misogyny, racism, a sense of entitlement to sex, and the endorsement of violence against sexually active people.

Mass murderers in North America have either openly called themselves incels or have been adjudicated as incels based on their character traits. The first confirmed mass murder by an incel happened in 2014 when Elliot Rodger killed 6 people and injured 14 others in the Isla Vista of California. He made a Youtube video about his pursuit of extracting revenge over the womankind for rejecting him and other sexually successful men for making it hard for him to find women. Elliot has since been hailed as a hero in the incel forums in the dark holes of the internet.

Inceldom or being an incel by itself is not a mental or psychological disorder. People who identify themselves as incels may suffer from physical and metaphysical disorders. The inability to socialise with women and insecurity over one’s appearance makes one push themselves to believe the world is conspiring against them in indulging in sexual and romantic relationships.

The lack of success in the romantic or sexual front is not uncommon, and neither is it a danger to the society. The problem arose when incels rose from amongst us and turned against the society.


The two stories of Exhibit A and B are stories of empathy; one a real life incident and the other about the existence of real world cult. Now you might think, how are these stories about empathy? they’re so not empathy, they are the exact opposite of empathy. While Exhibit A talks about how a group of people ganged up against a young lady and Exhibit B is about a group of sociopathic misogynists out there to spread hate and violence.

Empathy from the earliest times has been held as a virtue. To be able to hear another’s heart beat; to put your feet in another’s shoe. To understand, to hear to feel one another’s emotions had been praised as the biggest virtue one can have. So yes, the definition of empathy is amply clear, but how does it relate to our exhibits?

What’s happened today is we are trying to empathise, but with whom? empathy is really about understanding others. But what we’ve made it today is understanding others with whom we can relate to. This is the biggest misinterpretation of empathy.

To take an easier example, if floods hit my native state, I feel a stronger urge to donate for relief causes. If the floods hit a neighboring state, I might feel less strongly for the need to donate. Now the act of donating itself is about feeling for others. So I am being empathic towards the victims, but why do I feel strongly for one set of victims and not so strongly for another?
we’ve somehow misunderstood the meaning or misinterpreted it as empathy.

What happened in Exhibit A is that the LGBTQ community, which is generally about acceptance and anti bullying turned up the heat against someone who they thought was against them. So evidently, it boils down to the fact that the LGBTQ are open to acceptance of life choices and being liberal about it only when it comes to the people of the community and not anyone outside. If August wanted to work or not work with any artist, isn’t it her choice? why would the LGBTQ community lashout at her? can’t they empathise with her? or is that privilege reserved only to those with whom they can relate to?

Similarly the incens of Exhibit B, the incel forums are by far one of the darkest holes of the internet. They openly endorse suicides, killings, rapes and torture, for what?? because members of the group cant get sex? because I can’t get sex and I can relate to some other 25 year old virgin should I call him names and encourage him to go kill the girl who rejected him when he was 14??

What we saw in these 2 examples is people want to empathise, but we choose to empathise with only those with whom we can relate. So effectively, I’m feeling sorry for myself, or someone who’s more or less like me. Is this even empathy?

We’ve seen massive organisations of people and groups all over the world, on internet and in the real world. They have a common agenda, a feeling of being wronged or misunderstood. I’m not saying all organised groups with agendas are bad; self help groups, support groups, AA meetings, these are also groups of people who empathise with each other – or empathise clones of one another, but these are not bad.

So what makes empathy real? It’s quite simple really. Are you really in another’s shoe thats actually his or are you just wearing another’s shoe that looks just like yours?

The next time you feel like being empathic about someone or some group identifier, just ask yourself, Is it really someone else or am I doing this just to feel sorry for a different flavor of myself?


Hoping Against Hope

On the auspicious day of the official FIFA world cup qualifier draw, we were hit with some bad news. Goal.com which is literally the mouthpiece of IMG Reliance and FSDL made a post speculating the exit of Bengaluru FC from their home ground of Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru. It was a jolt! This had been our home since 2016 when we bid adieu to the smaller and astroturf-ed Bangalore Football Stadium since the number of fans had outgrown the 8000 seater.

Without going into details, lets understand that the news is not new that the Athletics Association of the Karnataka and Bengaluru FC have been fighting a turf battle in the Kanteerava. Now Kanteerava is a multipurpose stadium – most stadiums in India are. Hence the athletes of different track and field sports need the stadium to practice. When Bengaluru FC or BFC for cuteness, has a game coming up, it takes over the pitch for 2 to 3 days. This obviously creates problems for the athletes of other sports and hence the tiff. There has recently been a court order by the High Court of Karnataka that the stadium needs to be used only for athletics purpose and BFC needs to make way.

I just couldn’t believe it. Many couldn’t believe it. Staunch BFC supporters and fans were in disbelief and then in denial that we could actually lose our home. Many went on to create social media petitions and tried to spam or slander with FSDL, IMG reliance and even AIFF.

But inside, there was a hope that things will be fine and we will find a way through this. We will still play at our home ground. But what’s the reason behind this mad hope? Well nothing. The case as it stands doesn’t allow us to play in the Kanteerava stadium and the case will come up next for hearing only in October, by when our season would’ve already started. So why this hope? Why this belief of things are going to be good? I looked it up.

Apparently there is something called the Delusion of Reprieve. It was first found in Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E Frankl.

The condemned man, immediately before his execution, gets the illusion that he might be reprieved at the very last minute.

Source

Basically, Mad hope.

This struck me hard. Not the meaning of Delusion of Reprieve but the fact that it happens so frequently in our lives. The earliest of examples I can think of from my life is when we first moved to the suburbs. There were only 2 buses to our house and it took a full hour to make the round trip. We would wait at the school bus stop waiting for the bus. It would get late, real late and we would know the bus isn’t coming this hour, but yet we would stand there and turn up at every sound of a heavy vehicle.

It also happens on a bad day at poker. It happens to everyone that you’re just dealt with bad hands. You check, bet low and fold time and again, and yet you continue to play. Hoping, and earnestly believing that the next hand is going to be good.

The easiest example that everyone will be able to relate is school. Don’t we all remember the days when hoped against hope that a certain teacher wouldn’t turn up at school? they wouldn’t check the homework books? just before reaching school had the feeling that there would be a board saying its a holiday?

Today it happened again, even though we have a court order against us, and on us for quite some time so that it has actually sunk in, we still harbor a secret hope. Hope that at the last moment some miracle man would save us, some miracle from god would bend the rules for us.

The trickiest part of the this effect is actually defining it. Because in the bare sense, delusion of reprieve is nothing but hope. And isn’t hope a good thing? a virtue to possess? Yes it is, and the trick lies in understanding when Hope turns into the delusion of reprieve. I’m not gonna try to define the line of distinction as its a changing line based on context and relevance. It is different for all of us, but what’s important and the actual objective of this post is to realize there exists a place to which we can descend into, where hope becomes insanity. So the next time you are locked in a box, ask yourself, is this hope tingling under my skin or is it the insane delusion of reprieve leading me to the fool’s paradise?

~*~

Brotherhood of Motherhood

I always thought I might turn into a good parent as I love animals. Or let’s say Pets in general. Why do people love pets? And is there a difference between the way we love our pets and we love our children?

Children are innocent and so are Pets, they can’t think for themselves and need to be looked after. Until recently I thought this was closely corelated. My world was opened by the book I’m currently reading.

Apparently Infantilizing is a thing. The dictionary defines infantilizing as:

Treat (someone) as a child or in a way which denies their maturity in age or experience.

We as people tend to infantilize other people around us. Generally, our children, and in cases people who are heavily prone to doing this, we may do this to everyone around us; family, friends, colleagues or even strangers. Infantilizing not only stunts the growth of the people around us and eventually makes them prone to developing Dependent Personality Disorder and other Passive personality disorders, but it also means the native who indulges in infantilizing has a necessity to keep the people around infantilized.

Meaning, the native wants the people around him or her to be as helpless and depended as infants are. Loving pets is infantilizing. When it comes to human babies, we want our children to grow up, first learn to look after themselves then learn to lead their own lives and eventually start their own family. We don’t envision all this for our pets, do we? We do look for mates for breeding and we do tend to grow the lineage or pedigree of our pet, but one important thing is that we don’t know what the pet is thinking. Hence all our actions towards the pet is basically a reflection of how we feel.

People who have cats as pets would know this better as they resemble human children more in behavior. Dogs remain infants as they are always up for a game and always ready to spread the joy. Cats would sit on their furry rear and may even claw or purr at you if they are not in the mood. Some dogs could also turn unruly, and we generally set it off at this point.

Another interesting point I learnt was the only thing we expect of our pets is obedience. This we can’t expect in human relations. And expecting or maintaining high degree of obedience would only lead to infantilization and hence the end for growth. If a pet is bad, you could send it off or abandon it, but you can’t do that to real children can you? Well atleast not always. There are cases where parents have beaten their children to death, killed cranky babies and suffocated crying infants. This is not because the child was bad – it was because the native couldn’t control the baby.

QED ~

1. Don’t think you’re ready to handle babies just because you like pets.

2. People who don’t like pets may make good parents after all.

~*~