Wednesday, August 08, 2018

A scan report (and photos) from a year ago

Haven’t put much “personal-personal” stuff here for a while — but well, since I have written a few such things about my mother for official publication recently, and shared links (this and this, for instance), here goes…

The images below are reminders of how photos can be misleading, or plain untruthful, in some ways (while of course being truthful in other ways). They were taken exactly a year ago, August 7 2017, a nighmarish day for mum and me. I had gone to the hospital that morning to collect her latest scan report and discuss it with the doctor. Waiting outside his cabin for 20 minutes, I did what I had promised myself I wouldn’t do: opened the report, glanced through it, realised from past experience — and despite the tangle of evasive medical phraseology — that it was bad news. This was confirmed a few minutes later: the doctor took a look, put on his most worried and official face, said “yes, it’s progressed quite a lot” (progress, as we conservatives will tell you, isn’t always a good thing), and that a second round of chemo would have to quickly begin — as early as the 11th. I asked if it were possible to wait until the next week, so she could be better prepared, but no. (I won’t relate his immediate response here — am saving it for my multi-volume series about insensitivity, incompetence and nastiness in the medical profession. But to be fair to him, he did tell me later that even with another 12-week chemo cycle, she probably had 6 to 8 months left at most.)

Anyway, after I got home and broke the news to mum and Neelu maasi (who was in Delhi at the time), I saw one of the very few cracks in the facade of cheeriness that mum had built up — through continuous physical and emotional pain — over the previous year: she didn’t say much, just went to bed and lay down for an hour in the position that was least painful to her back and arm, keeping her head buried in her pillow. Then, as if none of that had happened, she got up, washed her face, combed her hair, settled down for tea, chatted with maasi and Abhilasha (who had dropped in), coochie-cooed at Lara. That’s when we took these photos. In some of them, mum is smiling straight at the camera, something she had rarely ever done even in the good days. Faker. 

Four days later, we were back in hospital for the start of a 2nd chemo cycle that would, almost from the beginning, take a much greater toll on her constitution than the first one had a year before...


  1. There's a lot of casual cruelty that docs indulge in - I can never decide if they are just not taught empathy and sensitivity, or whether they actively enjoy behaving as if they lacked the genes for this. Then i think, kids go off to study medicine when they are just teenagers and are bombarded with the umpteen ways in which the body can malfunction - no study of the arts or the finer things of life - no wonder they are such a khadoos lot. Sorry about your mother, Jai, it must have been tough even seeing these snaps again.

  2. These are Sebaldesque posts. It's very difficult to go through them without feeling your pain. I wish you strength.

  3. Doctor's are mean spirited. Not all but most. 9 our of 10.
    I rank doctors in the same category as used/new car salesman, crafty real estate agents, auto mechanics and all those people who people who prey upon you when you are weak. They are vultures and medicine is highway robbery.
    And they way they gloat about the money, it is so shameful.
    You go with shraddha and needing compassion when you are vulnerable/weak/emotionally drained and what you get is doctor who is eyeing on the money.
    Instead of 2nd round of chemo, after knowing the outcome in advance, he should have let nature take its course. Instead he made her suffer even more.