Recovery

‘What happened to your hand?’, my friend asked me as he looked at a strip of new skin running along the inside of my wrist, six inches in length.

‘Remember my surgery?’, I respond casually.

 

The path to recovery after a traumatic ordeal is always challenging- one that teaches you a lot about yourself as a person and those around you.

There are days when I don’t remember the pain. These are usually the days when I don’t do anything. Most of the time however, especially when I am in the midst of my workout, , after a couple of pull ups, I feel the strain on my wrist- a reminder.

Over the past year, I have struggled with hair loss, inability to write my own exams, missing out on things because I could not risk it and being dependent on others for my transport. I could not run for 3 weeks, which was destructive for me considering how often I ran for my mental peace. More than anything, I could not do simple things such as eating, writing and taking a shower that are very much a part of our daily lives.

The red scar has faded now, a shadow of its former vitality- red, pulsing and sensitive(even painful) to touch. I recall the look of my fellow classmates as they saw 18 staple pins in addition to the internal stitches that my hand exhibited. It looked frightening. I thought it looked rather cool. The fact that I have a titanium plate inside my hand does not help. Metal that size is not supposed to be attached to a bone in your body. It is not natural.

Today, one year ago, I had my surgery for Kienbock’s disease, a surgery that was decided in a span of 4 days. I got diagnosed on Thursday and had it carried out on Sunday. It was the quickest, most bizarre thing I have ever instigated.

I look forward to the day when I can have the metal plate removed.

Then, I will only have my scar to remind me of what I’ve been through.

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Abstract Shoe Rack

Abstract Shoe Rack

I have never been one to appreciate abstract art, and I still consider it to be more or less a waste of time, paint and energy. But I realized that abstract art is truly abstract when it is spontaneous and that the abstract nature of art lives in everything that is created. It is an unconscious effort tha must not be subjected to planning or ideation.

When I first started painting my shoe rack, I decided to paint it in one color. I was thinking of either blue, green or brown. I settled on painting the various levels in different colors.

As I started painting the top most shelf with burnt sienna, I noticed how the color was projecting a reddish hue. I then thought of comparing this with scarlet lake, and as you can see with the second bar from the bottom on the top shelf, it was staggeringly red. I stuck with burnt sienna and continued below, and I thought of fading it into a mild Naples Yellow transitioning to Green. I decided to blend the green and the burnt sienna as if two colors were being pitted against each other.

I thought of painting the bottom most shelf, but then I decided against it. Instead, I simply painted a green ‘X’ that connected the legs of the rack. Finally when I beheld my improvised shoe rack, I felt that the reddish-brown color on top was too sharp. To reduce that, I added a white border which broke that harshness.

Once I was done, I examined it and I realized that in many ways, the painted shoe rack reflected my state of mind. I believe that unconsciously, I created a piece of abstract art.

The top level reflects my everyday state of mind. The transition of the middle level reflects the changes I have been going through with respect to the top level. The bottom level, starting with the interlinked green ‘X’ that travels up the rack reflects my inner determination and strength. The white border is the silver lining or the saving grace that is present in my life.

 

Bottom lineAbstract art ain’t all that bad.

 

 

Past Travels: Hullo United Kingdom!

It is three years too late to post this and it makes not much sense to do so, but I think this is a chapter of my life that needs to be blogged about just because it was a defining moment in my life.

You remember that much anticipated, feared and joked about Mayan Doomsday prophecy of 2012? The night of 22nd December, 2012, I was in a plane gazing down upon the brilliantly lit up city of Mumbai. I never thought a polluted and nauseating city like Mumbai could look so pretty at night. As I sat there, I thought, ‘Oh well, if the world does come to an end, at least I’ll be in the air’. I think I completely forgot about it within a few minutes when I felt a strange feeling take over me as I realized I was leaving my country, if only for a few weeks. It was after all the very first time I was travelling abroad, and I had just turned 16 three months ago. I listened to good music and waited until I could fiddle with the small television screen in front of me.

By the time I landed at Heathrow, I had finished watching three movies and had not slept a wink. I was so excited to see a new country and my sister that I could not miss the descent. The view from my window was a stark contrast to any Indian airports, if my memory serves me right. In India, you could feel the heat outside through your eyes as you watched ground crews scuttle from one location to another without a cheer on their faces. Here, there seemed to be a chill in the air outside. I waited until everyone had finished descending, just because I was an unaccompanied minor and was told by the charming air hostess to do so.

Eventually, I found myself at the front of the immigration line accompanied by two men who seemed super professional and like special agents or something. The kind lady at the immigration counter asked me for how long I would be there, where I would be staying and other normal questions that nonetheless made me nervous(I was 16 and travelling alone for the first time!). She wished I have a good time during my stay and allowed me to pass.

I was taken two levels below and to the ground level. The agent waited by my side. I spotted a smartly dressed girl with bouncing brown-black hair walk towards me. It took me a few seconds to recognize her. I smiled, feeling safe and secure as I called out to her. The agent left me with her after confirming that she was the one who was supposed to pick me up.

 

I still remember the first breath of the UK air I had inhaled as I exited the airport doors- pure, devoid of any pollution and extremely refreshing. It was freezing cold and wet, and the surroundings were bathed in the blue light of dawn, something I found to be characteristic to the UK.

‘Welcome to the UK!’, said my sister.

It was a welcome indeed!

 

I was ready to begin the best experience of my teenage life.

 

*

Continuing Post: “ Caerdydd, the heart of Wales 

 

Kienbock’s Disease II

I got diagnosed with Kienbock’s Disease on the 9th of March.

I broke the news to my family the very same day in the evening. Surprisingly they handled it well and I asked them to meet the doctor the next day. They agreed.

So on the 10th of March, my father and I met the doctor and explained to my father the main concerns of the disease. He said that according to the X Ray, my lunate seemed to be in good condition. The whiteness was almost the same as the other carpal bones surrounding it. ‘To be sure  however’, he said, ‘we must have a look at an MRI Scan of the affected area’. We were okay with that.

Kienbock’s disease can become a serious complication if diagnosed late. If my diagnosis was at Stage I, that meant I had a good chance of getting it completely treated. If an MRI Scan would tell us more about the condition of the lunate, that would mean that we would be able to take a more thought out and dedicated decision. The MRI Scan was a horrible experience. It was half an hour of lying in a painful and awkward position and a loud noises that made me think I would be impaired of hearing by the end of it all. Never before had I so a carefully felt the ticking of time.

The MRI scan’s result was fascinating. It showed my hand in various positions and scanned multiple layers of my wrist. I could make no sense of it, but the doctor said that while the lunate is in good condition, it was beginning to deteriorate. We had just made it in time.

We decided that yes, we would have the surgery carried out as soon as possible. The sooner the better, I thought. This was a Thursday. I wanted it done by the next weekend, latest.

I decided to get it done on Sunday, the 13th of April, just 4 days after my diagnosis.

The surgery that deals with an impending Kienbock’s Disease is called Radial or Ulnar Osteotomy. This involves surgically fracturing the bone, cutting out 2-3 mm of the bone and then pulling the bone down, levelling it with the other. I went through the Radial Osteotomy, which, my orthopedic said, is better than the ulnar osteotomy, for reasons yet unknown to me. This levelling of the two bones means the lunate is nw free to glide along the ulna and the radius. The bone is now in place with a Volar’s Locking Plate.

When the effects of the anaesthesia faded away and I regained consciousness, I remember the heaviness in my right arm. It was like a dead weight, except that it was very much swollen. The pain that radiated out of it was unlike anything that I had ever experienced. It was nerve-wracking. Even as I was carried outside the OT and to my room, all I could really focus on was the excruciating pain in my arm. It was almost unbearable. Can you imagine the feeling of having your arm cut off? Or getting shot? I think the pain would compare to that.

It was not until the painkillers flowed into my bloodstream through an IV drip did I manage to calm down and fall asleep.

Its been one month since that day and my arm looks pretty much normal now. The pain is bare minimal and fortunately I seemed to be having a speedy recovery. The real challenge would be teaching my muscles to coordinate properly as they once used to.

At the end, I successfully overcame Kienbock’s disease!

Kienbock’s Disease

It started with a fall in August 2015. I was in my local Capoeira class where I was hanging from an overhead bar when while trying to grab on to it I slipped. I instinctively pushed out my right hand and landed vertically with my wrist bearing the entire 70 kilograms of my body weight. It pained quite a bit and for a few days I could not do anything that would put too much of strain on my right hand. It got better, but the pain remained and every time I did a handstand, sharp jolts of pain would draw my attention to my stiff and aching wrist. Overtime, I realized that the condition of my wrist became worse as I could subject it to less and less pressure. And not just my right. I began to feel that even my left wrist was a little weakened over the past few months.

On the 9th of March, 2016, I decided that enough was enough and I am going to go see an orthopedist. I am a lazy person by nature, but when I perceive a threat, I either address it immediately or I overreact to it. Fortunately, I decided to address the issue prudently.

The doctor at the hospital checked my hand and asked me to get an X Ray. I was determined to find out what was up with my wrist and so I got the X Ray within an hour. What showed up on the doctor’s screen was an image of my hand’s skeleton. It was a little freaky to see my hand from such a perspective. The doctor, after addressing another patient took a look at the X Ray.

‘Well Devansh, the good news is that you do not seem to have any injury to your bone’, he said. I was almost smiling. My over analyzing mind was like: ‘I knew it. Its gotta be an injury to the muscular structure in my arm!’. ‘However’, continued the doctor, ‘the bad news is that you have what is called Kienbock’s Diesease’.

When the doctor said this I literally took a few seconds to fully take in what he had said. I could feel my world getting smaller and smaller. A disease, I thought. I have  bone disease.

Then he explained to me what it is.

Kienbock’s disease is a bone condition that is extremely rare. First discovered by Dr. Robert Kienbock in 1910, it is essentially a condition where the lunate bone, a carpal bone in the wrist, begins to disintegrate. Now this is a pretty severe thing. Eventually, the entire carpal structure of the hand begins to disintegrate, and if you think it is painless, think again. It causes arthritis in the hand. If not treated immediately upon diagnosis or if the diagnosis is late, the carpals have to be removed to ease the pain of the victim. This means that your hand is rendered pretty much useless. You might as well cut it off and get a cool bio mechanical structure.

There are several factor which could lead to Kienbock’s disease. My case was aggravated by my fall I had mentioned earlier. That likely caused trauma to my lunate and thus interrupted the blood supply to it. The bone also is a tissue and needs blood. Lack of blood causes necrosis of the bone. It becomes weak and begins to fragment. The doctor explained to me that my radius is longer than the ulna. Lost me? The hand has two major bones, the radius and the ulna. In a normal hand, the lunate slides comfortably above and along the ulna and the radius. When either one of these is longer, the lunate begins to grind against it when the wrist is perpendicular to the hand, like while doing push ups and handstands. That’s a pretty fucked up condition, right?

By this time, I was almost not breathing. ‘Fuck’ was going off in my mind like a siren. ‘What can we do about it?’, I squeaked. ‘It is treatable right?’

‘Of course it is!’, said the charismatic doctor. ‘We will need to perform a surgery called radial osteotomy in which we will reduce the size of the wrist bone by cutting of about 2 millimeters and leveling it with the ulna’.

That was all I needed to hear. I saw a ray of hope as he said it is possible to get it treated completely.

P.S- I’ll post pictures of my X Ray with the continuing post.

 

Have a great week ahead!

 

 

Growing Up

Yep. Growing Up. The reality we all must face when we are in college. And what a bittersweet reality it is. I turned 19 back in September and so far the journey as a first year college student has been one of self discovery and worldly realizations.

When you are in college, you learn to make new friends, have new experiences, learn a lot and actually have a lot of fun. With all of this positive upswing, there comes the constant reminder of the uncertain future. You are reminded of that whenever you speak to someone, or when you are having a good time socializing and you realize how you could instead be doing something productive and of course when you are constantly under pressure to perform well in the exceedingly competitive environment.

I am quite thrilled to get through my college life and start living responsibly as an adult. But I am also afraid.

‘What if it all does not work out?’

‘Am I studying the right thing?’

‘Is all these years of college going to be worth it?’

‘What after college?’

Such questions are what run through my mind at least once a week.

I believe I have grown a lot since I was 18. For one thing, 2015 was a year of revelation. Since then, I have come far. Like everybody else, I have different ways to cope with such stress. I listen to motivational podcasts, listen to music, workout and spend as much time doing the things I am supposed to be doing instead of cribbing about my condition.

Because I believe that when you make your choices, you’ve got to deal with the consequences. And there is no point worrying about your situation, is there?

 Summarizing the above through the following short poem!

Wake up with the light of the sun,

You hardly have time for some fun.

Get to college as fast as you can,

Prove yourself to be the standardized man.

Homework, assignments and attendance on mind,

You feel harassed by the daily grind.

Intense lectures call for attention,

Reminding you of adult life- a wicked intimidation.

And thoughts dwell on the forgotten past,

And what of the present which does not last?

Thoughts of the impending doom to come,

Make you escape through fun and rum!

You do know wisdom and you have grown,

Since a year before when the seeds were sown.

With courage and vision you shall proceed,

Its now or never!-may this advice thou heed!

Have a great weekend!

Writer’s Block

And what a huge block it has been. I don’t remember the last time I posted something, or even the last time I wrote a piece of good quality literature.

I don’t know about you, but I really need that dose of inspiration to write again.

I was just going through my site and I read up an old poem ( http://bit.ly/1JY299p ) I had written and quite forgotten about it. The feeling of reading one of your old works, especially one that is lost from memory, is great and quite inspiring!

This time as I try to get back to regular posting, I won’t make any promises. I’ll pray however, that I find the inspiration to write consistently.

Until the next time.