Life on a thin branch

2016 was the year when I started getting close to amma.

After her recurrent aortic dissection and a few more near-misses-with-death in 2015, I had realized how thin a branch her life was hanging on.

When you get up every day morning realizing this could be the last day you could be living with your mother, every goddamn thing changes in you.

Sure, she was not a terminally ill patient whose death was deterministic in time, but the probabilistic nature made every day even more valuable.

Let’s say you are in an airplane. Suddenly, both its engines fail, there’s a loud explosion and everything goes crazy – you are certain that the plane will crash within the next few minutes. That’s one type of feeling – and a feeling I hope none of us ever go through.

Now, let’s say you are in the same plane, but this time it is going through moderate turbulence. You know that while the plane will almost surely survive, the probability of a crash is slightly higher than the normal we are all comfortable with. 83

To me, living with amma who had aortic dissection complicated by her weak heart was similar to the second scenario. The probability – as perceived by me – that she would not survive any single day was not insignificant. It’s quite possible that the scary CT picture of her dissection – a leaky pipe whose rupture date appeared long due – made me feel this way.

This constant feeling that that day could be my last day with amma had become stuck almost like a wallpaper at the back of my mind for the past five years. Like a human eye does to a wallpaper in front, my mind’s eye noticed it quite a few times most days, at least in 2015 and 2016.

I wouldn’t classify it as paranoia. Perhaps I was a bit paranoid with the feeling of her imminent mortality in 2015, the year of her recurrent dissection and multiple hospitalizations, with almost every day seeming to present a health crisis for her. But beyond that year, it was more like a low-volume buzz at the back of my mind.

Fear of her death did not possess me, but the feeling was there in some way all the time.

Such a feeling makes a difference to you, and makes you do different things.

I can vouch for that.

Absent-minded consultant <= Life on a thin branch => Tempering tempers



83. Turbulence rarely causes planes to crash, and moderate turbulence surely will not, but if you are a passenger such knowledge alone is not of great help – surely there can be a first!


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