Given that she had some pain somewhere everyday, taking her to the hospital for non-serious symptoms would mean that we would be visiting the hospital practically two or three times a week! With this in mind, for almost five years, amma and I had agreed that we would visit a hospital only if it was really needed.
Hospitalization was a real challenge for both amma and me, and it also meant leaving appa alone at home. Besides, given her complex health conditions, hospitalization for one problem and the diverse medications they gave during her stay always seemed to create some other problem for her.
On balance, it was best that she was hospitalized only if she showed really serious symptoms. And I was fairly confident about the symptoms that were serious enough to warrant rushing her to a hospital.
She too had realized that minor pains were not serious unless accompanied by some other symptoms, which she was aware of. 145
With the above in mind, I had been her unofficial doctor for many years. The formula I used was simple but effective. I did not panic for every chest pain; instead, I took her blood pressure and blood oxygen measurements, and if these were within expected ranges and if there were no other serious symptoms, I tried out natural treatments such as leg massages, natural health supplements in the form of nutritious food and drink, and asked to relax and take a lot of rest.
These worked so well that for almost three years that we had not visited her cardiology hospital even once. For someone with complications such as amma, incident-free three years is remarkable.
Amma’s health troubles however seemed to get a bit more intricate than usual starting May 2020.
First, it was a foot infection that she had had a few times in the last one year. It lasted slightly longer this time, but I took care of all the treatments at home using the antibiotics that were prescribed to her earlier.
Post this, for a week, she had minor troubles with her back which I was able to diagnose as a sprain and provide relief using balms available at home.
Starting mid-may, about a month before her death, she had a variety of minor pains with some of them a bit unique in their character, but I took care of all these at home. It was a bit unusual for her to have so many problems around the same time, but none of these were serious, and I had resolved each of them within a few days.
It was perhaps because of this long history of being her unofficial – though unqualified – doctor that I never even thought of taking her to the doctor for almost a week after she started having leg cramps and neck pain – surely these cannot be life threatening! 146 I tried to treat these myself through massaging, a few other natural treatments, and through antibiotics. As these efforts were not successful, I had to take a real doctor’s help at last.
I have reflected dozens of times since her death if I should have taken her to a hospital a week earlier and entrusted the diagnosis and treatment to real doctors. I’m not sure it would have made a difference to the final outcome, but in hindsight, it looks such a plainly – and painfully – obvious thing to do.
145. The symptoms I was asked to look for, in addition to chest pain, were – breathing difficulties, pain in the shoulder or stomach, swollen or bloated feet, dizziness, excessive sweating, nausea, or vomiting.
146. I was a bit worried about her leg cramps as I thought it could be deep vein thrombosis, a condition in which clots form in the deep veins of the leg and if it travels all the way to the lungs, it could become life threatening. All the same, as she was already taking anticoagulants, I felt she was already taking medications to resolve the problem.
Read Amma the fun way!
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