The call came on a Friday morning. The usually chirpy voice was extremely weak, "I had a fever last week. For the past two days my back has been hurting like hell. We are going to Chetthipuzha hospital. Thought I'll just tell you" The pleas to get on to a taxi to come to Cochin where we were fell on to deaf ears. She was admitted on arrival. Her BP went low in the night and she was transferred to ICU. An ECG later, they asked to shift her to a hospital with better facilities.
Saturday evening, it was Pushpagiri and straight into ICU. M and I reached in the evening and she was her pleasant self, though visibly weak. My cousin who is a doctor there assured us there is nothing to worry, but her doctor gave us a different picture - myocariditis , possibly caused by the viral fever she had the previous week or sometime before that. Monday was M's first day in Bangalore office, so I insisted that he go back to Cochin. The first call from ICU came at 10.30 in the night.
"BP is going lower, she is in a critical state, we are injecting the medicine directly into the vein on her neck, please sign this form", and that was the beginning of a number of forms that I signed throughout the night. Sunday did not give us any hopes, except the usual umpteen opinions each one in the family has regarding the hospital, doctors, shifting to another hospital, getting expert opinions from all the doctors in the family and in turn whoever they knew as well. My poor brother who reached there not knowing the seriousness of the situation, my youngest sister who was crying over the phone and wanting to come down from Dubai, B who was already on her way, none of us knew what to do.
Sunday evening, the doctors said her kidneys had started getting affected. For this particular condition of heart, there is no treatment, it has to heal on its own, the only thing that we can do is give maximum support to the other systems. One of them suggested a rarely used machine, which when checked was available only in one hospital in Delhi.
Slight improvement on Monday, bad news again on Tuesday, we were desperattely waiting for the machine even though the doctors had warned us not to expect any miracles. My youngest sister also arrived by then. Wednesday morning, situation was the same and the machine was supposed to arrive by noon. Four o' clock, my brother and I were in the billing section to pay for the machine when my sister calls up and says the doctors have called us to the ICU.
"She had a cardiac arrest a few minutes back". That was it and a part of our life gone, just like that.
It has been seven months now, that heavy stone on my heart has not moved an inch, and it is as if someone is trying to choke me when I think of her. The questions still remain, would it have made a difference if she was in some other hospital, was there something we should have noticed earlier, the list is endless.
She had gone through a lot in her life, but no one had seen her without a smile on her face. She was the conscience keeper of her elder co-sisters, they left the keys to their homes and hearts to her and she guarded it with her life. For someone who came from a village, had not even graduated, had not travelled beyond Chennai, she thought ahead of her times. In a conservative town where her daughters were brought up, she welcomed their male friends home without the slightest of hesitation. In an orthodox Syrian Catholic family, where working women were the exception rather than the norm, she stood by her eldest daughter when she said she doesn't want to get married early and got her second daughter married off. One thing that she never recovered from was her youngest daughter's demise.
Without fail, almost everyone has told us, "It is not you, but I, who have lost. You don't know what she was to me." To her aging parents, she was their life line. To her brothers, she was the rock on which they leaned on. To her sisters, she was their dearest elder sister. To everyone who walked in and out of her home, she was the solution to all their problems.
To the four of us, she was our mother.