Circa December 2003:
“May I come in, doctor?” he asked, pushing open the door slightly, and popping his head inside.
Dr. Rao looked up, over the thick rim of his spectacles and said “Yes, please my dear!!”
As he sat down, Dr. Rao finished writing something into a patient’s file and looked up at him. The expression on the doc’s face suggested that it might have dawned on him, just then, who the patient sitting in front of him was!!
Dr. Rao stared at him for a second, picked up a file next to his right hand, flipped thorough the latest reports in deep contemplation, and then placed the file down. He gave a broad smile and took his patient’s hand and squeezed it slightly. “Your reports are normal. That means, you are almost perfectly fine now. I declare you fit and cured, from Epilepsy”.
He took some time to digest that news. “Thank you so much, doctor… for all the help and support.” He couldn’t say any more.
“Well… it was just my duty. But I want to add, that you must continue taking care of your health. Avoid too much stress. Whenever you feel tensed, make sure you take long breaths. Take adequate sleep, atleast 7 hours a day… With all these precautions, there is less than 1% of your epilepsy relapsing. And you can lead a perfectly normal life… you know, I mean… you can get married, without any worries… because epilepsy is not hereditary…”
“Thanks for the info doctor… And I promise, I’ll take care of myself… By the way…” he said with a twinkle in his eye, as he was preparing to leave, “you lose another patient today…”
“I’m more than happy, son!! All the best!! I hope I’ll never see you back here, as a patient!!”
Tears of gratitude welled up in his eyes. He took the doctor’s hand, shook it gently, stood up, turned, and walked out of Dr. Rao’s room.
July 22 1998:
7:30 am. He was getting ready to leave for school, and was sitting on the sofa, wearing his shoes. Suddenly he had a weird sensation in his head. As if something was rushing at him, and before he knew what happened, everything blackened.
As he later would recollect that feeling, it seemed like in a horror movie, when the camera comes zooming towards the victim very fast, and stops abruptly at his face, as if something hits him.
When he opened his eyes, he saw his mother sit beside him on the bed, with a shocked and concerned look on her face.
“What had happened?”
“Nothing… are you feeling ok?...”
“Tell me what happened” he asked irritably”
“Nothing much… you just were unconscious for some time, and had a small fit”
“What!!!” he couldn’t digest it… Nor was he in a position for it… He felt very drowsy and soon fell asleep.
His mother later woke him up, and took him to the hospital, to the Neurology ward, where he first met Dr S N Rao. Dr Rao asked him to undergo a C. T. Scan and an EEG (Electroencephalogram) test. He was so drained out after the incident in the morning, that during all the time he was in the hospital, he would fall asleep, wherever he would sit. He even got admonished by the EEG technician for falling asleep during the test, coz that would give wrong results.
October 7 1998:
The worst he had expected… happened. He had another attack, at around the same time in the morning.
This time when he visited Dr. Rao, he was asked to get started on the medication, and was prescribed Encorate (Sodium Valporate) tablets, one each in the morning and the night.
January 12 1999:
Two years passed. He was now a student of 12th standard. He had not had any attacks in those two years. The tablets seemed to be doing their job well. Another year of no attacks, and he would be done with them… probably for life.
January 19 2001:
The attack decided to give him a surprise. It met him, when he had walked a little distance from his home, on his way to college, after having a great time at their Annual Day celebrations, for the past three days.
He realized it was coming. Things around him got dilated, and started moving around. He panicked, turned around and made a dash for home, hoping to make it there before he passed out. He couldn’t. He gave a scream calling for his mother, and fell down and swooned.
When he regained consciousness, it was that same feeling of enervation, exhaustion…
Dr. Rao was also worried. He too hadn’t expected this after two years of no attacks. He prescribed stronger medicines this time. Epilex Chrono 500 (1-0-1)
March 24 2001:
He was submerged in his preparations for his board examinations, and CET (The Common Entrance Test) which would decide the college in which he could pursue his engineering. He was good, and he knew it. He knew he had it in him to get into 'the' best college in his state. He aimed for nothing less.
At 2 pm, fate decided to test him further. Epilepsy made another attack on his nerves, and he could feel his nerves snapping in his head, and the sinking feeling of falling into the abyss…He became unconscious again.
He had had enough of it. Dr. Rao himself had enough of it. He put his patient on main stream Epilepsy drugs – Tegritol (Carbamazepine) 200mg 1-0-1.
He took the first tablet that evening after an early dinner at 7 pm, and slept for the next 18 hours – flat! His mother woke him up once at around 10 am next morning to have some food, but his eyelids seemed to weigh tons, and he gave up, only to wake up at lunch time, still very groggy. He managed to force some food in, took another tablet, and woke up from his bed for dinner, at 10 pm.
Luckily for him, things started getting better from the next day onwards… although the tablets were heavily sedative, and he had to battle drowsiness, to stay awake, and study. Probably, without that inspiration, he would have succumbed to sleep, more often…
The first of the two most arduous battles he fought, in his war against epilepsy.
April 9 2001 (Monday):
It was the day of his first Board Exam – Physics. He had woken up to more than normal-temperature, which had worsened since when it surfaced, the previous afternoon. Try as he did to console himself, he could not brush off the fact, that he had fever.
Armed with a bottle of glucose water, he attended the exam, in not-totally-fit condition. It went well. Very well infact, considering that his body was getting hotter by the minute.
That evening, the fever had its toll on his energy, and forced him to stop studying, and lie down. His mother came back from office, and found that his body felt like the interior of an oven. Literally!!
She took him to the hospital, and he was checked by the doctors in the Emergency ward. 105 deg Fahrenheit, they said. They asked him to get admitted. He tried to protest weakly, that he was in the middle of his board exams. He was sternly said, that if he had to have any chance to write his next exam three days later, he had no choice, but to get admitted. He broke down.
The medical staff, first tried to bring his alarmingly high body-temperature down. They turned the fan to maximum speed (since he did not complain of any problem, other than high temperatures), and they used ice packs on his body for four hours. The temperature dropped to 103 by midnight.
He was tested for malaria, typhoid and cholera. All tests reported in the negative. But one test reported abnormal levels of a particular hormone associated with the Liver. He was tested for jaundice, but that too showed up negative.
The doctors could not identify what the disease was. But when they were told of his Tegritol medication, and they researched about the effects of the tablet, they traced the problem to one of the side effects of the tablet. They named it Enteric fever.
He was put on heavy antibiotic treatment from Tuesday. It was 20 ml of Amoxicillin injection, once in a day, for five days. The syringe was enormous in size - about 2 cm in diameter - and the mere sight of it was downright scary. The injection took about two and half minutes to be injected intravenously on the hand, and by then, the blood would have had enough journeys around his body, that he could even feel the taste of it, in the capillaries of his mouth. Also it would cause the area around the vein to swell, such that he could barely bend his hands.
He took the first injection on his right hand, on Tuesday and the second on his left, on Wednesday, so that his right hand was fit enough for him to write his exam on Thursday.
April 12 2001 (Thursday):
Early in the morning at 2 am he was hit by a bout of diarrhea. By 8 am in the morning, when he got ready to attend his Chemistry exam with zero preparation, it had drained all the energy from his body. So much so, that he needed to just sit on a chair, and he’d fall asleep in less than half a minute.
His mother had lost much hope of him even being able to write the exam, and pass, let alone score anything beyond it. Until the previous day, she was quite hopeful about his condition. But diarrhea had hit him real bad. And despite, her having to be strong and encourage him, she found herself unable to control her tears, and was sobbing seeing his pathetic condition.
At around 9 am, he himself stood up, consoled his mother, and asked the hospital staff to call for an auto, and headed to his examination center. His father, who was coming from
He had literally no energy to make it through the examination, but the atmosphere at the center, seemed to have charged him up, and he braced himself, with the last bit of reserve energy he had, and entered the examination hall. He came out only after the final bell had gone, three hours later, satisfied and immensely pleased with his effort. His mother was again in tears, but this time, happy beyond words, to see him pull it off.
He went back to the hospital and was kept under observation.
He was discharged from the hospital on Sunday, April 15th and was given strict instructions to take complete bed rest, the entire day, and not attempt to study and strain himself.
April 16 2001 (Monday):
As if he had not had been tested enough, destiny chose to grill him further. The next big battle he fought was during The CET – Common Entrance Test, the competitive examination for entrance to the professional courses in his state – Medical and Engineering.
May 17 2001:
It was the day of his Physics CET examination. He had done a small mistake which had costed him 1.25 marks in the Mathematics examination, the previous day. And in an examination taken by approximately 1.6 lakh students, where even a quarter of a mark, could make a difference of around 100 ranks, it was a very costly mistake for him. Especially considering the fact that, he still was aiming for the top 10.
At the strike of the half an hour bell during the exam, (which was later adjudged as the worst paper ever in the history of CET) the ghost of Epilepsy haunted him again. He just had just enough time to get up from his seat and go and collapse on the floor outside the classroom he was taking the test.
Luckily for him, his center was in his own college where all the staff members recognized him. He later found out, that the college night watchman Pandu, who was going around distributing drinking water, had found him having a fit, in the corridor, and had splashed several glasses of water on his face, in an attempt to help him regain consciousness.
By the time, he came back to his senses, and was ready to go back and resume his test, he had lost 13 invaluable minutes, out of 70, in an exam which would decide his future. Although severely disheartened, he answered his paper for the remaining time and walked out, utterly devastated.
He went back home, and slept, like he did always, after the “short-circuit” in his neural network. His mother who saw him coming home unexpectedly, in the afternoon, knew that something had gone wrong, and broke down, when he told her what had happened.
He woke up in just in time to have some lunch and hurry for his Chemistry CET exam. He was thoroughly demoralized, but Chemistry being his most favorite subject and strongest point, he decided to put in his best effort in the exam. He walked out solving the entire paper in 45 minutes, 25 minutes before the final bell.
June 13 2001:
The results of CET were announced. The final ranking was based on 50% marks from the board exam results of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics (scaled down from 100) and 50% marks from the corresponding CET exams (scaled down from 60).
He had scored 28 out of 60 in Physics, which was very good considering the average scores, and the fact that he had survived an attack, during the examination. And he had scored 60 out of 60 in Chemistry, which he had taken after his attack.
Now-a-days, he has found a new hobby. He writes short stories.
(Based on a true life story)