Eye-opening Case 1: Grandmother

August 2, 2012
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My grandmother recently had a heart attack. About six months ago, she was routinely doing chores and cooking food for my family in India, when she fell to the floor and started having heart pains. My aunt and uncle quickly took her to the clinical practitioner a few doors over and asked what had just happened. The doctor told them she had just had a heart attack! What was amazing was that even with the heart attack, she was able to walk to the doctor’s office. Nevertheless, my grandmother was taken to the hospital during which another doctor told her that this hospital would not be able to treat her. Therefore, once again, they went to another hospital in search of treatment. They decided to go to the best hospital in Thane (where they lived in India). There, my grandmother was given stents and open heart surgery where they set in balloons in the clogged arteries.

Six months later, I arrive in India for summer vacation. The first reaction I get from Baa (gujarati for grandmother) is one of a tearing up grandmother seeing her long lost grandson. It had been 8 years since my last visit to India, so this was an emotional moment for Baa. But something else was different as well. She was not the way she used to be. Throughout the month of vacation I spent in India, I observed her and really was shocked at the change in attitude and behavior. Baa used to always be ready to make food, be active, go outside. Now, she was too weak to make food, and was scared to go outside because she did not like seeing people at all. Even a little noise would disrupt her and cause her to have a headache. Although her physical health was getting better since the first time she came out of the hospital (she went from 15 pills to 3 pills a day!), her psychological health was deteriorating. Baa would have immense trouble sleeping and would have to take sleeping pills to sleep. One day, Baa secretly took sleeping pills when she was not supposed to because it gave her so much relief to sleep. For one to cheat on pills and one’s health just for relief must have meant there was unbearable or at least a perceiving of unbearable pain. This was not even the worst of it. She could never be left alone. She would yell and scream and cry like a baby if she was to stay home alone for even 5 minutes. Even if the next door neighbors (which, in India, means less than 1 foot away) were complying to looking after her for 5 minutes, Baa would not be able to stay.

The real point of addressing all these complications of Baa to you is to inform you how important health really is. It can break one’s life in seconds. And it’s not like you cannot control it. Every bad habit you keep builds up and shows its color some day. Keeping track of your health will allow you to not only live longer, but also let you live in happiness and activity. How painful must it be for my grandmother to consciously know that she is not able to do the things she used to do? I also shadow a doctor every other day and am exposed to the kind of complications that patients have. And let me tell you, you do want to keep track of your health. It’s better for you, your family, and your community. Do not procrastinate; join a gym or do at least 60 minutes of exercise a day. Control your diet also. Eating too many calories or too many calories of what time of nutrient is detrimental for health. Always eat a balanced diet. My goal in life is to address these concerns by becoming a doctor, and making sure that cases like Baa’s do not occur.

By the way, Baa is physically very healthy right now, and is also getting better psychologically. Although she refuses to go to the psychologist, I definitely saw an improvement in her activity during the one month I stayed in India.

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