Life At Sea Merchant Navy Sailor Stories This Life

Dealing with a medical emergency when your sailor is out at sea

Mumbai was in water on 29th August 2017. It received the highest rainfall after 1997 on one single day. How is it memorable for me?  I was in office along with a few colleagues, there were news updates about how it was going to get worse as the rain had not stopped. Finally people were asked to leave for home. I stay close by barely 10 minutes away. I left around 5 pm and was home in 20 minutes, took longer than usual due to traffic. I stepped into the house with wet feet, failed to notice some water on the floor that had come through the window. There I went flat on the floor twisting my knee so badly that it was numb; I couldn’t feel anything. The pain was just too much. My father in law was right there he held me by both my hands. My children saw me fall and cry so much ;they both started crying too. Mom in law rushed  in to check what had happened. They picked me up and made me lie on the bed. There was swelling and intense pain. Decided against going to the hospital as it was raining and traffic was bad everywhere. I thought it was a bad twist so it would take a while for pain to subside. Next morning I went to see an orthopaedic surgeon. The moment he examined me he said that he feared that it was an ACL (Ligament) tear. He said that he was going for the same surgery. I didn’t want to hear that. He added that I needed to get an X ray done but that wouldn’t show the ligament tear so I had to go in for an MRI too. I was at loss  of  words.  Had not thought of this even in my wildest dream. I told the doctor that I was too scared of the MRI machine. He asked me to tell the technician that; he added that for knee MRI there was no need to get into the machine completely but they’d use an attachment on my knee only. some solace there.

I rushed to the hospital, Xray came normal. Then went in for the MRI, I know if dad or my husband was with me I’d have created a scene but here I was with a friend who was accompanying me. All emotions under check.  It took half an hour for the process. The report was expected the next day. I met the doctor the following day with reports. It said complete ACL tear and MCL grade 2 injury. Doctor said that I might need a surgery but it wasn’t something that needed to be done immediately. I asked him if there was no other way, told him that I had a very strong will power and would do whatever it took to ensure that I recovered. He wrote his prescription. I asked him if I could go to work and also told him about an important seminar that I had to attend. He gave me the green signal with an instruction that I shouldn’t strain myself too much. I left his clinic and followed his advice. Got in touch with the physiotherapist too but didn’t start it immediately. Finally came 8th and 9th September I did summon all courage to attend the International Summit. Took ample rest to recharge my batteries.

Sent my reports to a couple of doctor friends and guess what? Almost all said that it would need a surgery and long rehabilitation. My inner voice kept telling me it couldn’t be that bad as I was feeling fine, wasn’t experiencing any great pain either. At least 3 friends called me and shared their experience of the same inury and the subsequent surgery. Yet the stubborn inner voice kept telling me that  each one was different….. I was certainly DIFFERENT!

I was to see a physiotherapist on 11th September. Thought of sending her my reports in case she had some other advice for me. She did call to tell me that my injury needed a surgery but for rehab she’d help me. I shared with her what I really felt. Hearing that she advised a second opinion. I cried my heart out thinking of the consequences and outcome of this whole episode. I had to be brave. When the sailor husband is out at sea, old in-laws are taking care of you and you have two children to look after, you have no choice but to be brave. I zeroed on one orthopedic surgeon that my sister in law had visited a couple of months ago and a friend shared his feedback too. Guess what, both of them didn’t remember the doctor’s name. They told me where they had visited him. I googled him and got his details. Immediately called him to take an appointment. He asked me to see him at 7.15 pm that evening.

There I was well on time to see Dr. Mahesh Maheshwari. Had to wait for my turn. Finally he examined me and the way he spoke made me feel extremely comfortable. He said that I didn’t need a surgery. I held his hands and thanked him, tears in my eyes. As if this was what I had longed to hear. I know for sure that one must allow the body to heal on it’s own, giving some time. If that doesn’t work then surgery can be the last resort. I was ready and willing to give it a try. He wrote his prescription and showed me 3 exercises to do and asked me to see him in 10 days. I am in this phase at the moment. Religiously doing the exercises and taking it easy. Going to office wearing a hinged knee cap and taking the support of a walking stick. Don’t know what’s happening inside the knee but the person in me is extremely optimistic, looking forward to a fabulous and speedy recovery.

Knee brings some humour

Husband called through video chat the same evening I fell. He didn’t show his fear or concern but I could read his expressions and see it in his eyes how worried he was and how helpless he felt. After asking me what had happened he said, “Tum sab jagah apni tang adati ho nah, isliye yeh hua.” (You poke your nose everywhere that’s why it happened, in Hindi we use leg instead of the nose bit). I gave him one dirty look then but have been smiling thinking of that. He asked me to get second opinion also check with doctor friends. Above all be strong and follow the doctor’s advice. He is checking on me every single day to ensure that all’s fine.

Where can sons be left behind? They cried so much when I fell down, one kept saying that I was the best mom in the world as if someone would listen to that and not punish one good mother. I continue to feel nice about that innocent expression. The elder one who is into football, the moment he saw my report that showed ACL tear; quipped, ” Mumma so many footballers have got that injury Kurt Zouma,  Ruud Van even Neymar Jr. has got many leg injuries:.  I felt as if he took pride in my achievements! I come in the league of such greats. What if the fall was inside the house and not on a football field, It’s the spirit that matters after all!

The 50/ 50 Game

The people who are close to me, know me well kept saying that I won’t require a surgery. They were even more hopeful than me. That included my parents, in laws, my boss as well as work colleagues and a few friends. The ones who use more logic and referring to case studies told me that surgery would be a good idea. I listened to all but wanted a validation of what I felt from a doctor and Dr. Maheshwari did that for me. I am grateful to everyone for their concern, love and all the caring. Infact a friend who has gone through a similar injury told me that even if I felt good didn’t mean that the wound was healing.

Happy to be in the 40s

Dr. Maheshwari said that if I was in my 20s and very active like Sachin Tendulkar, may be he would’ve suggested a surgery but not at my age and the kind of lifestyle I led. He then asked me how old I was. I said ,” 41, infact 41 and a half so that made it 42!”. He laughed saying that to avoid sugery I was adding an year. I am glad it was me who had a fall in the house that day and not my in laws or kids as I could  handle it better than them. Also thankful that I am in my 40s though I have never felt older than 21.

Way forward

It’s been three weeks and have a few more towards recovery. I am doing the exercises and feeling better in spirit and have things to look back and laugh at. In fact a friend who is a VP in a company holding a very important portfolio says, “Nazar lag gayee”( evil eye). She also added that everything can’t be perfect always. A few ups and downs are a part and parcel of life. Well said indeed. This is a passing phase. Each phase leaves you with something profound. This was probably a message to me to slow down a bit, to value what I had in life and that nothing mattered apart from good health. Lessons taken, in fact absorbed and digested. Thankful for the fact that I have some great friends, colleagues and relationships;  all that’s my earning, my rewards!

Doctors are next to Gods

Being a doctor is certainly a noble profession. Doctors play such an important part in our lives specially in the downs, the sorrow and sufferings. They can bring about changes, they were truly called the Gods. It’s so important for the medical fraternity to remain true to their profession, cause and mission. They also need to have good counselling and inter personal skills. Which I feel some of them lag. These qualities are so important when dealing with patients and their families. Rehablitation is as important as the medical care, sometimes even more. I am a trainer and I can certainly do something in this direction. In fact I have decided that I’ll take up training sessions for doctors and contribute whatever I can towards them dealing positively with patients as well as towards  their rehablitation.

Second opinion

My advise to anyone dealing with a complex medical condition would be to take second opinion, in fact take third, fourth or fifth if need be. Also listen to what your heart and mind says. Being positive always helps and placebo effect is known to all. All things being equal your attitude and your mindset contributes towards your recovery. Each individual is different and will response differently to the treatment. No harm in giving some time and having patience, if your doctor feels so.

PS: This blog is only a feel good post, it might help some people reading it as some people’s experiences helped me. It is not a medical advisory but my experience with an injury and how I am dealing with it. 

Prof. Laxmi Todiwan
Is an Educationist, Counselor, Corporate Trainer, Show Host and a Blogger. A hospitality professional with a career spanning over two decades. She is the Founder of Indian Women in Hospitality (IWH). She is married to Master Mariner Capt. Rajesh Todiwan and her two sons complete her family. She writes regularly for hospitality journals and columns in the local newspapers. Being a sailor queen, she loves to write on shipping industry as well as the lives and relationships of the fraternity. She expresses her thoughts in her blog The IWH.

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