Subhrajyotri details the year-long struggle of his mother against Cancer. He talks about the doctors who tried their best to help her revive. Here’s a soulful tribute by a son, exclusively in Different Truths.
I had landed in my hometown, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, on a weeklong leave from work, the first one after a gap of nearly a year. The date was precisely 17th January 2016. My wife had not been able to accompany me this time due to some urgent audit assignments and other professional pre- occupations at work. Two days before my scheduled flight to Bhubaneswar, Dad had informed my wife and me about Mom’s eyes turning yellowish, particularly in the sclera region (the white part of the eye surrounding the pupil). Dad had accidentally detected this symptom while on an evening stroll in the nearby public park. However, we were pretty sure that she might have contacted jaundice due to the intake of junk food during her recent visit to my maternal village.
The day before I reached home, my mother’s sugar test results showed an abnormal increase in the level in her blood stream, which shocked the doctor and my Dad equally. As per the doctor’s directives, the pathology technician collected the blood samples second time for re-tests the same day to double check the results and ensure consistency in the same. The re-test yielded the same result: an exorbitant increase in the sugar level in her blood. The doctor prescribed a host of medicines to control her sugar level and directed to periodically check the same by using a glucometer at home. Thus, from that day onwards, Mom was put under a tight diet regime with strict adherence to a medication schedule prescribed by the doctor. Dad had meticulously committed the medication schedule to his memory, given the fact that Mom was never interested in memorising anything remotely related to medicines.
Apart from the sugar level monitoring and the strict diet control, Mom had to go through the Ultrasound scan too on her abdominal area and on the doctor’s recommendation, the pathology technician conducted a kind of advanced blood test on Mom. The results were due on the evening of 17th January 2016, the morning of which I reached home. But due to some unavoidable reasons, the lab could not make the results ready on the evening of the promised date. So, Dad had no other option but to wait for the next day. These two days, 17th and 18th January 2016, I remember, were quite tough for my Dad, making him quite restless. He used to get irritated on trivial issues, which never used to bother him earlier. It was clear that he was expecting something worst after a long conversation with the doctor in private. It was this only, which was keeping him worried and restless. I dared not query him on that night, for I feared it would make the situation worse. However, though I was not much of a religious person, I was sure nothing serious would have happened to my dear Mom.
My Mom, on the other hand, seemed to be quite fine physically, but she had started to show lines of worry on her forehead. She seemed to have sensed that something unexpected and bad might be coming for her in days to come. Noticing this, I used to console and convince her – all will get well soon.
The results came on the evening of the 18th January, which my Dad had collected from the Lab, and without wasting any further time, had immediately rushed to the clinic for the doctor’s views.
Mom’s blood had an alarmingly high bilirubin level as a result of spilling out of an abnormal amount of bile from the Common Bile Duct (CBD) to her blood stream. That meant there was something in her CBD that was blocking the smooth flow of bile from her liver to the gall bladder for subsequent help in digestion of food in her small intestine. The worst fear of the doctor was taking shape. For further confirmation, the doctor carefully studied the ultrasound image and confirmed to Dad that there were unwanted growths in the form of nodules or tumor on the internal walls of her bile duct that was causing her bile to leak into her blood, thus resulting in yellowish eyes.
The doctor opined for insulin injection for a couple of weeks, twice a day before food, in order to bring her sugar level under control, and hence, prepare for biopsy of the sample tissues from her bile duct and if required, surgery in coming weeks. Hearing this, my Dad became further tensed, but he somehow was able to control and hide his actual emotions, most probably to avoid scaring his children.
A biopsy was scheduled on 24th January 2016. On the said day, my Mom went through one more round of Ultrasound and MRI scans to locate the position of the unwanted tissues that were causing mayhem in the sugar level and spilling out of her bile. A biopsy was basically a bloodless procedure, which went on smoothly and the samples were collected for the necessary tests. The surgeons tried to clear the Bile Duct as much as possible during the procedure. The Biopsy result came in a day or two, as per which the nodules or tumor in her Bile duct were still benign. But the doctor did not seem to be convinced and asked for a re- test. The re-test result also said the same. It was suspected then that the tissue samples under test might not have been collected from the affected areas adequately due to the difficulty and complicated anatomical size and the position of the bile duct in our abdominal area.
Further to above, a random blood test, post biopsy, indicated the rise in bilirubin concentration in her blood again. That was a clear indication that something was still wrong and thus, it called for an immediate measure. The doctor opined for the Whipple‘s Procedure (a surgery technique to remove the nodules/tumor from the CBD and re-attach the same at its initial position) on my Mom, which was going to be six to seven hours long – the toughest and the longest time in our lives.
‘My Mother’ is an emotional sojourn of a son, narrated by the author in first person, for he was the one who went through the heart-wrenching experience of seeing his mother from being normal two weeks before the surgery to the bed-ridden condition post-surgery, while the situation fast becoming bad to worst and detection of 4th stage cancer (severely malignant phase) two days before her demise, with not even the faintest chance of survival- all these in a span of only one month!
The author, basically a poet, has incorporated several poems in this work for he felt that his emotions could be better communicated by poetic verses. The author hopes his readers would appreciate his straight-from- heart effort in sharing the story of how he lost his beloved ‘Mother’, his dearest person on Earth, to the most dangerous, most difficult to diagnose and one of the rare type of cancer.
[Disclaimer: The author is neither a medical practitioner nor a surgeon. So the various medical terms used in the book are based on his limited understanding of that of a patient’s family member and hence, this book doesn’t claim to be medically accurate.]
About the Book
Mother: A Tribute of a Yearning Son, is a book based on true events spanning nearly a month, from the day the first symptom showed up in the author’s mother till her last breath. The book narrates the several tests conducted, including biopsy, on his mother to diagnose her health condition as precisely as possible. The doctors finally confirm a rare type of cancer called as ‘Ampullary Carcinoma’ due to malignant tumors in her Common Bile Duct (CBD). This book doesn’t showcase only the tough battle of an ailing mother against the ‘crawling crab’, but also the unshakable determination of the doctor to save his patient and not the least, the perseverance and the resilience of each and every family member to hold on to the faintest of hope until the end. The poetry section of the book has numerous poems dedicated to the author’s late mother and all the mothers, in all her forms.
About the Author
Subhrajyoti Parida is a graduate in Mechanical Engineering from Indira Gandhi Institute of Technology, Odisha and holds a Post Graduate degree in Industrial Engineering from National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Mumbai, specialising in Supply Chain and Operations Management and is an APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP). Currently, he is employed in Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). He resides in Bangalore. He hails from the temple city of Bhubaneswar, Odisha. When not managing the supply chain, he loves poetry, photography, travelling, and of course, spending quality time with his wife and his family.
(Contributed by Subhrajyoti Parida, author, Mother: A Tribute of a Yearning Son).
Editor’s Note: Excerpted with permission from Mother: A Tribute of a Yearning Son, by Subhrajyoti Parida. It is reproduced as received. DT has not edited it.
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