I Am Not Well (Part 2).

Thursday, July 30. So on Thursday, my temperature started coming down a bit.

Ah, the road to recovery, I thought.

I can go back to office on Monday, I thought.

Tra la la la la, I thought. Before passing out and sleeping most of the day.

My mother called at some point and told me that she was going to come back to Bangalore. I saw red.


"Did they take a malaria test?"

"Yes, of course they did,"

"What did it say?"


"The report?"

And then I went through the report and realised that they'd only taken a platelet count - and asked me to return on Friday because platelets can take a while to drop.

"But she told me everything was negative. So I assumed that she took the dengue and malaria tests."

My mother didn't even shout at me. She understood that a) I've never been to a hospital under such circumstances, i.e. alone and b) that I was half-delirious most of the time and c) I am generally useless although less useless than I used to be.

But I assured her I didn't need her to come back because S. (who was away on a shoot) was coming home that evening.

Friday, July 30. Relatively boring day. Slept. Went to hospital. Got blood tests done. Blood pressure scarily low, but the tests were all negative. Went home. Yawn. Except for when I went to sleep - this agonising itching started around midnight - everywhere. I couldn't get to sleep till 3 in the morning. The itching on my face was particularly bad - forget scratching, I wanted to rip the skin off my face. But my skin was clear, there were no rashes. I spent an hour crawling around my bed, inspecting it for bedbugs or fleas - but nothing. An irritating mystery.

Saturday, July 31. In hindsight, I should have just started documenting everything from this point onward. But oh well.

So apart from the usual tiredness and fever, everything seemed normal until 10 PM when I went for my bed-time bath. I noticed a red rash covering my arms. And then I noticed, to my growing horror, that it was all over my body, including MY FACE.

I am very particular about my complexion. I follow a Set Skin Care Routine. Exfoliation every alternate day, a cleanser twice daily, followed by toner, followed by moisturiser, followed by vain attempts to get rid of the dark circles under my eyes. So you can imagine what this rash - and dryness, my nose and parts of my face had started peeling - did to my soul. I also had a huge pimple on my cheek, just to add some icing to the cake, I guess.

I yelled for S.


I would like to say he came running, but he moved at an infuriating slow pace and informed me it wasn't measles.

"Measles are like little red pimples," he said. "This is just a rash,"


"Do you want to go to hospital?"

Remember how I told you I loathe hospitals more than anything, and do my best to avoid them?

Not this time. Not when it comes to my skin.


So at 10.30, we went off to this hospital down the road from where I live. I solemnly vow never to go there again. We got to Emergency and the 'doctor' looked at my rash and confirmed it wasn't measles; it was an allergy or maybe a result of the viral fever.

And then he got a nurse to stick an injection into me.

There was a brief tussle for a moment - I thought she wanted to inject my bottom, and I refused to let her touch me, protesting that my bottom was sacred. But she finally managed to communicate that she was going to stick it into my hip, so that was okay.

The 'doctor' seemed supremely unconcerned. He had an ugly face, which is forgivable, But it had an ugly smirk on it. That is not forgivable, especially given the circumstances. And he didn't check the inside of my mouth or my eyes and more importantly -


That's right! No lab coat! Just an ugly brown shirt and ugly brown pants (that suitably matched the aforementioned ugly face and ugly smirk) and I distrusted him from the start.

I called my mother to tell her what had happened, and I told her (and S.) that there was no proof that jackass was a doctor, he could have been a Man Who Sits At A Desk, but as usual, no one listened to me.

Neither the injection nor the pills he prescribed helped me at all. That night, my fever went up to 103 degrees. I drifted in and out of sleep, shivering despite the four blankets I'd piled on top of me. And then, at 3 am, when the world was dark and quiet, I woke up because my face felt funny.

Sort of like when you're drinking water and you put too much in your mouth, and so it spills out, trickling down your chin, and your neck.

I put a hand to my chin, and I looked at my fingers in the moonlight. They were covered in blood. It was blood.

I'd only been awake for a few seconds, and I wasn't thinking properly, so in that moment - just a split second - with my body burning up and blood pouring out of my mouth, I thought, maybe, that I might die. I don't know how to explain it without sounding like an idiot. It was such a fleeting feeling. And my only thought was about something I regret; something I have been regretting for a long, long time, something that I broke and cannot fix.

On the bright side, I can't do anything about it, not even if I end up on my deathbed. I don't know whether that's depressing or comforting.

Anyway, like I said, it was a thought that passed as soon as it came, and I stumbled to the bathroom where a very gory sight met my eyes.

The entire lining of my top gum, the entire semi-circle, was bleeding more heavily than it's ever bled before. In the front, where it was pouring down my chin like a waterfall. At the back, where it was filling my mouth like a monsoon pool.

And if you think reading about it is disgusting, imagine what seeing it was like.

Luckily, we actually had a medicinal mouthwash in the house - not a regular one. So I coollied with it three or four times and the blood started receding, and it finally went - only my gums were redder and more raw than usual.

S. looked scared, which was gratifying, and he kept checking my nose for blood. According to him, it's a sign of high blood pressure, and I think he would have rushed me to the hospital if it had been bleeding. But it wasn't.

Everything seemed okay for the moment, and I didn't really want to call my mother up at 3 in the morning, so I went back to sleep.

I told her about it the next morning, and before I knew it, my aunt and uncle (who live down the road) spoke to some doctors who recommended I go to the hospital. They all agreed that it sounded a viral infection, albeit a really nasty one, and that 48 hours of supervision would, perhaps, be a good idea.

I nearly objected - I have never stayed overnight in a hospital before, let alone two nights (except when I was born which doesn't, obviously, count) - but then I caught sight of myself in the mirror. The rash had gotten even worse.

"I'll be ready in fifteen minutes," I told my aunt.

And then I started packing my things.

To be continued. 


I Am Not Well (Part 1).

There are sometimes advantages to being sick. Not when you have a cold, mind you (there can be no advantage to snot flowing out of the caves that were once your nostrils), but maybe a mild fever that lasts a couple of days. You can lie in bed for hours on end, with nothing but sleep and books to keep you company, and ask people to bring you cups of tea and they can't even tell you to get it yourself because that would make them Selfish and Inconsiderate and Unfeeling. Ha ha. 

But what I've been through the past week, my god, I've been through the very depths of hell and I swear that for once I'm not exaggerating. 

Tuesday, July 28. My mother had been in town and she was leaving that morning. She was on her way home after a month-long trip to Amrika and Engerland. She turned 56 on the 25th, by the way, and when I made fun of her age, she asked me to compare our lives to see who had the better one.

She doesn't usually get the better of me, but when she does - ouch. 

Anyway, so I spent the previous night at my aunt's, so I could have a Last Breakfast with Mum before she left, and I woke up that morning in agony. Terrible pains in my chest, the back of my knees, my wrists. I bent down to pick up something I'd dropped at one point, and the pain was unbelievable. 

"Something's wrong," I told her.

"Nothing's wrong. You just slept awkwardly."

"But I've never had this sort of pain before,"

My mother's explanation?

"You slept awkwardly in a position you've never slept in before,"

"Never slept in before? In twenty-four years?"


I let it go. Sometimes, with my mother, you have to let things go. There's no other way.

Anyway, I kissed her goodbye, and hugged her tight, and then left for work with a slight lump in my throat. Because the world is a strange place and I am more fond of her than anything else in it. 


I was feeling awful by the time I got to work and by noon, I was burning up with fever. So I finished off the bits and pieces of work I had to do, and went home at lunch-time. 

I don't know how I got home and I don't remember the next 24 hours either. I just sort of lay there, drifting in and out of sleep. I do remember having to go to the shop to get water because my Aquaguard isn't working and I haven't gotten around to fixing it, and I remember that it was a very painful excursion. It's just a 2 minute walk, but I had to stop and rest, and when I got home, my fingers couldn't hold the packet the water was in, and the bottles fell on the floor, and rolled around, and I spent another painful 2 minutes attempting to pick them up.

Oh, the tragedies I have lived through. The sufferings I have been through. The traumas I have - 

Okay, getting back to the point, otherwise no one's going to believe I'm not exaggerating. 

Wednesday, July 29. I woke up feeling worse. I knew I needed to get blood tests done because the joint pain was getting unbearable, and the fever was disturbingly high, but I hate hospitals. I spent much of Wednesday morning googling doctors who do home-visits instead.

There are none anymore. Which is really terribly sad. 

My mother called. 

"I think you should go to the hospital for tests," she said.

"I can't go to the hospital on my own," I said irritably. 

"Chini can take you. Suja spoke to her and she says that Chini's brother works in a hospital close by. She thinks you need a blood test."

Chini is the lady who comes to help out at my aunt and uncle's house every morning. She makes very good coffee and I adore her - not just because of the coffee. 

"Well, see if she can arrange for someone to come to the house. That would be good. Because I cannot go to the hospital." And then a bellow to make my point - "I CAN'T EVEN WALK PROPERLY." 

"Okay, okay, I'll call you back." 

I was settled in bed when the doorbell rang and Chini walked into the house. I hadn't been expecting her. 

"What are you doing here?" I said in surprise.

"Come, we'll go to the hospital."

"No, no," I protested. "I don't need to, Chini. I'll get someone to come to the house. It's absolutely fine. I'm completely okay,"

"No, let's go, it's close by." 

I made a last feeble protest. "My legs hurt."

"I'll get an auto for you and we'll go together."

There are some people who, without the slightest hint of authority, in the sweetest, most matter-of-fact tones, Get Their Own Way. Chini is obviously one of those people and I am no match for her.

I found myself quietly putting my jeans on and hobbling out the door. 

We got to the hospital, it's close by, on Miller's Road and ironically it's called Vikram Hospital (I didn't find it amusing, but all my friends did) and Chini introduced me to her brother who is on the nursing staff. They took me to the Emergency Department and I climbed gratefully into a bed. 

The first thing they did was attach me to a drip. It was exciting at first because I've never been attached to a drip before, but it stopped being exciting very soon, and after they took my pulse rate (I could hear it beeping away on those machines which was slightly scary) and my blood pressure and stuck a bunch of needles in me, I fell asleep. 

Chini was a star. I had to stay there for 2 to 3 hours, so I told her she ought to go home instead of hanging around, but she refused to. She got all the paper-work done and paid the bills while I drifted in and out of an uneasy sleep. I didn't have to lift a finger; she was, to put it simply, amazing. 

The tests were apparently clear (I thought I'd been tested for malaria and stuff but more on that later) and the doctors thought it was viral fever. So they gave me some tablets and sent me home. 

Chini dropped me right to my door, I assured her that there was plenty of food in the house and that I'd be fine. And then I staggered to bed and fell asleep again.

A small side note on dinner that night. I was too tired to make a sandwich so I called this Chinese restaurant near my house. I don't usually order from them, they're on the expensive side and I don't like their food as much as Delicacy which in my opinion is the best Chinese restaurant in Bangalore, but I was craving soup and Thai Green Curry. So I ordered that. 

The soup and curry came and ten minutes later, I realised there was no rice with it. I burst into tears. Pathetic, I know. And then I got angry and I called the restaurant and they told me I had to order the rice separately (a small steamed rice, by the way, was 150 bucks).


(Later, mulling over this matter, I realised that this is India, and maybe green curry and chow mein is not unheard of.)


At this point, I started crying again over the phone (my fever was at a fever-pitch) and I must have scared the poor man at the end because he said he'd send across rice for free. 

Now my temper is explosive, but it never lasts for long, so five minutes later, I called the restaurant back. 

"Listen," I said. "I'm sorry for speaking so rudely. I lost my temper. I still think it's a little unfair - you should mention that there's no rice with it, because most restaurants send rice, but I shouldn't have spoken to you that way. Please send the rice, but I'll pay for it."

"No, Ma'am," the poor man at the other end of the line said, probably cursing his job. "We'll send it for free." 

"No, sir. I insist on paying for it. I'll give the delivery boy the money."

"No, Ma'am," said he. "It's absolutely okay. Please just take the rice."

"Well, thank you very much," I said, after another minute of arguing with him. "It's very kind of you and I'm so sorry about shouting the way I did. It's really...so kind...I..." And then I started blubbering again. 

"We'll send it immediately, Ma'am," he said in alarm. "No problem, don't mention it."

The power a crying woman has over men is truly one of life's greatest mysteries. 

To be continued.