The ordeal over Papa's surgery began about the time when my grandmother passed away. The visiting family (including my mum and dad) began to notice that Papa was having trouble swallowing during meals. He was already on a mashed diet, so the docs were called in. A growth was detected in his esophagus and windpipe. The docs advised us to wait it out. He might just be able to keep going in spite of it, they said. The weeks passed, and it got worse. His breathing was laboured and every meal started to become torturous for both him, and those around him. By the time I arrived into Bombay, we knew that there was no alternative other than surgery to ease his pain. Although it would be a simple enough operation, the risks were much higher given his advanced age. Still, it was either that or literally watch him choke to death.
And so, surgery was scheduled for the 26th. It was the first time the poor man was leaving the house in almost 8 years. That in itself was a trauma for all concerned as we had to call in a cardiac ambulance and he had be to carried out on a stretcher. He looked so pale and so worried that we all wondered if that was the right choice. Would we see him again?
My aunt, two uncles and a cousin and the day nurse went off to the hospital. The rest of us stayed home and fidgeted and jumped like cats on hot bricks each time the phone rang. Seeing as it was just the day after Christmas, it rang a lot!
The surgery was postponed twice; first the doctor was delayed, then an emergency took precedence. Finally, we got a call that he was out and in the post opp. It had been a tough operation, the docs said. Touch and go at one point. They were only able to remove about 70% of the mass. Still, he rallied through and they were confident he'd be fine. But they kept him in the ICCU for that night, just to be safe.
We took turns to troop to the hospital the next day. And how we all marvelled! The wheezing had disappeared, his voice was stronger and more confident, his cheeks had a bit of colour (after ages) and his meals were going down a treat! And impatient. He didn't like being cooped up in a hospital room. He wanted to get down and move around. The docs looked impressed when they came around. Get him home, they said. We don't want him catching anything here. Filthy places, hospitals! And besides, he's giving the 70 year olds a complex!
When they were bringing him home, the cardiac specialist who assisted with the surgery swung by to say goodbye. Papa, take care of yourself, he said shaking hands with his oldest patient. Oh, and don't forget to have your glass of "Holy Water" tonight! Splendid stuff! Keeps everything in good working order!
And so, he's home now. Safe and sound and back to drinking whisky! Let's hope that he stays that way for a long long while!