AN UNCOMMON STORY OF A COMMON MAN...!!
Rajeev S. Thatte
B.Pharm. (Hons.), M.M.S. (Finance)
A severe car accident leading to Skull Fracture, Epileptic fits, Paralysis, Rectal Cancer, Tuberculosis, and a Kidney Donation to wife, all happening in the last twelve years! A real story of a common man who struggled hard and is still living cheerfully and happily...!!
Quick brief about myself
Before I start narrating my story, I would like to give you a very quick brief about myself.
Although it has nothing to do with the ‘real’ story which I shall tell you, it will give you a short background of the man who has undergone so many major illnesses and is still happy!!
I am Rajeev. Rajeev Shantaram Thatte.
Basically, I am a person from a family of writers and journalists!!
I have done my B. Pharm. from the University Department of Chemical Technology, Matunga, and my M.M.S. from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai.
During my college days, I used to write a weekly science column in Navshakti, for over four years. I have produced over 40 programs, on All India Radio, on various science subjects.
I was also interviewed thrice on Doordarshan under the program, as a successful entrepreneur.
I have written stories and articles in newspapers such as Loksatta, Lokmat, Tarun Bharat, etc.
I started manufacturing of Ayurvedic products in 1982, immediately after doing my B. Pharm, M.M.S. without taking up any job.
I started manufacturing in my own factory at Badlapur. It was under the ‘’Young Technicians Assistance Scheme” of M.S.F.C. and Development Corporation for Konkan. I got a 95% loan and the balance I borrowed as personal fixed deposits from my friends and relatives. The total cost of the project including land, building, plant & machinery, and working capital was only Rs. 4, 50,000!!
I was a first-generation entrepreneur. My financial investment in the activity may have been “zero”, but I more than made up in innovativeness and outstanding hard work.
The year 1982, I was the first in India to come out with Ayurvedic products in the form of Capsules. The brands were Energy Forte, Pylinon, Diabetica, Herthika, Feminine Forte, Urika, Lava, Asthasol, Livofit, Allergywin, Rhumiton, Raktaprabha, Bravo-The brain tonic, Ashutosh Baby Care Tonic, etc. We came out with a booklet on “Baby Care”, “How to Study” and “How to take care of your hair”. These booklets were given free with each pack. The sales were making miracles!!
Those who are currently in the age group of ‘’fifties to seventies’’ might still remember newspaper advertisements, that were a paradigm shift from the traditional advertisement pattern of Ayurvedic products. Subsequently, a lot of companies followed after me and that trend still continues.
Then I started my own coconut oil, under the brand “Pure Gold’’. It was enriched with vitamin E, for the first time in the world! I was the first to launch a 50 ml bottle. During those days, 50 ml size in coconut oil was not permitted. I gave 20 ml + 30 ml free in one pack. A lot of other manufacturers took objection to the 50 ml pack size. But mine was 20 ml + 30 ml FREE! There was no weight control on anything less than 20 ml. We won the case!
We also gave an Accidental Insurance policy worth Rs. 50,000 free with each bottle of ‘’Pure Gold’’. This increased the turnover of our brand and took it to second position in Maharashtra!!
Nowadays, I run the Facebook site “Mumbai Dinank”, I also have a social media website www.mumbaidinank.com.
All are popular and have over 20,000 likes and a regular readership of over 2, 00,000!
That is where I stand as of date i.e. in the year 2022.
Now with this background, I hope, it will be interesting for you, to read about my real experiences in a life after 18th March 2002.
Accident & Brain Surgery
Eighteenth March 2002.
Just a day before, i.e. on Seventeenth March 2002, Shri Saibaba came into my dream. In the dream, I was standing in a queue for taking Shri Saibaba’s darshan. While standing in the queue I accidentally fell at his feet. He was inside a glass cubicle. When I fell, my body was half inside the glass cubicle and half outside the cubicle, without any cut to my body. He lifted me up and gave me his blessings, “Do not worry about this fall’’ he said.’’ Everything will go on smoothly in your life.”
When I woke up in the morning I was thinking about the dream. I and my wife Sandhya visited the Shri Saibaba temple in Thane to reaffirm his blessings.
Then this calamity struck.
On that same day, I was on the way to my office in Vikroli. I wanted to have a sales meeting, followed by the accounts managers meeting, and then my daily routine work.
I had just finished a meeting with the Vice-president of Marico Industries Ltd. Some brand disputes were in progress with them and the meeting was for amicably settling the same.
I was reading a file giving reports on salesmen's performance during that week and was comparing it against the salesmen outside the Mumbai area. A future action plan was taking shape in my mind on various issues when suddenly the driver overtook another car rather rashly.
“Be careful. Did you drink last night? I have been watching you since morning, you are driving the car very fast. What is wrong with you?” I questioned my driver.
The driver remained silent.
Then in the next five minutes my car collided with another car coming from the opposite side. It was my driver’s mistake. My car was heavily damaged. The front windshield was totally shattered. The engine and bonnet were mangled due to the heavy impact.
I got out of the car. The driver was completely free from any injury, he had not even a scratch!! People rushed to the spot and they took me to nearby Dr. Samant’s Hospital. Doctors immediately took me to the x-ray room. X-ray was taken. Doctors found a fracture in my skull. He immediately asked me to shift to Hinduja hospital. Meanwhile, my staff reached the hospital as they were telephonically informed by the doctors about the accident.
I watched myself in the mirror of the hospital. There was blood oozing out from my nose, ears, and mouth. The eyes appeared damaged due to the accident. I started feeling unconscious. I asked for some water to drink. My office staff arranged for water. I sipped some water and meanwhile, I lost consciousness as if I was about to die!
I could fairly understand that I was on the way to Hinduja hospital in an ambulance. My wife Sandhya, son Ashutosh and daughter Amruta, along with my neighbor Mr. Mohite, first rushed from our home in Thane to Powai where Dr. Samant’s hospital was located. There they got to know that I had been shifted to Hinduja hospital. They then rushed to Hinduja.
In the ambulance, I started to get recurrent fits. I lost control of urination and passage of stools. I was shivering and my entire body was wet and full of dirt and blood. Two or three people were trying to control me, on the stretcher, but in vain.
The ambulance reached Hinduja hospital. I was in very bad shape. All my clothes were torn, wet and I had blood flowing out of my mouth, ears, nose and now from eyes too!
The time was 6.30 in the evening. Being an accident case doctors were taking their own time to offer me medical help. Finally, all formalities were completed.
Sandhya, Ashutosh, and Amruta were helplessly watching the doctors. They were shocked by my status. Their Baba who had gone to the office cheerfully was on the stretcher now. It was a great shock to them. Sandhya was trying to tell the doctors to give me urgent treatment. Amruta was crying beside me.
Meanwhile, many of my neighbors from Vasant Vihar, Thane, where we lived, rushed to Hinduja. Sandhya telephoned our close family friend Dr. Pradnyesh Chandarana and called him to Hinduja. My friends and employees also rushed to the hospital.
At 1.00 am at night Dr. Milind Sankhye along with other doctors took me inside the operation theater.
They explained to my family members that I was in a critical stage and they had to move for an urgent surgery. The surgery was complex and there was a risk to my life while performing the surgery.
Despite doctors telling this to my family members, my wife was very positive. ‘’Rajeev you are going inside the operation theater. Do not worry. Doctors will bring you out soon.” Sandhya said to me. I could hear her voice coming from a distance. It was my first conscious state of mind after almost 6-7 hours!
I acknowledged her and replied back in mind itself, as the words would not come out, “I know you all will wait for me, till I come out well.”
Then again I lost consciousness.
My father-in-law Keshav Patankar and my mother-in-law Mrs. Nisha, my elder brother Anil and his wife Mrs. Smita were present at the hospital since evening. My brother Sudhir and his wife Nandini also came at midnight. Other relatives were also present, except my parents. They were not told about my accident on that day, looking at their old age. (However, they were told about this accident once I came back from the hospital. They came to meet me at my residence…)
A major operation took place that day. Doctors told my family that I may lose one of my senses. It may be vision, smell, or taste. I remained unconscious for five days. Sandhya used to sit outside the ICU, crying and praying to God to save me. Ashutosh and Amruta have never told me how they felt during those days. Ashutosh was studying engineering and Amruta was in the eighth standard. How they must have faced all those days, only God knows!
My brother-in-law Rajesh Omkar came down all the way from Singapore. Rajesh was a gem of a person. He remained present in the hospital throughout all emergencies.
After around five days I started regaining consciousness. I had several tubes all around my body. In the mouth, nose, ureters, and where not! The Cardiogram gave the status of my heart. One of the most important things was, that I started seeing everything! My eyes had recovered fully. But I had lost one important sense, the sense of “smell”. Everyone was happy with this result!
Dr. Milind Sankhye came to visit regularly. He was surprised to see my rapid progress. “Looks like you want to go home early. Keep on progressing rapidly.” Dr. Milind said to me.
During the visiting hours, many well-wishers came to see me. I always used to ask Ashutosh to offer them tea! Looking at my positive approach! Everybody used to say, “Ashutosh has arranged for the tea. We had it just now outside!”
Ashutosh had no previous experience of any relatives undergoing this type of trauma. Not once did I see him cry and he became much more mature and caring during the days after surgery. He used to sit next to my bed the whole night and take care of me like a “father”!
Sandhya cared for me like her own newborn baby. She was very worried about my condition but she never disclosed it to me. She was taking care of me as if she was my mother taking care of her own baby’s health!
She was too young at that time. She used to come to the hospital and make me happy, cheerful, and stress-free.
On the tenth day, after the incident, all of the tubes were removed from my body. I saw myself for the first time in the mirror. My head was fully shaved and there were thirteen platinum pins visible from the outside.
During the surgery, doctors had opened up the entire skull and ‘cleaned’ my brain, which was damaged on the front side, and stitched the skull back. It was very delicate for the next six months. Anything going wrong with the skull would have impacted my health very adversely!
On the fifteenth day, I was taken to a physiotherapy gymnasium of the hospital. They trained me on various fronts such as regaining my balance while walking, limb movements, etc., all to take care of my brain damage. Other weaknesses were also taken care of in the gym. Ashutosh used to follow me to the gym and get things done as per the doctor’s instructions.
On the seventeenth day, I requested the doctors to give me a discharge from the hospital. Dr. Milind Sankhe came. He saw all the reports, examined me thoroughly, and gave the discharge after two more days.
It was a miracle! A patient who had undergone brain surgery was discharged on the nineteenth day!! It was a medical history!!!
I came home. Slowly I started walking around in the garden in front of my home. I started chit-chatting with our neighbors. I started reading newspapers, both Marathi and English. I started communicating with my office telephonically.
On the twenty-fifth day after the accident, I got up in the morning. Dressed up, had my breakfast, and started for the office.
Sandhya, Ashutosh, and Amruta were all against me going so soon to office. But it was in vain. My mind was made up!
I got inside my old Maruti 800 and proceeded to the office, driving by myself and without anyone accompanying me!
Medicines recommended were Eptoin one tablet three times a day!!
Eight days after discharge, I had been advised to consult Dr. Milind Sankhye to show him my progress. I carried a nice bouquet with me, gave it to him, and said “Thank you very much for bringing me out of the hands of death. Thank you!”
He smiled. “It is in the hands of God, who will survive and who will not. God wanted you back in this world. He brought you back. So thank him only. I am just a cause.’’ Dr. Milind Sankhye politely replied. But for me, Dr. Milind was like “God”!
Gradually Dr. Sankhye further reduced the dose of Eptoin tablets. It was to be discontinued completely after reducing its dose every month, for five more months. Wasn’t it a great surprise for me? No medicines after six months. Doctors are gods. And God is great! So doctors are great. I whispered to myself.
There was one more miracle that had occurred. My eyes were intact and I could see everything. Both my right and left eyes had some blind spots due to the accident, but the blind spot in the right eye was visible through the left eye and vice versa. I was partially blind but with both the eyes working together I was in a position to see everything in the world!
One day my close friend Dr. Prakash Vaidya and his wife Mrs. Shubha came to my residence. They got to know everything about the accident the earlier day, as they had been out of town for the whole duration of my hospitalization. Their eyes filled with tears, seeing me bald and with thirteen platinum pins inside the skull!!
Nowadays Dr. Gursahani takes care of my progress 20 years of my accident.
One day I remembered the dream of Shri Saibaba. I remembered that he had lifted me up and given his blessings, “Do not worry. Everything will go on smoothly.” Did the Shri Saibaba dream prove to be true?
One year went very smoothly. Medicines reduced. After six months my skull healed. I was back to work. My travel work started. I started meetings and got back control of the sales staff.
Marico Industries Ltd. issue was mutually settled and that too in our favor. All court cases from both sides were also withdrawn. Mumbai, Delhi, Gujarat, and Jalgaon cases were withdrawn. Whether criminal or civil, “Jitam Maya” was the slogan from both sides. But insiders knew who had won and who had lost!!
Meanwhile, I went on a holiday with my family. It was a trip which everybody greatly enjoyed.
I came back from a trip abroad. Workload increased. I started working twelve hours a day.
One day I had a lot of work in my office. Several appointments went on till nine o’clock. At nine pm I thought of visiting the factory in the next building and then going home.
I went outside and I had a fit. I do not remember, but I was told subsequently, that I was lying on the ground next to my car. Nearby unit manager, Mr. Sachin took me to a hospital in Vikroli. That doctor refused to admit me into the hospital, as the foam was coming out of my mouth. Those doctors suspected that I have taken some poison, and were afraid there should not be any ‘’case’’ against them!!
Meanwhile, my family had reached the spot. They decided to shift me to Fortis hospital (back then it was Wockhardt). I was rushed to the hospital.
Dr. Prakash Vaidya, my close friend, and a team of doctors and nurses were already waiting for me. It was all organized by Prakash himself. I was treated well in the hospital. An MRI was taken. Many other tests were done. It was an Epileptic seizure. A new disease had come up!!
After one year of this incident, I returned home in the evening slightly early. I was feeling uneasy and that night, I felt like going to bed early. I wished everyone good night and went to sleep.
At midnight I started to snore because of which my wife woke up.
“Rajeev are you all right?’’ She asked. But there was no reply from me. Soon thereafter I got a fit and foam came to my mouth. All my family members were afraid of these symptoms. All my neighbors were called. Dr. Prakash Vaidya rushed from Mulund, and Dr. Stephen Alfred, who is our neighbor and in charge of Bethany Hospital, was also summoned hurriedly.
I was admitted to Bethany (at that time Lok) hospital. After admission to the hospital, I came back to normalcy. But I felt a lot of weakness. I stayed under medical observation for a day and was discharged from the hospital. This was another episode of Epileptic Seizure.
After two days' rest, I resumed work once again. A few days went a little dull. But soon my health came back to normal and I started enjoying work as before.
Soon I came to know that my eyes were becoming ‘’cross’’ in their position. This means that my eyes stopped moving parallel. If it happened while driving, my car would go haywire. My wife Sandhya came to know this. I tried to hide this fact from her by keeping the left eye open and the right eye closed. I did this so she would not notice it, as she used to sit beside me to the left while driving!
I reported this to the doctors. They knew about it, as this was a possible side effect of the new tablets given to me after the Epileptic episode. They changed the tablets and this “keeping left eye open and right closed” episode stopped.
I once again started working late in the office doing various business and social activities.
The third episode of fits happened after another year. My father-in-law Shri. Keshav Patankar was in the last stage of cancer at Nanavati hospital. I went to see him at ten in the night. I was receiving calls from my mother-in-law, Nisha, to come quickly to the hospital. But I did not want to disclose this to Sandhya as she would become tense. I completed my work and then told Sandhya about the calls received from my mother-in-law. She was shocked to hear about it. ‘’Why did you not tell me about it before?’’ She questioned me.
But I had no answer!
The drive to Nanavati hospital at Vile Parle West, from Vasant Vihar, Thane took me one and half hours. I went straight to Shri. Patankar’s room. He was screaming in agony, crying with pain. Doctors were trying hard to control him but in vain. He was very uneasy and therefore shouting loudly.
Doctors requested I wait outside. They took him into the Operation Theater. I could still hear loud sounds coming out of Operation Theater. Alone, I waited outside the Operation Theater. Soon the noise stopped. Doctors came out and said, “He is serious. We have given him strong painkillers. Call your relatives immediately.’’
It was 1. o’clock at the night. I took the decision to call relatives in the morning only.
I then came back home. The journey back again took one hour. I slept uncomfortably at about 3 o’clock.
At 3.30 am I had a serious Epileptic attack. By this time my family was accustomed to epileptic attacks so they rushed me to the hospital. Doctors treated me. I was back from the hospital after 3 days.
Then for 15 days, I avoided going upstairs to see Shri. Patankar. I used to go to the hospital every day with Sandhya but preferred to remain in the car.
After 15 days I went upstairs to meet Shri. Patankar. He inquired about my health. A last-stage cancer patient showed his true love and affection towards his son-in-law by inquiring about my health. That was so great!!
In about ten more days we lost Shri. Patankar. I was the only male relative in India at that time and performed his last rituals. We took him to the “crematorium” to bid him a final Good Bye!
A noble caring man expired only because of the negligence of doctors. He had throat cancer, since six months he had been visiting doctors with symptoms such as spitting blood while coughing, but the doctor tested for cancer only in the last one month. How cruel and negligent could a human being be to another human being on this earth!
My LIC consultant and a good friend Shri Vijay Puri once suggested to I take out a LIC policy. “I already have LIC policies totaling to rupees 25 Lakhs. If at all I die of a disease or an accident my family will get rupees One Crore, four times of what I am insured for!’’ I said laughingly.
‘’But why not have a policy of One Crore. You are now well settled and your family requires this money to live up to the current standards.’’ Vijay suggested.
I agreed with Vijay.
The next day morning we went to a LIC-approved hospital. All tests including medical check-ups were done. In the afternoon I had lunch with Vijay. It was great company for me. Later in the afternoon we again went back to the hospital and conducted post-lunch tests.
All reports were to be available the next day. We enquired with the doctors. They said that the results were good and they wanted just one more day to compile them, take the signatures of the head of the department and then hand over the reports to us with an official copy to the LIC office.
We parted happily. Shri Vijay Puri assured me to show the copy of the reports the next day.
It was the time when Ashutosh was in Melbourne, Australia where he was working with Infosys, and Amruta was about to leave for higher studies at the London School of Economics, where she had gained admission on her own merit for the MS degree.
I slept early that night at 10 pm as I had woken up early that day for LIC medical tests.
At 12.30 am I collapsed due to what, at that time seemed like a fit. Amruta and Sandhya rushed me to Jupiter hospital in Thane. Doctors saw my history. They thought that it was an Epileptic fit and treated me accordingly. After twelve hours had passed, I was still feeling weakness on my right side. I could not lift up my right hand. I could not talk much. My words were coming very late. I hardly remembered my language, the mother tongue Marathi!
Doctors then suspected something else beyond epilepsy. The Jupiter Hospital MRI scan machine was not working. I was taken to Fortis hospital at Mulund. There my friend Dr. Girish Sabnis was present with his wife Dr. Archana. He waited inside the MRI control room to see the MRI scan.
It was paralysis due to a stroke. The brain was showing blood capillaries ruptured. The damage had happened on the left side of the brain, hence the right side of the body was paralyzed.
It took more than 36 hours to identify that damage had been caused to the brain due to a blood clot and it was not an epileptic attack as in the past. By then it was too late for any preventive action, as the anti-paralytic injection is to be given within four hours to avoid the effects of the damage.
In my case, that ‘’time’’ had lapsed!
Amruta was about to leave for London. Ashutosh rushed to India from Melbourne. On the fourth day, he came to the hospital, straight from the airport.
After a few days, I returned home with my right side fully paralyzed. I could not remember words well. My right hand was also not working at all.
Ashutosh took up my rehabilitation as a task. He coordinated with physiotherapists and my exercise sessions started. I was neither able to lift my right hand nor my right leg. Ashutosh encouraged me to slowly make progress.
The day came when Amruta was to leave for London. I went to the airport to say bye to my daughter. Her emotions were a mix of her care for me and going far away from family, whom she loved so dearly!
Sandhya was also crying. She was worried about Amruta, going alone a few thousand kilometers away at the young age of 19 years!
We all came back from the airport. Ashutosh continued his efforts and worked hard to bring me back to normal. Almost three months passed. I started standing on my own. The speech had shown some improvement. My lips were still crossed. I started using my left hand for having food. I learned to write with the left hand (and that practice has continued!) and use a computer laptop with the same left hand (and that practice has continued too since then!).
It was a time for Ashutosh to return to his work at Infosys, Pune. On my assurance of taking good care of myself, he resumed work.
I have no words to thank him for the care and love he has showered on me during that period.
Amruta reached London. Her college started. She used to chat with me on Skype every evening. She encouraged me to properly pronounce grammatically correct Marathi. I used to talk with her for an hour. She asked me to raise my right hand and I followed her instructions! I now realize how she helped me in coming out of the paralysis by talking with me every day. I feel nowadays that all the family members took care of me, by spending their valuable time on jobs for Ashutosh, of study for Amruta, and of housework for Sandhya!
I used to go to Dr. Rahul Singh’s Gym cum physiotherapy center every evening. It was located at Hiranandani Estate, Thane. He used to encourage me daily by making me do more exercises, bringing me and my body out of paralytic effects. I spent more than one and half hours time every evening, at the physiotherapy center. That helped me a lot to come out of the ill effects of paralysis.
The physiotherapy continued for almost fourteen months and that allowed me to return back to work with self-confidence. Except for the right hand, everything else became normal. My face almost came to normal. The right leg also co-operated. I started walking normally..!
It was due to the great efforts of my family to bring me back.
I again started driving my own car, right up to Goa. I treated myself as fit like a normal man!!
Subsequently, I even traveled on business trips abroad to Singapore and Dubai.
I got back to normal, almost 80% in spite of the paralytic attack!
In the year 2011, close to the yearend, I started finding blood in my stools. I went to Dr. Stephen Alfred at Bethany hospital. On examining he gave me medicines for piles. Even after about three weeks, blood still kept oozing into the stools. The doctor suggested going for a biopsy of the intestine.
Without disclosing to my family members what test he was going to perform, I went to the hospital. A biopsy was done. Doctors sent the sample for further examination. After the biopsy, the ulcers in the intestine started bleeding. Doctors asked me to get admitted into Bethany hospital as a day patient and kept me under observation.
In the evening I felt I should not disturb my whole family by staying in the hospital. I lied to the doctors that the bleeding had stopped. They believed me and gave me a discharge.
I came home and briefly described to Sandhya how the doctors had conducted the test.
‘’Are you alright now?’’ She asked me. I lied to her with a ‘’yes’’.
At 11 o’clock in the night, I started bleeding profusely. I was going inside the washroom to pass stools. But instead of stools, blood came out. I went to the washroom 5 to 6 times and almost half a liter of blood along with little fecal matter came out every time. I got semi-conscious. Sandhya, Ashutosh, and Amruta three rushed me to Bethany hospital. I was admitted to the ICU of the hospital. Even after getting admitted to the hospital, I kept losing a lot of blood.
My hemoglobin count dropped down from 13.9 to 5.9. I was given 2 bags of blood till morning and then was shifted to Kokilaben hospital at Andheri. In the ambulance again blood was given and it continued to be administered in the hospital as well. Approximately six to seven bags of blood were given to me.
Doctors explained to my family that they would scan the intestine by some scientific methods. Then they would be able to determine the reason for the bleeding. Then the further course of action could be decided.
My family gave their consent to this procedure.
I was taken inside the operation theater and a sonography type of scanning was performed.
Doctors found some of the blood vessels in the intestine were ruptured which was leading to the blood hemorrhage.
They consulted my family and an embolization surgery was performed. Doctors closed those open blood vessels and the bleeding stopped.
I was kept for one day under observation. The bleeding had stopped. They gave me a discharge the next day. A day’s treatment had cost us over a lakh of rupees!
The next meeting with the doctor was on Monday. Dr. Stephen Alfred called me.
He insisted that I must be accompanied by my son, Ashutosh.
I went to the Bethany hospital. Both, Ashutosh and I entered his cabin and found him to be a bit serious.
“Mr. Rajeev I have bad news. The report for your test has come. You have been detected with rectal cancer.’’ Dr. Alfred said very compassionately.
‘’Oh, that is all! What is to be done next?’’ I asked peacefully.
Dr. Alfred was surprised. Previously, he must have seen many patients crying or getting very disturbed on hearing the word ‘’Cancer’’!
“The cancer surgery can be done in Bethany hospital also. I will discuss it with my associate doctors and inform you what can be done. We have a very good team of doctors here who have performed several such surgeries, including the operation of Mr. Sharad Pawar.’’ Dr. Alfred said. Dr. Alfred was the dean of Bethany hospital and my next-door neighbor too! He said it was difficult for him to break the news to me,
but I was thankful to him for early detection and for all his support throughout.
I telephoned my family friend Dr. Prakash Vaidya and told him about the rectal cancer diagnosis.
He called me to his clinic. Meanwhile, Dr. Prakash had a word with his friend and dean of Tata Cancer hospital Dr. Rajan Badwe, and took his appointment the next day morning at 10 o’clock.
Three of us, myself, Ashutosh, and Dr. Prakash, went together to see Dr. Rajendra Badwe.
Dr. Rajendra Badwe, Dean of Tata Cancer hospital, called Dr. Mahesh Goel, who was in charge of intestinal surgery, to his cabin.
‘’My personal friend Mr. Rajeev Thatte has come to me with a report of rectal cancer. Please offer him all the support that you can.’’ Dr. Rajendra told Dr. Mahesh Goel.
‘’Come to my cabin afterward. It is on the third floor. Let me examine you and we will decide further.’’ Dr. Mahesh said.
‘’You take them along with you.’’ Dr. Rajendra said.
Dr. Prakash Vaidya along with myself and Ashutosh went with Dr. Mahesh to his cabin. He saw all the papers, medicines, reports on surgery carried out at Kokilaben hospital, my previous operations carried out, paralysis I have faced, etc. He wanted to carry out further investigation, all of which he arranged for on the same day. Some tests were to be carried out on an empty stomach and for all those tests he asked me to visit the next day.
How a friend like Dr. Prakash Vaidya could have made all this possible in such a short time and with the best possible options? It was more than what a real brother would do! His help was of paramount importance. Tears came to my eyes, but I avoided showing this to him.
“Thanks, Prakash. You have helped me a lot.’’ I told him.
“It is my duty to help a friend like you to come out of cancer. I have used my contacts for a good cause.’’ Dr. Prakash said.
All the required tests were done. 29th December was set as the day for my surgery by Dr. Mahesh Goel.
I was admitted to the hospital a day prior to the surgery date. Pre-operational procedures were done. Doctors explained to me how the surgery was going to be performed.
“There is a chance that after the surgery you will not be able to use your rectum to pass stools’’, doctors explained.
‘’Then how will I pass stools?’’ I questioned eagerly.
‘’We will make an opening in the intestine and attach a ‘stoma’ bag to it. You will pass stools automatically into this bag. You have to empty out this bag as soon as it is full. Your urine will be passed normally.’’ Doctors explained to me.
‘’We will try to remove the bag and join your rectum with the intestine after a period of 4 to 5 months. We may not join the rectal portion with the intestine, if it is too short, in this case, you may have to go through life with such a bag and pass your stools through the plastic bag only. But let us not imagine that before surgery.’’ Doctors told me patiently. Dr. Alfred had also told me these same details and that speaks for his expertise and experience.
I was worried by the picture of carrying a bag with stools attached from outside my stomach. But I hoped that it would last only for five months and afterward surgeons would do the needful for joining the rectum and intestine successfully!
The day of the surgery arrived. A barber shaved my whole body thoroughly. Doctors examined me. I was put on a stretcher and moved to the operation theater. Sandhya, Ashutosh, and Amruta gave me their whole-hearted best wishes.
I said ‘’See you again’’ to all outside and the stretcher trolley was wheeled into the operation theater. Dr. Mahesh and 10-12 other doctors and nurses were cheerfully waiting for me. It was a routine matter for them.
“How are you, Rajeev?’’ Dr. Mahesh asked me. I just smiled at him, cheerfully.
“This is the anesthetist. He will give you a small injection of anesthesia.’’
A tall doctor came near me and administered anesthesia. I went into a deep sleep the next minute.
The next day morning I woke up in the ICU to somebody saying ‘’Good morning’’ to me. It was Dr. Prakash Vaidya and Dr. Girish Sabnis along with all my family members. I was glad that I was back in the world! A world where I have my excellent family and friends!
“How are you?’’ Dr. Prakash asked me. “He is looking cheerful’’ Dr. Girish responded. I looked at my family. They had smiling faces. I gave them a small smile. It was a reciprocation of what a great task they have undergone for me!
In the afternoon the hospital staff shifted me to a room. I was attached with several tubes and an empty bag was attached to the stomach with a small cut an inch wide, for automatic passing of the stools. A catheter too was attached and a bag was attached for collection of any internal blood due to surgery, etc.
I had severe pain. I asked for analgesics. ‘’Give me two tablets of Paracetamol.” I requested the doctors. The sister dispensed me the medicine.
On the second day, Dr. Mahesh came along with five-six doctors.
‘’You have to start walking from today. Go to the gallery and watch the scenery outside,’’ the doctor said with a smile on his face.
I wondered. How can these doctors be so cheerful and happy that too after listening to the problems of so many patients and even handling deaths sometimes!!
A week after getting discharged from Tata Cancer hospital I visited Dr. Mahesh Goel to show my progress. He went through my file.
You have been diagnosed with Tuberculosis. The body part removed in the surgery was sent to the laboratory. The lab report says so and all confirmations have been obtained for the same.’’ Dr. Mahesh said, carefully reading the report.
“But doctor it could not have been detected if I had been not operated on for rectal cancer isn’t it?’’ I questioned him.
‘’That is true. Many people do not show any symptoms outside and they can live up to the age of 100 years also. In your case, the stomach was opened and pathologists identified symptoms of Tuberculosis. You must now be treated for tuberculosis along with cancer’’ Dr. Mahesh said.
‘’Can I be treated for Tuberculosis in Thane itself instead of coming to Tata?’’ I asked him.
“You can check with your doctor friend in Mulund and take the treatment in Thane itself. It is not a major disease but you have to take treatment for 12 to 14 months.’’ Dr. Mahesh said.
I telephoned Dr. Prakash Vaidya and told him what Dr. Mahesh had said.
“I have a friend Dr. Narawane, who comes to Jupiter hospital regularly. I will talk to him and he will treat you.’’ Dr. Prakash said.
I went to see Dr. Narawane after Dr. Prakash had had a word with him. He called me immediately and prescribed medicines for two months. He also assured me about reducing the dosage over a period of time.
I was treated for a fourth major illness ‘’ tuberculosis’’!
I was doing regular exercise and yoga for five months to take care of my rectal cancer and tuberculosis. I used to spend more than an hour inside a bed room alone as the exercise was carried out with a bag attached externally to my stomach from where all fecal matter used to come out. Ashutosh and Sandhya, both helped me a lot in changing this bag every fourth day. It involved a lot of skill and they made this skill perfect by practice!
Finally the five months were over. Dr. Mahesh examined me thoroughly. I was tested by the nurse by passing a lot of water through the intestinal opening that doctors had made during surgery. Water passed through the anal opening successfully without any hurdle. They checked this for an hour or so. Then I was declared ‘’fit’’ for closure of the intestinal opening and passing all stools again through the anal opening.
The second surgery was also successful. Doctors closed the intestinal opening and stitched it successfully to my rectum.
I was in the hospital for 6 days and returned back passing the first “stools’’ in the hospital itself. The operation was successful!!
For eight more months, I took tablets for tuberculosis. And then Dr. Narawane stopped the treatment declaring me, “free from tuberculosis’’!!
Kidney Donation & Transplantation
Meanwhile, my wife Sandhya had a kidney stone problem. Doctors detected stones inside both her kidneys on the lower side of the kidney lobes. They tried their best to remove the stones without invasive action but were unsuccessful. Then Dr. Bapat removed them by performing surgery. The year was 1998.
The stones were removed by Dr. Bapat but this damaged her kidneys permanently. Slowly her Creatinine levels went up. For many years Sandhya could not give proper attention to herself due to my illnesses and surgeries.
She had swelling on her feet and legs. Dr. Rajendra Gunjotikar used to treat her for years together. Ultimately one day her creatinine levels jumped to over six! Sandhya was at home. Amruta accompanied me to the doctor. Dr. Gunjotikar informed us that Sandhya would require kidney transplantation. It was shocking for both of us. Amruta started crying in front of Dr. Gunjotikar. Dr. Gunjotikar offered her a glass of water and took her near him like she was his own daughter.
We both came out. Amruta again started crying, keeping her head on my shoulders. I pacified her but I myself was worried about the operation.
We came home. We did not disclose to Sandhya what Dr. Gunjotikar had said. We discussed with her the new medicines given by the doctor but she was restless.
I started regular exercise in view of the operation that was proposed. I wanted to give my kidney in a ‘’’ perfect’’ condition. I started drinking 2 to 3 liters of water every day. My only objective was to suit my kidney for Sandhya!
I started searching on the internet for information about kidney transplantation. I found ten to fifteen files giving the A to Z of transplantation. In parallel, I checked with my good friend Dr. Chandarana about exploring any alternate options. He suggested speaking to Dr. Mukesh Shete and also personally had a word with him about Sandhya’s case.
I checked with Dr. Mukesh Shete about what tests he required for the donor. He gave me a list of tests to be performed by the donors. I was aware from the web that O Rh+ve blood group could match with O Rh–ve. The tests were done without Sandhya’s knowledge.
Lastly, my history of cancer came in the way of my being a donor. I was advised by Dr. Shete to check myself to be a safe and matching donor who was free from cancer cells in the body.
I had to go to Lower Parel for the test. Doctors gave me laxatives and a whole day was spent performing scans. It was a full-body scan.
The doctors checked repetitively near my skull. They were not aware that I had platinum pins inside the skull put there during the skull fracture by Dr. Milind Sankhye!
I explained to them the cause of getting these wrong signals in the scanning machine. They checked it once again and after being convinced they ended the test.
The next morning, the final full-body scan report was ready. Amruta was curious to know the results. She accompanied me to the hospital.
The full-body scan was normal. No cancer cells had been found in the body!!
I had prepared a separate file for all my reports. I thought of going to Dr. Mukesh Shete with all the reports.
Amruta came in the way!
‘’Why are you giving your kidney to Aai when you have had several illnesses in the past. Let me give my kidney, it will match Aai’s kidney in a better way. After all, I am her daughter!’’ Amruta, my daughter 25 years old, argued.
Both of us went to Dr. Mukesh Shete. She explained to him how her kidney would be better than my kidney. Dr. Mukesh smiled. He appreciated her willingness.
“Give your kidney to someone when you are 57 or 60 years old. Let your Baba give his Kidney to his wife. And that too when it matches!” Dr. Mukesh Shete said.
Amruta was convinced.
My kidney ‘’passed’’ the final Amruta test!!
Ashutosh was in the United Kingdom for his work during this time and we only passed on necessary information to him making sure no adverse news reaches him.
Some tests were conducted for Sandhya as well. The data was stored in a file.
Then there came a ‘’ State level government committees’’ approval day. Mr. Kulkarni, a committed social worker from the hospital, gave us the necessary instructions. Necessary affidavits were done and doctor’s certificates were obtained. Meanwhile, Ashutosh had spoken to his company and traveled back.
We were the first ‘’opening’’ batsmen before the committee. The four of us, Sandhya, Amruta, Ashutosh, and me entered the meeting room. Video shooting of our meeting was being recorded. They asked us to take a seat. All the people asking questions were genuine graceful doctors and seemed like thorough gentlemen. They asked certain questions. It was clear from the kidney donor’s relationship with the recipient that the donation was with full mutual consent. Photographs of all four of us were taken. Permission for Kidney transplantation was granted. We came out relieved.
One essential legal formality was over!
Now the operation date was to be fixed.
Meanwhile, Sandhya’s Creatinine in the blood increased to 12.6. Earlier they tried to create a fistula for dialysis, but no vein was detected in her hand, that was suitable for a fistula.
Now with the increased creatinine in her blood, a fistula was essential. Doctors decided the fistula to be tried at the neck. It was unfortunate that all my struggles to avoid a fistula failed.
She was operated and a fistula was made on her neck. Three tubes were inserted inside. The first Dialysis was carried out. Toxic water in her body was removed in the process. After four sessions of dialysis, her creatinine came down to 4.5, a level at which she had been for over six years.
Sandhya was weakening day by day. When the creatinine came down Dr. Mukesh Shete went ahead with the surgery.
Dr. Oza, Dr. Sadanand Thatte, and Dr. Ajay Kanbur as were the main surgeons.
Dr. Sadanand Thatte, our name sake, gave us comfort that somebody from the “Thatte” family was taking care of both “Thatte’s”, the recipient and the donor!
A date was finalized on 6th March 2014.
Both Sandhya and I were admitted to Jupiter hospital a day before surgery. Sandhya underwent her last dialysis before the surgery.
The next morning, friends and relatives gathered to give us their best wishes. My good friend Hemant Sane, his son, and Mincy my new daughter-in-law were all present at the time of surgery.
We both were taken into a waiting room. I was taken inside the Operation Theater first. I said, “Good Morning” to all doctors. Dr. Sadanand Thatte introduces himself to me. “We are in safe hands!’’ I reconfirmed to myself as they went ahead with the anesthesia, which was a routine thing for me by now!
It took two hours for me and three hours for Sandhya to undergo the Kidney Transplantation procedure. We were inside the Operation Theater for almost four hours.
After surgery, I was transferred to a normal ICU, while Sandhya was in the special ICU made for patients undergoing Kidney or Liver transplants.
In Sandhya’s room, nobody except doctors could enter. Special nurses were kept on duty 24×7 in three shifts.
Now Sandhya had three kidneys and I had only one!
Doctors subsequently told us that my kidney immediately started working as soon as it was surgically fitted in place.
Most wives complain about ‘useless’ husbands, but at least I had been of some use to her by donating my kidney. And this fact Sandhya cannot deny!!
I was given an early discharge within seven days due to my progress. Sandhya also responded well and came out of the hospital on the fifteenth day. Five days before a normal transplant patient!!
For the next six months, Sandhya was not allowed to meet any visitors. Family members were forced by Ashutosh to wear masks and maintain very strict cleanliness.
Sandhya used to come out of her room without a mask, and then run back to her room to tie it up, if Ashutosh was around!
Bathrooms were cleaned every day. All maidservants were forced to wear masks when they entered Sandhya’s bedroom. We continued this for six months and then relaxed.
Sandhya had two more surgeries this year. One, a Cataract operation, and another, a hand bone fracture surgery. But both were so less troublesome that we enjoyed them!!
What do I feel about my life?
I feel that I am the happiest person on the earth! No grievances. No complaints to god about giving me so many diseases.
On the contrary, I am obliged to him for positive approach he has given me in my life!
I am involved in social work. I am also running a Facebook site ‘Mumbai Dinank’ which has got over 25,000 regular readers. I am also having a website like www.mumbaidinank.com which is popular in Maharashtra.
I have learned from my life that ailments may come and go, how you take them, is more important.
Sometimes, patients suffering from one of the five major surgeries I have undergone, are a bit panicky.
From the childhood I treat ‘’today’’ is as a most enjoyable day! Yesterday is to be forgotten and tomorrow is yet to come!!
In the past, there are thousands of excellent memorable events. Your birth, your childhood, your dealings with friends and relatives, rising carriers, your relatives, and their memories. A vast list that is beyond imagination!
You can see many TV channels like Animal Planet, Discovery and so on! They make us forget our today's problems, let it be financial, medical, married life, children, poverty, bad politics, office problems, government problems, taxation problems, and ‘’n’’ number of things in the world!
In today’s competitive world problems are everywhere and everybody and of all types, but some people are always in a pleasant mood. They do not want anything extra in life. What is the secret of their lives?
I believe in one shloka in Sanskrit.
यावत जीवेत, सुखम जीवेत; दानम् कृत्वा, अमरम् भवेत.
भस्मीभूतस्य देहस्य, पुनरागमनम कुतः?
It says ‘’Till you live, live happily.
For leaving happily, donate generously.
Then only people will remember you, forever…!! You will become Immortal, Eternal, and Forever-lasting...!!
When you will die, you are just becoming ash and remember well, you are not going to come back again!!
At least not be on this earth but maybe some other planet... Mars, Jupitar, etc. in our Solar system or some other Solar systems…!!’’
This ‘’sloka’’ tells us many things, the great Indian culture has given us. One needs to think only positively, about himself, his family, friend, and the whole world…!!