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In 2007, after I suffered from a cardiac angina, my cardiologist Dr Rajani said “Well Dr Modak, you have a problem but you don’t need to do angioplasty right now. It’s not an emergency situation. However if you are not going to change your life style, and continue to follow the same mess you are in, then I recommend you an angioplasty. It will be a day’s stay at Hinduja Hospital and I will perform for you the “radial artery access” method, something most recent. I agreed as I knew I won’t be changing my lifestyle just for the sake of my heart!
The surgery was performed the very next day. I was wheeled into the Operation Theater (OT) in the morning. There were stories around how something went wrong to someone while ballooning and how the stent did not work eventually and how an emergency bye-pass surgery had to be performed. My wife and children stayed outside the OT – all tensed.
While entering the OT, I understood that finally I have to face the reality of life all alone – and all by myself. My wife and children are not going to be around for those crucial moments. This was a great realization to me and it changed my outlook to life.
I enjoyed the angioplasty procedure. It was a great exposure to the technology and I was simply amazed! Dr Rajani and his team had a great sense of humor as we chatted. The anesthetist asked me some stupid questions and the needle got in from my wrist without any pain. The stent was placed on ballooning in just 10 minutes and I was out of the OT in a total time of just 25 minutes, back to my world. “You are fine for the next 8 years” – Dr Rajani said. “We will put another stent later if required”
When I got home, a number of my friends came to see me. Surya Chandak, a good friend, working with UNEP called me from Osaka. He had gone through two angioplasties and one by-pass surgery. Quite a seasoned guy he was. “Welcome to the club Sir’ he said – and then ended the conversation with an advice “Prasad, now onwards listen to your body. Do exactly what your body tells you”. I decided to follow his advice. But, as I thought more, I realized that I should do what my mind tells and not just the body.
For years, I have been a circular face person (read the subject of PSYCHO-GEOMETRICS if you are interested to know about the shapes of the faces)– I never wanted to be outspoken, I would always try to “adjust”, be as much friendly and considerate as possible, and never say anything or do that’s on top of my mind. After the angioplasty, I realized that there wasn’t much time left for me, and if this is what’s going to be then what the heck – why shouldn’t I do what my mind tells? Why waste time in the diplomacies?
I started speaking my mind. I would now tell a student “what rubbish are you saying?” right in the first five minutes of presentation rather than telling over an hour “good work, interesting, could have been better, why don’t you consider ….” etc. When chairing sessions in the conferences, I would now stop the speaker bluntly and ring the bell when he/she would cross the allotted time, despite the seniority or having titles such as IAS. While negotiating projects and fees with clients who used to be nasty, petty and most of the times thick headed, I would simply get up and walk out saying “not interested”.
I bought two large A2 size sheets. On one sheet I wrote in CAPS what I like and on the other what I don’t. I placed these sheets on the walls of my office and home as a constant reminder to me and others. (Believe me – This is not easy. Try out to experience how difficult it is!)
Through exposition of these two sheets, I stood fearless and stark naked in the eyes of the society. Life got simplified.
So many times in our life we hold our emotions, don’t express our aspirations as clearly possible or don’t vent out what we want to say – candidly so – that you love someone or hate something. Instead we say contrary, out of sheer politeness; or stay unspoken or don’t action timely. We don’t live free.
Later we say “Wish I could…”
We then repent. But most of the times, it’s too late.
I realized that despite my angioplasty, I wasn’t still able to reach the top most stage of free expression, courage and outspokenness. It’s like I wasn’t able to fly over the lake.
Some forty years ago, I had written a stupid letter of adoration to a classmate who had immensely charmed me. I thought she would have long junked my letter and forgotten about – as she chose to marry someone else and has been living happily.
Very recently, to my surprise, she sent me a scanned copy of this very letter asking whether I still remembered this mischief. So, she had indeed preserved that letter! Was it just as a “record to keep” or was it a “treasure of a fond memory”? I felt like calling her up to ask – but I didn’t have courage enough. I remained shut.
I told Dr Rajani that angioplasty was not that very effective. He jokingly said that the next time he will place in my heart a new chemical stent that will do the required magic with its chemicals and take me to the final stage of courage and Nirvana! (My eight years of angioplasty are just over – may be time for that stent)
I was in Stockholm a few months ago for a conference. I was walking along with a Swedish Professor friend of mine. We have been old friends for years. It was early morning near the port. The sun was rising in the sky with cool breeze around. Weather was great. As we were walking, a Swedish girl, in the mid-twenties showed up in shorts jogging towards us. “Oh hello Professor, so good to see you after such a long time” she stopped and greeted us. She was Professors ex-PhD student.
Professor first hugged her, then held her firmly in his arms and all of a sudden gave her a deep kiss. The girl was shocked. This kiss was serious – showing more relationship than just a student. It took some moments. I wished someone was around to play a cool piece of music on a violin to match the grace of that kiss. I stood next to the two – simply dazed.
When they were done, they exchanged a few words warmly in Swedish and the girl left.
I couldn’t resist but ask my friend “When did you do your angioplasty?”.
It was now his turn to get shocked. “How did you know?” He exclaimed
I only smiled.