& occasionally about other things, too...

Monday, March 11, 2019

A decade in Toronto - 27

March 2016
In 2012, my family physician Dr. Bertram Wing King asked me whether I felt tired all the time. I replied in a matter of fact manner, saying that I couldn’t afford to be tired. And it was true. When you immigrate to Canada when you’re past the median age, it’s difficult to settle quickly and acquire a lifestyle that one is accustomed to back home.

So, both Mahrukh and I had to do whatever it took to acquire a comfortable lifestyle for us. Not having – and not wanting to have – a car helped immensely. The resultant sacrifice – of long commutes, which tend to be horrible in the winter, and an utter ignorance of the self-realisation inducing long drives on the highways.

I was being factual when I responded to my family physician. I genuinely couldn’t afford to be tired. Dr. King was worried about my kidneys. But I got caught up with a million things and health was put on the backburner.

June 2016
Then four years later, in 2016, I went to get my foot checked. I’d sprained it and the pain continued seemingly endlessly.  He recommended blood tests and when the results came in, he immediately told me to go see Dr. Melvin Silverman, a nephrologist – a kidney specialist.

Dr. Silverman saw the test results and told me that my creatinine levels were abnormally high. As the kidneys become impaired for any reason, the creatinine level in the blood will rise due to poor clearance of creatinine by the kidneys.

Abnormally high levels of creatinine thus warn of possible malfunction or failure of the kidneys. It is for this reason that standard blood tests routinely check the amount of creatinine in the blood.

September 2016
Dr. Silverman said I had Glomerulonephritis, which is an inflammation of the glomeruli, which are structures in one’s kidneys that are made up of tiny blood vessels. These knots of vessels help filter blood and remove excess fluids. If the glomeruli are damaged, the kidneys will stop working properly and one can go into kidney failure.

Glomerulonephritis is a serious illness that can be life-threatening and requires immediate treatment. The condition is sometimes called nephritis. There can be both acute (sudden) glomerulonephritis and chronic (long-term or recurring) glomerulonephritis.

Apparently, the only manifestation of this abnormality is a sudden loss of weight, and 2016 at the Annual Gala of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce, everyone commented on how thin I'd become. 

The specialist recommended biopsy just to check the problem wasn’t malignant. In September 2019 I was admitted for a day at St. Michael’s Hospital for a biopsy. Fortunately, the kidney failure wasn’t cancerous and was only a localised phenomenon.

However, it forever and almost completely changed my life. For starters, my diet changed. I was no longer supposed to have a protein rich diet because my kidneys couldn’t process protein adequately. I changed over to having salad for lunch, and fruits. I was instructed to exercise, which I did for about a week and then stopped.

My kidneys were smaller than they were supposed to be, and perhaps the only reason I could think of for their malformation was the serious bout of pneumonia as a baby; apparently it was so severe that it caused swelling of my kidneys. The illness had two long-lasting effects on my health. The first was my teeth, which didn’t grow normally after my milk teeth fell (and about which I will write when I come to 2017), and the other was the failure of my kidneys.

The biggest impact of this condition was mental; almost overnight, I became mentally old. My outlook to life changed. There was a growing impatience but also a sense of acceptance of life in its many and myriad forms. I was no longer eager as before to change my circumstances and strangely I wasn’t willing to accept them either.

My condition had a salutary affect on my relationship with Mahrukh and especially with Che. Mahrukh has taken pains to ensure that I get the right diet every day, and for that she has worked hard; Che grew up to shoulder more responsibilities. Gradually, over the next year or so, he also realised the necessity for having a proper training and education.

2016 was to become a big year for me in Canada. It was the year when I finally became a published novelist.

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