I am in Room 505 and a nurse is checking Dad's blood pressure. He was taking a nap greeted her happily.
"Is it ok?" he asked after she finished the reading. "Yes, it is normal" the nurse said, "and so is your temperature."
Looking at Dad - you sometimes wonder if anything is wrong with him after all. He remains cheery - even though he is mainly horizontal these days.
But he has not been admitted at Bethany Hospital for a rest time. He is actually quite sick. Having said that, Dad commented the other day that the 'rest' he is getting now is something that he is at least in one way enjoying - not having to answer the tyranny of the hundreds of emails that he normally feels he has to catch up with.
Lets be straight here: Dad is here at Bethany Hospital because he is quite sick. His bilirubin level when measured this morning was less than the collosal '31' that he his Wednesday sample was (the report of which we saw on Thursday) - today's sample weighed in at 27. We are hoping tomorrow's will be a lot better. Our goal is to get the bilirubin level below 10. If we don't see progress to this by Sunday, the surgery planned for Monday the 23rd will be postponed. With the surgery itself fraught with various risks - we don't want to have Dad's kidneys shut down in the post-op period because of high levels of bilirubin.
Just how fragile we are came to us very starkly today. Dad was chatting happily (as is his wont of course) with sister Jancy - the nursing superintendent - when he felt a pain near his liver. The pain then travelled in a straight line up to his shoulder - and then spread across the front of his abdomen. Then the chills came - uncontrollable shivering. Blankets were put on but it didn't help. The nurses called the Doctors - with Dr. Stephen and Dr. Kelkar (Bethany's most senior physician) also coming to the bedside. Mercifully it subsided after abotu 15 minutes - but those were terrible minutes for Dad. This is something he has never experienced - having been healthy for most of his life. We think it shows an infection - and a high-level antibiotic is now being pumped into Dad at regular intervals. And it shows us just how serious Dad's condition actually is - and how quickly something can cascade out of control. Mercifully, the rest of the day passed without any incident and I can now hear Dad snoring softly in the bed as I bash the keyboard (and am about to make a quick run to JSK to get this off into cyberspace).
And in the midst of all of this - life does go on. Our JSK team completed a good HIV testing camp yesterday afternoon and saw 48 people getting voluntary and confidential HIV testing done. Vikas talked about Joseph in our morning prayers. Our staff then fanned out for their home-visits. A friend of ours who had lost both parents to HIV and has been bringing up his sister and brother (thankfully all three siblings are negative) brought his sister to the JSK centre see Sheba as his sister has been suffering from epileptic fits. We have known this young woman for years - but today something seems to have happened, and amidst tears she was able to let Sheba have a glimpse into her heart. Earlier Sheba had made a small step forward herself in a different sphere - she passed her drivers licence test! The early morning rides we have made have paid off - and the official liscence is in mail. Asha and Enoch went to their school - and their final exams are looming just around the corner so Asha took her violin to class today to commemorate her last music class (at least at this school - classes 9 and 10 are sadly music-less). On coming back in the evening, Enoch did his maths studies - and then Enoch, Yohan and I had a quick game of Risk. Asha will be burning the midnight oil - so she went down to meet a friend for some time. While Mum was with Dad at Bethany, our dinner table had the five of us polish off hot chappatis and Sheba's delicious channa sabji - with shreekhand to top it off. Just as I was about to come over to take the night shift, the phone buzzed with Stefan's number on it - he has come back safely from his assignment in Spain.
The miracle of communication allows us to talk on the phone - even though we be many, many kilometers apart. So many dear ones call up to find out about Dad - and assure us of their urgent and earnest prayers. The miracle of the net allows this small reflection on today to spread to various corner of our blue planet. Locally, one of our church members starts the day by switching on the computer and finding out the latest about Dad by looking up the blog (I believe this is after she reads her Bible etc. of course). But the bigger miracle is the amazing fact of prayer allowing us to speak directly as children to their parents - to the very Maker and Creator the universe - and the One who loves our souls!
Today taught us again just how slender this gift of life really is. How slippery the things we so often take for granted can me. The remarkable way that our organ systems are doing their work, day after day, night after night 24 x 7 x 52 x as many years our loving Lord has in this life for us. Dad's body suddenly seems so fragile. How quickly we forget that we are made of dust. And yet how amazing to know that our lives are so wonderfully structured and purposed. Despite our fragility, we also have so much robustness wired into us. When Appa called up today, he inquired about Dad and then said in a wonderfully matter-of-fact way "Sab teek hojayega" - it's all going to become ok - "we have prayed about it!"