(This is the eleventh part of a short story - Love takes courage) Whenever Rohan went for dialysis, Kunal was always there. Kunal had adjusted his duty times with HR so that he would always be there when Rohan would come in for his session. He made sure Rohan got a bed he was comfortable in. He also made it a point to start and close his session and in between his work, he would always come and spend time with Rohan, checking on how he was doing and the progress on the overall plan with Dr. Mehta.
Whenever Rohan had any side effects during dialysis, Kunal would attend to him personally and make sure he recovered quickly.
Rohan became very dependent on Kunal and would be comfortable only when he was there. He wouldn't let anyone else start or close his dialysis session preferring to wait till Kunal returned from an errand he would have to run sometimes for the dialysis unit.
Rohan hated the two day gap between dialysis. Most dialysis patients get dialysis sessions thrice a week. They opt for either Monday-Wednesday-Friday sessions or Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday sessions. So, everyone got two one-day gaps during the week and one two-day gap during the weekend. Since the kidneys of dialysis patients do not work well, the toxins and fluid that kidneys usually remove are removed during the dialysis session. During the week, since there is only one day between the sessions, the build-up of toxins and fluid is not as much and patients usually are able to tolerate the excess amounts in their bodies. However, during the weekend, the build up of toxins and fluids becomes quite difficult for some patients to tolerate and they have to watch their fluid intake and intake of substances that contain large amounts of some of these toxins.
It was an ironic contradiction in his life. He hated dialysis. He was on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule. During the weekend, he would hate the fluid and diet restrictions even more. So much more that he began to yearn for dialysis!
On one such Sunday afternoon, Rohan indulged a little too much. There was this bottle of 'Aam Panna' (a drink that is made out of raw mangoes) that was made and kept in the refrigerator. Rohan took one sip of that in the morning. He began craving for that in the afternoon after lunch. Everyone at home was taking a nap. Pooja was also not there. He went over to the refrigerator and poured himself half a glass of the 'panna'. He sipped it slowly, relishing every sip as it went down his parched and deprived gullet. As he took in every sip, he swished it in his mouth to wet all parts of his mouth and to feel every bit of it. He loved it. The tangy and sweet taste was so good! It also had a pinch of rock salt added. This made it even more tasteful. He poured himself out another half glass. He gulped this down all in one shot. He felt like having more but he knew he would get into trouble. He went back to his room and tried to distract his mind. He started watching television and fell asleep.
That evening, at dinner too, he had a full glass of the 'panna'. His parents told him to be careful. They did not monitor his fluid intake too much because they realized he was a grown up and any such restriction imposed by them would only backfire.
Rohan went to bed at around 10:30. After about an hour, he woke up feeling uncomfortable. He felt like someone was holding a pillow on his nose and not letting him breathe. He was feeling suffocated. He sat up on his bed. The feeling was still there. He went and sat in front of the air-conditioner trying to take in the the air that it was letting out. No respite. He went out on the balcony. Every breath he was trying to take was more and more labored. He was now beginning to panic. He cursed himself for having so much 'panna'.
Rohan came back and in, sat on his bed and called his father on the cell phone. 'Papa, I can't breathe! I can't breathe!" Rohan was gasping as he uttered those words. His father said, "I am coming!"
Mr. Karmarkar was in Rohan's room in less than half a minute. His wife followed. "What happened?" he asked.
Rohan signalled that he was unable to breathe. Mr. Karmarkar immediately called Dr. Mehta on his cell phone. Dr. Mehta understood the symptoms and asked him to go to Breach Candy Hospital and get a session of dialysis immediately. Dr. Mehta said he would call Kunal and make the arrangements.
Mr. Karmarkar helped Rohan to the car and they rushed him to Breach Candy immediately.
Kunal was waiting there very anxiously. He had the machine ready. He held Rohan by his shoulder and helped him onto the weighing machine. 79.4 kgs. Rohan was 6 kgs above his dry weight! Kunal took Rohan to the dialysis machine and made him sit on the bed and raised the backrest of the bed so that Rohan could sit and allow the fluid to flow downwards from his lungs. He started dialysis immediately. He also attached a suction machine that would help pull out the fluid faster. He also put on an oxygen mask on his face which would help him breathe a little easily. He sat next to Rohan.
Rohan was still feeling very bad. Kunal did all he could to help ease the symptoms. Rohan was gasping for every breath. Not due to the dearth of air but due to the fluid that had literally soaked up his lungs.
After about half an hour, they had pulled out about a liter of fluid. Rohan started feeling better. He was very tired. The whole experience had left him totally shaken. While he was getting into the car a couple of hours back, Rohan thought that the end had come. He was gasping for every breath. Every breath he was taking took so much effort and yet offered no relief. Rohan never thought he would make it.
Unable to get over the harrowing experience he had just been through, Rohan couldn't hold back his tears. Kunal comforted him. Rohan was really down. He felt he couldn't take it any more. He said to Kunal, "What is this life, Kunal? I don't want to live, Kunal. Can you please end it for me? Please do me a favor and end it. I know you can do it. Please help me Kunal. I don't want to put my parents through all this. I don't want to put Pooja through all this. Do me a favor, Kunal. Please end it all."
Kunal held his hands and said, "Rohan, this is not the way. This a temporary phase. You have to be strong. Just think of the day when you will get the transplant. After that, all this will be a thing of the past. You will look back at this phase and laugh at yourself! You have to be patient. I am sure you will get a transplant very soon."
Kunal comforted Rohan and slowly diverted his mind. Mr. Karmarkar came in to see how he was doing. By then he had settled down. Kunal told him to go home. He said that the session would be completed by around 5 in the morning. Mr. Karmarkar said they would stay there. Rohan and Kunal both insisted that they go back home. Rohan assured his parents that he was feeling much better.
After Rohan's parents left, Kunal sat next to Rohan's bed on a stool. Rohan fell asleep soon. So did Kunal. The dialysis machine continued to whir as it cleaned Rohan's blood of all the excess fluid.