On 9th February 2018 Dr. Ravi Mohan Rao told Aarthi in my presence,' You have nothing in your brain.' When she heard these words, Aarthi was happy and I was happier. When I conveyed the news to my wife, she was so happy that she started making Carrot Halwa. Before you think we are a family of morons or sadists, let me tell you the sequence of events leading to that statement.

I am not a great admirer of Ram Jethmalani. But I like his style of framing ten questions to know about an event. Here I am with my questions (more than ten) and answers on Aarthi's medical condition and treatment that led to the above statement.

1. You said you were happy on 9th February 2018. When exactly did you become worried?
I have to go back to 1st January 2018 when Aarthi left for Santiniketan in Bengal to attend a function organised by Parvathy Baul (Click here to know about Parvathy Baul). Two days later she rang us up in Kanchipuram to say that she was down with fever which was suspected to be viral or bacterial. She also said it was very cold there. We did not worry much at that time as Aarthi has a strong constitution and had never been put off from work by minor irritants like fever. But our worry atarted on 6th January when Arjun, a colleague of Aarthi told us that Aarthi was in a bad shape and needed to go back to Bangalore immediately for better medical attention. We then talked to Aarthi who said she had a severe headache on 4th morning and had trouble walking. The medical facilities there were very basic and she was given antibiotics, B-complex tablets and pills for vertigo. She later said that her conversation with the physician in Santiniketan went like this.
Aarthi - Why do I feel very weak?
Doctor - You feel very weak because... because you are very weak.

I think that conversation helped Aarthi make up her mind to return to Bangalore. I was in Chennai but could book flight tickets for Meghna (Aarthi's friend) and Aarthi from Kolkota to Bangalore on the evening of 8th Jan. They hired a taxi from Santiniketan to Kolkota airport and somehow managed to board the flight and reach Bangalore in the night. Ignorance is bliss. Had we known that Aarthi had a serious problem, my wife and I would have flown to Kolkata and Aarthi would have received treatment in Kolkata without the support of friends and relatives.

2. You used the word 'serious'. Can you elaborate?
On the morning of 9th January, Aarthi went to Dr. Sriram in Ganganagar, a physician recommended by Meghna's mother. He is obviously a very competent professional. From the symptoms described by Aarthi, he concluded that the fever and the eye problems were unrelated. So he ordered a blood test as well as MRI. Both were shocking - the blood test revealing Typhoid and the MRI showing bleeding in the brain. When all this was happening, my wife and I were in the train from Chennai to Bangalore. At 10,30 AM as we were nearing Bangalore, Chaitanya, Aarthi's business partner rang me up and said,'Aarthi has typhoid, but more serious is that she has bleeding in the brain and the doctor is recommending admission in Columbia AsiaColumbia Asia Hospital for observation.' You can imagine our reaction - or for that matter anyone's reaction if you are told that a near one has bleeding in the brain. I told Aarthi's friend to follow doctor's advice fully. We came home and got ready to rush to the hospital. Then Aarthi rang up and said she is fine and will only be under observation and that she'd be home next day and that we need not travel all the way to the hospital as visitors weren't allowed in ICU. We were relieved, only slightly, as there was a nagging doubt about the blood in Aarthi's brain. And we were looking up the Net for suitable diet for Typhoid patient.

3. Did Aarthi come home the next day?
Had she come, we would have thanked God and continued our daily routine. Aarthi would not have suffered mental and physical pains. All of us would have been spared the mental agony. And you would not be reading this. On 10th Jan, we went to the hospital where we saw Aarthi in ICU. We were seeing her after nearly a month and her left eye scared us. Otherwise she looked normal. Later Shalaka, Aarthi's friend took me to Dr. Anil, the neurosurgeon treating Aarthi. Meeting him was a great revelation and I was rudely awakened to Aarthi's problems. He showed me the MRI film and pointed out the bleeding in Aarthi's brain which was about 15 mm. Among the many words he uttered two - Cavernoma and Diplopia stuck to me. He said that the present problem which was called Cavernoma could sometimes be cured by medication but surgery was not ruled out. He also added that if surgery was needed, it would be expensive in Columbia Asia and I should decide the next course of action.

4. What did you decide?
Actually Aarthi was covered by Railway Insurance. So I rang up Mr. Karunakara Menon, one of my IRAS (Indian Railway Accounts Service) colleagues who had worked with me and who knows Aarthi. He was very prompt in talking to the highest medical officer in Southern Railway and also informed me that Fortis, Apollo, Manipal and Mallya hospitals were recognised by South Western Railway, Bangalore. I asked Dr. Anil for his views on these hospitals. He recommended Fortis and Apollo. So Chaitanya drove me all the way to the other end of the city to meet Chief Medical Officer, South Western Railway, Bangalore. Dr. Ravindran, CMO was expecting me as Chief Medical Director Southern Railway had already spoken to him. He strongly recommended Dr. KarthikApollo Hospital, Seshadripuram. So my mind was made up and with profuse thanks, I took the referral letter for concessional treatment given by him to Apollo Hospital, Seshadripuram. Chaitanya drove me to Seshadripuram where Dr. Karthik went through the MRI and asked us to move Aarthi to Apollo Hospital. Earlier Dr. Anil had said that Aarthi was fit to travel by cab. So Chaitanya and I remained in Apollo waiting for Shalaka to bring my wife and Aarthi.

5. What happened after Aarthi reached Apollo Hospital, Seshadripuram?
She was immediately admitted to Emergency and monitoring equipments were connected to her. But admission as in-patient took some time. As Chaitanya had asked Advaith, another friend to come over for spending the night in the hospital, all of ue left after handing charge of Aarthi to Advaith. Apollo Room Aarthi's admission process was completed after an hour or so and she was shifted to a private room (No. 6015) by 10.00 PM. You will hear more about this room as well as Room No. 6014 later.

Next morning (11th) when my wife and I reached the hospital, Aarthi had been taken to Radiology Department for a contrast MRI. She came back by noon and the whole day, we were waiting for the surgeon to discuss the result. But he did not turn up till 8 PM when Chaitanya informed me that another friend would spend the night and that my wife and I could go home. This was the pattern for the next ten days. We were very touched to know that Aarthi's friends had opened a WhatsApp group #WhollbewithAarthitonight to avoid any confusion. My wife and I would go to the hospital in the morning and be there till about 7 pm. Aarthi's friends would come from 5 pm onwards when the visiting hours start and one of them would stay back for the night.

6. You mentioned earlier about Typhoid having been detected. What happened to it?
Yeah, I forgot all about it. It is a mystery to all of us. From 10th Jan onwards, Aarthi's temperature was normal and the diet supplied by both the hospitals was also the usual food that we eat. The Typhoid just vanished. I have two theories. The first is that with all the attention directed to Aarthi's head, Typhoid which is an attention-seeker knew it had no chance. So it quietly left. The other which must have happened is that the Typhoid being a mild attack got cured by all the anti-biotics prescribed in Santiniketan.

7. When did the surgeon talk about the result of Contrast MRI?
Dr. Ravi Mohan RaoI said earlier that Dr. Ravi Mohan Rao , Chief Surgeon did not turn up till we left at 8 PM. We were told he was in surgery. This delay made us worried as we are all prone to imagining the worst scenario. After we left, he came and told Aarthi that lesion has been confirmed and would need surgery. When I went the next day he discussed some details. When I asked whether it would be a microsurgery, he said,'Yes but we have to open the back of the head by about 3 inches.' When asked how long would the surgery last, he replied that it may take about five hours, Actually he did not tell us the full details at that time. I felt he did not want to worry us with technical details. The discussions were on 12th Jan. Since the next three days were holidays due to weekend and Sankaranthi, the surgery was fixed to take place on the morning of 16th Jan. Though my wife and I did not show it, we were very nervous. A survey shows that the most-feared surgeries in that order are Transplantation, Brain and Heart. But Aarthi looked calm and collected, though she must also have been nervous inside.

8. What were the preparations for the surgery?
Immediately after knowing about surgery, Aarthi asked us to bring her Yoga mat from home and started practising Yoga regularly. This was the only preparation from her side. But I was surprised when I got the medical files at the time of Aarthi's discharge from hospital. The preparation that had been done before surgery was enormous. Aarthi was tested by seven departments - Radiology (Contrast MRI and Angiogram), Cardiology (ECHO Test with Colour Doppler), Pulmonary (Pulmonary Function test), Haemotology (CBC which tests Haemoglobin, RBC Count etc., Urine Test for Glucose, Urea etc. & Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate), Biochemistry (Creatinine, Potassium, Sodium and C-Reactive Protein), Microbiology (Dengue, WIDAL Test, Hepatitis-B and C & HIV) and Blood Bank (Blood Group & Rh factor). Only after she passed all the tests, the final decision was taken to start the surgery at 8.30 AM on 16th January. Aarthi was given her dinner on 15th at 7.30 PM and was told not to eat anything thereafter. At that time she did not know that she would starve for over 35 hours.

9. What exactly was to be achieved by the surgery?
Optic nerveI mentioned earlier about Cavernoma that caused the bleeding. Google says ,'A cavernoma is a cluster of abnormal blood vessels, usually found in the brain and spinal cord. They are sometimes known as cavernous angiomas, cavernous hemangiomas, or cerebral cavernous malformation (CCM). A typical cavernoma looks like a raspberry.' They may be present for many people without any symptoms. But once the symptom, viz. bleeding occurs surgery is the best way. In Aarthi's case there was a lesion which caused the cavernoma and so the lesion had to be removed by surgery. All the symptoms experienced by Aarthi earlier - headache, double vision, ptosis of left eye - were all due to the fact that the lesion/cavernoma were pressing the optic nerve in the brain. The removal of of the lesion by surgery would enable her to become normal in a few months.

10. Can you describe the day of the surgery?
We were told that Aarthi would be moved from her room to Operation Theatre by 7.30 AM and that the surgery would start by 8.30 AM. Chaitanya, Arjun and Deepa came to our home at 6.00 AM. Though we tried to be normal, none of us could be. Our attempt at small talk was perfunctory. We reached the hospital by 6.30 AM. Aarthi was already ready with her head shaved fully (The surgeon gave her the option of getting only the back head shaved. But she chose to get the full head done.) There was some delay and Aarthi was wheeled out of her room to OT at 8.45 AM. We accompanied her and wished her all the best before starting our daylong vigil in the waiting room. Harish (our son) and Mohan (my nephew) were there with us throughout. So we asked Chaitanya and others to go to the studio as there was nothing to be done by anyone till evening except waiting. My wife was reciting all the slokas that she knows. I tried to read the only India Today available in that room (This was the issue on hospital ranking and since Apollo had figured in the ranking there were more than a dozen copies available for the six persons waiting there). At about 10 AM, my wife and I went to two temples nearby. One had a sannidhi of Dhanwantri as well as Narasimha which we considered as good omens. We fervently prayed in all the sannidhis and came back to the hospital. Except periodic updates that the surgery was going on, we had no news. After a long wait the nurse came at 4.45 PM and said we could now see Aarthi. Aarthi was wheeled out and was still under the influence of the anaesthetic and also had the nose mask, but could wave her hand. We saw her in the medical ICU thereafter and left for home after one of her friends came to spend the night. The bandage on her head appeared bigger than what it ought to have been. And the surgery which was supposed to be 4 to 5 hours lasted for over seven hours. All these were preying on our minds.

11. Could you find out why the surgery took so long?
Sitting positionAarthi told us that the surgery was done in a sitting position. Though it sounded new, I found from the Net that this is going on from 1913 with arguments for and against (against for older persons). I also found that this has no significant impact on the time taken for surgery. Perhaps it makes it easier for the surgeons. But what made the surgery longer and complicated was the position of the lesion. Though the initial diagnosis that the lesion causing cavernoma was in mid-brain was confirmed, its actual position was nearer to the midline of pons region. The image below will make it clear.

Inverted Hockey StickThis made the surgery longer and therefore more complicated. This needed the opening to be bigger than the three inches originally planned. After the bandages were removed on 18th, Aarthi's back head was a frightening sight. You could count 48 staples neatly stapled in the form of an inverted hockey stick.

But the discharge summary from the hospital descibes Aarthi's surgery as a routine surgery. My sister-in-law who had undergone knee-cap replacement surgery in 2007 asked the surgeon,'Doctor, Is it a major or a minor surgery?' The surgeon replied,'For you it's a major surgery and for me it is a minor surgery as I have been performing two surgeries every day for the last ten years.' So what was a complicated surgery for Aarthi, her parents, relatives and friends was a routine surgery for Dr. Ravi Mohan Rao and Dr. Karthik..

12. How did Aarthi cope with the pain?
Aarthi was bearing the pain in a superhuman manner. She was very brave and we are very proud of her. These will make you agree with my views.
-- The amount of pain Aarthi underwent may be imagined by what the doctor told her the day after surgery. He said that after the anaesthetic was administered and when they started cutting her head. her hand rose up as if to protect her head. The doctor set her hand down and slightly increased the dosage of anaesthetic. I got goosebumps and a shiver down my spine when I heard this from Aarthi. Just imagine how much pain must have been there if the sub-conscious feels it. After the aneasthetic wore off, it would have been one continuous pain, but Aarthi bore it very well.
-- The secret behind rapid recovery in any surgery is tha painkiller. Even today a combination of Paracetamol and Ibuprofen is considered the most effective painkiller. Unfortunately she is allergic to Paracetamol and hence had to be administered only milder painkillers. The nurse attending to her admired Aarthi's fortitude by saying.' I have seen patients who scream and yell even after taking Paracetamol. So I can understand your pain, but still you are not complaining.'
IV Cannula -- After admission when the nurse was fixinng the IV Cannula, she could not find the vein in the first attempt. Aarthi just winced and bore it and did not complain. She complained only when I commented, 'The nurse's first attempt to find the vein was in vain.' She told me,'Appa, I'm already in pain. You don't add to it.'
A few days back, Aarthi's friend took her to Mata Amritanandamayi for Darshan. On being told about the brain surgery, Mataji was supposed to have said ,'Puli (which means Tiger in Tamil).' Anybody who excels in a field is known in colloquial Tamil as Puli - Ramanujan was a puli in maths. Aarthi was definitely a Tiger in pain management. Arthur Ashe about whom I will talk later said,'True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.' I saw true heroism in the way Aarthi coped with her surgery and the pain.

13. Did Aarthi never show her discomfort in the hospital?
I think it is unfair to expect a young patient who is allergic to Paracetamol to be sweet and stoic throughout. Aarthi is human (though we were hoping for some supernatural powers in her after the surgery). Aarthi did have her moments of impatience and testiness, but that was restricted to the few hours between the completion of the surgery and the next day (17th) afternoon. As the effects of the anaesthetic wear off, throat tends to dry but for fear of vomiting nothing was fed. The starvation period got extended beyond limits. This was the first source of irritation. Even a small noise sounds loud after a brain surgery. Aarthi was in the medical ICU with three other patients and felt the place was too noisy. These plus the ever-present pain caused her to be very trying on 17th morning. At 12 noon, she had had enough and threatened to walk out if she was not shifted to a private room. After a hurried consultation with the doctor, Aarthi was shifted to Room No. 6007 which was a De-luxe room, but was the only one available at that time (at no extra charge, I was told). She was also provided with a plate of Kichdi. These two steps cooled her temper and by evening, when she was shifted to Room No. 6014, Aarthi was as sweet as ever. The second time we heard her cry with pain was when the staples were removed on 25th Jan., 9 days after the surgery. The nurse removed the staples as any crude operator would remove staples from a book - give a push underneath and get it out. To bear this 48 times is impossible. Aarthi pleaded with the nurse to apply some numbing agent on the head before continuing. But she refused and went on with the job. We could hear Aarthi's groans outside. Later the nurse said that her instruction was to do it this way as she was asked to make sure that there is sensation in the head of the patient. After failing to pursuade the nurse to apply a numbing agent, Aarthi argued with her and collected all the 48 staples from her as souvenir.

14. How was Aarthi's recovery?
It was remarkable the way Aarthi's body responded after the surgery. From 17th evening till 25th morning when her staples were removed, her progress was almost logarithmic. Though a number of factors contributed to it, I would give most of the credit to her friends. Even though the visiting hours were limited to 2 hours each in the morning and evening, Aarthi's friends found innovative ways to visit her. One came by the staff entrance and another went to OPD on the basement and then came up to her room. So she had company of her age for almost all the time. My wife and I were also there in the daytime. And though she could eat only hospital food, her friends and we found ways of getting food liked by her (but not harmful) like buttermilk, cheese etc. to keep her in good cheer. Thanks to the rapid progress, she was discharged from the hospital on 20th Jan. I think Aarthi had the maximum number of visitors in the hospital during the 10 days she was there - first in Room No. 6015 before surgery and then in Room No. 6014 after the surgery. FriendsThe security guard for the visitors' lift asked us once with a very pleading look ,'Has everybody come from 6015?' At the time of discharge when I told him Aarthi was a film-maker, he nodded understandingly. After coming home. my wife ensured that Aarthi was fed throughout the day and her friends continued to visit her in the house every day to ensure that there was no let-up in the recovery. The visit of Parvathy Baul to Bangalore for the sole purpose of seeing Aarthi was very considerate of her. A number of her disciples came to our house that day which included Bindumalini, co-music director of Aruvi, a Tamil film, Vasu Dixit, a singer based in Bangalore and many others. There was impromptu singing by Parvathy Baul, Bindumalini and Arpita. Some of their friends also celebrated my birthday by having a pooled dinner at our place followed by some singing. So Aarthi never felt alone. Though this photo was taken before the surgery it was a typical scene every day in the hospital from 11th to 20th Jan. and in the house for a few days thereafter.

15. You mentioned about Diplopia. What is it and has it been cured?
DiplopiaBinocular Diplopia is the technical name for Double vision. It happens when the eyes lose their simultaneous alignment with the object of regard in one or more directions (or distances).Diplopia It can occur because of cranial nerve problems or other reasons. Other reasons are mostly attributable to the optic nerve in the brain. It is difficult for a normal person to appreciate diplopia. The pictures above will give you some idea.

Dr. Abdul RawoofOn 25th Jan,. we consulted Dr.Karthik who referred Aarthi to Dr.Abdul Rawoof of Narayana Netralaya. It was a very rewarding visit to Narayana Netralaya on 29th Jan. Dr. Rawoof and his associate could for the first time medically determine the extent of Aarthi's double vision by a number of tests. Dr.Rawoof was also very impressed with Aarthi as a professional. Right from 4th Jan., Aarthi has been making selfie videos of her left eye on a periodic basis. After seeing some of them, Dr. Rawoof commented,'If all my patients were as good, my work would become far simpler.' Dr. Rawoof confirmed that the Diplopia was only because of the lesion in the brain and it might take sometime for her to become normal. He could already see progress and prescribed eye exercises to be done thrice a day for the ptosis in the left eye to be cured fully which in turn will cure the double vision.

16. What happened to the lesion that was removed from Aarthi's brain?
LesionThe day before the surgery, the conversation between Dr, Ravi Mohan Rao and Aarthi went like this.

Dr.Rao - 'Any other questions, Aarthi?'
Aarthi - 'Doctor, Can I get to keep the lesion that you'll be taking out?'
Dr.Rao was taken aback as never in his career he had had such a request. Anyway he asked,'What will you do with it?'
Aarthi 'I am an artist and will decide what to do with it.'
The surgeon dismissed the idea saying the lesion will be sent for biopsy and other analysis and cannot be spared.

But Aarthi was still not done and her next question floored Dr. Ravi Mohan Rao.
Aarthi - 'Can I get to keep the container that will have the blood from my brain?
Anyone else would have reeled at the question, but Dr. Rao asked with a quizzical smile,'What will you do with it?'
Aarthi - 'Maybe I'll paint with it'.
Again the surgeon dismissed the idea saying it would be mixed with toxic fluids and is a medical waste that cannot be given to any person.

But the indomitable Aarthi was not over with the questions and asked,'Doctor, Can I get the CD of the surgery?'
Dr. Rao agreed to spare the CD and I think this was the only one that Aarthi really wanted. Apart from the Surgery CD and 48 Staples (which I mentioned earlier) Aarthi also has a set of hospital uniform (paid for) as souvenirs of her 11-day stay in the hospital.

But the story of the lesion does not end there. The container with the lesion was given to me for getting it analysed for biopsy and other tests at NIMHANS. After depositing it in the counter and paying for the analysis, I asked the man there,'My daughter wants the lesion as a memento. Will you return it?' Being a Government servant his shock was more visible than Dr. Ravi Mohan Rao and he asked,'What is your daughter"? I said she is an artist. He said 'um' as if it explained everything, and told me,' Any questions about the lesion, you have to only address to the doctor.' I left it at that. I think Aarthi's lesion is either in a bottle in Nimhans or has been destruyed.

17. Was there any post-surgery complication?
No. But there was a scare. Aarthi and I had met both Dr. Ravi Mohan and Dr. Karthik on 1st Feb. with the reports from Narayana Netralaya and NIMHANS. After detailed discussions, they congratulated Aarthi on her swift recovery and said she could gradually start working. They asked her to come for one last check-up by 10th after getting a MRI done. This was since no MRI was done post-surgery. CT scan was only carried out to test the efficacy of the surgery. There was later some general talk about Aarthi's work, their website etc. We were generally in a nice frame of mind when we reached home.

But two days later, on the morning of 3rd Feb., Aarthi asked my wife at 5.30 AM about my whereabouts. On learning that I was taking bath, she did not say anything but again asked the same question after a few minutes. Then I came out and asked, 'What, Aarthi?' Immediately she said, 'Appa get ready. We have to go to Apollo as I have a bleeding nose. I have already talked to the hospital and booked Ola.' Imagine the shock for both of us. Aarthi pacified my wife by saying, 'I didn't want you to worry too much. I'm sure it does not have anything to do with the surgery. But better get it checked up' We reached the hospital at 6.15 AM and Aarthi was tested in Emergency. After about 20 minutes, the doctor said,'She is fine. It is only a nasal problem. But you wait till 9 AM so that a nasal endoscopy can also be done.' So we went to the cafeteria for breakfast and then at 9 AM went to ENT clinic for an Endoscopy. After sometime we got a confirmation that the problem was not related to surgery. I rang my wife and we heaved a big sigh of relief and came home.

18. What was your impression of Apollo Hospital, Sheshadripuram?
Apollo, SheshadripramAfter the death of Jayalalitha, ex-CM of Tamil Nadu, Apollo Hospital has been the subject of many jokes and memes in Tamil magazines and newspapers. So there was a nagging fear in my mind about admitting my daughter in Apollo Hospital - that too with brain problem. But right from the evening of 10th Jan. when I first went there till the afternoon of 9th Feb. when I came out with Aarthi after the last consultation with the surgeons, I have had only positive experiences in this hospital. All modern private hospitals strike you by the absence of antiseptic smell, yet remaining spotlessly clean. Apollo, Sheshadripuram was no exception. Dr. Ravi Mohan Rao and Dr. Karthik, the surgeons with whom we regularly interacted as well as all the other doctors, dietician and others were thorough professionals and great human beings. Every member of the staff impressed us with their sense of duty and consideration. The Security Guard in Emergency who was the first staff I encountered went out of his way to help and console patients and their relatives. He told me after Aarthi was brought to Emergency on 10th Jan.,' Don't worry sir. Dr. Ravi Mohn and Dr. Karthik are great doctors and your daughter will become completely normal.' His words meant a lot to me and my wife at that time. The only aspect of work which the hospital needs to look into is billing which got delayed by over five hours on the day of discharge. Leaving this apart, every one of us including Aarthi have great memories of and good feelings for the hospital.

19. Did you ever feel angry with God that this mental and physical agony should happen to your family?
My faith in God is deep and abiding and I firmly believe that whatever experience God gives us has a purpose, which may or may not be clear to us. This experience taught us the value of people around us. All our relatives in Chennai, Bangalore and around the world offered physical and financial help. Many of them were ready to come and stay with us. We gratefully accepted their wishes and blessings but declined their offer for financial help or to stay with us. But we accepted one offer which was of great help to us . My niece Usha kept her car and driver at our disposal throughout Aarthi's hospitalisation. All the relatives in Bangalore visited either the hospital or our house. My son and nephew were waiting with us throughout the surgery. My ex-peons Mahesh and Gopal from Chennai and my brother-in-law Raghu, his wife Chandra and my sister-in-law Hema all from Kanchipuram visited Bangalore for a day to see Aarthi. Karunakara Menon and Dr. Ravindran ensured that the whole treatment was very affordable.

But I have no words to describe the way Aarthi's friends took care of her. If Amritha and I could be in a normal frame of mind throughout the period, the entire credit goes to them. There are so many I may be pardoned for taking just a few names. But for Arjun and Meghna, Aarthi might not have left Bengal on 7th Jan. They along with Chaitanya and Shalaka (and Meghna's mother) looked after Aarthi on 9th Jan. before we came from Chennai. Advaith, Arpita, Aruna, Rachel, Pranav, Vincent, Pavithra, Smriti, Vaibhav....... the list is very long. Those left out may pardon my forgetfulness due to my age.

SMS_ChaitanyaOn 10th Jan., I was monitoring Aarthi's health through a series of SMSs to Chaitanya. I am reproducing (image on the left) my last SMS and Chaitanya's reply which brought tears to me and Amritha. Thanks Chaitanya and all friends of Aarthi - just as Aarthi is your family, everyone of you is our family too.

Arthur Ashe whom I mentioned earlier was one of the sportsmen I admired in my younger days. After a heart attack cut short Ashe’s career, he never complained, but instead expressed thanks for all the blessings he had received: “If I were to say, ‘God, why me?’ about the bad things, then I should have said, ‘God, why me?’ about the good things that happened in my life.” In a similar manner, my life has been mostly doninated with good events and good people. I never asked,'God, why are all these good things happening to me?' No, I don't for a moment feel angry with God that Aarthi's surgery happened.

20. Any final thoughts/advice?
Irffan Khan, the actor when diagnosed with a rare disease has quoted Margaret Mitchell in 'Gone with the Wind' - 'Life's under no obligation to give us what we expect. We take what we get and are thankful it's no worse than it is.' While this is the right attitude, I strongly advise everyone to be prepared to face any emergency - physically, mentally and financially. I urge all youngsters to go for Health Insurance scheme with a coverage of Rs. 10 lakhs which will cover most emergencies. The premium may be around Rs. 1000/- p.m. And yes some physical exercises and mental exercises like yoga (and Sudoku/Crossword etc) would help. Cutting down on the use of phone will also improve your health. I have no other advice except thanks. Earlier I forgot to thank an important person who played a part in Aarthi's recovery - Roger Federer. On the day Aarthi came home from the hospital, Federer was playing Gasquet in the round of 32 in Australian Open 2018. Aarthi was allowed to watch TV as an eye exercise. Our family is a Federer-fan-family. So we felt happy when he won that match and continued to win against Fucsovics, Berdych, Chung and finally Coric in the final. Aarthi saw all the matches and her eye and her mood definitely improved. Thanks Roger.

This verse is to all those who directly or indirectly helped us and prayed for us in the most difficult time of our life - from 4th Jan to 9th Feb. 2018 (from the day Aarthi had her symptoms to the day when Aarthi was told 'You have nothing in your brain.').

Instead of making mere sounds
I'd give you a million pounds
But as I cannot rob banks
I'll just say - Thanks, Thanks, Thanks

This article is by S.Parthasarathy, Editor of this Newsletter and father of Aarthi

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