It sucks when you have to pay for bad news. A year or so ago, I coughed up around 12,000 of my hard earned rupees for one. It sounded like advanced algebraic function than blood test. Here’s the bad news bit: It came back positive.
There are only few instances when fear strikes as the results come Positive. This was one such instance. I’d been tested positive for HLA B27. Tl;dr version, it meant this: forget trekking, no more walking for more than 15 mins a day. And, for someone who thinks on his feet this was a blow I was not ready to take.
It all started one fine day when I couldn’t get out of bed. It was because the pain that I felt was numbing. It started from my hip and extended to to the tip of my feet, which I couldn’t feel. If you couple a public rejection and then being informed by your crush (one who has just rejected you) that your fly is open and multiply that by hundred times, you’d get to the 5% percent of what I felt that day. I felt I was giving birth to an universe.
A quick call to action followed suit. I called my wife’s brother (he’s a doctor) and promptly wolfed down couple of analgesic and hey presto! the pain wasn’t there anymore. Relieved but worried I started the divine dance that every patient does until correctly diagnosed — I circumambulated doors after doors of doctor. You can call that kora, I suppose.
I was not hoping for a miracle cure, mind you (I don’t believe in that stuff) but for a prognosis. I just wanted to know what the hell was happening on my body. My brother in law did suggest I take that test, but I brushed it off. Surely it wasn’t that bad.
But it kept recurring like a nightmare. It persisted like a heartache that just wouldn’t go away. It crept on me like deadlines — swiftly, silently and mostly when I was not ready for it.
One fine day I was walking home after office. I had just reached Sajha bus station when I heard an ominous creak. The skeleton of a tree that guards the petrol station was shedding. A branch. Not puny little leaves, but a strong ass branch. It creaked towards me or that it lunged towards me for a hug. And fast.
Contrary to popular belief, no, my life didn’t pass before my eyes. I think it is because I am still alive. There you go. Ain’t dead. In that circumstance I did what every sane person does. I Ran, and as I was sprinting I felt something pulling me back. Yes, the pain was back and was sending me telegrams. Did you miss me, it said. Here’s how much I miss you, it said and a searing, white hot pain shot through my spine. I survived the branch, but at immense cost. I painfully limped back home.
Scan me like one of your French Girls
I consulted my brother in law once more. He said he suspected something, but wanted me to get an expert opinion from an orthopedic. The doctor in question saw through my condition straight away. Get a scan, he ordered. As I lay awkwardly in the CT scan machine, I could only think of a meme. Google this: draw me like one of your French girls and you’ll understand what I felt when I lay there, half naked with cold steel kissing me on awkward places.
The scans showed what he wanted to see, and taught me names of the things I was not aware of. I apparently had what they call a sacroiliac pain — swelling of the joint between sacrum and ilium bones. It’s where the upper part of my body meets the lower. In short: my hips did lie, and how.
The good doctor ordered litany of tests, the HLA B27 being one of them. It tested one thing and one thing only. It tested the chance me contracting ankylosing spondylosis — a inflammatory disease of the central spine. It came back positive, indicating a high chance of me marrying that condition later in my life. It also suggested that the genetic pool I was swimming around in had a little something that made me prone to catch this, which brings me back here.
2015 was as much about the earthquake, seeing it reshape the Mangal Bazaar skyline I love so much and rekindling my love for heritage as much as it is about living with this degenerative elephant I have inside of me.
I learned a lot this past year. For one thing, I learned the meaning of taking it slow, in true sense of the word. In the following story, I will detail more about my year with the sacroiliac pain, and how I am coping with it.