A Night I’ll Never Forget

Graphic by Sumit Kumar

On the night of October 11th 2016, I went through a life-altering experience – something that shook me to the core. I never thought I could ever talk about it but as time passed, I’ve learnt that the only way I could deal with it is if I confront it. It was just 24 hours that I could never get out of my head but to be honest, I hardly remember any of it which is what makes it worse for me. I have spent days, months, and years now trying to piece together every hour of that day but all I have is what others saw and what I felt. It was a journey for me, and I’ll try taking you along with me.

I was 15 years old. It was Dashami, the last day of Durga Puja and I was tired after visiting pandals. At around 9 pm, I started to feel uneasy, as though my heart was going to tear out of my chest, but I didn’t know what was wrong and I couldn’t explain myself to my parents either. I was perfectly fine an hour back, but something didn’t feel right, and I demanded to be taken to a hospital. What happened after that is a blur.

I felt myself losing consciousness in the car while staring at the sky through the sunroof and eventually blacked out. When I look back now, I wish I could’ve remained in that state, but I kept regaining consciousness and losing it. The next thing I knew, I was in a wheelchair being taken to the Emergency Room. I saw a bright light in my face while being surrounded by men in white coats who I now know were doctors. A Cardiologist, a Neurosurgeon, a Gastroenterologist, an Oncosurgeon and every other specialist you could imagine. They were running every kind of test trying to figure out what was wrong with me. You see, I wasn’t awake to tell them any symptoms or issues I was facing so they were by themselves. It wasn’t too long before they realised that I had slipped into a coma and now time was of the essence.

I don’t know what my parents went through when they heard that my survival chances had dropped by 50% with no medical diagnoses but I guess this is the part where things get better. Dr S. Nandi, a neurologist, walked in for a consult and at one glance at my foot, he asked my parents if I had Diabetes and they said no. This left everyone surprised because I was young to have Diabetes and it’s something that isn’t common. Due to the negligence of the hospital, they had forgotten something as simple as a sugar test, which takes seconds, while conducting all kinds of major tests on me. A nurse had immediately pricked me to take a sample and in seconds they discovered that my sugar was at 560. For context, any normal person’s sugar levels stay between 80-120 and anything out of that range, would be Diabetes. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes which is also known as Juvenile Diabetes. It’s caused by an autoimmune reaction where your body mistakenly destroys cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. This problem could go on for months and years before it gets detected. Every doctor in that room knew what it was but it just didn’t strike them and now all they could do was wait and see if my body would react well or it could’ve been too late.

Call it bad luck or unfortunate but approximately 3 months back, I had seen two doctors complaining of symptoms that were a direct indication of Diabetes, but it was ignored by them. One of those very doctors was in the room. I was lethargic, tired, and dehydrated all the time for months, but I learnt to live with it. All of that while my condition was only getting worse over time.

Against all odds, I did wake up the following night, shocked and choking because I had no idea what was happening. It was midnight, I was in an Intensive Critical Care Unit room of a hospital and within a minute of gaining consciousness, I could feel intense pain. My hands were tied to the rods of the bed so that I wouldn’t disrupt the channels in my hand. This was the scariest time of my life. All the needles and medication in my system were acting up. The room was empty, except for a nurse sitting on a chair in a corner but she was sleeping. I knew I had to act right but at that moment, I couldn’t see a familiar face and I panicked. I tried screaming even though I could barely breathe and furiously tried to move to create sound. Before I knew it, I was hyperventilating and a doctor walked in to calm me down because it was adversely affecting my already high sugar. At that moment, I didn’t know if I would make it through the night and if I even wanted to.

I stayed up all night trying to figure out how I had landed up there, but my parents had not attained 24 hours pass yet so all they could do was wait outside the ward until morning. I discovered everything that had happened the next day when my family narrated it to me, and I couldn’t help but be in denial. I was angry at myself, the doctors, and was desperately waiting for them to tell me a cure.
I wish I could’ve said that something I’ll never forget is pretty and wholesome, but nothing has yet replaced that night for me. I wish I could give you a happy ending but it has affected all aspects of my life. What I can say is that it has been 5 years and it took time, but I am getting better, and I am learning to accept what happened. I can’t change the past, but I know that I got a second chance at life and miracles do happen because I’ve always been told that I am one.

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