Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Septoplasty/Turbinoplasty experience

Septoplasty: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septoplasty

First, a little history:-

I have always been prone to catching a cold/having my nose blocked since a very early age. Every 2-3 months I would catch cold and be dependent on Otrivin for weeks. This trend continued well into adulthood. At one point of time, I was so dependant on Otrivin that I had to be weaned off it over a week, by inhaling steam 6-8 times a day. It was like drug withdrawal, but in the end, I was off Otrivin. However, I would still continue to get colds and resort to taking steam many times a day.

On some days, even without a cold, I would wake up with a stuffy/heavy face, a splitting headache which would simply not go away and generally keep me in a miserable state for a few days. An MRI due to some other reason revealed a polyp in my Sinus and revealed that I had chronic sinusitis and that my Sinuses were swollen all the time.

I consulted an ENT at the same hospital where I got my MRI and he recommended surgery to take out the polyp. I was not convinced, so I went to another ENT (Dr. K.K. Handa, Director of ENT and Head Neck surgery, Medanta Medicity, Gurgaon). He revealed that my Septum was also deviated (It basically means that the wall separating my nostrils is crooked) and it could be managed using medication. He asked me to use Nasonex and inhale steam for comfort. I had a few things going on professionally and personally so I put surgery out of my mind and continued to use Nasonex and inhale Steam whenever necessary.

This was almost a year ago. Since then, I have had sinus infections almost every month (sometimes more than once a month), had to see an Eye doctor because I felt pressure behind my eyes and be dependant on Steam inhalation to be able to breathe for a reasonable period of time. Finally, on Jan 15, 2013, I re-visited Dr. Handa and informed him that I had been having a miserable time and needed another way out. He immediately asked me to get a CT scan, after which we would explore other options. I got  CT scan the very next day, saw the Doctor the day after that when he informed me that my Septum is especially crooked. This is preventing proper draining of Mucous from my Sinuses, leading to recurrent infections and also breathing problems. He asked me when I can come in for Surgery. I said I will be fine with a surgery on the morning of  Friday, Jan 18, 2013. He asked me to speak with his assistant to sort out all the details.

Image Courtesy: http://http://www-test.medtronic.eu




















I spent the rest of the day sorting out Insurance details, filling out paperwork, getting blood tests and an Anesthesia suitability test etc. I was admitted the next day, Thursday, Jan 17, 2013. I was told not to eat or drink anything after midnight, given an anxiety medicine and went off to sleep.

Day 1 - Surgery

I was woken up at 6:00 AM by the nurse who sad I will soon be wheeled into a pre-op room. I was kept there with other surgical candidates for about an hour after which I was wheeled into the Surgery room. There were 2 huge lights on top of me. The doctors attached an IV line on my left hand (Ouch! That hurt) and asked me to relax. Then they placed a mask on my face and asked me to take deep breaths. The gas coming out of it smelled funny. After 2 deep breaths, I was out.

When I woke up, I was in a post-surgical recovery room, feeling awful. I noticed that I had a throat-ache, I was very thirsty and had something stuffed into my nostrils and something taped over my nose. I couldn't speak as my mouth was dry and my throat ached but I somehow signalled that I wanted water. They told me  that I couldn't drink water for a few hours yet, but gave me a small dropper with a pitiful amount of water in it to wet my lips. I gobbled it all down my throat and was told I won't get any more for a few more hours (Apparently water while still under the effects of Anesthesia makes you puke). I was wheeled into my room, where I was propped up just a little and allowed to rest. I was miserable. I was thirsty, my head felt like full of lead and having to breathe through my mouth caused my throat to ache more and my mouth to dry up. I asked what time it was, apparently, it was 14:00. I tried to sleep, but just couldn't. I was finally given some water at 16:30 after which I sat up. I found out that sitting up made me feel much better than lying down; however, it also caused my nose to bleed and turn the bandage around it, red. I had a couple of fruit juices, met a few visitors (I don't remember these incidents very clearly anymore). I had a hearty meal at night and then tried to sleep.

This was the worst night ever. I couldn't sleep no matter what. My throat would dry up and start hurting every 10 minutes after which I would have to drink something. My nose would bleed and blood would start dripping off into the bed (I was later told this was not fresh blood, but crusts of dried up blood being dissolved by mucous and normal sinus discharge).

Day 2 - Discharge

I had maybe 20 minutes of sleep the entire night and was actually grateful when the Nurse came and switched on the lights. I had a hearty breakfast and looked forward to my discharge. My surgeon along with a few other doctors came to see me. I told them about my lack of sleep and he prescribed me an anxiety tablet for the following night, to be taken only once. A doctor in his team changed my external-dressing (which was by now soaking wet and dripping bloody liquid) and told me I could go home in a few hours. I had a hearty lunch in the discharge room and then went home. I tried to sleep but didn't manage more than 20 minutes of sleep. I changed my dressing myself a few timesas even this one was wet and dripping. At night I had a nice early dinner and went off to sleep. I actually manage to sleep 4-5 hours this time, even though I was breathing out of my mouth.

Day 3 - Off with the packing

I woke up early, had breakfast and got ready to go to the Hospital to get my nostril packing removed. I looked forward to being able to breathe out of my nose again. After waiting in the emergency room (It was Sunday and the OPDs were closed), a doctor came to see me. He made me lie down on a bed in the emergency room (The room was very depressing; people crying and wailing) and poured a few drops of Otrivin down my nostrils. He then used a forcep to pull and remove the packing from my left nostril. It was moderately painful and super awkward. The packing was easily 6 inches long and it felt strange being pulled out of my nose. As soon as the packing was gone, I felt blood/liquid pour down the back of my throat, followed by a gush of fresh air through my nostril.

He then used the forceps to remove the packing from my right nostril. This one was apparently stuck pretty bad and felt horrible. He had to tug pretty hard and it felt like someone was tugging at my brain. Tears poured out of my eyes. Even then, the packing didn't come out all at once and he had to pull out multiple pieces. At one point, I blacked out for a few seconds, because of the pain. This was the most painful moment of the entire procedure, followed by the most blissful moment. Both my nostrils were open and I was breathing in great gushes of air like I had never done before. I never remembered so much air in my right nostril ever. I was still in pain, so the doctor gave me a painkiller shot and let me go home. I went home, lay down and slept blissfully for 2-3 hours. This was my first blissful sleep since the surgery.

I woke up after a few hours and took my first shower in days. It felt amazing and removed the heavy feeling in my face and head. I was still very tired and couldn't stay up for reasonable amounts of time without feeling dizzy and going back to bed. I met a few visitors in the evening, had an early dinner and went to sleep. Breathability was 100%

Day 4 - Cleaning

I slept for 13-14 hours with minimal interruptions and woke up the next day feeling much better and fresher. I had crusts of blood inside my nostrils, which I washed out using Solspre (Saline spray, which comes in a bottle). Breathing was down to 80%.  I spent the day reading and watching Sitcoms on my computer. I had an appointment in the evening with the doctor to get some endoscopic cleaning done.

My friend came in the evening and took me to the doctor. After waiting for sometime, he asked me to come in. I told him that I was feeling much better. He used a suction device to suck blood clots out of my nose. This was also very painful, but much less than when they took out the packing. Breathing was back up to 90%. Another night of good sleep.

Days 5-6

I can feel my Nasal passages closing up slowly. By the end of day 6, I have around 50% breathability in my left nostril and 30% in my right. There's thick discharge all throughout the day, though blood is less frequent now. I can sometimes taste blood in my throat, which I guess is still from the blood clots getting dislodged.

I blew my nose particularly hard tonight and a lot of blood clots came out. Breathing is better, though I feel that something has dislodged in my left nostril and it feels kind of raw.

Thankfully, this congestion is expected, up to a month after the surgery and is not something out of the ordinary. The discharge eases up when I lie down, so at least I am still sleeping.

Day 7

Last night, the right nostril was completely blocked, whereas the left one was at 60-70%. After I woke up though, right one opened up quite a bit and stayed at 40-50%.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Bad phase

I am going through a bad phase in life. It is as if my body is failing me.

I have gastro-intestinal problems since the last 2 years. I have undergone a battery of tests but have failed to get perfectly well. It is not a constant problem but comes and goes. I suspect that I am Lactose intolerant, so have decided to go on a completely Lactose free diet for the next 2 weeks. If that cures me, well and good. I have no issues giving up milk for the rest of my life. Lactase-enzyme supplements are easily available which when taken with Lactose-containing products prevents symptoms from appearing.

However, the internet is a scary place. When I search for my symptoms, I get a barrage of deadly and dangerous diseases starting with IBS and ending with intestinal cancer. Scariest is the possibility of Coeliac Disease. It has symptoms of Lactase intolerance as well as Gluten-intolerance. If that is the case, I will need to have a Gluten-free diet for the rest of my life, which will mean giving up on Wheat and almost every type of grain. With food being on of the biggest motivations in life, can I completely give up grains of all kind? I am not sure if such a life would be worth living.

I have decided to try a Lactose free diet for a week, failing which I will go see a doctor (again) and go through so many tests (again).

Meanwhile, my motivational factor is at an all time low and I feel depressed and discouraged to do anything productive, especially before the festive season is about to start.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Expendables 2


I remember that in 2010 I went to watch "The Expendables" with high hopes (being an epic Sylvester Stallone fan) and came back just satisfied. The story was predictable, the action sequences were too over the top and mostly unrealistic. But it was an all-out action movie which did not bore. It was a one-time watch.

After 2 years, Stallone is back with a sequel. The story is even more predictable and the action sequences are entirely unbelievable. The good guys easily miss a hailstorm of bullets, while the bad guys die one-guy for one-bullet. They easily use high-tension power cables as zip lines (The pylons be damned), people turn up at the most un-expected places suddenly without warning and disappear without any explanation and it is decided that the best way to enter a mine is by crashing flying/driving an airplane through a mine-shaft. It is clear that instead of a story being written first and then scenes shot accordingly, they just shot the scenes as they pleased and hoped that the audience will forgive the massive gaffes and unexplainable events.

I being an audience easily forgive them. I spent most of the late 90s and early 2000s watching action movies. Sylvester Stallone has always being an idol and my most favourite actor. I have seen each Rocky movie at least 30 times. I have seen the entire series (at that time 1-5) overnight at one go. Similarly, I have seen the Terminator series (at that time 1 and 2) many many times, not to forget the Die Hard series. Those were also the days when Van Damme ruled the martial arts scene in Hollywood. They showed Bloodsport on Star TV every month and I watched it in its entirety every time. 

There were mostly 2 types of action star fans back then. The ones who supported Sylvester Stallone and the ones who supported Arnold Schwarzenegger. I used to frequent Sylvester Stallone fan chat rooms back then and witnessed (and participated) in many arguments as to who will win if Sylvester and Arnold ever came face to face and who can kick the others ass more. The rivalry was legendary, even portrayed in some movies (Arnold becomes President of the USA in the dystopian future of The Demolition man and Sylvester's character has a hard time believing it). Most arguments used to end with the same conclusion -"They are never going to do a movie together, so there's no point arguing". That has been the childhood dream of every Action movie fan of my generation - to watch Sylvester and Arnold together in a movie.

This movie not only fulfils that fantasy, but far exceeds that. Never would I have thought I would watch a movie with my favourite actors of all time - Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis and Van Damme together. Don't be mistaken, they don't have cameos in the movie. They all have substantial roles with the last action scene bringing them all together.

Look at the screenshot below

Aah! Bliss!

Is that scene not perfect? What else can be more pleasing to the action lover's eye, than watching Arnold, Sylvester and Bruce walking in unison and mowing down bad guys with their machine guns? Pure cinematic bliss.

So what if Sylvester takes down a helicopter flown by the bad guys with a moped (results in an explosion of epic proportions), but their own plane crashes and digs its way miles into a mine without so much as a fire?

So what if the movie actually has a sniper which fires 6 rounds in under 2 seconds?

So what if Chuck Norris destroys 20 people and 1 tank with just a gun? (Actually this one is not hard to believe at all)

So what if Sylvester Stallone easily defeats Van Damme in hand-to-hand combat?

We don't care. Just look at the screenshot above. We don't want anything else. We are glad Arnold's political career has been shamefully destroyed and he can make movies now.

Surely, this movie will not win any awards (or even be nominated) for story, direction or acting. This movie was not meant to be appreciated by critics, be appreciated as a piece of art or win any awards. This movie was just made to please action movie lovers like me and those belonging to a generation before mine, which it does.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Pathetic State of Education in India

Courtesy: http://asiancorrespondent.com
















Growing up, I have witnessed a few things which have made me question the quality of education in this country; especially Primary and Secondary education.

In short, schools in India generally suck. They are more profit-making machines rather than a place to impart quality education to students. Moreover, the quality of teachers, especially in the Primary and Secondary education scene is very low.

I have studied in almost 9 schools from Class I to Class XII. I can say without doubt that most teachers did not teach for the joy of teaching, but rather to earn money. There's no harm in that, apart from the fact that they are still expected to be good at their jobs; which mostly they are not.

One subject which I have seen teachers mostly suck at, is English. Apart from 2 teachers in my entire school life, none of the English teachers I have come across were good at their jobs. I have found myself arguing with my English teachers many times when I have felt that what they were saying is wrong. After a while, I realized that arguing is no use, as the teachers here, far from being open minded and appreciating feedback actually had huge egoes, which I hurt when I corrected them.

Unlike subjects like Science and Maths, if you learn languages incorrectly at a young age, you are unlikely to improve later on; you'll be stuck with it for life. If there's one teacher who doesn't know proper English teaching a class of 50, he/she will produce 50 people who don't know proper English later on in life.

This problem is not isolated to English/Hindi and other language subjects. Most teachers don't know what they are doing and write things on the blackboard directly from the textbook or old notes and expect their students not to question what they are writing.

Also, I have recently seen students being told to take off their shoes outside the computer room, as their shoes might have "viruses" which would infect the computers. Also, a textbook as recent as 2010 still listed Pluto as a planet.

Why is the state of Education here so bad, when considering that the schooling here is much more expensive than the developed countries? The answer is "Jugaad".

Indians have a long standing habit of relying on "Jugaad", which is simply a way to get something done using means other than those which are proper. Mostly this would involve a monetary transaction, or pulling strings with someone high up in the system.

I have seen people I know graduate from full time B.Ed courses without attending a single class. These same people get jobs at nice schools using the same "Jugaad" technique; when it is clear that no self-respecting interviewer would have even interviewed them for more than 5 minutes. Also, these people don't know basic English.

All this is very frustrating and makes me very angry; especially because I don't know what I can do about it.


Monday, June 18, 2012

The Pros and Cons of living in Gurgaon

I have been living in Gurgaon for almost 4 years now and I am yet to get used to this city. Without wasting any further time, here're the Pros and Cons of living here

Pros:-

1. The city is great to look at. When you cross the toll plaza from Delhi, you're immediately confronted by the huge Ambience Mall on the left, following which there are huge office buildings and complexes on both sides of the road. It is evident that the builders have gone out of their way to impress visitors.


Image Courtesy: greatgurgaononlycityinindia.blogspot.in


















2. The availability of goods and services is good. Whether it be grocery, movies, electronics, computers, there are plenty of malls/markets to choose from. Most of them are open 7 days a week and you probably won't have to go far looking for something wherever you stay.

Image Courtesy: wikitravel.org


















3. The city is well connected to Delhi through Delhi Metro and through the upcoming Airport Express line. The railway station is an hour away on the metro. Connaught place is 50 mins away. South Delhi is half an hour away.

Image Courtesy: hindu.com














4. The airport is very close by. 15-40 mins depending on where you stay

5. Good career prospects. If you're looking for a new job and have a particular company in mind, chances are, they have their offices in Gurgaon.


















6. Excellent microbreweries. At last count, there were 6 microbreweries in Gurgaon, making their own beer and all of them are very good.
Beer Island



















7. Heaven for drunkards. There are wine shops every 500 metres in this city and most of them are illegally open through the night. Most of them also have an adjoining eating joint.

Pathetic drunkards

























Cons:-


1. Roads are pathetic. The only nice road to drive on is NH8; however, you do have to get off the highway to get somewhere and that is when you realize that the highway is just a facade, the rest of the city roads are pathetic.
Image Courtesy: 4.bp.blogspot.com


















2. The city has witnessed unchecked growth, resulting which, there's not enough electricity and water to feed all the malls, offices and residential complexes. Daily 4-5 hour power cuts are normal both in the summers and in the winters.

3. The roads/traffic conditions are not biker friendly. The only good road (NH8) does not allow motorcycles to ply on it. This creates a nightmare scenario for bikers, especially during peak traffic hours.

4. There are not many good scenic places/picnic spots to visit nearby compared to the other cities I have lived in.

5. Property rates/rents are through the roof. You have to be very rich to live in a nice locality. Still, you won't get water or electricity

6. Most people are uncultured/uneducated. People drunk on the street, fighting, abusing is a common sight at night. Road rage is rampant and crime is common

All in all, I would prefer staying in Gurgaon than many places in India, but some major improvements are long overdue.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Prometheus


I have not done a plot summary of the movie.

I have always been a science fiction fan and the alien series has always been one close to my heart, combining my favorite aspects of scifi - Space, future, and extra terrestrial existence. While Alien and Aliens are two of the best movies of all time, the sequels were comparatively disappointing (even though accepted by fans of the series). Similarly, although the spinoffs (Alien vs Predator and Alien vs Predator: Requiem) were set in the same universe as the Alien series, they were of a completely different genre (action compared to space horror). All in all, I have waited around 10 years for a true sequel to the Alien series to come out.

Prometheus is not a sequel, but a prequel (more on that later). I had read a bad review before going for the movie, after watching the movie, I was totally blown away. No, this movie is definitely not like Alien. Alien was released in 1979, almost 33 years ago. Expecting something along the same lines would not only have been unfair, but the movie would been stale and died the same way as Alien Part 3 and 4. 

Prometheus is based in the same universe as Alien but approximately a few decades before Alien is (the exact year for Alien is not revealed). Although the incidents of Prometheus directly lead to where Alien started off, Prometheus is a very different kind of movie. Alien was a claustrophobic horror movie with a lot of suspense (you couldn't even see the Alien except for the last part of the movie), whereas Prometheus is faster paced, overpowers you with lot more information and deals with a wider range of questions in general than the incidents shown in the movie. Some scenes would really get you on the edge of your seat and are worth watching.

All the actors acted very well, especially Michael Fassbender who plays Android David.

For science fiction fans, this is a must watch movie. For fans of the Alien series, you must watch it twice, to take in all the information presented in the film. As for me, I was left thinking for hours after the movie and still have not been able to recover from my trance. 

Folks who are not much into science fiction can watch it for over the top visuals and action scenes, although it would be an insult to the real character of the movie. 


************************Spolier Alert************************

Do not read on if you have not watched the movie, but are planning to

People who say this is not a prequel to Alien must be bull-shitting. Ridley Scott claims its not a prequel, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it indeed was. It is not a prequel as the Star Wars Episodes 1 to 3 were,  as in it does not contain any common character, but it is obviously set in the same universe, contains common elements and the incidents of Prometheus directly lead to where Alien started off. These are the reasons why Prometheus is definitely a prequel to Alien
  1. The planet/moon is obviously the same (LV-426). The space ship the protagonists crash in Prometheus is obviously the same as Ripley discovers in Alien. The planet/moon seems to have seasons as in Prometheus there's day followed by night whereas in Alien and Aliens, its perpetual night time.
  2. The company which sponsors the mission in Prometheus is Weyland Corporation, which seems to have merged with Yutani and become Weyland-Yutani Corporation after the incidents of Prometheus, which is the company which sponsors the missions after Alien. The motto "Creating new worlds" is the same as well.
  3. It seems to be a common practice in all company missions to have an Android on board.
  4. All crew members in prometheus as well as Alien (and later on in Aliens) are in stasis when the movie starts; wake up when they are about to reach their destinations, have breakfast followed by a briefing
  5. Earth is hardly shown (if at all) in any of these movies.
These are the questions (that arose in Alien) answered by Prometheus
  1. The origins of the derelict spacecraft found on LV-426
  2. Who the crew of the derelict spacecraft were and how they were killed
  3. How the Aliens became biped and how they evolved
These are the new questions posed by Prometheus
  1. Why did the engineers create humans as an inferior version of themselves?
  2. Did they also create every other creature on earth? If not, how come humans share similar DNA with them?
  3. Why did they want to wipe off human civilization from earth?
  4. Was LV-426 the home planet for the engineers? If no, why were they here?
  5. Did they engineer the Aliens themselves or did they trap them for use as weapons?
  6. Who created the engineers?
There definitely would be a sequel to Prometheus, however there are two routes it can take

One: Follow the voyage of Dr. Shaw and David as they set out to find the origins of the engineers. This would lead the series away from the Aliens and would be more in line with the Rama Series.

Two: The alien is left in the Prometheus escape pod at the end of the movie which is programmed to automatically head back to earth. However, it is unlikely that the writers would follow this angle.

After watching this movie, I would surely watch the now-sequels to maintain continuity. Also, the painful wait for a sequel begins.

I applaud directors like Ridley Scott. They didn't have to make prequels/sequels years afterwards; they have enough to swim in for years. They do it to do justice to the movies, to the fans and for that we thank them profusely.






Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Thunderbird Twinspark - Initial impressions

Yesterday I became the proud owner of a Thunderbird Twinspark, 2012 model.
















Since I got my last bike around 8 years ago, the price has gone up around 50%. I was curious to find out what improvements the company had added in all these years and how different it was from my last one. Here're my views as of now (100km)

  1. The colour is deeper and the texture feels smoother overall
  2. The front disc brake seems to be the same. Feels smoother than what I am used to, but my bike was almost 60000 km old
  3. The headlamp is brighter and now works even when the engine is turned off
  4. The instrument console is mostly the same, with minor differences
  5. The switchgear is much better. The indicator switch, the engine on/off switch, the push start switch all feel sturdy and softer. There's no decompressor lever. The dipper switch which was almost unusable in the old bike is much better now. The handlebar weights are now chrome
  6. The "Royal Enfield" decal on the tank is now embossed rather than printed on a sticker. Frankly I preferred the latter
  7. They have added reflectors on both sides of the chassis just below the tank for better visibility when getting on/off the road
  8. The electric start is fast and responsive
  9. The kickstarter is largely in-effective. It doesn't even engage with the engine till half-way down and it is clear that they have included it for exceptional cases and the electric starter is intended to start the vehicle most of the times
  10. The real brake is more effective and has less play
  11. The seat is more comfortable, especially for the lower back
  12. The factory fitted horn (single unit) is terrible. I had to get Bosch dual-tone horns fitted before I dared to take it out on the road
  13. The seating position seems to have been slightly tweaked for the better
  14. The center stand is better designed and requires very little effort to get the bike on and off the stand
  15. The wiring is better hidden and feels more taut
















Here're my thoughts on the engine

  1. The engine is smoother and feels sturdier and more reliable. Would know more in the long run
  2. The whirring noise from the engine is very noticeable. However, I know from experience that this would go down as the engine is driven in
  3. There's almost no noise from the Pushrods or due to Cam backlash. Again, the consistency needs to be tested in the long run
  4. The torque and power is noticeably more, but I would know more once the engine is run in some more and I am able to rev to higher RPMs.
  5. Gear shifting is still tricky and false neutrals though quite rare, are still there.

I did around 100km since yesterday. Hope to complete 500km in 7-10 days so that the bike can go through its first servicing.