Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Diwali, Pollution, and the Uncertainty of Parkinson's Disease

From mildly enthusiastic about Diwali to asking questions about it in less than 3 days! That's how long it took Anna to kind-of get into the groove of things.

At 9:30pm on Sunday night, when he is normally asleep, he calls to tell me that we haven't bought Diwali gifts for the service staff. I assure him that I have already bought gifts.  He asks if it is enough, should we give money, etc.  And we go to & fro on that till he says "Ok-Amma. I leave it to you." Yes, Anna, leave it to me!!

Then on my Monday visit, he wants to know why he has been deprived of Diwali sweets! Deprive him!  Can I even try to dare to deprive him of sweets? No way!! I tell him that Diwali is a couple of days away and that I will buy him mithai soon.

And finally, there are the crackers.  Anna wants us to buy some crackers for "shastra" i.e. as a good omen.  So I go buy some crackers even tho' the pollution levels are high and I don't think we should.  But shastra is shastra.

Then on 9th Nov, Anna has a bad throat, is disoriented, spends all night coughing and doesn't sleep till 5am in the morning. I think it is the effect of the pollution. It gets worse on 10th Nov. He sleeps only at 6am after coughing again all night.  The attendant is worried about the intensity and length of the spells and his ability to breath.

So on Diwali day, we are at the hospital at 9:30 am.

Anna is very mildly responsive, slurring, disoriented, jerking his arms (something he does not do on his Parkinson's medication).

It takes 5 hours to put him on a nebuliser, take a chest x-ray, run blood tests. There is no chest infection, no throat infection, no pneumonia. Yet he is almost catatonic.

We bring him home with instructions to keep a close watch, give him steam inhalations, and to bring him back to the hospital if he takes a turn for the worse.

He sleeps all afternoon.

In the evening when I go to light the diyas at his place, he is half-asleep but still ready to light the diyas and agarbatti. But alas, he is so weak he can not strike the match hard enough against the matchbox to get it to fire up.  So I do that for him.

Eyes closed and with a weak smile he gives the staff, their Diwali gifts. And then promptly falls asleep.

So no real Diwali for him. No gorging on mithai. No watching me light diyas and candles. No being wheeled around the colony to see houses lit up in colorful lights. No enjoying the sight of flower pots and Vishnu chakras as they are lit by his staff and neighbors and he watches in glee.


  1. Telling my father that he can not eat mithai on Diwali is like telling James Bond that he has a license to kill but he can not kill any one!!!

  2. This is so heartbreaking. I lost my dad about 2.5 years ago but he had started declining about 6 months before it. The decline was due to loneliness as we had lost mom exactly 4 years before he went away. My biggest fear was him suffering in the end but thankfully he didn't. He walked to his death - walked to the car and then passed away.

    I truly hope and pray that your dad does not suffer. Lots of love.