Luck on a Russian roulette life

Human, After All

Anubha George

The first time ever that David and I talked, was about our parents. He about his father. I about my mother.

I’m one of those people who makes no conversation with anybody at the gym. I’m civil and say ‘hello’ if someone greets me. But that’s about all. I describe myself as one of those ‘work out and get out’ people.

So, I can’t even remember how David and I got talking. His father was in hospital. He was a robust 70-year-old who had had no health problems until then. He was admitted with a tooth infection, but now the doctors were suspecting something more sinister. David and his brother chose not to tell their father about the diagnosis. Their mother doesn’t know either, because she is hypertensive.

My parents had also had a difficult year health-wise. My dad had had some diabetes-related problems. My mum had had a hysterectomy which wasn’t quite as straight-forward as just that. There was something more lurking there. Or so the doctors suspected.

We stood by the treadmill and traded notes. If we’re lucky, my mum will not need chemo but just a few sessions of radiation, I said. My dad’s platelet count is low. If we’re lucky, a blood transfusion should bring it back up without any complications, he said.

We wished each other well and went our way.

The week after, I saw David again. How’s your dad? His father turned out to be a rare blood group. But luck meant they found two donors. How’s your mum, he asked. We were lucky to get a good surgeon; the surgery went well, I said.

The next time I saw David, we stood by the rowing machines to talk. His dad had the most terrible back pain. My mother was halfway through her radiation, but the extreme nausea was taking its toll. Today, luck meant our parents were coping well.

Days passed. My time of going to the gym changed because of work commitments. I didn’t see David for ages. But I often did wonder about his dad and if he was okay.

By the end of December last year, my mother had completed her radiation cycle. She’d lost her appetite and the stomach cramps were unbearable. As for the nausea, the less said the better. But now luck meant, at least she wasn’t having chemo. Luck meant, at least she hadn’t lost her hair.

As for David’s father, I had no idea what was going on with him. I did think about dropping him a text but put that idea aside. People cope with illness differently.

Last week, I bumped into David. His dad was still in hospital. He had developed diabetes as a result of some of the medication and was now on insulin. His blood platelet count was still low. But the doctors were hopeful it would go up in a week or so. Once it went up, the chemotherapy would begin. For now, though, luck meant his father’s backache was under control and he was able to at least sleep peacefully at night. Luck meant David didn’t have to see his father in pain.

I call my mum every night before bed. We’ve fallen into a routine with that. We talk about her day, mine, politics, films; we gossip about my uncles and aunts and other relatives. You know, the usual. Last night I called her, as per. I think I’m lucky I’m on the road to recovery, she said. Yes, the definition of what luck is has changed pretty much every day. But yes, she is. We are.

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