Lessons from an Indian man’s book of experience.
People are not very careful a lot of the time. We stand by our daily routines and as you grow out of childhood, the first thing you ensure is financial stability. It provides security and a comfort. We know that we’re doing the right thing in providing for ourselves and/or loved ones and we know in that moment, that we have a direction, a purpose. But this sometimes can lead to the neglect of ourselves on a basic level and we forget to look out for our own bodies.
The 1st of July 2012. That was the day Krishan Anand was diagnosed with kidney failure at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Ryde, NSW, Australia.
Like many people, Krishan had taken his kidneys for granted until it was too late, but he is able to approach the topic with humour. “I have this joke with the other patients,” he said, “America got their independence on the 4th of July, but that’s the day I lost my independence” He said while chuckling.
Krishan was born on 23rd of November, 1952 in Simla, India. “But I am a proper Delhi boy, I know all facets of Delhi,” he said. Krishan lived in Delhi for his first 20 years. When he was 15, he had finished his HSC but the University of Delhi didn’t permit admission until the age of 16. To fill the time, he travelled 2 hours everyday to a neighbouring state to study a post-HSC diploma.
When he turned 16, he began studying physics. He attained his BSC (bachelor of science) and MSC (masters of science) before moving to Africa; where he taught and studied simultaneously. “I was teaching high school by morning and university by the afternoon,” he said.
Eventually, he quit his high school job to teach four classes at the university of Zambia (as opposed to one or two which is the standard for a lecturer). The university, in return, subsidised his fee and paid for him to travel. “I had to do short courses in England and in America. But I travelled extensively in Africa, America and in Europe and some of it was for pleasure also.”
Coincidentally, the 1st of July was also the day he arrived in Australia in 1983. By this time, he had a doctorate in Physics, Computer Science and Mathematics. In the 30 years of living in Australia, he has worked in many places. “I’ve worked for about 15 to 20 organisations, all in computers” he said.
People react in different ways when it comes to significant changes in their lives. When Krishan was informed of his renal failure, this meant that his ordinary life had ended. From thereon, he would have to undergo the recommended treatment referred to as dialysis. This process, in which a machine takes out your blood and cleans it externally, effectively does what the kidneys are intended to do.
This treatment is something that must be undergone three days a week and five hours at a time, meaning much of the week is controlled by this process and it limits the ability to go where you want, when you want. These days cannot be skipped and it is a timely process that has to be supported by a strict diet. High potassium foods is recommended against and many patients need to limit their liquid intake as they can lose the ability to urinate. Each patient is provided with an allowed amount of liquid that they can drink.
Despite the implications of this process (which is likely to be life long), Krishan approached the subject philosophically. “I am not a person who cries or laments,” he says. “I don’t say things like ‘oh I did that then, and this is what I got.’”
He explained that regret and fear, is an unnecessary factor in life. “Dialysis is just another event in life that occurs. I don’t welcome or celebrate it, I just deal with it.”
The only thing there is to do, from Krishan’s perspective, is to see a problem for what it is and look for ways to counteract or cope with it. “In a nice, friendly way, we [Krishan and other patients] [crack] jokes about being in dialysis, to cheer ourselves up. We do the right thing, we honour and respect the staff, the method of dialysis and its regime.”
Krishan is a religious man, and he speaks fondly of his creed and explained what it means to him. “I believe in some basic principals that this world is run by superior forces. Lord almighty, the manager of the universe. Everybody is given a type of life which it deserves,” he said. “I am a Hindu. I have a lot of faith in the Hindu scriptures. Hindu gives me a lot of comfort, and humour gives me pleasure.”
Due to the nature of the dialysis treatment, travel becomes a difficult task. However, he has managed to go back to India on three different occasions since he began treatment. Krishan owns a house in Delhi, where he has a servant, a cook and a security guard live there permanently. There is a dialysis unit about a five minute walk from the house.
When he first arrived at the dialysis unit in India, he was genuinely surprised. He found the process of dialysis in Indian and Australian are identical. The protocols and the machines are 100 per cent the same. “Only difference is, they have over a thousand channels on the tele there.”
India is a country known for their superiority in medical practice. There are many trusted Indian doctors all across America, Britain, Australia and more. For this reason, medical tourism is largely popular in India. Because not only do they have trusted medical treatments of all kinds, the costs are significantly cheaper in comparison to the western world.
Krishan explained why he does not feel like moving back to India despite the significantly lower medical costs. “People ask me quite often whether I’d like to go back to India,” he said. “When I left, the intention was to never to go back, Australia was far more advanced. I was settled on living here and keeping strong links with India by visiting.”
He explained how things have changed in India; that in the past 10 years, the economy has come up and the number of jobs have increased especially in the field of computers. “If you were to ask someone else, I’d say they have a choice. Even a white Australian might consider moving to India because they could do the same job and get paid better than you do here. But for me personally, the answer is no, I will not go back, because of my situation, because I’ve reached a retirement stage, and I have my depleting capabilities.”
He also mentions it would be too much of a behavioural adjustment. He has become used to the culture in Australia where there are more flexibilities. “Here in Australia, we’re used to doing our own work without relying on servants, I can expect cleanliness and basic fairness. The fear of not getting that in India is very profound. So there is no real compelling reason to go back to India.” – Sion Weatherhead
Top Photo by Sion Weatherhead.