Monday, February 28, 2011

Votti (ਵੋੱਤੀ), Sotti (ਸੋੱਤੀ), ACL Tears and Getting Fit Again!

After successfully poxing out the pox in August last year, I was again forced to be off everything (I mean that literally too!) in December again.
Towards the end of November, after having done a lot of travelling, I was drained and exhausted and a bit under the weather - just wanted to be off for a weekend at least, to sleep early, wake up late and just laze around. But as some Murphy's Law would have it, it was exactly then that we from office had to travel to Goa over the weekend for an offsite.
The super-lazy me wanted to drop out, but then super-wifey, Neeti, admonished me for my laziness, moralised on what is right and pepped me up. And then, the "right"-side of me woke up and I hurriedly packed to sleep in time for the early morning departure to Goa. Was that feeling that I should not go a premonition (of sorts) of a forthcoming event?
Goa was as lovely as could be. The early morning air was as fresh as it could be, the morning sun was warm and soothing but the icing on the cake was Dabolim Airport which was a spotters' delight - being the tourist high season, Dabolim's tiny remote parking bays were teeming with jets (with exotic liveries) from western Europe and Russia. Just as our Air India Airbus A321 was taxiing in, a Monarch Airlines Boeing 757 was being towed out. The board in the terminal showed an arrival from Yekaterinburg - Екатеринбург, the city infamous for the murders of the Romanovs in 1918, following the Russian Revolution, and that gave me an eeky feeling.
Soon we were on the tree lined road to our resort on Arossim Beach. My memories took me back to May 2006, my first time in Goa, when Neeti and I had a lovely time cycling on the same road.
The first day was pretty enjoyable with a number of fun filled activities and it went off before we thought it was over. The second day went off pretty well until we went into the last activity of the day - dodgeball. I was a bit exhausted after the whole day in the sun and felt like dropping out, but the rational side of me forced me to play. On one occasion, when I was inside the circle, I stumbled over a colleague as I attempted to avoid the ball which was coming towards me. And I fell on my right side, twisting my lower leg. But I got up and within seconds, I was back in the game, only to get out after a few minutes.
The evening passed by, and we went to a beachside shack for a party. I never realised anything was amiss until the next morning, when I was unable to move my leg - the knee was swollen. Somehow, after mustering all energy I managed to get ready to return back to Bombay. Getting on to the flight on the ladder was a task - it took me a full 5 minutes, but I was aided by my helpful colleagues, Suyez, Pankaj, Nilesh, Deepak, Rajnish and few others. On reaching home, my personal physician, Neeti, took charge of me - my knee was liberally coated with Volini and I was padded up with tight crepe bandage. We were convinced it was a minor sprain, which would heal up by morning. And then we called it a day!
The next day, a Monday morning, the situation had worsened, the pain was as intense as ever, and I was not in a position to move. And my in-house physician decided it was beyond her, so our ever helpful physician, Dr. Ullal was called. He suggested an immediate MRI scan of the knee, before we met him in his clinic. And we quickly rushed for scan. The scan began - I was strapped on the couch, which then moved in, into the tube and a series of jarring, creepy noises started. In all, it felt as though I was being abducted by an alien spaceship!
The results showed a tear in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a critical ligament for stability of gait. On reviewing the report, Dr. Ullal classified this as a sports injury. In all the physical pain, that was a source of jest for Neeti and me - "How the hell can a lazybone like Rajeev get a sports injury?"
Dr. Ullal referred me to Dr. Dinshaw Pardiwala, a sports injury specialist, at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Hospital and also was kind enough to speak to an administrative person at the hospital to facilitate an early appointment, as Dr. Pardiwala's appointments runs into a waitlist of upto a fortnight! Dr. Pardiwala recommended conservative treatment - no surgery, which relieved me. Immediately my leg was immobilised in a full-knee brace, with minimum movement, that too with a walking stick, which I never imagined I would ever use, at least before the twilight years set in.
Meanwhile, Neeti's Mom figured out that her ex-student, Dr. Jashan Vishwanath, was also an orthopaedic surgeon at Jaslok Hospital and suggested we meet him as well. That was quite useful as he reaffirmed that we were on the right track, but also suggested immediate physiotherapy to prevent muscles from wasting away, which was a distinct possibility.
My immobility made me quite a kid, and Neeti played parent to perfection - dressing me up, getting the shoes on, getting me food and all that was required. I remember the day I rejoined office two weeks after the accident, Neeti came with me downstairs to the car, just as a parent would go to see off a kid to the school bus!!!!
Then my folks came visiting. My Dad insisted on massaging the injured area himself, while Mom ensured an endless supply of great food to elevate my spirits!
In a few days, as recommended by the two doctors, my physiotherapy started - that helped to get the strength back in the limbs. My physiotherapy started under Heath Matthews and his team. Heath had treated quite a few Indian sports-persons and is a renowned name in that field. During the first session I had with him, he mentioned that Sania Mirza had a similar injury in 2007, but had recovered with conservative treatment, and went to achieve some success. That reassured me and also was another source of jest as Neeti often jocularly said that I was in the same league as Sania Mirza!!!!
Slowly and gradually, but convincingly, as the physiotherapy sessions by Heath and Shraddha progressed I limped back to normal. I gradually increased my time in office, started moving around at home and even went for a short vacation to Kodagu, which was covered in my photo-blog earlier, alongwith my folks, though Neeti's folks could not make it. There too we had our share of fun. The photographs that had Neeti, me and my stick were called votti (ਵੋੱਤੀ) and sotti (ਸੋੱਤੀ) photographs -- what a rhyming caption! The word, votti, means wife in Punjabi and sotti, stick!!! That became a joke in the family!!!
As my phsyiotherapy became intense, I was require to spend at least an hour in the gym. And then the next thing that started off in the family, initiated by who else but Neeti, that this was the only way to get lazybones of mine to exercise, a wake-up call! True, it was after nearly 3 years, and a few kilos of weight gain that I was getting back to serious exercising.
Religiously, I started going to the gym early in the morning, after a round of persistent persuasion by by my votti! And I have been doing the rounds of the gym regularly, with a few exceptions (yes, these were exceptions!). I did find that the seriousness was missing in most of the people visiting the gym. Most seemed to be there just to gossip, some to flirt with the supposedly, hot chicks, while the gym instructors would enjoy all the attention they got from the females. Some would spend just two minutes exercising, the next five minutes wiping off the sweat, and then gossiping around for the five minutes before getting back to the next round! Is that exercise? Perhaps, flirting and gossiping does burn a lot of calories, for some, at least.
My rounds to the gym, after intense persuasion by Neeti, and through weekly interventions by Heath and Shraddha, I have regained almost full functionality of my knee and all should be well in the next few months.
In a sense, my ACL injury was indeed a wakeup call - to eat right, sleep right and exercise right! I only pray that I have the strength to continue with my exercise regimen.

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