We live in a VUCA world. Part One.

We live in a VUCA world.

For the uninitiated VUCA is an acronym used to describe or to reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of general conditions and situations. This theory was put to the test and proved yet again on that seemingly never ending night of that fateful Tuesday the seventeenth April between the hours of one and six o’clock.

When I had barged into the Emergency ward of Inlaks & Budhrani Hospital in Koregaon Park, Pune, around a quarter to one that Tuesday morning I had no other thought on my mind except to get to a doctor, any doctor, and all would be well again. I felt as if I was dying of the excruciating chest pain itself and I sought urgent relief. Little did I know how serious the matter actually was. In fact, nobody knew. How could they? It’s a VUCA world after all.

To their credit, the doctors on duty that night in the Emergency and Casualty ward took immediate note of my distress when I entered shouting “I am having a heart attack. I am having a heart attack. Help !” They also took immediate action so that no further time was lost in filling forms and checking my ID.

At that moment I was actually in the throes of a full fledged, no holds barred, heart attack that lasted for nearly two hours, and the aftershocks lasted much longer. I had made it to the hospital within the first half an hour. (A very large number of victims cannot manage to do that, the delay often leading to fatal consequences). And even after getting to the hospital during the golden half an hour, I had still nearly died.

My condition was deteriorating fast. The doctors had tried treating me with a sure shot remedy injection for heart blocks, costing nearly fifty thousand rupees per shot and it had failed to revive me. They tried anything and everything they could think of, in consultation over phone and WhatsApp with the top resident cardiologist of the hospital, and still nothing seemed to have been working. Things were definitely volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. In other words, VUCA.

My wife waited, sitting on a stainless steel chair all through the hot summer night on the first floor of the hospital (not many fans in sight) just outside the ICU, a place already crowded with other similarly placed relatives of patients – fatigued, tense and sick with worry, and with no clean washroom within miles.

Each time the doctors tried something new with me they rushed out to my wife to get her to put her signature at the bottom of yet another printed consent form (every one of them variously marked Urgent, Serious, High Risk, Dangerous, Important etc in big bold letters) signing away all her rights even before she had had a chance to even read the contents and learn, let alone comprehend, the extent of the high risk and the seriousness of the experimentation going on with my life inside the ICU. In French they call it fait accompli, which roughly means “without the option” in English. That is exactly what it was.

I heard later that she was made to sign eleven such consent-cum-indemnity forms through that night. One such form even stated that the hospital would not and could not be held responsible in case the patient had a cerebral stroke as a side effect of the heart medicines proposed to be administered!

One would not be far wrong to think that having to sign such letters unconditionally one after another in a seemingly endless procession at such extremely tense and stressful moments can alone constitute the necessary and sufficient conditions for bringing on a heart attack for the signer as well, even a signer who is otherwise in perfect health. It is a small miracle that she survived the night, though much worse for wear.

Even after all these drugs and other treatments that were administered the situation remained uncertain and things had come to such a point after an hour of my admission into the ICU that the doctors had run out of options for my revival. They had then called my wife into the ICU and offered her the chance of seeing me alive one last time and to say to me if she had any important or last words to say.

They held out no hope or assurance at all for my revival, but promised to keep trying till the very end.

She was too shocked, stunned and dazed to react. She told me later that all she could think of saying to me at the moment (which I don’t have any conscious memory of, naturally) was to please hang on there for our son to arrive. I must have heard her through my haze filled blanked out mind. Because I did hang on, whether by conscious choice or otherwise I shall never discover.

The doctors however kept on trying everything in the book, and perhaps some things outside the book also, and God knows what else besides. Whether because of their desperate efforts, or by God’s grace, or  due to my first timer’s luck, or as a response to my wife’s prayers or a combination of all of the above factors, one can never really conclude but  three hours after admission in the ICU my system stabilized enough to allow the medical team to perform an emergency angioplasty operation – a most delicate process which is not normally attempted in emergency situations (after, of course, obtaining one more consent-cum-indemnity form from her)- that eventually saved my life at a time when no one was seriously expecting to see me alive again.

Anything is possible in this world, as the maxim goes. Also, like I said at the beginning, we live in a VUCA world..

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