Print Edition - 2018-07-07  |  On Saturday

A new lease on life

  • With Dr Devkota’s passing, all those who, like me, have benefitted from his gift have lost a true treasure
- Jyotsana Simha

Jul 7, 2018-In September 2014, I was diagnosed with left temporal Sub Ependymoma, a low-grade brain tumour. Like all parents, my parents wanted the best possible treatment for me. Overlooking Nepal’s medical institutions, we immediately rushed to India in hopes of a successful treatment. Soon after, I was operated at the All India Institution of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.

Unfortunately, I came back to Nepal not feeling much better. I visited Dr Bal Krishna at the BP Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital, Bharatpur, with my MRI report (he died in a plane crash in 2018). The MRI report told us that the tumour had not receded at all—the whole tumour was still left in my brain. Enraged, I went back to AIIMS, India to consult with my surgeon. My doctor told me only 10 percent of the tumour was left; he himself didn’t take it out because of other medical risks. “I am not a god, I did whatever I could,” he said. “Out of the 100 percent, only 99 percent of the patients have a successful surgery. You belong to the other one percent. Sorry for your loss,” he added. He finally accepted that he was unable to perform a successful surgery. But when we asked what we should do next, he said surgery was the only option.

We came back to Kathmandu immediately and my difficulties continued. My body was numb, and I felt a dull pain in my muscles, which the doctor said must be because I was operated on in a sideways position or as a side effect of the heavy medication used during surgery. The doctor said this feeling should not last for more than three days. I also couldn’t tolerate loud noises and I had difficulty putting my head down. Activities I had previously used as coping mechanisms like reading, writing, painting, listening to music, talking on the phone were all difficult. I was, quite literally, not able to do much of anything. I was bedridden and could not go anywhere for fear of infection and dizziness. All of these obstacles in my regular life made me feel hopeless. I thought my active life was about to come to an end, way too soon at just 20 years of age.

At the time, I thought that without contacts in high positions, getting access to good treatment was impossible. But my parents kept trying to find a reliable doctor. Like me, they were feeling pessimistic, frightened, and worried. A few doctors had declined operating on me as I was already operated on before and they saw me beyond medical help. I did not want to get experimented on nor did I want to hear the “sorry for your loss” again. But this is when one of my uncles suggested Dr Upendra Devkota, one of the most experienced neurosurgeons in the world. I gathered my courage and went to visit the doctor at the Neuro Hospital in Bansbari, where Dr Devkota recommended immediate surgery. He assured us that my health would improve and even scolded me for not coming to him sooner. His positive attitude and authoritative behaviour gave me confidence and hope again. It was like I had met someone who cared for me deeply, a guardian almost. Dr Devkota performed my second surgery successfully.

Dr Upendra Devkota gave me a new lease on life. After my surgery he asked me to read a newspaper and draw a clock with the numbers on it. It was one of the toughest tasks I’ve ever had to do. I was confronted with a new challenge: I had temporary dyslexia (reading difficulty) as a consequence of my surgery. The doctor told me that it might take time but I would recover. His reassurance has been a constant source of encouragement and inspiration even today. These days, I’m doing speech therapy to improve my reading. Unlike the brutal rejections I received before, Dr Devkota’s treatment was reliable, warm, and reassuring.

Considering my health issues, some doctors advised me to indulge in simple survival activities because I had already completed my intermediate degree—there was no need to study more, they’d said. But Dr Upendra Devkota motivated me to complete my education and enjoy a normal life. I went on to graduate from college that year and continued with my post graduate degree the following year. I converted text into audio and listened to it. This way, I am studying for my Master’s degree and working with audio-visual media. My health is more stable now and I dare to dream without fear.  This would not have been possible without a family that never took no for an answer and without an excellent doctor. I have to thank Dr Devkota for my second birth. My parents often regard him as God. With Dr Devkota’s passing, the world has lost a true treasure. I sincerely wish to express my heartfelt condolences to his family and all those who, like me, have benefitted from his gift.

Published: 07-07-2018 07:51

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