Saturday, January 4th, 2014

Grateful for my life - feeling both grateful and awful/sad

Having recently returned to CA via plane from a visit out to the East Coast (specifically, New Jersey), I have been thinking about how incredibly lucky I am to have survived and to get to live the life I have, as follows:

Grateful for my life, awful and sad about how harsh life is for others )
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Friday, March 2nd, 2012

some current research for diagnosis of traumatic brain injuries

I've been fascinated by the human brain for as long as I can remember. Therefore, when scanning the news, this article caught my attention:
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57389325-10391704/new-technology-could-change-how-traumatic-brain-injuries-are-diagnosed/

The brain is, without a doubt, an extraordinary part of our body (or for any system/organism, for that matter). Unfortunately, it is not indestructible; it can be severely damaged and therefore drastically affect the lives of those for whom it is damaged (not to mention the family, friends, and well-wishers in the lives of such individuals). This article acknowledges from its start that being able to diagnose such brain injuries, while important, is unfortunately a challenging task.

Some Current Research for Diagnosing Traumatic Brain Injuries )


Although I don't have a background in neurobiology/neuroscience (and hence performed a very rudimentary summary of the aforementioned article), I have enjoyed what I have learned from this article. In fact, reading about this brings me back to the good old days of taking a couple of classes in neuroscience/human memory in the good old days of graduate school. I might even consider going into brain research down the road, if I ever get the courage/drive/willpower to do so. For now, its just something I like to learn about, even though this article made me feel a bit sad and scared for the doctors and patients involved!
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Sunday, June 14th, 2009

reflecting back on my late father, and moving forward

So a lot has been happening in my family's life, especially in the past 6-9 months. It is finally nice to sit down and get a chance to write about this in detail, away from the hecticness that has been a part of life for all this time. The main reason for all the various changes that have been occurring in my family's life is that my father - who's been suffering on and off from chondrosarcoma (a type of bone cancer)- read more here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chondrosarcoma

My father - whom we call 'Appa' - has been having this cancer from 1991 itself - when my sister and I were 10 and 8, respectively. We thank our lucky stars (and God) that he survived that initial diagnosis and radiation/chemotherapy treatment. Over the years, understandably, he has had to be on and off from work due to this medical condition that has rendered him physically handicapped and often times weak or lying down in pain. Fortunately, he eventually landed a job near the UC Berkeley Campus in 2000, with the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, which was a convenient 3 miles from our home and driveable distance for him. They have been very supportive and understanding of his medical condition - not to mention all the necessary doctor appointments associated with that. When I was working at UC Berkeley, we would regularly carpool together. It was great living together and working so close to one another back in 2006-2007.

Anyway, I suppose some of the key milestones involved after the initial diagnosis included the following, most of which are details that may bore most readers:
* being hit by a drunken driver back in 2003 - car totaled, fell into a ditch and miraculously survived w/o the car being burned
* going for hypobaric (oxygen chamber) sessions
* open wound cleanings
* pain specialists
* cardiologists (yes, apparently chondrosarcoma also may affect the heart areas)
* countless visits in general to the doctor
* staying in the hospital for the last time from Nov-Dec 2008, before eventually passing away on Dec 25, 2008 :(

Of course, the rest of my immediate family (my mother, sister, brother-in-law, and baby nephew) will miss him a lot...well, not sure about my baby nephew - Adi - as he will only be turning 1 at the end of this month. But I know he appreciated his presence - in fact, at that time he even kept saying 'dadadada'. We found that significant, as 'dada' sounds like 'thatha', which in Tamil means grandfather.

I suppose, because of the passing my father, according to our South Indian culture, my mother is supposed to be 'in mourning' for a year - meaning no social activities and minimal association with other family members (such as her brothers and other relatives). I can understand that its good to give people their space, especially when something like this has happened, but - right now, about 6 months after the death - I would think that this would be a good opportunity for the relatives to reach out more and become closer + more supportive of what we have been going through. Oh well, I suppose we can't force people to do something that doesn't occur to them on their own.

Obviously, I have been missing my father a lot, and will continue to. We went to classical music concerts and some magic shows together, and spent a lot of time sharing stories, discussion of computer topics, and other topics such as wildlife in India, spirituality, Art of Living, etc. Life will never be the same, but I am very lucky we have had him until now. Will definitely hold on to these memories going forward.

It is almost time for his birthday, June 18, so we will have plenty to think about. It actually turns out that is also the 'star birthday' for Adi, which must be special.
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