“My son is the life of the house and he always makes us all laugh”, said Aftab Baloch, father of 11-year old Muhammad Ismail.
While Ismail received his physiotherapy treatment, Aftab waited patiently outside in the waiting area. Outwardly calm and comfortable, he got up and walked towards the treatment area to check on his son.
“We are from Sahiwal and for Ismail’s treatment, we made a journey to Karachi. I wanted my son to have the best treatment available. He is recovering well now”, Aftab expresses his relief as he sat on the couch again.
Just over a year ago, Ismail started complaining of headaches that would often be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. In April 2020, Ismail had two episodes of seizures which resulted in twisting and stiffening of his neck for a few minutes each time, before relaxing again.
“We all got extremely concerned and rushed him to the nearest hospital in our town. The attending physician asked us to immediately get a CT Scan done. The scan revealed that he had developed a medical condition in his brain”, recalls a now very emotional Aftab.
The family, in much distress and confusion, first travelled to Lahore to get the diagnostic tests done and receive treatment for Ismail. When no treatment proved successful, and Ismail showed little improvement, the distraught Aftab was recommended by a friend to travel to Karachi to consult Dr. Ather Enam at the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH).
“We were fearful of hospitals, because news everywhere was about the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Pakistan”, said Aftab while recalling his and his family’s state of mind before coming to Karachi. “However, when we came to the Aga Khan University Hospital, we were pleasantly surprised as we saw the frequent cleanliness and hygiene practices inside the hospital. All the nurses we encountered kept sanitizing their hands and wore gloves whenever they would examine my son.”
Ismail’s medical condition was diagnosed as Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM), a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting the arteries and veins in the brain. He was advised an immediate neurosurgery, which he underwent in July 2020, followed by regular physiotherapy sessions to help him recover his motor skills.
“We were well prepared by Dr. Ather Enam of the post-surgery care and recovery. We were gently and thoroughly explained that he could not feel his leg right after the surgery and this in itself, should not cause us concern. This is exactly what happened, but we were mentally prepared to work with Ismail for his recovery and Alhumdulillah, now he is walking without support again! You can now see him letting go of our hands to walk on his own”, Aftab laughs as he talks about Ismail’s recovery.
As Ismail walked out of the treatment area while holding his physiotherapist’s hand for support, he had the brightest smile on his face even with the surgery bandage on his head. He proved his Dad right.
“Mera haath chor dain, main khud chaloon ga (let go of my hand, I will walk on my own)”, boasted Ismail, ready to take charge of his recovery journey.