It was a cloudy Friday morning when he woke up, the last day of August, 2001. Radhakrishnan quickly got ready and left for his colleague’s housewarming ceremony. After a lively reunion over breakfast, he drove straight to the office, where he worked in the highly competitive and stressful field of marketing. In the evening he had to attend the thirteenth day ceremony of his other colleague and friend, K.S.Visvanathan, who had passed away on the nineteenth of that month.
Being an uneventful day, he returned home early, such a rarity ironically happening when his wife, Meena was away on an excursion (with the kids at the school where she teaches music) and the son, Jagan was away on an official tour. His daughter Vidya and son-in-law Chandar, both of whom are architects, lived with their son Anirudh an arm’s length away, while his father a legendary Carnatic musician was ill and in his room under the supervision of a nurse.
Radhakrishnan started work with EID Parry Chennai in 1965 and in 1984 moved to Spartek Ceramics to head the marketing of their ceramic tiles. With stints in Hong Kong and then back to Spartek, Radhakrishnan went on to incept and run a very successful company under the banner “Campion Plastics”. He enjoyed playing cricket and fairly was good at it. He played for the First Division League representing Parry & Company; with the likes of A.G.Kripal Singh, S.Venkatraghavan, K.S.Visvanathan, B.R.Mohan Rai, H.T.Bhaskar Rao, M.K. Iqbal, M.K.Murugesh, D.L.Chakravarthy, Sudhir Gulvadi, M.R.Sreedhar and V.Chander. Their team had a huge following and drew crowds whenever and wherever they played. He was also great enthusiast of rowing, in addition to, running privately held marathons once a year.
A Wake-up Call
While Radhakrishnana’s cholesterol and triglyceride levels had always been high since his younger days, his natural interest in sport and rigorous exercise routine kept him going. He was also a smoker and loved his two large swigs once in a way.
That night after surfing through the not so exciting channels he decided to go to bed at 9pm. It seemed like a long time but just minutes had gone by when he suddenly felt pain building up in his chest. It was so severe that it felt like an elephant had rested its foot on his chest. Radhakrishnan’s friends have been through similar experiences and it had been discussed in many a forum. There was no shoulder pain or excessive sweating. He quickly recalled the steps to take and coughed while taking short breaths. He called out to the watchman who was outside, asked him to jump in to his car and drove to the nearest hospital (himself). He pulled up right in front of the emergency ward and asked for immediate medical attention at the duty doctor’s room.
The doctor recognized his symptoms on sight and asked Radhakrishnan to call his daughter immediately, while getting him admitted into the ICU. The ECG revealed it all – Myocardial Infarction. After three days in the ICU and seven days in the ward, he returned home after a thrombolysis removed the clot.
Days of careful recuperation went by and then came 9/11. Radhakrishnan was in his bedroom resting when he heard the noise and commotion in the living room. He knew something was wrong and ran down the flight of stairs in anxiety. The following tread mill test at his doctor’s showed that recovery was not normal and after further studies by his doctor an angiogram procedure was done. The procedure revealed a block in the left ventricle with a 90 percent lesion. “But don’t worry. You don’t need a by-pass surgery. Medical management will suffice, provided you start exercising regularly, as before, once I give you the go ahead.” said the doctor.
Then on Radhaksrihnan’s life changed, with a strict diet, regimented exercise and regular medical check-ups. The exercise regimen added rowing to his morning walk in 2007.
Life in the Present
Today, Radhakrishnan continues his rigors of walking and rowing in the mornings. He also trains young rowers at the club and works as a consultant in a manufacturing and marketing company. “I enjoy my morning walks and rowing. My age is not a limiting factor. My body speaks to me if I overdo it and I stop. I will continue until I can. I call on the youth of today through this media to set aside some time during the day to exercise. Do what you like best and avoid junk food. Eat on time and lead a healthy and happy life” says Radhakrishnan.
On July 04, 2012 Radhakrishnan turned seventy and we celebrated with a seven kilometer row up and down the Adyar river. I was honoured to be part of the crew. Previously, I’ve worked with Radhakrishnan in Parry’s and have rowed with him for the Merchants & Bankers and other regattas. I continue to row with him at least four days a week and I hope I will continue to do so for a long time – merrily, merrily, merrily life is but a dream.
About the Author:
Naresh is a fitness enthusiast who enjoys running, rowing and a multitude of outdoor sports. He also works in the healthcare industry and, at close to sixty years, is trying to create awareness of the concept of health through fitness.
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