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Sen stable but in danger zone

suchitra health score: 25 out of 100

Suchitra Sen’s health score improved on Tuesday but it remained well below the “pass marks” of 40, according to the team of doctors treating her at Belle Vue Clinic.

The 82-year-old screen icon’s condition remained stable but critical without the tube that had earlier been inserted through her mouth to help her breathe. She did not need non-invasive support even 24 hours after the tube was removed.

“She remains critical. If the pass marks of an exam is 40 out of 100, she has not yet reached there. We are giving her grace marks — sometimes 2, sometimes 5. The day she crosses 40 we will be able to say that she is out of danger,” said critical care expert Subrata Maitra, around 12.30pm.

Later in the day, Maitra, who is leading a team of doctors treating the 82-year-old actress, put Sen’s health score in the 20s out of 100.

“She is scoring sometimes 20 or 22 or 24. Today she has scored 25 but she needs 15 more to touch 40. The day she gets pass marks, we’ll say she is out of danger.”

Although she had a good night’s sleep, Sen’s heartbeat was still “irregular” and doctors had to control that with the help of medicines and regular oxygen therapy.

“At this age people with problem in the lungs suffer from irregular heartbeat. But that’s under control with medication,” said senior cardiologist Sunil Baran Roy, who is part of the medical team.

Sen’s chronic lung disease is a vital reason for her health score still being down in the 20s. She has been on oxygen therapy at her Ballygunge Circular Road home for the past three-and-a-half years, doctors treating her said.

“She has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and doesn’t maintain the normal oxygen saturation level. For such patients, even a small lung infection can have adverse results and it becomes difficult to cough out the secretion,” said pulmonologist Pawan Agarwal, who was drafted into Sen’s medical team to keep a close eye on her lung condition.

Early on Monday, Sen’s oxygen saturation level, pulse rate and heartbeat were fluctuating, triggering panic among family members. Maitra and his team rushed back and she soon stabilised and started breathing easy.

The rest of Monday had passed without a scare with her vital parameters remaining stable.

Tuesday was a relatively easy day for daughter Moon Moon Sen — who has hardly left her mother’s side since she was shifted to the intensive therapy unit (ITU) on December 29 — and granddaughters Raima and Riya.

Moon Moon was there with her mother through the night. The two girls came to visit their grandmother around 12.40pm and left with their mother around 2pm.

Bhalo aachhen (She is doing well),” Moon Moon said when she returned to Belle Vue around 4.30pm with Raima by her side.

In the evening, around 7.15pm, Riya arrived with father Bharat Dev Varma. He later left with Moon Moon. She returned at 10.30pm, while Raima and Riya left 10 minutes after that.

Sen was admitted to Belle Vue Clinic with acute chest infection on December 23. On December 29, she was shifted to the ITU after her condition worsened.

A tube inserted through her mouth to help her breathe was removed on Monday and she did not require non-invasive ventilation till late on Tuesday.

“More than 24 hours have passed since the endotracheal tube was removed but fortunately there has been no fluctuation in the oxygen saturation level in her blood. Feeding is been done through the Ryles tube. She was given chest physiotherapy,” said Maitra.

Sen’s oxygen saturation level varied between 85 and 90 (out of 100) on Tuesday. Doctors said at her age the saturation level should be above 82.

In the morning, she tried to have some tea and also spoke a few words to family members and doctors. But she communicated mostly through gestures. Weak and drowsy, she was unable to eat. “She drank water but is still unable to eat. So we have decided to keep her for some more time in the ITU,” said a doctor.

The next challenge for the medical team would be to switch from Ryles tube to oral feeding. When to do it will be a call that the doctors will soon have to take.

“At her age, and given her condition, the fear is of some food going into the lungs. That happens with those who are weak and lack nutrition. We are apprehensive of that,” said Maitra.

The doctors today decided not to conduct blood tests every day. On Tuesday morning, when doctors tried to make a fresh channel on her wrist to administer antibiotics intravenously, Sen complained of pain and resisted, said sources.

“Normally the drugs can be administered intravenously through a single vein for two to three days after which another vein needs to be pierced,” said a doctor.

Chest physiotherapy was also conducted on Tuesday to bring out the secretion from the lungs but doctors said it was not very effective. “The secretion has dried up inside the lungs and so it’s difficult to extract it through physiotherapy. We are administering medicines for that,” said a doctor.