The Miracleme Story 07-Smashed Papaya
Yes right now, as you read this. Take a deep breath and give me a single breath count. Start counting 1 upwards.
What number did you reach?
Ha, feels nice to ask someone else do this. But that day when, my neurologist, Dr. Suri asked me to do a single breath count 11 years ago, I managed only upto 12 counts. He wasn’t impressed.
SEPTEMBER END 2005
General ward. Bed number 3257. Don’t ask how I remember.
Why a general ward? Well, because we could afford just that!! Post wedding and post investing in a house, shelling out an exorbitant EMI each month, we were almost thhan-thhan-gopal!!!
(To know how I reached the general ward, press here)
With the left eye drooping and a slur so pronounced that the nurse too could understand nothing, I sat on the bed.
It was only after a month and a half of being diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, that things were slowly sinking in. I was in a situation. Not the most pleasant.
It indeed was an auto-immune disorder that disrupted normal life. I was unable to eat normal food.
Baby food is what I had. And anything and everything that could be mashed.
- Khichidi and more khichidi.
- Apples and papaya- smashed
- Dal and rice- squashed
- Rice and subzi- pulped
- Rice and rasam- mashed
- Dal and roti- pureed
Why? Because, in Myasthenia Gravis…
- When you have weakness of the facial muscles, the tongue, the cheek muscles and the jaw decide to go on a strike.
- You are unable to chew food
- Whatever, goes in decides to come out of the nostrils.
- One chokes often.
- You strain your neck to chew that sandwich bite like a giraffe trying to reach the top green branches of a tree.
- Your neck gyrates as you try to aim the spoon or hand into your mouth!!!!!
To read more about it, click here.
Eating food is a miracle performance. We can actually start charging the audience for it!
In the middle of this act was Amitabh Bachchan in Leelawati Hospital, the latest of which I tried to catch on the common TV placed to the right side of my bed at a height of 8 feet just above the main door.
And wait…I was a milking mom remember??? I had to ‘express milk‘ A term that I learnt at the age of 34.
So this is how the day went, on that hospital bed.
- Wake up
- Pop in Myestin, steroids and other medicines
- Have pulpy breakfast
- Rush to the neo-natal ICU at the other end of the corridor
- Express milk.
Repeat the same, through lunch and tea and dinner time.
The ‘expressed’ milk would be sent home through our personal ‘express’ service of Mithilesh-our man Friday who began initially as a mere driver.
Milk was fed to our son at home by two mothers. Rahul’s and mine.
There was nothing nice about expressing milk. Despite the best apparatus available in shops, it was one of the most painful exercises.
Infact, the walk to the neo-natal ICU was painful. On second thoughts it was delightful at the same time.
Half baked babies- Primies lay in small cotton sheets with a bright light over their miniscule bodies.
They came into this wonderful world much before their time. Now, they needed to be cared for and were given the same biosphere as the inside of their mother’s womb to be able to open their eyes and breathe on their own.
Fighters. All of them.
All babies lying on their belly. Some, the size of a little more than our palm.
Tiny, little, soft, wrinkled hands and feet.
And horrible but lifesaving tubes and wires in them.
I knew why I was sent here. To learn and appreciate what we have.
How could I be cribbing or questioning my state?
Looking at those babies all I could do was smile and say a silent prayer that they all be well very soon and in their mothers and fathers arms.
It was a big hall with incubation terminals all over.
I had to walk to the other end into a small room for expressing milk.
As I did, I realized that the Neo Natal ICU, inspite of seeming like a pin drop silence zone, had music playing in the background.
Did I hear a Hindi film song? Hello, did I hear the Radio Mirchi Jingle play???
I wanted to scream and shout with excitement and tell everyone, including the babies, “ Hey! I work in Radio Mirchi! Hey, I am Radio Mirchi!”
I asked one of the nurses about the music playing there. She replied, matter of factly, “Haan, our babies love music. They love Radio Mirchi. They sleep better with music on. It is on 24/7”
I had goose bumps.
This was the time when private FM stations had eventually made a mark in Delhi. But this? This was something else. I smsed the core team of Radio Mirchi about the amazing experience!!!!
As I tried to while away my time one evening, I felt I a pair of eyes on me. I turned towards the main door right beneath the TV.
A man in his forties, hands clasped at the back, he bent a little to peep into the ward. He then turned and went away.
10 days of hospitalization got extended to 14.
Each day seemed a century.
Soon, expressing milk was put a full stop to. My child was instantly taken off my feed, because of my heavy medication. No, don’t feel bad about my kiddo. Our rockstar pediatrician Dr. Saroja Balan, made sure he be brought up a healthy baby.
For ones who have spent a lot of time in hospitals for themselves or for a family member, would know that after a couple of days, there is resource crunch when it comes to hospital duty!
Morning duty. Evening duty. Night duty. How many of them could come and sit through the day leaving their work? It weighed on my mind.
Bhaiya would religiously be there each night by my side. Long legs, short seat but he would be there. Non-stop giving me pep talks on how this was just a passing phase and things would be fine. I believed so too.
Amma pitched in despite her not so fit condition. Ranjana, who till then was just my help would come and sit through the day.
Rahul would make rounds in the morning and evenings, chat up the doctors and make the payments. Yeah. The bill only extended each day.
Urmila Rao, my bhabi, silently took over the biggest responsibility of all. Looking after our son. With the utmost love and care. Can I ever, ever thank her enough?
Another late evening. Again the same man. Black spectacles. Clean shaven. A recent receding hairline. Clear skin. A soft expression. Hands at the back. A peep into the ward. And as the previous time, he walked away.
I sat there on the bed cross legged, silently giving Reiki to the fellow patients. Giving Reiki to self.
My brother, C. Rajshekhar Rao, having full faith in medicines and doctors assured me that there is nothing in this world that can’t be treated with medicine. He made sense. He said, “after all it’s just a matter of popping in a pill timely.”
It sounded positive. Doable.
I sat and did pranayam for hours on end.
Inhale. Exhale. One constant mantra: All the positivity of the Universe into my system, all negativity out of my system.
It was the day of discharge! Wohoo!! I would see my boy after a fortnight!
It was a Sunday. The ward was almost bare. Most had gone back home over the weekend.
The cleaners were washing the entire ward with soap and water. The floor was soapy and slippery.
Rahul and I sat on the bed, legs up, packed to leave.
While we waited for the final discharge, everyone at home waited for us.
And there, I saw that man again.
Except this time he was walking right towards me.
TO BE CONTINUED…