Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Lata - Life and Health of the poor of this country.

When utter poverty meets utter ill health possibilities get very limited. Lata and her husband vend corn on a cart in Tirupathi. She had been diagnosed with a hole in her heart. Our village people told her of Dr. Girija, and she has been calling and asking to meet her.

Rediappa  spent a small borrowed fortune on many pointless scans and MRIs over  his severe chest pains, and then came to Dr. Giirija after that. He recovered so well on basic ayurvedic medicines, that he has been telling all people. Mamata of the village who's family migrated to Tirupathi in response to the drought, told her neighbour Lata there of Dr. Girija.   Mamatha told me that she had wept with Lata,   a mother of two small children, over her fears she may not live. Mamatha keeps the children with her when the mother is very ill.

Lata and her husband have sold what little they had for treatments, and the doctors have told her nothing more can be done. She has been given an SOS medicine that she takes when blinding heart pain comes on sometimes. From her symptoms she was suffering from severe anaemia and also had a heart complaint.  

Lata came, thin and pretty and smiling with two lovely kids in tow, and deeply anxious about her own survival because of the small children. She has breathlessness and palpitations, feverishness, giddiness, severe headaches, an emptiness in the heart, a sense of fear, and unbearable heart pains if she talks loudly or or eats to full stomach, or overworks

As the doctor tried to understand the cause of the heart condition, she gave her story. She had no parents and was brought up by a family which had found her as a child. There she was overworked and also mentally traumatised. Both these can cause heart illnesses. In class 9 she was married away, and she said life was better after that as her husband was a good, if very poor man, and did not ‘drink or even smoke.’ He worked hard and developed a spinal problem, and the government hospital put him thro’ a surgery. The spinal pain continues, and so despite her unbearable heart pains, she works now at the mandi loading carts, and helping him. What rest can the doctor advise in the face of utter poverty ! The best medicines have been given but it feels like fighting with eyes bandaged and arms tied behind one, as one tries to address problems - by mobilising, or working out alternate systems of living and production and health.  

We got her medicines for 6 weeks, and the doctor asked her to keep updating every week. The medicines were costly but a heart condition of three years will need some extended treatment,  

After just 5 days of medication, Lata is feeling much better. She says her body pains have come down, and she does not feel breathless as of earlier.  

(after  6 weeks Lata and her husband came for a follow up visit)
The previous day Lata called and said that she and her husband would not come the next day to see Dr. Girija as planned, but sometime next week. I was a little sharp, and asked why she was delaying. Then she said she had not managed to get together money for the trip. I told her to just organise the train fare, and that I would give that back to her, and that anyway the medicines we would buy.  Though last time we had paid all expenses, still this time it does not cross their minds to ask, demand ... Each time I am humbled before the poor of this country.

Lata was so well. Her gratitude to the doctor was total, as she said that she had spent 30,000/- (!!!) on various tests and medicines so far, and as she kept worsening. On asking she said it was all private loans at high interest which they would slowly repay, while paying interest monthly. The ayurvedic medicines including her travel which had restored her health had only cost  5000/-. And now another sum towards strengthening and tonic medicines for another month, maybe costing half that.

Lata’s husband had been subjected to wrong surgeries in the government hospital for a back pain which only worsened. He had had to give up his mestri work, and go and try to sell corn on a cart. He would not blame the doctors, and just said that they advised him to eat well, and as there was no money he could not, and that must be why he did not recover ... He was given medicines and advise by Dr. Girija.

 ... and as we ate together at a small hotel where a full meal costs 60/- her husband kept wanting to pay. I has to insist and pay - and I promised to come home to Tirupathi and they could make me a nice lunch. 

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