Becoming a better wife, a better mother

Paromita was sitting in front of the doctor at the Super Specialty hospital in Whitefield, Bangalore, tightly clutching the hands of her 14-year-old son. It is the first time she has come so far from home, and that too alone with her young son. She was scared even to hear what the doctor was going to say.

She was tired. Tired of her several visits to various hospitals in the past 14 years. She had undergone two balloon procedures, within a span of 21 days, when her son was just two months old. Those surgeries have not given much relief to her and she has been regularly visiting hospitals and doctors since then.

The doctor looked at her and smiled. “Let me explain to you. You have Rheumatic Heart Disease, which lead to the mitral valve getting blocked and the blood supply to the various parts of the body is affected. You will have to undergo a Balloon Valvuloplasty procedure. Before that we will take an ECG and Echo.”

“When should I come again?” she asked, resigned to her fate and the possibility of having to undergo the travel back home, thousands of kilometers away, and return. She was close to giving up.

The doctor gave her a puzzled look. “These will be done now and if all parameters are within control, the surgery will be done day after tomorrow.”

She was not sure she was hearing it correctly. Having run from pillar to post for so many years where several days and weeks used to pass between procedures, she cannot believe that everything is going to happen within the next 48 hours. Another stark contrast from her earlier experiences at the other hospitals was the supportive attitude of all at this hospital, from the security guard at the gate to the doctor sitting in front of her.

At 5 pm the same day, she got admitted as an inpatient after all the tests were done. As the doctor had promised, the balloon surgery was scheduled for the day after tomorrow.

***

“How do you feel now?” asked the doctor. It is the second day after the procedure was done and he was on his visit to the wards.

“I feel good. For the first time in the past 14 years, I am not feeling the pain in the chest and not having breathing problems after a walk.” A tear rolled down her cheeks while saying it as the memories of her past flooded in. She had silently suffered her inability to give her best as a wife and a mother for so long due to her illness.

“Don’t worry. You will be well now. We will discharge you this afternoon. You can go back home,” said the surgeon as he smiled at her and her son.

“Mother, I will go and finish my lunch at the canteen. I don’t want to miss this one last sambhar rice here,” said her son as he ran out of the room.

Around 4 pm when she left the hospital with her son, she looked back at the hospital’s dome from the entrance.

“Swami, thank you for helping me to become a better wife and better mother.”

(Names changed to protect privacy)
(As told to and written by Subramanian Venkataraman, a Volunteer)

Note to the Reader:
Rheumatic Heart disease is one of the most common forms of Heart disease in India. It afflicts the poor and especially women in particular.

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