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Have you ever realized how acknowledging a problem is the first sighting of the light at the end of a long dark tunnel?
Mornings at my place are an absolute delight. I look forward to the ritual of making tea. But before that, I light up the diyas, and put Vishnu Sahasranama on the Bluetooth, followed by Lalitha Sahasranama, Sai Bhajans and RamRaksha Stotra. And then, I push aside the curtains and sit sipping my tea patiently waiting for the first crack of dawn. When the first light enters our living room, it is as though the Sun is blessing us with enough Vit D and strength. Well, that is my usual routine. I follow it religiously given the “me time” I get in those times windows.
But then, it wasn’t this way until a year back. There was a break in this routine. Many events happened in the past and many moments of what could have been happy died without seeing the dawn of their birth. Life is more or less a sine wave. The only uncertainty that comes along is the unawareness of how long the crest or the trough will last. And, that ignorance is what grounds us all to the fact – Nothing is foretold. And what is foretold is seldom disclosed.
Of the many life lessons imparted to me, the one that was repeated to me for the longest time is … “Lessons in life will be repeated until they are learned. And, lessons learned without pain are seldom learned.”
My body had been trying to reach out to me for close to 5 years in ways I utterly failed to comprehend. It was as though there was a lot of white noise in between. And, whatever it tried to tell me was almost nullified to a distant murmur by the time it reached me.
Besides, the past couple of years also qualified as a rough ride for us as a family, or maybe a rough tide that lasted too long than it should have. I lost my dear uncle to an accident, my brother-in-law to depression and almost lost my schizophrenic father-in-law to being AWOL until the Universe helped us find him back. The events were destined to happen in 4 months spread across 20-21. It was excruciatingly painful to traverse across the period emotionally while my health was slowly deteriorating, with me in oblivion.
I wouldn’t say that there were no red flags. There were many small ones. And, like many of the proverbial Indian women, I chose to ignore them for they sounded trivial. Now, what were they?
Severe mood swings with fatigue that came after every menstrual cycle, an occasional sharp pain that ran from the lower buttock to the heel before the cycle, inability to be emotionally stable and, breaking into tears at the first chance of confusion, inability to control anger when cushions got displaced or, dohars were not folded or, son not completing his work on time and many more. To cut my woes short, the slightest detour from routine would send my emotional space up in flames.
Now, how many of these above-mentioned symptoms are unusual? I used to talk about these with as many women as possible and to my surprise, many were riding in the same boat. Many of them had irregular cycles and PCOS and that added to their woes. Au contraire, mine worked like a clock, rarely missed one. Besides, I was consoled and told by many that the cascading tragedies that took place in my family were also a cause for the huge emotional block I was struggling with. For some reason, I chose to accept it because truth to be told, there were moments when I had cried myself to sleep with only questions to the Universe. It is frustrating and yet humbling to speak with the Universe because you know that the answers will come. You just don’t know when. Also, you cannot demand because that is how the Universe works. It gives exactly when it has to give. It takes exactly when it has to take.
So, in 2021, I started learning French on a whim, doodled a lot, watched a lot of series on Netflix and Prime and, spoke to a few friends on random topics to avoid getting pulled into my self-created ennui which constantly whispered – “you are not well”. Regardless, I was not paying attention to the havoc my internal system was about to rake in the next few months.
In September 2021, I visited my parents. That was the first time my mother looked at me and said – “Narayani, let’s go for a medical check-up. You are emotionally not fine. I have a feeling something is not right”. I flared up and yelled at her for overthinking everything. In subsequent days, my father too pointed out my inability to control anger and emotions when I saw my son’s handwriting slightly out of line. The whisper within me was getting louder by then. Yet, I followed a holistic approach and convinced myself that my mind was playing funny games. The change in my behaviour was so evident that I was mildly surprised at my sudden obsession with shopping, something I am not quite fond of.
Every night I spent with my parents; sleep would elude me. For the uninitiated, sleep was never an issue for me. I am a heavy sleeper and, always slept early and rose early too. However, I couldn’t sleep well for weeks. The whisper returned and prodded me to visit a doctor. My mother asked if I need to speak with a therapist. This time, I told her – I will if the need arises. But I am fine.
I joined Yoga classes to divert myself from the confusion I was having. It was a Saturday. I had a wonderful yoga session. I felt rejuvenated on Sunday. Again, I convinced myself – “Girl! You seemed to not sweat it out enough! Now, things will get better” I dismissed all the 12 months of utter confusion, emotional turmoil and fatigue as a consequence of the experiences I had. And then, a sharp pain visited me on Monday. It started as a low rumble at the pit of my stomach and very subtly, shifted from one side of the lower abdomen to another. I tolerated the pain for an hour thinking it was gas stuck in the hip. Gastric issues can be as painful too and I was not new to the troubles. And then, slowly the pain started soaring. 15 minutes into another hour, my mouth began to dry up and no amount of lying down or sitting or standing or walking helped me in any way. My mother rushed me to the nearest clinic and I was immediately checked for temperature and other vitals and was administered a pain killer. The pain came down in 15 minutes straight. Also, there was a release of gas and we all went back home. I was convinced it was a gastric issue. My mother had her reservations. The doctor asked me to return in case there was the slightest pain. I never went back as the pain did not come. But I suffered from a loss of appetite and fatigue for the next few days.
Meanwhile, my French classes continued and I was making good progress with it. Yet, sleep was not easy. If I slept at 10, I woke up at 3 with very dark thoughts. Then, I would listen to some music in the hope of sleeping. Well, I still couldn’t. Hence, my mental state in the mornings was anything but positive. No amount of listening to Vishnu Sahasranama or Vel maral calmed me down. It was as though my mind had gone rogue and was busy attacking me with severe anxiety and panic attacks. My husband joined me in November and I was slightly better. Sleep came easily, however, there was some kind of fatigue that was bothering me. I cannot pinpoint it exactly or explain to you what I felt was wrong in my body. But it was a cocktail of symptoms like bloating, puffed up face, fatigue and resistance to feeling it and feeling emotional all the time. Exactly a month after my first brush with pain, came the second attack. This time, it was fierce, aggressive and jolted me rudely from my slumber of denial. Something was very wrong with my body. The pain did not begin subtly as before. Neither did it leave early as before. The bonus was my husband being by my side who rushed me to the same clinic where I was immediately administered a heavy pain killer followed by a plethora of check-ups.
Ultrasound and an MRI revealed everything that my body had been trying to tell me for a very long time. An 8.5 cm dermoid cyst resting on my left ovary. Plus, I was diagnosed with the onset of PCOS.
I was asked all questions about my reproductive system with one redundant question – “Do you get your periods on time? Did you ever miss it anytime?”
After a while, I got tired of answering the same question but that was one thing I was always sure of. There may have been one or two times the cycles were irregular but, it happened 8 years ago after the time I recuperated from an auto Immune condition that took me on one jolly good ride for 6 months with a month of hospitalization. And, then my cycles were always on track and, never did I miss one. However, the doctor did mention – “Not all women suffer that suffer from PCOS have irregular cycles. Regardless, the cyst has to be removed.”
That was the first stage of healing for me. A strange calm descended on me. The whispers from the body that sounded like white noise that I was tuned to listening, to stopped slowly. My husband took me to a small cafe near the clinic and made me eat first. Strangely, I felt good. What felt even better was the weight on my chest slowly dissolving away. Mentally, I felt lighter than I had in years. That night after diagnosis, I slept well for a very long time.
However, the anxieties stayed back. They came and went through the course of the next few weeks as we were travelling back home again and, I was advised to get the laparoscopy or the surgery to be done at our place given the extended support I had, at the earliest given the monstrous size of the cyst.
Hence, began the next journey in Healing: what would it be?
Laparoscopy or Laparotomy? And when?
See you all in the next post … (part 2)
Image Credits: Sunshine State Women’s Care on official website
A software engineer in the past, a content writer, an amateur blogger, an avid reader and traveler, an engaging conversationalist, an army wife, a pre school teacher and importantly, an incurable optimist! read more...
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Rajshri Deshpande, who played the fiery protagonist in Trial by Fire along with Abhay Deol speaks of her journey and her social work.
Rajshri Deshpande as the protagonist in ‘Trial by Fire’, the recent Netflix show has received raving reviews along with the show itself for its sensitive portrayal of the Uphaar Cinema Hall fire tragedy, 1997 and its aftermath.
The limited series is based on the book by the same name written by Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy, who lost both their children in the tragedy. We got an opportunity to interview Rajshri Deshpande who played Neelam Krishnamoorthy, the woman who has been relentlessly crusading in the court for holding the owners responsible for the sheer negligence.
Rajshri Deshpande is more than an actor. She is also a social warrior, the rare celebrity from the film industry who has also gone back to her roots to give to poverty struck farming villages in her native Marathwada, with her NGO Nabhangan Foundation. Of course a chance to speak with her one on one was a must!
“What is a woman’s job, Ramesh? Taking care of parents-in-law, husband, children, home and things at work—all at the same time? She isn’t God or a superhuman."
The arrays of workstations were occupied by people peering into their computer screens. The clicks of keyboard keys were punctuated by the occasional footsteps moving around to brainstorm or collaborate with colleagues in their cubicles. Most employees went about their tasks without looking at the person seated on either side of their workstation. Meenakshi was one of them.
The thirty-one-year-old marketing manager in a leading eCommerce company in India sat straight in her seat, her eyes on the screen, her fingers punching furiously into the keys. She was in a flow and wanted to finish the report while the thoughts and words were coming effortlessly into her mind.
Natu-Natu. The mellifluous ringtone interrupted her thoughts. She frowned at her mobile phone with half a mind to keep it ringing until she noticed the caller’s name on the screen, making her pick up the phone immediately.
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