Editor's Note : Have you ever started talking to someone via social media and felt like this was someone you have always known? Maybe in a parallel life in another universe? That’s what I felt when I started chatting with Anuradha Srinivasan, or as I call her just ‘Aunty’. Warm, loving, and mother to two amazingly talented daughters, Aunty is just the kind of woman that young women everywhere look up to. A couple of weeks ago, Anu Aunty put together a series of posts on being diagnosed with VESICOVAGINAL FISTULA, a health issue that is still a seen as a major concern in many developing countries around the world. Anu Aunty wanted to share her story in her own words with the Times of Amma community so that she could help anyone who was facing a similar diagnosis and remind them that faith in one’s doctors and spiritual beliefs along with the support of loved ones can help one move mountains.
I underwent health issues at forty years of age. It was a testing time for my faith and here is my story.
My periods were always on time. Never ever have I missed them. It used to be painful but not irregular.
I had two C sections in 1991 and 96. Since the periods were regular, I never went for a pelvic scan till 2009. This was a bad idea! In the beginning of 2009, my periods started being irregular. Initially, I ignored and then by December went to my gynecologist. What followed was scans/ an MRI / and series of blood tests including CA125 which is done to rule out the big C (Cancer).
Then I was wheeled in to remove the huge fibroid, which was in my uterus. It weighed 2.4 kilograms and all the while I had been trying all sorts of gimmicks to shed my belly. Eventually with a big team of doctors, my fibroids found its way out. I was made to walk after 5 days and found some watery discharge when I became mobile. I was in the hospital for a week and was to be discharged the next day morning. And then Boom – another bombshell!
The discharge was nothing but urine leaking out.
After another round of CT, Urograph, Urologist consultation and a catheter being put in, I was discharged. My bladder had a tear during my hysterectomy and hence the incontinence in urine. This was then christened VESICOVAGINAL FISTULA. I was back home with a catheter and a urine bag hanging by my side.
And now came the part of taking care of myself and getting back to my normal routine.
NO UTERUS = NO PERIODS
As a practicing Hindu, I was elated that all my spiritual activities would never see a break. Yes, this was the first thing that came to my mind. So, when I was put on a catheter and sent home with the doctor’s words that the tear would heal by itself in three months, I placed my ENTIRE faith in his words. Before proceeding with my story, I want to speak about the faith factor.
This is the foremost and primary thing that the patient needs to have in his/her doctor. I believed my doctor’s words 200 percent – that’s how much faith I had. Not for a second did I question where did the Gynaecologist went wrong for me to experience this. I did the same with my urologist for the next three months. I had to visit him once in every fifteen days to change my catheter and I had full faith in his abilities. One should be truly blessed to have such doctors attending you. Both my Gynaecologist as well as my Urologist were patient enough to deal with my emotions through the long months. I remember my Gynaecologist saying once, “Anuradha, I know how the last 24 hours were for you from the way you say Good Morning!”
I am indebted to both of them for this episode (I do have few more wonderful doctors in my life) for my life. I am in touch with them and don’t miss wishing them on important and festive days. And, Neither did I pose that big time question to the Almighty, that we all ask, “WHY ME?”
While I do not claim that I was very calm or serene or anything even near that, I was surely not feeling depressed.
There were days when I used to feel quite cheerful and days when it was not so. My Amma was bedridden in Chennai. She was decaying if I have to put it bluntly. She had bedsores and was lying in a rubber sheet laid water-bed. And here in Mumbai, I too was lying in a rubber sheet as urine used to leak despite the catheter. Some days would be dry, some wet. Unpredictable. To cheer me up, my daughters used to narrate stories and share jokes and if I laughed a lot, it would suddenly leak. The next moment, I would feel gloomy. Except for my doctor visits, I never stepped out of the house.
But I never gave up on my faith. I had utmost faith in that force which I believe to be the Supreme Being, the Omnipresent. Prayers helped me in handling my emotions. My faith that this was just a passing cloud and that a clear sky was just around the corner, helped ne in recovering well.
I was back with the catheter and bag and I spent three full months inside the house in the rocking chair or plastic chair and bed. Amma was stable at Chennai. I always visualized visiting Venkatesa Perumal (The resident deity of a landmark temple) at Tirupathi. I do not know to chant Narayaneeyam (A medieval Sanskrit text that details the story of the holy Bhagavata Puranam) but had a book on Guruvayoorappan (Form of Lord Vishnu, worshipped mainly in Kerala), in Tamil that had small anecdotes and stories of the lord. Religiously I used to read, cry and then wipe my tears and regain strength. Another source of strength was Sai Satcharithram (complete biography of Shirdi Sai Baba). I read it quite a few times in the three months, all the while VISUALIZING standing in the queue at Tirupathi , Shirdi, and Guruvayoor.
PRAYERS CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS
I believed that nobody has the power to mend my karma except my Lord Krishna. What is destined to happen WILL happen and what one has to go through will have to be borne. At the end of three months the fistula was still there and I went under the knife again. Once done, I was discharged. And after 20 days all the tubes were removed except one. The Gynecologist asked me to see if I was able to pee the normal way and also most importantly STOP. There is a muscle called the Sphincter that has to do the action of start and stop.I could hear my heart pounding in my ears when I stepped into the bathroom chanting “NARAYANA NARAYANA” with my lips and in my heart. I peed and Yay! I could stop too! Tears rolled uncontrollably (as they do even now as I write this). I looked up from the toilet seat and thanked my blessings. The Doctor later said that I would have lived with the last tube if I had not been able to control my bladder.
IGNORANCE IS BLISS
Please do not turn to search engines at such times. I did not. I trusted my KRISHNA more than the search engines. I shed tears, prayed, BUT DID NOT GIVE UP. On the last visit to the urologist I said, that he could give my contact number to people who need reassurance. It has been 10 years since this happened. Now via Instagram, I have many people who encourage me and look up to me for advice and motivation. I felt that sharing my story will give someone somewhere strength, not only in handling menopause but tough times in general. For I too gain my energy at trying times from those who have /are facing much more hard times.
Anuradha Srinivasan in her own words is, “A happy, contented and extremely empathetic soul. Knitter and crocheter for a cause. English and tamizh blogger. Wife and thereby the backbone to a highly principled, self-made man. Mother to two amazingly beautiful human beings.”
Editor’s Note: Thank you, Aunty for sharing your amazing story with the readers of the Times of Amma. It has been a joy to get to know you and I’m inspired by your strength.
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