::Indian Spinal Injury Centre, Vasant Kunj (ISIC)::
A state of the art and a super-specialty hospital situated right at the heart of New Delhi, India.
A home for all the wheel chair bound sufferers and a pantheon for all those who still fight to get back on their feet. Being a paraplegic myself, this hospital feels nothing less than a home away from home and hence, It goes unsaid that I am a regular at this place.
Post Injury after my surgery, I was sent here for my rehabilitation. I spent around two months as an in-patient, i.e. until I could be deemed independent (well, almost) . All thanks to the amazing environment at the rehabilitation department and awesome staff at the centre, I could do my time with a smile on my face. Here, everybody from the ward boy to the other gentlemen high up the ranks thrive on comforting us, the patients.
specially the ones on wheels 😉
::2nd of July::
A mellow Monday, must have been 11 in the morning. As per my prior appointment, I was at the hospital to sort out my physiotherapy schedule and it took me precisely 15 minutes to do so. I was asked to wait until noon so that I could get a confirmation about my new schedule. So, there I was with 45 minutes to spare in this huge place.
Usually, I would have preferred to indulge in a regular chit chat over a cup of coffee with my friends, but that day for some reason I chose not to. When I say friends at the hospital, It doesn’t necessarily mean fellow patients. Many of my pals are therapists and many of them are the regular hospital staff members (Which also include those, ‘not so coy’ nurses).
So, obviously I had more than one reason to frequent that place. 🙂
With not much options to choose from, I finally chose to visit the cafeteria all by myself. The one which was situated at the other end of the hospital and bang opposite to the emergency ward.
Everything seemed so perfect there – Freshly mopped floors, air-conditioners running at full blast, no signs of the usual hospital clamor, cafe serving my favourite espresso with brown sugar and pink floyd singing to me through my sennheisers. I was loving it. I ordered my piping hot brew and started looking for a cosy corner to park my wheelchair. A nice spot adjacent to a huge glass window, overlooking the lovely garden outside seemed just perfect. I moved there, parked my ride and tried to make myself comfortable.
One thing is certian about coffee…. Wherever it is grown, sold, brewed, or consumed, there will always be lively controversy, strong opinions, and deep thinking.
With every sip that I took, the trance that I was in kept getting deeper. Funny, how a cup of coffee and amiable background music could make you day dream!? (Then I realised that it’s floyd that I am talking about.)
Things couldn’t have gotten better.
::The Van Arrived::
After 10 to 15 minutes of random gazing through the window, I saw a white ambulance darting towards the porch right next to our wing. The atmosphere suddenly felt intense, floyd lost it’s transcendental effect and my coffee lost its stiff flavor.
Ambulances don’t go well with me!
Being an emergency / trauma center nearby, ward boys and nurses were quick enough to rush out and proceed with preliminary preparations. Seconds later van’s door flung open and a panic striven gentleman could be seen yelling at the staff to rush things up. His loud cry trembled with agony, speaking volumes about his feebleness. The hospital staff were quick to immobilize and transfer the patient to the stretcher and there on some random people helped the staff to rush the stretcher to the emergency room.
Even-though, I had no clue about what was happening, I had that empathetic alter ego of mine gravely praying for the victim’s well-being. I had that sinking feeling which kept advising me against inquiring more about the sufferer but it was too weak to abstain me. Overwhelmed with my curiousness and concern, I got rid of the coffee and moved my wheelchair to the aisle separating the emergency ward from the main hallway. I kept going till I came across people waiting outside the emergency ward. They, with clasped hand and moist eyes looked emotionally crushed. It felt as if they knew that the damage was done and were eagerly awaiting a miracle. People were pouring in and the atmosphere reeked of agony.
I was very much unsettled by then…..
Learned Helplessness is the giving up reaction, the quitting response from the belief that whatever you do doesn’t matter
Everybody, but the little kid waiting outside the ward, looked exasperated. The little kiddo was busy gaping at my wheelchair. I must have been the first ‘guy on wheels’ for him. Slowly walking pass the distressed people queued outside the emergency room, he came to me. With that bewildered look on his face, he asked me a question, “Hello, why does your chair have wheels?”. Humored by his sheer innocence all I could come up with was, “because, I find the chairs with wheels better looking than the ones without them.” Little did I know that this question of his was only the tip of the iceberg . He was baffled by the idea that a person can have a chair with wheels. After answering his couple of more angelic questions, I finally managed to ask him, “why are you here?”
Pointing towards the emergency room he said,
“My mom is in there…pretending to be asleep. She doesn’t want me to go to my friend’s house and hence is pretending to be asleep.”
I was taken aback by what he said and my heart skipped a beat, unaware of the situation and not knowing what to say all I could come up with was , “Don’t worry she will get up in a while and take you to your friend’s place.”
While talking to the kid I noticed same old panic striven gentleman, whom I had seen earlier rushing things up near the van, walk towards the visitors lobby with moist eyes and shattered look on his face. His eyes were fixed on the kid next to me, his son. My fear came to life when I heard a loud cry from the room and the husband who was by his wife’s side all-throughout was now silently sitting in the lobby with tears in his eyes. It was clear to me that the lady had crossed over. The once silent room now echoed of ‘deep mourning’…It was heart wrenching and the kid next to me still couldn’t figure out that he just lost his greatest admirer in life.
What I heard next, haunted me for weeks. It was the husband, talking to his father in law on his phone with a broken voice:
“Dad your daughter is no more…she has gone, leaving me and adarsh alone…I am finished”
His voice still echoes in my head…making me realize that life has it’s own twisted way of carrying on . For a person who has just lost a life partner, life loses it’s charm and becomes a burden. The pain that one goes through is un-parallel to what we can imagine. You got to go through it to know it..
No amount of pacifying could console a shaken soul
I moved out of that aisle as soon as I could. I did so because I did not have the courage to look into the eyes of the kid. I felt uncomfortable seeing so many lament. I felt miserable but strangely, only for a while…that feeling of misery died off as soon as I reached home and cuddled with my dog.
I have learned that life has weird ways of imparting knowledge. It teaches us to move on and to never look back.
This Ability, to move on and to not dwell in the past could take us miles professionally. But, sadly when it comes to our own life, things don’t go down well with us. Loosing a loved one could emotionally crush you but it doesn’t last forever. No matter how close the relation is or how big the loss is, the emotional trauma eventually takes a back seat.
Something, that none of us could change.
Sad but true
That’s the way of life…