In Quiet Misery: The Untold Tale of a Sufferer

Peripheral neuropathies are conditions that affect peripheral nerve axons, their myelin sheath or both. This is how we medical students go about it. But trust me, there is more to it.
So let’s go back in time, shall we?The year 2007 is not just the year when your favourite iPhone or the last book of Harry Potter came out, it was also the time when a 55-year-old man’s life turned upside down.
Mr.Kuppusamy (name changed) was living a hale and healthy life in his small house in Cuddalore along with his family. He used to hop on a cycle and go around his neighbourhood running errands. Everyone was happy until a day came when he noticed that he couldn’t feel his hands anymore. Distressed, he approached a local physician. After a few visits and various clinical tests and examinations, he was branded as a case of peripheral neuropathy. To him, it wasn’t as simple as it sounds. Searching for a cure, he was assured that a cervical spine surgery would suffice. For a moment he thought the nightmare was finally over, only to wake up to the reality that he could never afford it. His illness worsened with time, taking out his limbs, one at a time. Four years later, just before he stopped grieving for himself, his wife succumbed to an end stage disease. Soon after that, he was kicked out of his house by his own son, over property issues. Kuppusamy quietly moved into an old age home.
He has resided there ever since and has been reasonably well fed and taken care of by the people at the home. But his financial burden followed him, impinging on his basic necessities. New clothes and personal care products weren’t a luxury that he could no longer afford. He couldn’t even get clean clothes. His physical disability prevented him from washing his clothes by himself, while the financial disability prevented others from helping out. All amidst these obstacles, a narrow light of hope, the government’s fund for the physically challenged gave him some relief. But this too was short lived. After two years the funds no longer reached him. He made a few trips to the collector’s

After two years the funds no longer reached him. He made a few trips to the collector’s office to resolve the issue. He was promised the sum within a week. It has been seven months since then, but the problem has still not been resolved. Most patients wouldn’t enjoy being interviewed and tested by hundreds of people. But he was happy to be the “test case” since it got him some money. His physical disability progressively got worse. Soon, he was not able to button up his shirt, comb his hair, eat food, or even stand by himself, let alone walk. He could get someone to take him to the restroom during the day, but at night there is no one to help him.

His physical disability progressively got worse. Soon, he was not able to button up his shirt, comb his hair, eat food, or even stand by himself, let alone walk. He could get someone to take him to the restroom during the day, but at night there is no one to help him.

His worsening condition increased his dependency on others and paved the way to social embarrassment. Other people often misjudged his appearance for a leprosy patient. This ignorance made him a social outcast, so much so that sometimes, he wasn’t even allowed to enter a public transport.

One day when he was lying down in his bed, someone accidentally switched off the fan. He couldn’t move or do anything about it. So he just lay there staring at the ceiling. His life story might be depressing to us, but not to him. He was one of the most cooperative patients that we have ever seen. He narrated his whole story with a smile on his face. If there is one thing that we learned from meeting this man is that, even though life throws us lots of obstacles and hardships, it is how we choose to deal with it that makes a difference.

By Aravind Adarsh, Sritheja, Aravindsamy, Aaradhana

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