Showing posts with label JDWNRH. Show all posts
Showing posts with label JDWNRH. Show all posts

25 December 2020

How Dawa Founded Bhutan Stroke Foundation

Dawa Tshering heard of stroke for the first time when his 32 years young wife Rinchen Pelmo collapsed on the ground and was rushed to the hospital in June 2019. He knew she had issues with her blood pressure but he has never known the fatality of it until it struck. It caught him completely off guard. Rinchen was on life support in the ICU. Doctors didn't give him any false hope. They told him on the face to be prepared for the worst. 

Dawa Tshering and Rinchen Pelmo before their lives changed

His ignorance of stroke helped him shield against the harshness of reality. He didn't give up. His wife was in deep sleep for over a week. He has done rituals of every kind. He went to every influential friend he had around to get a referral to India. But he was told that there was no use taking her out. Gradually he began to realize how bad it was. He was told by everyone who knew the disease that she will not wake up. 

He went to a researcher friend seeking any information he could gather on stroke in Bhutan. He was given a handful, mostly articles and social media post by some Dr Tashi Tenzin. He managed to get connected to the doctor. Over the phone, he asked in desperation, "Doctor, tell me more about stroke."

Dr Tashi invited him over after hearing how earnestly he wanted to know more. He said, "You are the first person to have ever asked. Come over, let's have a chat."

Dr. Tashi Tenzin, the Guide
Photo Courtesy: Friends of Bhutan Association, Austria

By the third week, he managed to get his wife to blink her eyes in response when we ask her questions. On the 23rd day, he surprised everyone when he took her home and began the long ordeal of nursing her. Within the next few months, he left his job with Tarayana Foundation and dedicated fulltime on her. He was given the option to take a long leave if he wished but he opted to resign because he needed his provident fund to treat his wife. 

He regrettably recollects that despite free healthcare in Bhutan, he emptied his pocket on his wife's treatment; not on surgeries or medicines but on rituals. He went to every odd place any fool recommended and conducted every damn rimdro that came out. He shared that he could have treated her faster had he not desperately wasted his time and money on strange rituals. He declared that it was physiotherapy that put her back on her feet, which was absolutely free of cost. 

He would strap her to the car seat and drive her around knowing she would be so sick of staring at the ceiling all day long. He would carry her on his back like a child and go to all the places they would have gone if she were fine. He said going out helped both him and his wife. 

In less than a year, he succeeded in getting his wife, whom doctors feared won't wake up, out of her bed and make her walk on her own. She is still struggling to relearn everything, starting with speaking and eating. Knowing her love for farming, Dawa has helped setup her mushroom farm and vegetable garden. This has helped her wake up every morning with excitement and looking forward to the day.

Rinchen Watering Her Plants

Looking back at the experience he lived since his wife fell ill and watching her relearning how to do things, he felt that if he knew as much about the stroke he could have done anything to prevent that in his wife. His success at getting his wife walk on her feet is another experience, and now dealing with her disability and keeping her meaningfully occupied are things that he wanted to share with others. Having faced with so much at the prime age, Dawa says that the true battle was fought on two fronts; one with the illness and other with depression, and he hopes to be able to create much-needed awareness among the stroke patients and their families. 

Rinchen in her Mushroom Shed

Dr Tashi Tenzin with whom he had kept in constant touch shared with him how important it was for him to create a formal forum to share such stories to create awareness. As a doctor, he had said that he would love to do it but his hands are full within the four walls of the hospital. The doctor wanted Dawa to be the one to go beyond the hospital to reach out to the people. Thus, Bhutan Stroke Foundation was established. 

Personally for myself, having run to Bajo hospital carrying my mother inlaw in my arms and watch her dies a few days later in Thimphu hospital, and having watched the doctors pull the plug on my brother-in-law who was declared braindead, I have always felt the need for a stroke care organization. An organization that will create awareness to prevent stroke (before), help build efforts in timely treatment toward recovery (during) and create means for the patients to cope with life after stroke through meaningful engagements (after). 

Meeting Dawa Tshering in Punakha

When I met Dawa Tshering in Punakha, introducing his Foundation during the CSO retreat I felt like my prayers were being answered. As he spoke about his wife I couldn't see him well through my teary eyes, I knew he was destined to do this. Having hit the hardest, he has the motivation and determination to take this forward like no other. He says he wants to strive for stroke-free Bhutan, where no one has to suffer like his wife, like him and like his two children.

Every day, JDWNR Hospital alone is said to receives 2-3 stroke cases. Globally 17 million cases are reported annually, out of which 6 million dies and 5 million are left with a disability. 

10 August 2015

From the Hospital Bed

Sitting on the stool next to the bed and sleeping on the bed itself are two completely different perspectives in life. I have been in the hospital one too many times, mostly to attend to the sick, sitting on the tall uncomfortable stool.

For a change in perspective, I have always wanted to look at life from the hospital bed once, like taking a vacation from life, but without much pain. I wanted to lie there without a worry in the world. I wanted to take along my laptop and edit my stories, write blogs and contemplate over life.

I know a time will come when I am there on the hospital bed never to return home, to wait for the ultimate end, in pain, without hope, and with only past to look back on. But like a trial run, right now, from the middle of my life and I wanted to do a midlife review when there's still hope, time and energy, so that I could change the way I live the gap between this first review and the final review of my life on earth.

There I was on the hospital bed without any pain and feeling a bit amused. I had an overdue surgery from years ago and this time I had my vacation to finally dare it. When I was admitted I carried my beddings and walked in. The security guard asked if I had a new admission. I said yes. Where? Here! Even he was amused.

My son Jigme, who was supposed to attend to me looked like a patient. He finished few packets of chips before collapsing on the next bed. The nurses were confused every time they came on rounds. In the morning he was the last person to rise. It was kind of a trial run for him too...

It was from 10 pm that things stopped being amusing because I was to start fasting. They started feeding me from my veins. I was experiencing all these for the first time; sleeping on hospital bed, getting an IV, fasting... thank god I had good experience as an attendant to understand whatever was going on. But I couldn't help wonder how a man could be fed from a pinhole on the skin, while throughout our lives we ran after satisfying our expandable mouth.

And the heartbreaking irony was seeing your friends and family come and fill your bedside with loads of edibles when all you could do was to switch your gaze between the IV bottle and the riches on the bedside table.

But to my disappointment I couldn't even open my laptop. It was going to look very rude not to be in pain when rest of your roommates were. It was going to look like another office day. Besides the inspiration you would have while siting on the stool won't come when you were lying on the bed. And soon my mouth parched for a sip of water. I knew if I stayed awake any longer I would land up drinking something and that would result in termination of my surgery. So there went my romantic ideas of writing on the hospital bed.

Next morning I was made to wear the green gown that showed my back to the world. I had to be very careful because my daughter was following me mischievously and I could trust her to embarrass me. I was like a curious science student wanting to see how things worked inside the operation theatre. But before long I was put to deep sleep, literally dead for the time being.

I was handed back to my family after three hours and the moment I heard their voices I made a subconscious attempt to show them Thumbs Up. I could feel them dragging my bed on a rough surface. It was hours later that I could ask for water but my wife would only wet my lips with few drops. I could feel my nostrils loaded and nose plastered. My daughter and niece found me like their cartoon character Oggy.

There after I could see people coming and going like in dreams and all I was thinking about was when would they remove the packing from my nostrils. I didn't want to remain awake and feel suffocated. I went on sleeping. Nurses came often to give me doses of medicine, which I didn't need a day ago. I was officially ill now. I needed support to sit up. I wished if I could pee in my bed. It's then I realised the real difference between sitting on the stool and lying on the bed.

After what seemed like ages, which was actually the next day, my nostrils were cleared but there was another hard plastic support which had to stay for another few days. I was discharged after that and here am I enjoying my third day of rest. My wife, sister and brother in-law are pampering me like a little child.

My nose hasn't resumed its job yet, my spine and neck are aching and I can't swallow solid food easily. But I hope these are prices I am paying for a better nose. I asked for it.

As for the bigger question on reflecting on life I realised that I don't need a hospital bed to take vacation from life. This one trial run is enough to make me realise that whatever I have to do must be rushed before I reach the hospital bed because the world in there has its own problem to solve.

P:S: Knowing it was a simple surgery I didn't want to bother anybody but many of you showed up and I must tell you it feels so good to see people when you are on hospital bed. I will always remember this.