Posted by Seema Shastry, Mumbai
My day starts early with the chirping of hungry sparrows that nest in our building bathroom windows. My toilet windowsill and drawing-room window flower pots are their dining area. They demand their food and get it on time. They chirp happily in grateful tunes.
Each day comes with responsibilities. My days are normally busy from dawn to dusk, with long days of household chores – kitchen, children and caregiver duties of my husband. He is diagnosed with a motor-neuron disease called ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).
Thank God and touch wood, he is self-sufficient at this point. This is a huge positive in itself. In fact, he helps me through my day in between his own schedule. The secret to being positive and keeping the atmosphere positive, is to consciously think that whatever adversity comes your way, can be handled.
I wake up each day and promise myself that I will do something good and make a difference. I try and achieve it.
When my husband was diagnosed last year, I went through stages of – grief, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Today, while accepting this, I plan to stand strong. Though I worry a lot, yet try and face things head-on, with hope. It is the toughest for the caregiver when unforeseen things come your way. Like this lockdown.
The lockdown and this deadly virus have left my husband’s treatment on hold. Be it his regular I.V. injections at a clinic, which needed to be stopped due to fear of the disease transfer. Or be it one of his two medicines (recommended worldwide) that is unavailable to us since it comes from the US. Even his Ayurvedic medicines that act as supplements had to be stopped as one has to travel to Pune for the same. My husband’s therapies are lagging and are an added setback.
We did feel handicapped. But have found a way to deal with things through a holistic way of life for him. At present, we are trying this out to handle some of the hurdles that have interrupted his daily routine. The Luke Coutinho diet and ways of lifestyle change are options we are experimenting with. It’s not medicine or a cure but its a good way to go ahead in the circumstances and it can only add to his health.
When one door closes, another opens!
What gets me up each day is the positivity that I feel. My husband’s attitude to life goes a long way. The kids take things in their stride. My mum is my strength. And my old dog of 16 years uncomplainingly plodding along really helps.
Watching my husband run his small financial advisory set up, where he helps people assess their insurance portfolios and recommends right solutions, gives me great pleasure. It is because he loves what he does and keeps himself busy and occupied.
Years of experience, expertise in insurance and making lives secure seems like his passion. All of this, he does only on recommendations and doesn’t even take a fee. His humility has taught me a lesson or two.
In this humdrum hectic life, I make sure to take a little time out to do what I love doing. It is – taking care of animals. I belong to couple of WhatsApp groups that are passionate, selfless, and probably more driven than me in making stray animals safe and well taken care of. They are unrecognised heroes and I feel proud to be a speck in that massive drive.
I had 9 stray dogs, 3 cats and even a mouse, before the coronavirus and lockdown scenario. Now, I have 13 to 16 stray dogs, 4 cats and 2 kittens to take care of.
|Animals – the stray and tame are an added silver lining to each day for me.|
Every day, I pack trays of chicken and rice and leave, equipped for my daily ritual of feeding the stray. My many dogs, cats, kittens, occasional crows, sparrows, and even a mouse!!
The crows during the daytime feeding hear my voice calling out to the dogs and promptly herald their troupes to get ready for a bite of leftovers
The mouse hears me setting down my bag of trays and quietly sneaks closer for a nibble! It lives in the rat trap in our building, fancy that! Smart mouse that one.
Things are twice more stressful in the current situation for a caregiver. Yet even a few minutes each day to follow my passion gives me the benefits of meditation, peace of mind and a kind of fulfilment.
For now, I am just taking it one day at a time and making the most of these days that the family is together. Spending unadulterated quality time with fun, games, fights, tears and lots of laughs.
The pandemic has been trying yet quite fruitful in many ways. The kids have become helpful and take time to do things around the house. I have learned to make rotis! I have mastered ways to multi-task and pack in many more hours in my day.
While, I try and see the positive in most things, things do get me down. But I try and pick myself up, chug along and yet, demand a miracle!
Till such time that I do get my miracle, Gerald Durrell and James Herriot remain my favourite authors and the people who are compassionate towards the living that cannot fight for themselves and need help, my favourite kind of humans!
While I go about my days, a part of me thanks a support group that I am attached to – Caregiver Saathi. I was able to share my story thanks to them as they always supported me to follow my dream and weave it into my caregiver journey.
Cover image: Author
Story images : Author
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