Long ago when I was a fresh Chartered Accountant and practicing as an auditor, I did an audit for a nationalized bank for one of its rural branches. As I was reviewing several things, when it came to bank funding for buying animals in particular buffaloes, I was curious to know how they would know they are doing the right funding for a proper animal. Banks have employees dedicated to these types of funding in rural areas. So I spoke to one such inspector (or whatever he was called, I am not too sure) from the branch. I asked him how he would know that we were funding for a good animal (meaning it will survive long, provides good output of milk, will be healthy etc.). He started explaining, and I was zapped by the end. He said things like the buffalo has to be of expected size for its age, its skin has to be pure black without unexpected patches of different color and shiny, legs should not crooked and all of them need to be of same and having length compared to its overall size, tail should not be short and should have hair at end, the teeth should be strong and of good size, horns need to be slightly curved and of proper length, the nipples area where milk flows from has to be heavy and look healthy……..and so on. I was confused at the end of it. I thought a buffalo is supposed to be that way. That’s how any normal buffalo would be. Nearly all buffaloes were like that (in my mind). What is so abnormal about it to look for that an inspector is inspecting before the loan was sanctioned? I thought this was all hush-hush. Under the IRMA (a central govt. scheme to support rural public), banks are supposed to sanction some loans based on their given targets. All this inspection was just a show-off. On the other hand, I was not a veterinarian to talk more on the selection of animals for funding.
Little did I realize then being normal, I mean ‘everything’ being normal is such a GREAT thing. It does not matter if most of us are usually normal people. Being normal is not an easy thing. I have started appreciating this during the past few weeks due to couple of incidents.
I caught virus on the 24th Jan early hours as I was sleeping on the floor (as I mostly do). It was getting colder and colder, I was having a hard time. I thought the winter is still on and the floor was cold. I shifted to my bed, but shivers wouldn’t reduce. By morning I realized I was having high fever. Three comforters on me could not comfort me. By evening the fever reduced significantly. To my dismay when I measured, the temperature was 103.1ºF. So it must have been about 105ºF at least when I was shivering and had a hard time. As I would try in such situations, I fasted for two days not eating anything, hoping the infection would go away or reduce. Yes, the temperature reduced to 101ºF and 100ºF in two days. But as an effect of fever and fasting, I became very weak. On Jan 26th early hours of 2 am, I had to attend a nature call that I was postponing for want of strength all evening. In the bathroom, within few minutes I was getting dizzy and knew that I had only few seconds left before I would fall. I quickly wrapped up, and barely remember walking up to the bathroom door and trying to open the latch. The next thing was I was on the floor, hit the bath vessel (old zinc Kagu) and the large brass lid with my feet. I fell on my face. Did not have consciousness for some time and didn’t know what happened (it’s a good thing; a person that I am very fearful of any pain, I didn’t have any pain when I fell) . Hearing the large sound of the brass plate lid hitting my back and then falling on to floor making large sounds that I thought in semi-consciousness that I must be hallucinating, my wife woke up and shouted if I was okay. In that state, I could barely hear her or know what was happening. She called out my younger son, and they both managed to slid open the door. It took over 10 minutes for me to gain some energy and with their support get to my bed. After 2-4 days, my illness included severe throat infection, cold, and low fever that wouldn’t go away. Now it is about 26 days since it all started and suffering hasn’t ended although the primary issues are nearly gone.
So this blog post is not about my illness (or to gain your sympathy) but a needed background to what I realized and wanted to share. Falling on my face, I injured my front two top teeth, affected my jaws, cut my upper lip, had my back lightly cut with the brass lid sharp edges falling on me. I have since been suffering from several small things that we would usually take for granted. This post is about that.
For few days, I was not able to lie on my back due to the cut. By mistake if my wife had tried to brush my back with her hand when I coughed, it would hurt my back! But that’s all gone now. No fever. Mostly gone cough too. But some symptoms from that period stuck to me yet. My right ear is plugged for so many weeks now. Imagine how you felt when you had water by mistake in an ear during bath and wouldn’t clear off until afternoon or so. Very troubling, right? It’s not a pain that one could complain. But a discomfort that does not allow you to do your daily tasks routinely. And now think how it feels to be that way for weeks! I say to myself, yes I can hear through that ear as well so nothing to get overly worried. But it’s not the same. Something that 99% of the time we don’t even care to pay attention, now is a constant bug. I desperately want to be ‘normal’ again and my ear cleared.
My front teeth have been sore. Turned into a gum swelling (I suspected some infection based on how it appeared). The teeth were so delicate that I couldn’t use them. On one day as I was chewing carrots and cucumber, I used my right jaw as well which had a broken molar tooth from December as on my left jaw two bottom tooth were broken and half fixed by a dentist for an infection a year back and were unusable since (some of you may recollect that blog post, which was my most read post). The excess chewing with the broken molar tooth left my right jaw in deep pain, and a partial use of front teeth had the front jaw as well in deep pain. During this period, I could appreciate the importance of each tooth in our mouth. We do things so routinely that we don’t care to notice how much work each was doing. Give some (actually a lot of) respect to each of our body parts which silently help us in some many ways. When we eat food, they routinely move to front teeth for cutting, move back to molar tooth and get grind between the upper and lower. This happens multiple times for each chunk of food we put inside. So a case as mine, when front can only sparingly be used, one cannot grinding alone as an option without cutting. Food becomes pulpy like but never cut into smaller chunks that you feel comfortable to swallow. And I could also see it is so discomforting to use only one jaw to chew all the time. Food moves from one side to another and in the process saliva gets secreted helping digestion and managing food in mouth. If one tooth is missing or is only partially working, it is a big deal.
It is odd that nowadays when I see young people, I feel how odd it is. They don’t feel anything in their jaws or teeth (!). When it is normal you don’t feel anything good about them. But a small issue can leave us with continuous discomfort!
I had fallen only once. And there was a good reason as to why. A very high temperature leading me to lot of weakness. Fasting would’ve contributed as well. Yes, but that was just once! Now when I do walking, I keep correcting myself to walk by the other side of pavement than the road. Reason? I think what if I fall again, and if I fall by the roadside with so much traffic it is a life risk. When I need to take stairs to get down a road bridge, I make sure I hold the rail initially and ensure the rails are close-by to hold, just in case I trip! Why do I think I would trip? I have used stairs some thousands of times probably in my life. And had never tripped. Or if I tripped, could always manage myself without falling. The thing is, that fall in the bathroom giving me only few inadequate seconds to escape had broken my confidence that I would never fall. Now I ‘know’ that anything can happen anytime. Mostly it won’t, but doesn’t mean it can’t. Two legged animal with a very narrow center of gravity that I am, a minute affect on my brain can let me go down the ground.
No. It has not made me fearful of everything. I am still the same person. Four days back when I barely had any strength to walk, I went for a 6 km walk (and yesterday a 10 km one). After quarter kilometer, I felt I couldn’t walk anymore. I thought let me push myself to whatever distance I could, and return from there. I always have this opinion on myself that if I could stretch myself to some point, I could always manage to gain the strength to return (even if that meant double the distance).
I still dare to give up all medicines even if my symptoms have not eliminated fully. What’s the point in taking medicines that don’t work? Have tried several cough syrups including some ayurvedic at my father’s advice, home remedies, churnas, steam inhalation, drinking hot water and what not.
I still try experimenting different solutions on my body that most people consider risky. For example for the past one week I have not had regular meals, milk, coffee etc. I am living on only raw food of fruits, dry fruits, and some vegetables that I can eat raw without cooking (which by the way, I believe have let me throat infection go away finally when nothing else worked). Although I feel I am eating adequate to my requirement, the calories are adding up to well below 50% of recommended calorie consumption for men. But I don’t care. The way I look at it is, if I am feeling better and improving then that which I am doing is possibly the right thing.
But the whole experience, has left me appreciating how BIG it is to be NORMAL. Yes, I am not normal yet (still feel sickly), but my SPIRIT is ON. I will keep trying everything that I believe will make me normal if not even better. For those of you who are normal completely, appreciate how lucky you are!