Dilemma and Resolution

After we were married, my husband and I moved to Africa on a work permit visa. It was my first time abroad and I was eager to explore the inner adventurer in me. Both countries are ethnically and linguistically diverse and share some striking similarities. It was fascinating to observe and learn about the many different tribes spread across the continent. Each tribe has its own set of values, traditions, and customs. In one of the tribes, I found the concept of God to be very intriguing. This ethnic group of people believed in a personal God whom they called ‘Chi’. He belonged exclusively to an individual. That was new and interesting to learn as I on the other hand belonged to a religion which sports the concept of ‘Ishta’. This meant that out of all the Gods and Goddess who prevail in their many names and forms, we could choose to worship the deity who appeals to us the most. The only difference being, He does not exclusively belong to an individual.

At the beginning of my middle age period, life had become more of a racing oval. My husband had passed on and I was the only one to care for my aging mother and young daughter. Back then, I wasn’t emotionally equipped to handle the challenges of a single parent. Even the thought of coping all alone had caused much disquiet in me. An early onset of a chronic disease like diabetes had to be constantly monitored and managed.

HS at its infancy

Tina was a happy youngster, and I was delighted to watch my daughter grow into a beautiful young lady. She had brought a lot of cheer and warmth into my life. However, when she turned 19, she was diagnosed with what I know today as HS, or hidradenitis suppurativa. Multiple bumps would appear in various parts of her body causing much pain and distress. It would leak of puss and blood all day long. Cumbersome bandage dressings had clogged her armpits making it difficult for her to move or perform daily chores.

Little had I realized then that a small boil which looked very much like normal acne would grow in size and cause such long-term pain and distress. Back then, HS wasn’t very well understood. She was misdiagnosed multiple times. Antibiotics and surgical procedures only provided temporary relief. Steroids had made her gain weight. Ayurvedic and homeopathic medicines couldn’t eliminate the tracts that had developed underneath the inflamed areas. Her whole life had turned topsy-turvy. She had to quit her lucrative job and spent hours in the waiting rooms of hospitals. It broke my heart to watch her helplessly suffer in agony. She became socially isolated and psychologically scarred. During that phase, I was desperately looking for a hand that could support me and resolve my problems.

Every cloud has a silver lining

The idea of ‘Chi’ that I had heard of began to take route in my mind. Not knowing how and where to find him I started looking inward to connect with him. It felt new and strange at first, but I sensed a feeling of familiarity between me and ‘Chi’. It almost felt like he had known me ever since I was born and had been there during all my highs and lows, shielding me for the trials and tribulations of the world. Just that I wasn’t aware of his presence.

Distressed times pushed us to look for alternatives on Google that could help ease the pain. Call it a stroke of luck, my daughter happened to chance upon books written by Tara Grant and Theresa Wilson during her web search. These writers emphasized on following a strict anti-inflammatory dietary regime as a long-term respite from constant flareups. At first it all felt strange to me. It was hard to believe that certain veggies, wheat, dairy products, nuts could have been the real culprits. Never have these foods caused an allergic reaction or an inflammation during her growing years. In fact, tomatoes, rice, tamarind, millets, have all been as an integral part of our meal plan for generations.

Obstacles are a part of life

As a caregiver and a mother, I have always encouraged her to follow a balanced diet and consume seasonal fruits and vegetables. But only a few days into this strange diet, Tina miraculously stopped all medicines. Ointments and several medical procedures came to a grinding halt and the flareups became undersized. Inflammations only appeared occasionally but they haven’t disrupted normal life ever since. She, of course, had to work very hard to withhold her craving for junk food. Yoga, meditation, pranayama have helped her display such abstinence.

My Chi had indeed heard my prayers. Over time, I realized that obstacles are an integral part of our lives, and they only add another layer of strength and fortitude to our armor.

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