Beena’s hands work their magic at Sambhavna

How can I forget that day of 5th April 2010 which was normal, just like any other day. I had finished all my work and was just sipping a cup of tea. Then suddenly I felt numbness in my right leg and after a minute, I was unable to move it. I tried hard to stand up but was not able to do so and I fell down. I couldn’t feel or move my right leg from the waist down. On the same day, I went to the government hospital for treatment. There they gave me an injection and told me not to worry.

Then I went to Sharma-ji, a non-qualified medical practitioner in our neighbourhood. He told that I did not have paralysis and that all I had to do was to rub the ointment in that he gave me for five days. I was very tense with dark thoughts of never being able to walk again filling my mind. Then I called Kamal bhai (Medicine Dispenser at the Sambhavna Trust Clinic) who I knew. He told me to visit Sambhavna.

Let me introduce the lady who is quoted above. Her name is Urmila Pandey and she lives in Karond in Bhopal. She is a victim of the 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster. She’s been paralysed on the right side below her waist for the last one year.

Dr Jay (Ayurvedic Physician at Sambhavna): Urmila came to me in a wheelchair with complaints of severe backache, joint pain and loss of sensation in right leg. She had an MRI examination done of her spine at the Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre (BMHRC). Based on the MRI report, she was given a diagnosis of mild degenerative lumbosacral spondylosis and was advised surgery (see below).

After I examined her, I told her that she may not need spinal surgery and could get substantial relief through Panchakarma treatment. I then advised her to undergo Sneha (oleation), Swedan (sauna) and Katibasti (treatment with medicinal oil). She has responded very well to two months’ treatment with Ayurvedic medicines and Panchakarma procedures.

Urmila started Panchakarma treatment as per Dr Jay’s advice:

On 7th April 2010 when I came to Sambhavna with my husband I was in a wheelchair. Here Dr Jay started my treatment. He referred me for Panchkarma treatment for a week. On that day, my husband, and Beena didi (Sambhavna’s female Panchakarma therapist) took me to the Paati (massage table) in the wheelchair. Beena didi told me that I would be able to walk a bit after seven days of treatment. I did not believe her and got so upset I started crying.

I felt that I was carrying my leg like a useless appendage. When I wanted to move my leg, I needed Beena didi’s assistance. Three days passed without significant change but from the fourth day, I was able to move my right leg slightly. Other thing that made me happy was that I could move my toes. On the seventh day of massage, when I came to the clinic in the morning Beena didi told me, ‘Today you must try to walk; take support of either the wall or hold my hand but do your best not to use the wheelchair.’ I tightened my fist, took a long breath and got up from the wheelchair. Then I walked with the support of the wall to the massage table, a distance of about six feet. Then I hugged Beena didi and cried.

Beena Nair told us about Urmila:

When she came here for massage, Urmila was crying a lot. I gave her Sneha and Swedan therapy for first two weeks. Then I gave her Katibasti for a week followed by Shirodhara (medicated oil stream on the head). After completion of her first week of therapy, she could walk a few feet. In the second week, she was able to walk about a quarter mile. I was quite confident that she will be able to walk.

Urmila said:

When my treatment began, I was not able to change my clothes and Beena didi had to help me. After two weeks massage therapy, I have improved a lot. I can feel and move my leg now. On the 14th day of my treatment I was so happy I distributed sweets among the staff of Sambhavna. During my treatment, I became very close to Beena didi. Some days I come to the clinic just to meet with her, even when I don’t need any treatment. Now I am able to dress myself and make chapattis as I did before. Beena didi deserves all the credit for all this. I am also thankful towards my husband who supported me a lot. He took six months leave, putting his job at stake just to be with me.

Urmila’s husband said that she couldn’t look after herself after she lost sensation and strength in her leg.  He took six months’ leave so that he could take care of her and do all the domestic chores. He got severe backache, as he had to lift Urmila from the bed several times in a day. Meanwhile he was receiving stern notices from his bosses at the office who wanted him back at work. ‘As there was no one to look after my wife, I stopped worrying about loosing my job and focused on taking care of her,’ he said.

Urmila has found much strength within herself. She says, ‘I still have difficulty in walking but I have decided I will walk without taking any one’s support. When I get tired, I sit down for a while and then continue walking. Thousands of blessings come from my heart for Bina didi, she has filled me with much courage. I used to cry a lot before her but she always had a smile for me.’

On her present condition, a year after (actually 26 years after the gas) Dr Jay told us: ‘She has found much relief and is now able to do her routine work but she still has some pain in her joints.’

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We believe Dow must finally accept responsibility for Bhopal. Until then, The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free, first-class care to victims of the gas disaster or the ongoing water contamination. The survivors have nowhere else left to turn – please help if you can.