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  Volume 4 - Issue 10 OCTOBER 2006
 
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WHERE LOVE IS THE THERAPY…..

And Faith Is The Remedy

- By Sri Y Arvind


“How many cases for tomorrow, sir?” asked the Technical Officer while working on a presentation at his notebook computer.

Dr. Anil Kumar opened the preoperative ward register. “Well, since it is a Saturday, we could have only two pumps with the academic sessions.”

“Alright, sir, but nothing serious, I hope.”

“No, just straight forward pumps" [surgeries involving the heart/lung machine] "but actually,” the Doctor continued, “we have a really good case in the ward, a coronary" [ a generic term for a patient with blocked heart arteries]. The officer raised his hand in mock protest “But not for tomorrow, for Monday.” The officer relaxed and continued working on the presentation. Dr. Anil Kumar focused on the Operation Theater List for the next few days. He had to draw a balance between resource and operation, optimizing the former to maximize the latter. Silence reigned as they worked.

The Hospital for One and All

“What do you think makes people come here, sir?” the Technical Officer suddenly asked.

Dr. Anil Kumar looked up from his work. The question came out of the blue. The doctor’s eyes glanced over at the photograph of Swami on the wall. “Faith,” he replied, “faith brings people to this temple of healing.”

“How about desperation and penury...free medical care is for those who cannot afford it elsewhere. Circumstances dictate decisions. Like there are occasions when you changed the operating procedure when you found that the pathology was different from what you anticipated.”

“But what if a patient could afford it elsewhere and still wanted to come here for medical care?” the Doctor asked.

 
   
Dr. Anil Kumar (right) in conversation with a technical officer

“Well, sir, our Hospital caters to one and all alike. We make no distinctions. Every patient has an equal opportunity.” The officer paused and then said slowly, “Is that what you mean?”

“Correct,” replied Dr. Anil Kumar, leaning back in his chair. “But we come into the picture only after the patient comes to us. The decision to come here or go elsewhere is theirs, right?”

“That may be so, sir. But in this world, people feel that nothing comes free, and if it is free, they suspect there is a catch. There are some who say that since we are offering free medical care…” He raised his hands and shrugged. “They feel we compromise, we don’t do quality work.”

“We don’t have to prove anything to anybody,” said Dr. Anil Kumar. “Our work speaks for itself. Five years here and fifteen in Parthi. Look at our record: free service is not only possible, it is sustainable,” emphasizing the last word. He picked up a case file. “Look at this patient. A professor of pathology from Orissa. The surprising thing is he can afford to have this surgery done anywhere and his own Institution will do it for him but he comes here. What brought him here as opposed to the other premier institutions in the country?”

The officer nodded his head thoughtfully.

“So,” continued Dr. Anil Kumar, “We need to find out more about this professor. His name…” he looked at the register, “is Dr. Radheshyam Hota. Why don’t we have a chat with him now?”

“It’s late, sir.” The wall clock said 8:00 p.m. “He’ll probably be resting after his dinner.”

“I’m going to the pre-operative ward now anyway, so join me in five minutes and I’ll introduce you and you take over from there,” Dr. Anil Kumar instructed while closing the pre-op register with finality.

 

The cardiac ward, also called the preoperative ward, was full of patients of all ages. The older ones were walking up and down the length of the hall, having a post dinner walk, while others lay back on their beds, reading or talking to their relatives. At the far end of the ward was the “kid’s corner” where toys and games for children were kept. It was, naturally, the liveliest part of the ward. What else would you expect from children with nothing to do than to play? Despite being in a hospital, it looked more like playtime at a daycare center. Of course, the parents had their watchful eyes wide open, for these were children not so fortunate as to be “normal.”

Life was truly uncertain; at times to the extreme for these children. Sometimes one feels that here are people who are afraid to be happy. What a paradox. To be happy is the very nature of the human spirit and yet one is denied this greatest of joys.

The Playpen at the ward
   

Why do anomalies exist in a perfect world? When God is perfect why is the world imperfect? the officer pondered

“There is not anomaly in creation, it is the anomaly of vision,” the words of Sri Sathya Sai Baba echoed in reply.

Vision? What vision? This is reality. How can reality be a vision?

“Reality is as real as you want it to be. You are not what you think you are. You are a child of immortality.” Then why is there so much suffering? Why am I blessed to be healthy while there are so many others who are suffering?

“You are indeed blessed to be healthy, so that you may serve those who are suffering. This body has been gifted to you to serve others and perform your dharma.” Questions and answers meandered through the mind of the officer as his eyes took in the sights in the ward.

From the simple-minded to the most erudite, a doctor is in a class of his own, particularly if he holds the key to the well-being of one’s loved one; in that case, the respect increases manifold. This feeling was most apparent when the pair, Dr. Anil Kumar and the officer, entered the ward. As if by silent command, the noise in the playpen stopped and the children quickly scrambled onto their beds. Those that were walking about returned to their beds and the ones lying down sat up. There was a hushed feeling of silent respect. The Doctor had come.

Dr Hota – Amazing Faith

“Dr. Radheshyam Hota. Admitted for coronary artery disease, please,” said Dr. Anil Kumar to the sister at the nursing station. Quickly referring to a list on her desk she directed them to the last cubicle on the left of the ward. They traversed the length of the ward and found Dr. Hota seated on his bed reading a magazine.

 

“Sai Ram, Hota Saab,” Dr. Anil Kumar said cheerfully.

“Sai Ram, Dr. Saab,” came the soft reply.

“Your case has been posted for Monday,” said Kumar while opening the case file and scanning the contents. “Can you tell me what brings you here?” Being a medical professional, Dr. Hota summarized his condition starting from the first symptoms of cardiac disease to the present situation in succinct terms. It was impressive to watch two professionals in their individual fields in conference. It was a lesson in clinical detachment. Each knew that the issue was subjective but their entire conversation was objective. No emotional involvement at all. Dr. Hota even took in the risk factor without batting an eyelid. He only smiled and said, “God is there, He will take care.”

“Hota Saab, I will leave you now,” said Dr. Anil Kumar at the end of their professional discussion. “One thing that intrigued us was that despite being financially able to have the surgery done in any of the best hospitals in the country, you came here. Why is that?”

Dr. Radheshyam Hota from Orissa
   

Dr. Hota replied unhesitatingly, “This is Swami’s Hospital and I know I will receive the best quality treatment here.” The words rang clear and honest. They had come from a medical professional who had seen the best in the country, who could afford the finest treatment, yet he had chosen to come to Swami’s Hospital because he was convinced that he would receive quality treatment there. Dr. Anil Kumar looked at the officer and nodded. “The officer here would like to know more about you. Spend some time with him, if you don’t mind.” The last few words were to Dr. Hota, who nodded with a smile on his placid face.  

The Doctor Relates His Stirring Story

The officer sat down and listened as Dr. Hota began his long story, and it was an interesting one: he was fifty-seven-years-old and hailed from Balangir, 360 kilometers from Bhubaneshwar, the capital city of Orissa. Born to a middle class farming community and part of a large family, Dr. Hota had been educated by his parents to become a doctor. He did his MBBS in 1972 from VSS Medical College in Burla, Orissa, and his MD in Pathology and Bacteriology in 1980 from the same college.

He was married with one son planning to join TCS after completing his engineering in electronics. A doctor and a professor in pathology, he worked in various hospitals in Orissa during a career spanning three decades and was presently the Blood Bank Officer and Pathology Specialist in Balangir.

Disease is ruthless and doesn’t discriminate between the rich and the poor, the educated and the illiterate. The turning point in Dr. Hota’s life came in August, 1994, on the Rakhi Poornima day [a festival day] when he was posted as the Blood Bank Officer in Balangir.

 
   
The district of Balangir in Orissa

He had a heart attack. Dr. Hota was diagnosed with a 99% block in the LAD. [Left Anterior Descending, an artery supplying blood to the heart.] The clinical diagnosis read as the first anterior wall MI [Class II Ischemic heart disease]. Final diagnosis was: CAD – S/P AWMI: Coronary Artery Disease, blocks in the arteries supplying blood to the heart, Anterior Wall Myocardial Infarct. When the upper surface of the heart does not receive sufficient blood for a long period of time it stops beating. When it stops, it is a heart attack. Dr. Hota narrated what happened that day. “I was urgently summoned to the hospital to issue blood to a patient. I issued the blood and was about to return home when suddenly I developed severe chest pains. The Medicine Specialist prescribed some medication but the pain did not abate. An important function was to be held over the next few days in which the Governor was to preside and since protocol demanded my presence as the Blood Bank Officer, I wanted to be fit enough to attend the function."

“I immediately went to a reputed medical college where the doctor refused to see me as it was not an out-patient day. I was quite taken aback by his attitude.” The doctor, instead of treating him, referred him to the Emergency Department. “I was desperately waiting for medical attention at Emergency when I had a myocardial infarction [heart-attack]. Thankfully, another doctor arrived and I was promptly given streptokinase and hospitalized for three weeks.”

It seemed as if Dr. Hota’s immense faith in Swami pulled him through this rough patch. During the time he was hospitalized one of his colleagues brought him vibhuti from both Shirdi and Parthi. He always kept some vibhuti materialized by Swami close by. During this time he recalled a dream Baba blessed him with when He came in the form of Krishna and took him away from his home and led him into a house where bhajans were being conducted. To him it appeared as if Swami was carrying him away from the pain to a place where there is eternal peace and happiness

After a three-month rest period, Dr. Hota reported for duty. He was advised by the doctors to undergo a coronary angiogram, or CAG, a process where a long catheter is put all the way up to the heart and a radioactive dye is introduced to diagnose the blocks in the blood flow path in the coronary arteries. In those days Orissa was very backward in medical infrastructure and lacked facilities for performing a CAG. Dr. Hota was referred to a private hospital in Hyderabad. Very soon, he left for Hyderabad and was admitted in the hospital.

The angiogram done there indicated a 99% block in the Left Anterior Descending artery – the main supply to the left side of the heart – and found 20-30% blockages in other arteries. The doctors told him his condition was serious and advised him to come back within seven days for an angioplasty. They estimated the surgery would cost him Rs. 1.6 lakhs.

 

.“Though being a doctor, I wasn’t very comfortable with my fellow doctors’ diagnosis. I didn’t want to rush in for the angioplasty. I needed a second opinion, and where else can we turn but to Swami.” Dr. Hota’s faith in Swami was so strong that he immediately came to Puttaparthy for consultation with the doctors in Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Prashanti Gram, Swami’s first Super Specialty Hospital, inaugurated in 1991.

 

“During darshan, I got the blessed opportunity to hand over a letter explaining my situation to Swami. The cardiologists at the Hospital went through my angiogram and gave me hope that even with the type of blocks I had, with life-style modifications it would be possible to live a normal life. They assured me that once my turn for angioplasty came, I would be called,” narrated Dr. Hota.

After the fearful prognosis by the private hospitals, the visit to Swami’s institute helped Dr. Hota cope with the situation. He went back home a relieved man. He was certain Swami would take care of him and he would be called when He deemed fit. However, at work it was a difficult period for him. Friends and colleagues ridiculed him for relying on Baba when the private hospital advised immediate surgery. However, Dr. Hota did not buckle under this pressure. He continued to do Swami’s work with his usual gusto.

Later, during the same year, when Dr. Hota got a call from the Hospital, it appeared that his faith paid off and in 1995 a PTCA [Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty – a procedure in which the arteries are dilated using an inflatable balloon threaded into the artery] was performed on him. He was discharged post-procedure in a healthy state and continued his customary life with some diet restrictions.

Since 2002, Dr. Hota had been coming to Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Bangalore, for his regular checkups. In April this year, during a routine TMT test, Dr. Hota came up with a positive result.

An angiogram was subsequently done, which showed multiple blocks in the LAD and other arteries. The doctors decided that he would need to undergo a coronary artery by-pass surgery. In early July, Dr. Hota was admitted to the pre-operative ward. Just before his surgery, he sent a letter to Swami. Sure enough, the surgery went off smoothly, under the expert guidance of Dr. Anil Kumar Mulpur, HOD, CTVS Department. After an uneventful recovery and a successful discharge, Dr. Hota is back at his work as before.

Golden Chances in the Good Old Days

Unlike many other patients who come to the Hospital first and only then hear about Him, Swami had entered Dr. Hota’s life many years ago, before the temples of healing came into existence. He was a long-time devotee and an active worker in the Sai movement in Orissa. “I heard about Swami in 1975 when I was posted in a remote part of Orissa. Having heard of Him, I first came to Parthi to participate in the 50th Birthday celebrations,” recalled Dr. Hota. “I vividly remember Swami giving the first aerial darshan in a helicopter that year. Since then I’ve been coming to Baba almost once a year or every other year. I’ve been very fortunate to have had close physical interaction with Him in those good old days, when access to Him was much easier."

“One of my cherished interactions dates back to 1976, when I had an intense but subtle desire of obtaining the Divine touch. It was when the Easwaramma High School was being constructed. One day when Swami had gone to see the progress, I followed Him to the site. After Swami went around, He came and sat in the car. During those days, access to Swami was so close.

I was standing very near to the car, with my hands folded in prayer. Suddenly, Swami opened the door, got out of the car, and then caressed my shoulders and gave me padnamaskar. He spoke to me in Telugu, which I couldn’t quite understand. This incident was my most thrilling experience.”

Dr. Hota’s job in the Government hospitals ensured that he was constantly on the move and at each place he would take active part in the Sai activities. He served the Sai Organisation in various capacities, as a Convener of the Bhajan Mandali, as a Sevadal Convener, and later on as the District President of the Sai Samitis in Sambalpur, Bolangir, and Gajapati districts of Orissa.

 

   
Dr. Hota in a group photo with Swami in 1970s

“I also attended a number of World Conferences, and sevadal conferences at Puttaparthi. In 1984, I attended the large-scale medical camp conducted in over 100 villages around Puttaparthi on the eve of the Birthday celebrations that year. These medical camps were generally conducted under the guidance of Dr. Bapi Raju and they used to be inaugurated by Swami in the Poornachandra Auditorium. It was during these times that Baba distributed thermometers to the doctors,” he said, remembering the special times he had with Baba.

 

One of the cherished moments in his life occurred during this period, when Swami, after a medical camp, gifted him a Parker pen with the advice, “Write your prescriptions with this pen,” and blessed the doctors with a group photograph which Dr. Hota still preserves. Dr. Hota said:

“The beautiful thing is that a few weeks earlier Swami had come in my dream and had given me a box, which when opened had the pictures of Shirdi Sai and Parthi Sai on the inside. I was so moved to find that when I saw the Parker pen case, I was seeing again the same box from my dream.”

During his three and a half decades of medical service in Orissa, Dr. Hota organized numerous medical camps and created awareness about Swami. He even authored a few books such as 'First Aid, a Health Guide for the Active Worker' and also a book in Oriya, Pilanka Swasthya, or Children's Health.

Dr. Hota with his son before leaving the hospital
   

Where Love Is The Therapy….

“Paropakaaraartham idam shareeram” …“This body is for the service of others,” say the Upanishads. Swami has said many times, “You do My work and I will do yours, and My work is to serve your fellowman. Help ever hurt never, Love all, Serve all.” The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences embodies this spirit of selfless service. Dr. Hota has lived a full life, performing admirably well in every role destiny has granted him. His opinion about the Hospital is reflected in his words:

“All the staff working at Swami's Hospital are so lucky to have received the grace of Swami. I am so very obliged to everyone at the Hospital who has taken care of me. This experience has further reinforced my faith in Swami and I shall endeavor to engage myself in Swami's work with full vigor from now on.”

“Here is where everyone practices Love as therapy. When the doctor smiles, the patient also smiles. Here is where Divinity is watching everything and taking care of everything. Here is where there is no difference between the rich and the poor and all are welcome, from whichever nationality. Divinity is for everybody and Swami’s Hospitals stand as an example to this truth.”  


Dear Reader, how did you like this story? Would you like more of such patient stories in this section of our magazine? Do you have any suggestions for our 'Healing Touch' section which will help you better? Please let us know at [email protected]. Please mention your name and country when you write to us.

– Heart2Heart Team




 
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Vol 4 Issue 10 - OCTOBER 2006
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