Caged Inside – Life through the eyes of an ailing person

India
Having tea with my better half.

A disease can take the mental peace away from you and your family. There is this constant fear of being engulfed by the disease, some people get used to it with the help and support of their loved ones. But at some point it gets overwhelming and becomes difficult to cope with the emotional strain no matter how positive one is. Well in my case my wife and sons are my biggest support.

Let me take you to a time when everything in my life was normal and how one night every definition of ‘normal’ changed for me. My life was pretty simple and disciplined : wake up at 6 in the morning, have breakfast, head to work, spend time with the kids, eat, sleep and repeat. I was an employee at a semi government organization, things were going smooth when suddenly they had to shut it down because it went bankrupt. Life came to a halt, but that is when I decided to invest in a business and unfortunately it did not work out. So, in order to support the family, I had to sell the property we had and carried on with a money lending business, until my older son got a job in 2009.

I assumed my dark days were over and went on with my life, however content but had no idea of what was about to come was even darker. It was the winter of 2018 when I had a brain stroke and everything changed overnight. I was immediately rushed to the ICU. Time slowed down as I lay there helpless without my family in sight but the day I got discharged a month later was no short of a glory. I was back home and happy; the initial days went well but as days passed, the consequences began to sink in I was partially paralyzed and the stroke had a take on my memory which made communication harder. This is when ‘normal’ changed for me and every single day seemed like a challenge. Well, for my wife it was even a harder challenge taking care of me.

For a while nothing changed we were getting used to this new ‘normal’ unaware of what was coming for me next. Fast forward to July 2019 at around 1:30 am I started experiencing shortness of breath and was immediately rushed to the ICU for the second time; horrific memories of the first time came flashing back. The doctor ran a blood test on me and found out that 85 percent of my kidney had stopped functioning and feared I would not survive. My family was going through a very stressful time already and the probability of me not surviving shattered them.

With only 15 percent of the kidney function remaining meant that it had to be dialyzed at regular intervals. At first the intervals were 6-7 days but now it has reduced to 3-4 days. Even with all the ailments I used to walk just fine but one morning on my way to the living room I felt a bit dizzy, lost balance and fractured my shoulder. I was taken to the hospital again but this time they discharged me within 4 days – this incident had left me disabled and I am bound to a wheelchair now, l have even lost my will to speak. Life since then has become monotonous but my wife never left my side.

(Text by Kheya Barai)

Getting ready for doctor visit.
On my way to hospital for treatment.
My wife busy with household chores.
Reminisce of the past.
Praying for my well being.
Resting after the treatment.
Watch her cooking.
No matter what my faith in God is always unwavering.
Feeding me before I go to sleep.
My wife is scared of needles so she watches me get pricked from afar.
This is the chair where I used to sit to get my daily dose of the news.

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Mrinal Sarma

Mrinal Sarma

I am a freelance documentary photographer and visual storyteller currently based in Assam, India. During my college days in NIFT, I started photographing and immediately fell in love with the beauty of the visual language. I prefer to work on stories and essays of social and cultural significance.

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