It has been quite a while since we updated you on Mum / Oma / Christa Eicher’s road to recovery!
We were able to bring Mum to our home at Asha Kiran Hospital in Odisha on the 11th of March. Since then we posted 2 or 3 times…. and then radio silence.
No news, in this case, is good news. Mum’s story has been miraculous. In the first days, we saw the dramatic improvement, where she was at the very door of death and then came out of a altered consciousness. We then saw her process the fact that she was paralyzed from the stroke – and had to be helped in every way. But by God’s grace we saw her regain the ability to sit, then to hold up her head, then to use her left arm and leg, and eventually we were thrilled to see her regain some gross power and mobility in her right arm and leg too.
Within 3 weeks of her stroke/fall (or was it fall/stroke?) Mum was starting to walk. Baby steps. With a walker. She began to be able to toilet and bathe too. Then we moved her to a walking stick (a quadrapod that ‘stays standing’ when you let go), and she even started making a few steps on her own without the stick. She was meeting folks in our home, and life was good. She was intent on doing the physio therapy exercises she had been taught in Mussoorie, and working on getting her right hand to work. First to get food into her mouth, and then to start relearning how to write.
All was good. Sheba had started work again and was caring for Mum at night. I was back to the part-time that I had been doing earlier – able to work most of the day from home. Things were looking good.
Then Mum fell sick. A ‘simple fever’ – and a cough. It didn’t look like COVID-19 – and we know since Sheba has treated lots of COVID-19 cases. The fever subsided after a few days. But the cough persisted. A deep, racking, fruity cough. And Mum was just not her normal self. Her energy was down, the strength that she had regained leached away.
One afternoon during this time, Mum got up from her nap and stood up and walked a few steps over to the cupboard for something. Having done what she wanted she turned back. At that time her legs gave way under her. She fell. She did not know how weak she had become – and was not using a stick to support her. One of the grandchildren had stepped out for a walk – the other was taking a nap. One of the adults from next door had just checked in to see her 10 minutes earlier and saw that all was well (at that time at least). Mum lay on the floor. She called out, but the sleeping grandchild did not hear her voice. It was a shock to find Mum on the floor in a helpless state. She had been there for about 10 mins and had bruised her ribs. But when we did the Xray the next day (which we had planned since the cough was not settling) we found that there were no fractures – and no sign of any pneumonia for which we were very happy.
It took Mum a good 3 weeks to recover from her illness. She has now turned a corner – illnesses that used to be shrugged off in 2-3 days will now last 1-3 weeks. Recovery will be proportionally longer. Its a new normal for Mum – and is of course not an easy cross to bear.
One of the joys of this period of time has been to have Asha and Enoch with us. They arrived at the end of May – and have been a joy for the Oma – and for us parents too! And before they arrived we had the unexpected joy of having our foster son Yohan with us for 2 weeks (2 day overlap with Asha and Enoch). Oma has had a good dose of Grand-kids!
And so the days went by with visitors galore. Old friends from OM days like Dave H and Mike S. New friends from the Asha Kiran family like Sangeeta and Dipi, as well as auntie from right below us who only knows Malayalam and cheerfully chatters away, singing and praying for Mum. Then folks from Mumbai – with the Sainanis bringing Yohan to be with us. And various batches of medical students and junior medical officers. Of course there were many times of prayer. And evening coffee on the roof. And lots of mangoes as the season progressed. Lots!
Looking back we see that Mum’s road to recovery has thus slowed down in some ways (the illness being a good sized speed bump) and her other recovery parameters all moving down a gear or two. But overall she has been growing. She has had physical improvement, greater ability to do activities of daily living, and is processing and praying through the various soul challenges.
After some weeks we built a guard rail for the steps going up the terrace – and Mum slowing starting walking up the steps. Evening tea and songs was a blessing, surrounded by beautiful greenery. And then a month ago she started for the first time attending our worship times. She had till then not gone ‘down-stairs’ (other than for her X-ray) for over 2 months – but a glimmer of hope had arrived for her. We began discussing about whether she wanted to go to Mussoorie (she did!) and how this may be worked out. Going back to Shanti Kunj was a tonic for Mum and we saw her ramping up her visits to the terrace.
We are at a point where Mum is able to care for her self in some areas – but not in all. She can bathe and toilet, but needs help at times with some of her dressing. She has slipped at least once in the bathroom despite rails being made all around. Her night meds make her very sleepy and she wakes up at least 2 times a night to go to the toilet, so she needs supervision.
And so we tested the waters. After praying, we touched base with our heart-brothers and their wives about whether different ones would be able to spend a few weeks in Shanti Kunj to be there for Mum. Two families immediately said they would come. Two others wanted to come – but the timings just did not work.
Thus we had the amazing experience of having Stefan arrive late night on July 3rd – and take Mum to Mussoorie early morning on the 6th!
Mum was as per her habit already packing 2 weeks earlier, and on the big day everything worked smoothly. Stefan flew with her from Vizag to Delhi and then on to Dehra Dun – after which they went up to Sisters Bazaar by taxi. Mum had been taken up to the top of the hill by stretcher on March 10th – wondering if she would come back to Mussoorie alive – remembering how we had taken Dad up the same way. Now 17 weeks later, she is happy at home in Shanti Kunj.
Rajesh and Usha are the lovely family that is looking after Mum on a daily basis for the rest of July – and next month we look forward to Manoj and Christina swinging by from Nepal to help out for the weeks of August. And Vikram is of course there for at least 5 days of the week to help out too.
Sheba, Asha, Enoch and I have been able to do an amazing once-in-a lifetime-holiday to
Sikkim too – and are now heading back to Asha Kiran (this piece was largely written at Kolkotta airport). We stayed with the amazing Dr. Cherring Tenzing. Stay posted - I hope to put some pictures of the amazing beauty we saw there!
We apologise for the loooong gap between communications. Mum has so much appreciated the many prayers and practical helps she has received over these days. She has cherished members of the Asha Kiran family who have popped in at various time to pray and encourage her. We have been so blessed to have her with us. We have of course discovered quickly how much the Lord needs to shape us – esp. in the areas of patience - but we are so grateful for this journey.
So the current plan is for Mum to be at Shanti Kunj till the end of August (unless her health erodes suddenly for some reason before). We will make a call in mid-August about the next steps!
Please do keep up your prayers. Mum reads email, but finds it hard to reply. Whatsapp is her current favourite means of communication. Feel free to call up during waking hours on +91 9557267515.