Life has many ways of testing one’s will. I have been tested!!
It was in hot summer months of Gujarat and temperature scorched with exam pressures. On 4th May 2012, it was a soil chemistry practical exam and I had prepared very well. Things took a different toll when I accidentally pipette 1 ml of concentrated sodium hydroxide with Iodine; a really cool vodka combination isn’t it??
Within few minutes of ingesting, my lips became swollen, my chest was burning and I became blank. My classmate gave me an alien look and professors reacted by giving me water, thinking it as an antidote. But sadly it worsened.
I was rushed to the dispensary, where I texted my sister, to come urgently. My dad, who had met an accident and was on bed rest, was called up by authorities. I didn’t understand the seriousness of it. My dad questioned by negligence, “why it didn’t happen to other 76 students?” I didn’t have an answer for it then.
On 5th May 2012, I was taken to an acid specialist; He advised me complete bed rest. Chemical didn’t hurt me, but my dad with broken hand feeding me moved me. I lost my voice, I couldn’t speak, and it disturbed me. I questioned God, “why me? I need to take care of my Achan, why are you punishing that man?” The moments, when he fed me with each sip of oats and water, my tears rolled up and I felt guilty. Within one week, I recovered, my voice regained and we started forgetting that something happened.
It is said that “god tests you till you are ready to sail the storm”. The pain didn’t end there. I wasn’t able to swallow food, whatever I tried eating, everything I vomited. The doctor performed endoscopy and I developed a complication. My lungs had holes and I couldn’t breathe. The man, who is known to save someone’s life, scared my father. Finally, we flew to our native, where I met a man who lived and believed in service. His motto of life is serving his patients, is serving God. His name is Dr Mathew Phillip, an ideal soul, my mentor, my saviour, gave me support to sail the boat.
Doc Phillip performed endoscopy again after being on saline for 6 weeks where I was discovered with oesophagus gerd. Doctor asked me, “girl, do you know that the there is no space for water to pass? How did you survive this?” I smiled at him and slightly prayed “God give me stones, give me iron, but I have to power to convert it into steel, But don’t you dare hurt my parents”. I knew I had to survive this. The pain of parents, seeing their only daughter suffer, wouldn’t be easy.
With each injection pricked into my body, I felt that electricity hitting my veins, but I smiled at the nurse. For me, It was like a badminton match and with one smash by god, I hit back. The doctor advised me to have a stent and thus most horrifying thing which I dread till today, was put into my body. It made me immobile, the pain was unbearable and my parents cried every night seeing me as I wrangled with pain. The incident bonded us more. I saw the love for me in their eyes, my cousins who couldn’t bear that their sister isn’t chirping around them, people looked at me with pity. It pained, so I smiled.
The stent was removed and I lost 10 kilos of my weight. My dad sometimes teased, drinking that acid is better than you going to gym. I joined college again and was allowed to be part of the new semester. I soon realized that your good friends are those who stay in your bad time. The so-called best friends didn’t receive me or support me in my nightmare which I wished to forget. But I got the best!
Industrial tours were started and my mom used to make soup for me every day. Within one week, I stopped eating soup and even water was difficult to ingest.
So new chapter again started!!
God pushes us to our limits, tests us beyond our fortitude because he has greater plans and faith in us than we have in ourselves!
Thus, I was again in hospital with a new doctor in Gujarat, his name was Pankaj Jain, young and intelligent and epic! He suggested dilatation to me. The procedure involved using endoscopy; he would break the stones and create space.
Thus every Saturday, trip to Vadodara from Anand in order to meet the doctor Jain, followed by dad’s treat of cold coffee from juice pump. Whenever the procedure was done, the doctor would sing lullabies to me, for which I laughed. On 10th session, he asked me, “Neeraja, It is going to be difficult, your food pipe is losing its motility”, I replied, “Doc, I am not coming to your clinic, I am done”. I didn’t return to his clinic. I self-dilated with food, I used to spit food, take 2 hours to eat, but I ate. My parents worried, why is she doing this? I said I need to prove the almighty that he has made me tough. And I survived!!
I cleared all my papers, cracked the exam for MBA and got into good college, scored the top marks and created my brand image. My illness made me strong, made me realise my own strength, I scored one – zero in a match with the fight with god, to realise that he is inside me.
I never thought of writing this article but recently when my parents after 4 years of the accident, was sharing to someone who had lost hope of things, how brave I was. I realized that maybe I should share the story with the world, maybe someone would smile or bless my parents who faced such pain.
I am Neeraja Sasidharan, who had fixed a badminton match with God! I am not Neeraja Bhanot either, though the name is similar! I am me, who self-discovered herself with acid ingestion.
Life with limitation and obstacles is still a treasure.
And that’s My Story!!