16th March, 2017. Wednesday. I was just back from a work trip from Hyderabad, and I fell sick. I was down with a fever. I thought it must be from the tiredness from traveling. Soon, I figured it wasn’t just that. The fever was high, between 102 and 105. And, no amount of Dolo 650 and Crocin would make the fever go below 102 Degrees. And I was feeling so cold, that I perennially needed 3 blankets to keep me warm.
Thursday evening, we decided to visit a doctor. The doctor placed me on heavy antibiotics and stronger paracetamol along with a couple of other medicines. He also prescribed a couple of blood/urine tests. And he asked us to do the H1N1 test if the fever didn’t reduce for another 24 hours. H1N1 is commonly known as Swine Flu. Only a couple of labs in Chennai had the infrastructure to test for Swine Flu. Since Sunday was a holiday, I would get the test results only on Monday.
While waiting for the test results, I religiously took the medicines he’d prescribed hoping that the fever would come down and I would start recovering. But, the medicines were as impotent as the self-prescribed Dolo 650. All the symptoms remained. It was a long wait till Monday Morning.
The test results were out. Though we thought it was least likely, it showed positive for Swine Flu! We had to immediately figure the next course of action. We went back to the doctor and he said that there was only one treatment option — it was to admit me in a hospital, keep me quarantined and administer the antiviral called Oseltamivir, also known as Tamiflu.
At this point, having been introduced to Ayurveda, and also allopathy being the least preferred resort for treatments, I decided I would consult with Doctor Girija for the further course of action. But, this wasn’t such a straight forward decision. The medical community had the world fear this disease. WHO had declared it to be a pandemic. We consulted two other allopathic doctors, both of whom prescribed the same line of treatment and insisted that Tamiflu was the only Antiviral available in the world to treat this Flu. Upon enquiring if we could consider Ayurvedic treatment, one of the doctors even said it was futile and I may have to come back and get admitted into an ICU if we delayed the course of treatment.
We understood that the allopathic doctors may not be aware of Ayurveda being a more holistic and thoroughly researched science of healing. So, we decided to go the Ayurvedic way and decided to consult with Dr. Girija. She was then at the Ayurvedic hospital at Injambakkam, and when we spoke to her over a call, she asked us to come over.
I remember, the first thing she told us when we got there was that we unnecessarily wasted 4 days, waiting for test results and trying medicines which were irrelevant to the disease. She said I could have avoided the unnecessary suffering and that they could have started the right treatment on day 1. Nevertheless, she asked me to get started with the treatment right away. To add to all this, it was my parents Sadabhishekam ceremony (60th Birthday Function) on Thursday. We asked the Doctor if it was possible that the infection would go away by Wednesday evening so that I could attend the function on Thursday. Though she did not promise, she said it was possible. While she mentioned that I could just stay at home and get treated, but to speed things up, I chose to get admitted at the Vaidyasala.
The treatment included Kashayams, churnams and herbal tablets with dietary restrictions. No testing. No thermometers even. Interestingly in the two days, we got repeated calls from the Government of Tamil Nadu to ensure that I had been admitted in a hospital and had taken the Tamiflu antiviral. The disease had created so much panic in the society that the Government now had strict mandates around it.
Doctor Girija made a visit to Injambakkam on Tuesday just to check on me. The fever came down drastically with just the first dose of medicines. I was feeling better and the symptoms were improving. By Wednesday evening, she declared that the infection was completely gone and I could get discharged. That moment felt quite magical, given all the dogma around the cure for this disease and around Ayurveda. She said it would take a few more days for the weakness to go, but I could attend the function without the fear of infecting others.
Just before getting discharged she said something that stuck with me. She said, had I not gotten the test done, I might not have even figured it was Swine Flu and would have just gotten treated for it just the same without all the hue and cry. For all we know, many people who came to Ayurveda with similar symptoms may have very well had Swine Flu but would have just gotten it treated here like she would treat any other Bacterial or Viral infection.
Since then, there has been no turning back to any other form of medicine. And as I begin to understand and apply this science better, I have started realizing how powerful, relevant and holistic this 5000 year old science is, especially in contrast with allopathy.