“Do you have any tattoos?”
“No” I replied
“Do you have any metal implants?”
“Do you have diabetes?”
“Are you Claustrophobic?”
“No” I said, not sure if I should be proud of that answer.
Few more questions later I was taken into the room, and the technician asked me to lie down on the table facing upwards. I obeyed. She took my left hand, searched for the vein at the elbow, and asked: “are you good with the needles?”. She prepared the injection before I replied – seemed like my answer would not have made a difference. The needle pierced the veins through the skin, and I squeezed my foot in retaliation to the pain. The technician observed this, and tried to divert my attention “Where do you work?”. I mumbled, “In the city”. She plastered the injection to my skin and remarked “this injection may give an unpleasant taste on your tongue and cause nausea. It is common and not to worry. I will observe you from behind the glass. I will give another dose ten minutes later”. Her words were unsettling. She handed over a button to press in case of emergency. The MRI was switched on and the bed moved into the hollow machine. A few moments later the machine whirred with a loud buzz, and I felt a tingly feeling in the mouth, followed by nausea. As if that’s not enough, claustrophobia kicked in from nowhere.
I walked into the centre with a nervous smile. The practitioner at the reception desk glanced at me and gave a perfunctory nod as if to say ‘you know the routine’. I would be a fool if I hadn’t known the routine by then. I walked into room number 2, unstrapped my watch, emptied my pockets onto a nearby desk, removed my shoes, and laid on the elevated bed. ‘The bedsheets need a wash’ I thought as I settled on the bed as if I owned the place. A statue of Buddha stared at me from the corner of the room – he looked so serene, lost in his enlightened world, oblivious to these human afflictions.
A moment later the practitioner walked in and asked the toughest question “how were you feeling last week?”. I stumbled for an answer “I guess it was ok however not sure if it had really improved”. “Hmm” he said “let us try it differently today – I will focus on mind relaxation. You will have a good sleep tonight”. He picked up acupuncture needles, and without wasting much time started to puncture my skin across various places starting from the hind foot, moving up to calf muscle, stomach, wrist, ear, forehead and a final needle on the top of my head. “Yell if you need any help. I will be across the room” he said “see you in 20 mins” before leaving. I gazed at the ceiling wondering what I should conjure up in my imagination for those next 20 mins. Many thoughts during that time, but what remained in my vivid remembrance were two – 1. next time I should ask them to play some Bollywood songs instead of the soft music heard on the speakers. 2. I should gift them an air conditioner if I were to become any better because of this treatment.
The doctor greeted with a smile and welcomed me inside. I followed him to his room.
“How do you feel now?” the toughest again.
“I will be very honest” I declared “I don’t think there is any improvement at all”.
“I guess we should continue our trial and error” he conceded.
Ah, the words ‘trial and error’ are enough to bring mountains down in the medical world. After a detailed discussion, he prepared a new medicine and explained how and when to take them. I thanked him profusely. At least the visit was pleasant – no needles penetrated and the air conditioning had worked. Just as I was about to leave, I noticed his head and his receding hairline that has seen better days when I initially started seeing him.
I stepped out of the homoeopathy clinic, with the lowest morale of that day. Not much motivation as of now and the path back to home looked lonely. I needed something immediate to keep my spirits up, something tangible – my family wasn’t there at that moment; good music, entertaining movie, or an engaging book were beyond the reach. That’s when my hand involuntarily touched my heart that was beating continuously devoid of any qualms, just doing its duty. In that heartbeat, I found my motivation and I took a step forward.