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A Journey Through Arogyodayam Ayurveda Hospital
Carol Bergin
When I decided to undergo ayurvedic treatment, I wanted to have the most Indian experience possible. My previous trip to India convinced me that there was much I could learn from this rich culture. I also wanted to experience “being” in India, rather than constantly going. Therefore, I wanted a facility which was personal. People were more important than things. I chose a small facility where I felt I would be part of the daily operation. I also wanted a small town, as opposed to a large city. Arogyodayam Hospital is near the centre of Kalpathy village with not much land around but a private road in front. To say people are friendly is an understatement. I was greeted by 4 people and settled into my room. I have a big room. There are 2 single beds, desk, easy chair and stool, coffee table, other chair. I have my own balcony and bathroom. There are 2 fans and AC but there are screens on the windows so I can leave them open. The temperature is comfortable but hot for me during the day, 3-4 degrees C more than usual in November. There is a lounge area and table in the circulation space on each floor. I had an initial consultation with 3 doctors who assessed my needs. They control everything. The drinking water has herbs in it. Baths are only done in the treatment room. Warm water is used to wash body and room temperature for head. I use their toiletries which is good as I am looking for new products . There is no wifi so I don't have to worry about EMFs but I have an internet connection which is very good. There is a TV which is favoured by Indian clients. I get up and freshen up before 6.00 when the day starts. I get meds at 6.00, coffee made with boiled milk at 6.30, breakfast at 7.30, after food medicine at 8.00, treatment, soup at 11.00, lunch at 12.30 followed by meds, coffee at 16.00, meds at 18.00, dinner at 19.30, 20.00 after food meds, 21.00 bed meds. I eat alone so I can concentrate on my food. I actually think they are trying to spare the Indians watching me eat the chapati. Breakfast is rice, lentils, poppadam and amalaki, small yellow fruit. For lunch I have vegetables, curd, rice, vegetable soup, chapatis. Dinner is vegetable and rice or chapatis. Baby, the cook, has given me cooking lessons.Therapists come to bring medicine and food to make sure I understand. Between13.30-16.00 I am to rest but no sleeping as that causes inflammation, increased kapha, if during the day. Mild exercise is 17.00-18.00, after the sun goes down but I can only walk a few steps in front of the building. I had not expected to be so constrained physically. I am used to being outdoors during the day. My salvation is the balcony where I can sit and read. What Arogyodayam needs is a garden where you can sit and relax in nature. Other patients don't seem to mind sitting in their room all day but I need nature for healing. It is not as confining as it sounds as the world comes to you. You share the staff's life, as well as talking to other patients. If you want any shopping, they will get it. There is chanting every morning and Dr. Subeesh translated the Malayalam so I can follow along. Two priests came from the temple and held a pooja fire ceremony. A women's group came and chanted for an afternoon. I come to this experience with a history of injuries. All my sports activity in my youth resulted in damaged joints which are now rebelling, hence inflammation. Last year I could barely walk. Phase 1of treatment is to get the toxins and inflammation out of my body. I start with 7 days of warm herbal water flowing over my body. My therapists massage it in. This is to open up my channels so the toxins can flow out when the oil massage starts. In addition, I was so inflamed that they pounded my knees, legs and feet with a poultice. I now have ankles and the swelling on the knee is less. Phase 2 is oil massage and pounding to get the toxins dislodged and then they are eliminated. We start with 2 women giving an oil massage for 20-30 minutes. At one stage I have another massaging my face. When I am lying of my side, it reminds me of a small boat in a strong gale. I am rocking back and forth. This is followed by the herbs in a muslim bag which are heated. We start with pounding to distribute the heat and then they massage with the warm ball. My most tender spot is behind the knees. I can't take the heat there. The week of pummeling was followed by 3 days of enema. The preparation which went into each session was amazing. I had a special diet, no meds, massage for 20 minutes, steaming, wiping with hot cloths and even a female doctor in the room. They leave nothing to chance. I think the therapists have eyes in the back of their heads. They move to support one muscle which moves or wipe a splash from my face. I have not had significant discomfort. Phase 3 is building up the immune system, etc. I have an oil massage with different herbs. They then use a muslim bag with powdered herbs and put it in hot milk. They rub that into the oiled body and the whole thing turns brown. It's like wiggling around in mud. The milk is supposed to be good for the skin. The final phase is preparation for returning to the world. Treatment of eyes, ears, nose and mouth is done. It would be hard to cheat here. Luckily I have had no food cravings. They keep me regulated so I don't need anything else. I have negotiated chapati for rice for one meal. My main problem is not sleeping during the day. After my treatment, I am ready for a nap. No one spares the questions. They ask everything from positive/negative thoughts to beliefs. However, we all seem to have the same sense of humour. We do a lot of teasing. When you are in a “bare all” position it is good to laugh about it. The hospital has 10 rooms but they are not all full. Indians come for the summer but they are booked out for December. High season starts June. I guess they come to escape the hot temperatures. So it is quiet now and I certainly get constant attention. Everyone here is Indian. They want it to be a home away from home and it certainly is. Many other patients have been here before They are all intelligent and nice and make an attempt to speak English to me. We had one evening with a presentation on the hospital, introduction of everyone and a dinner together. It is nice knowing the people around you are taking control of their health and wish you well with yours. They keep asking me what I need. I now have a table on the balcony so I can eat breakfast and lunch there. I enjoy watching the day enfold when I drink my 6.30 am coffee and then activities of the houses across the road during the day. If I asked for the moon I think they would try to give it to me. It's a totally new experience for me. It is like being in a cocoon of caring. All staff are so kind, each in their own way. I now understand what “hand and foot” is. I don't have to do anything. I don't even do my own bath (except for the private parts). Everything is focused on me and getting me well. It's a whole environment which would be impossible in Ireland where other forces impinge on your daily life. However, I would love to see such a total environment of healing in Ireland. Everyone should experience it. As I return home, I am a bit overwhelmed with all the medicines, organising food, etc. After being in a controlled environment, there is a lot I'll have to do for myself. The hardest part for me will be eating fresh. I am used to preparing batches of food and freezing it. Some things I learned- Ayurveda is more than medicine, it is a way of ife Indians have the biggest smiles I can be pampered for a month and not get bored It takes 2-3 weeks for the immune system to be back to normal after treatment Different oils are used for the upper and lower parts of the body Mustard seeds need to be stir fried in a little oil to bring out the flavour Thousands of ingredients go into ayurvedic products If you sleep during the day, this increase kapha/sluggishness People can really live their religion in their daily lives
By
Carol Bergin