Yesterday I slipped, fell, and the knee immediately swelled and started paining severely. It
could have been a minor fracture or a muscle tear. I applied some ayurvedic medicines and waited. As the pain worsened, I needed to act. The logical move was an X-ray and an orthopaedic to first 'be safe'.
In our village, for fractures people go to Kallur, 10km from our village. There the traditional bone setters apply their medicines and bandage firmly. The most famous place for bone setting is Puttur, also in our district. But Kallur is close to our village, and the family which traditionally practices this is well known. Our village people clearly prefer this process to the plaster of paris casts. They say with the medicines applied here the healing is much faster. Despite modern nurses advising people to avoid traditional systems, people choose to go here, based on experiance.
In Chennai too there a few small shops with the board 'Putter Bone Setter' in the poorer localities. I decided to go here now, and started looking for the leads. I also called up Dr. Girija, and she advised me to proceed to a bone setter, in keeping with her faith in local practitioners. She also said that we would now have our own experiance with which to advise patients ! She has earlier sent her sister to one such place, and the fracture healed well.
|Vidyasankar Sundaresan The Muslim man with a skull cap sitting inside, the Jesus calendar on the wall and the obviously Hindu everything else... that's the ground reality of India.|
|Breaking the four eggs|
|Adding the leaf powder|
|Applying the paste on the bandage|
|Folding the bandage|
|Tying the first bandage|
|Tying the gauze|
|Tying the second bandage|
|Tying the crepe bandage|
I was told to come again after four days. And assured that the pain would decrease with each day.
In our village when the Kallur bandage is tied, the patient is advised to drench the bandage with sesame oil to help healing. As the oil is costly people dont have it usually. As we used to have it for cooking, people would come and ask us for it. I called the bone setter to ask him if I could pour sesame oil over it. The bonesetter told me to certianly pour and that it would help. I poured the ayurvedic oil specific for fractures Murivenna. I poured it many times over the crepe bandage.
By morning the pain was substantially lower. The next tying is to be done after four days. Totally four tyings. I had gone to the right place.
The place of the bone setter is what dances befor my eyes. Indicating utter poverty. How unvalued our own systems of medicines are today. And how despite everything they are struggling and surviving. And questions of what to do ...
I asked the son, who has learnt the skill from his father, to come and meet Dr. Girija. Ayurvda and local systems of health are together a vast inheritence which are what will sustain this country. Both are under attrition today.
We ordinary people always come here. The fracture heals much faster with the medicines they apply, but when they set the bone the pain can be severe. One needs the shakti to bear the pain. Also the allopathic places are for the rich. They will charge for an operation, and then they will fix rods. It will take a long time to heal. Then they will charge for another operation to remove the rods. Only people with lakhs can go there.
The government hospitals are worse. They will just do an operation and put you on a bed for months. You cannot even go to the bathroom. A attender will have to keep sitting with you beside the bed.
I had a severe tear in my arm muscle some months ago. I could not raise my arm above waist level. I went to Global, and they took 10,000/-. Then I went to Santosh and the doctor told me that for another 2 years I could not ply the auto. I thought that was the end of my life. Then another friend took me to this local bone setter place in Mandavali. Just three sessions of bandageing over a month. The third session the doctor told me to bring my auto and that I would have to start driving it. The autos only had a lever to start the vehicle, but the vaidyar sat with me in the auto and made me drive around till I could.
The vaidyar saved my livlihood and so my life."
The bone setting tradition is alive as it is the choice for the majority of people. As it is alive, it delivers well, and many richer people also go there. The traditional systems need to be preserved for the greater common good.
(After 4 days)
P.S. My knee is much better. Its the fouth day. The vaidya said 20 days to become as 'good as new'.
(After 15 days)
Today, on my 4th visit to Erza the bone setter, he took a look, bent my leg firmly, made me walk and said that another bandageing would not be needed. The ligament tear or cartilage tear or small fracture, whatever it was was well recovered, he said.
(A month later)
Had a fall today, and as the leg swelled up, there was the usual doubt if it was a fracture.
(2 months later)
Another slip, a swelling wrist, an auto to the Puttur bone setter in his tin roofed cement hut.
A skillful tug, oiling, a paste applied on the bandage, and a neat bandaging with a splint.
While I was there another lady from a nearby house with a knee problem came for a rebandaging, and then an auto driver.
It took me many years, and a village, and a wise doctor who trusted local wisdom completely, for me to recover my faith.