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Dandavats! All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!

Update 2 on Shyamasundara Dasa and Mother Sundari Radhika Devi Dasi

Sunday, 09 December 2007 / Published in News, Shyamasundara Dasa / 15,247 views

Update 2 on Shyamasundara Dasa and Mother Sundari Radhika Devi Dasi

Dear Maharajas, Prabhus and Matajis,

Please accept my humble obeisance. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. Bhakti-vighna-vinasa Narasimhadeva Bhagavan ki jaya!

In reference to the article below:

A short update on the result of our medical examination last Friday.

My wife and I went to the Max Super Specialty Hospital in Delhi for advanced imaging to see if our bones had healed and especially to see if my wife could have her halo removed. I had an MRI done, a rather unpleasant experience that lasted for about 40 minutes. She had a CT scan.

If you have never had an MRI it goes like this: you are placed head first into a capsule like arrangement with ear plugs to protect from the noise. It is a very small space and they tell you to close your eyes to avoid claustrophobia which apparently affects 80% of patients to the extent that they put a “panic button” in your hand that you squeeze if you want them to pull you out if you get a panic attack. If that wasn’t bad enough I was instructed not to swallow because they were imaging my cervical vertebrae and if I swallowed while they were imaging me it would take longer. I didn’t realize that I swallowed so many times until I was told not to. As I said it was not a pleasant experience, I tried to relax myself as best I could in the clattering din inside the MRI, to the point that I would nod out for a few seconds only to wake up with a start and my heart racing on the verge of panic. This happened several times and I was very eager for the session to be over. I can only imagine what bad shape I was in when they MRIed me after the accident because all I recollect of it was some brief preliminary instructions and then I slept through the whole experience. On the positive side the MRI technicians were very happy to see me walking and much improved from when they first met me.

Sundari Radhika dd had to have a CT scan instead of an MRI because her halo has metal components. From the onset there were some misunderstandings as the technicians wanted to remove the halo in order to do the CT scan, something we definitely didn’t want to do. Anyway she had her CT scan done which is a breeze compared to an MRI and only takes 5 minutes. Then our neurologist Dr. Sandeepa Vaishya examined both images.

In his office Dr. Vaishya told me that it looks like all my fractures have healed but that I had a mild curvature in my spine that could be easily cured by improving my posture. However, the images of my wife’s CT scan were not so good. Fracture lines were still visible suggesting that were not yet totally healed. We didn’t want to take any chances with such a dangerous situation where a false move could lead to paralysis so it was decided to leave the halo on for one more month and to increase her calcium intake. One problem that Sundari has is that she can not drink milk but can tolerate yoghurt and other milk products. Nor can she tolerate green leafy vegetables another good source of calcium. So she will be taking as much yoghurt as is healthy to take in the cold season along with other milk products and calcium supplements. That is all for now.

Your humble servant

Shyamasundara Dasa

By Shyamasundara Dasa

Dear Maharajas, Prabhus, and Matajis;

Please accept my humble obeisance. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. Bhakti-vighna-vinasa Narasimhadeva Bhagavan ki jaya!

It has been a while since the last update in reference to our near fatal accident as described in and since I have been getting inundated with inquiries as to the present condition of my wife and I it seemed wiser to make a public response rather that to respond to each person individually. This will also give me an opportunity to post some photographs of “before and after” the accident; it will give the reader an idea of what we experienced. I did not post photos before because I only recently got access to some.

Sundari Radhika dd was able to walk, with the help of a physio-therapist quite early in the game after only about 2 week back from the hospital. She didn’t want to take long walks or go to the temple for fear of frightening the many children who came to the temple who would be shocked to see her in her “halo.” She had experience that when children came into our room they would be traumatized by seeing us and start to cry.

At first we both had two attendants each who offered 24 hour care but she soon reduced to one attendant and then none when she was able to dress herself and comb her hair.

The first thing that she did when she was able to walk was go to the toilet herself and answer the calls of nature without help or an audience. I can sympathize with her as this was first on my agenda when I started to walk. You do not know what independence you have until you lose it. Next she started to bath herself, not a full bath because the halo apparatus covers most of her torso, but a sponge bath of the lower body. Other than this for her it has just been a waiting game for the bones in her neck to heal.

If the reader has had to spend any time in bed you know that after a few days it can get quite boring so we both spent time doing a lot of reading, chanting, studying, listening to lectures etc. Surprisingly we both also did a lot of preaching as many of the (mostly young) local devotees came to us for advice. We also had a steady stream of visitors who would brighten our day. Many sannyasis and other senior devotees gave us their mercy. And while it is natural for long time friends to come and see you we were also graced by many kind devotees whom we met for the first time. One thing that I can appreciate about ISKCON is how truly saintly, genuinely kind and pleasant so many of the devotees are.

One sign that things were improving was when time again started to pass quickly. In the early weeks which were filled with a lot of pain and agony time seemed to go by very slowly. Now at least to me things seem to be moving at a brisker pace and we will soon be returning to Bangalore.

Sundari did have an unpleasant attack of some type of gastro-intestinal virus on 23-24 of November and we were both up all night as I tried to find out what was wrong with her. Finally after two doctors and three injections we were able to get to sleep around 8 AM in the morning.

As I write (December 4, 2007) it has been 93 days since the accident and 88 days since they put the halo on. Next Friday (December 7, 2007) Sundari Radhika is scheduled to have a CT scan done to her neck to see if the bones have healed. If not then she has to keep it on for one more month then check again. If the bones have healed then they will do a minor operation to remove the halo. Because her neck will have been in traction and immobilized for more than 90 days the neck muscles will have atrophied, be very weak and her neck very stiff. So she will require some kind of soft neck brace to give support plus lots of physio-therapy to get the motion back. But even if it is a long and painful process (we hope it is not) it is preferable to being a quadriplegic which would have been the case had her spinal cord been damaged.

As for me I briefly sat and stood up momentarily for the first time on October 3rd in preparation for a trip to the hospital the following day. This practice session was very short because of severe dizziness caused by a change in blood pressure when going from a reclined to vertical position (see photos). The next day for the hospital trip I had to sit up for about four hours which was very tiring for me. Though it is only a short ride to the hospital we went EXTREMELY slowly so as to avoid any bumps and potholes that might jar our mending bones.

While waiting to see our neuro-surgeon I started becoming very weak as I had not been vertical this long before. Finally I was with our doctor and while he was talking to us I just felt as if I would faint and fall over and I mentioned it a few times but the doctor didn’t react. My wife then said something which at that time I found humorous despite the circumstances. Reacting to what I said she asked “should I call some one?” I could not help but laugh because I told her “who are you going to call? I am already in the doctor’s office and sitting in front of him.”

While in the hospital they took X-rays of all the fractures to make sure everything was healing normally which was the case.

On returning to the temple guest house I wanted to go for a bit of tour since it was the first time I had been out of my room what to speak of my bed in a month and I wanted to see something more than just the ceiling. From that point (day 32 since the accident) I decided to be more mobile. The next day I began to use the toilet by myself, it was great for my self-respect. I also got my head shaved for first time since the accident. From this time I started to get out of bed several times a day for exercise and go stand on the balcony and look at the temple domes and chant my rounds. This was good because now I had a place to go and chant my rounds without waking my wife if I woke up in middle of the night and could not sleep (a not uncommon occurrence).

Getting up after 32 days in bed came with a price; severe muscle spasms in my back from unused muscles had me thinking I might have kidney stones. It was hell.

After a few days of practice in getting up and short walks (limited by cast on my foot and no crutches because of my fractured shoulder) I decided to go on a longer tour of the temple area. I did not want to go the temple because I would have to climb up many steps and I didn’t want to inconvenience people who had offered to carry me to the temple. I had my attendant get out the wheel chair with the intention of seeing as much of the compound as possible. Unfortunately there were a lot of steps so I was not able to go too far. My attendant thought I wanted to go the temple so when we got as far as I could go by wheelchair he asked if I wanted to walk now. At first I baulked at the idea of climbing all those steps but then I went for it and made the trip up several flights of steps and had a wonderful darshan of my Hosts: Sri-Sri Gaura-Nitai, Sri-Sri Radha-Parthasarti and Sri-Sri Sita-Rama-Laksman-Hanuman; in Whose guest house I was staying. It was truly balm for my soul. I prayed to Their Lordships that since They had spared my life that whatever time I had left would not be wasted and would be used to fearlessly push the mission of Guru and Gauranga.

I still continued with a sponge bath in bed until day 50 when I was able to arrange for some large plastic bags that I would stick my broken foot with the cast into and then I took my first real bath sitting on a chair. You can not understand how great that was unless you have gone 50 days without a bath.

One of the worst things was that even thought I spent most of my time in bed even after I was able to stand and even though I was very tired I could not sleep very much because of pain and the discomfort of always being on my back and unable to turn on my side because of a broken shoulder on one side and a broken rib on the other. I was getting maybe 4-5 hours a day at the most and some days only 2-3 hours of sleep. Under normal conditions I need 7 hours of rest to feel refreshed but in my post trauma state I needed about 10-12 hours a day but was hardly getting 4 hours.

The nights were the worst time just laying there not able to do anything. I began to dread the night and tried all kinds of things to sleep but all to no avail. I tried turning on to my side to take some pressure off of my back but this was very painful for the reasons previously cited. But sometime around day 45 I was finally able to position myself onto my sides and actually get some sleep. It was not easy and not totally restful because a wrong move and I would be instantly awake because of sharp pains. But gradually it became easier and soon I was able to actually sleep and started sleeping 10-12 hr/day just to catch up on weeks of lost sleep. It felt so good to lie on my side that I could sleep at any time of day for as long as I wanted to and for a few weeks it seemed that I was asleep more than I was awake. It still hurts a bit to lay on my right side but my left side is perfectly normal now so I am mostly getting as much sleep as I need. Unfortunately my wife Sundari is unable to lie on her side because of the halo and is unable to sleep much because of the discomfort and perpetually feels tired.

On day 66 I went back to the hospital to have my cast on my foot removed. It was good to have it removed but I had to deal with 66 days worth of dead skin that had accumulated. That was easily accomplished by soaking it in warm water and rubbing it off. What was not so easy was the fact that because my foot had been immobilized for 66 days the muscles were very weak and my foot felt like a wet noodle. I had to keep it wrapped in a stretch bandage for about 2 weeks to give ankle support. Now it is almost as strong as my other ankle. Unfortunately the ankle joint is now stiff and along with several other parts of my body will need extensive physio-therapy to get back normal range of motion. As of today along with my right ankle, I can not lift my right arm more than 40%, my left hand has nerve damage causing pain and numbness, I have limited range of motion in my neck and get electrical tingling sensation in my mid back if I bend a certain way, and if I bend forward slightly I very quickly get serious pain in my thoracic spine. Next Saturday I am scheduled to start physio-therapy and Sundari Radhika dd will probably start soon after that. I still have a long way to go, at least 3-9 months for a full recovery. Compared to the way I was before the accident I am a mess, but compared to how I was the day after the accident I have come a long way.

On November 26th I decided to start wearing a dhoti again as opposed to walking around in hospital style pajamas even though I do spend most of my time in bed. It was a great feeling and all the devotees were enlivened to see me take another step toward recovery. These were devotees who saw me brought to the temple in an ambulance and carried to my room on a stretcher in a lot of pain. I went to the temple as usual for darshan and decided that I would try to sit on the floor for the first time. Sitting on the floor was not so difficult, but I had a near fall and had to be caught by others when I tried to get up as I didn’t properly position my right foot to support my weight. I had another accident when I misjudged some stairs and stumbled. Though I didn’t hit anything the jarring effect yanked my right shoulder almost bringing tears to my eyes with pain. These two incidents made me realize that my body was still quite fragile and it would be very easy to re-injure myself so that I should be very careful or I could be back to where I was 3 months ago.

Last Saturday, December 1, 2007, I attended Srimad Bhagavatam class for the first time surprising many devotees. I was immediately asked if I would start to give class, I agreed provided that I could get up in time – I am still very tired and need a lot more sleep than usual.

We have both received many warm, loving letters and phone calls from devotees giving us a lot of comfort and inspiration. I even got a phone call from Nirguna Prabhu in September while he was still talkative and we exchanged realizations and I encouraged him to not make any long range plans in the material world (meaning that I thought he would die in November) but rather he should plan for eternity as he was in an ideal position to do so under the protection of the Pancatattva. A few persons told us that they were offering prayers to their saligram shilas on our behalf and many persons said they were praying for us. We both really appreciated this as I am a firm believer in the power of prayer. To all of you who have written I must apologize for not responding as it was/is very taxing on me to engage in email and I limit it to only essential things. However, now that I am starting to get my strength back bit by bit I am slowly expanding my email exchanges as well as starting to do my old service of jyotish again though on a limited basis. At present I am only doing prasnas ( ) but as energy returns I will gradually start up my practice in full.

My wife and I would both like to offer our heartfelt thanks to all the wonderful devotees of Sri-Sri Radha Parthasarthi Mandir in Delhi who have done so many wonderful things to make our stay here as pleasant as possible. We are eternally indebted to them. And, we would especially like to thank H.H. Gopal Krsna Gosvami who out of his kindness made all arrangements for us, instructed his disciples to lovingly take care of us, and who would take time from his busy schedule to personally come and check up on us and make sure that were being well taken care of. If he had not showed his mercy on us I do not know where we would be. If you are reading this Maharaja we say “Thank you” from the bottom of our hearts.

Your humble servants

Shyamasundara Dasa and Sundari Radhika Devi Dasi

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4 Responses to “Update 2 on Shyamasundara Dasa and Mother Sundari Radhika Devi Dasi”

  1. gargamuni says :

    Good news that you are both gradually healing. The pain and austerity you went through seems unimaginable to me. The description is quite detailed. I pray that you both continue toward full recovery.

  2. Madhusudana says :

    My wife and I are happy to hear that you are both gradually making a recovery. Just reading about your account of the accident and the aftermath was painful, what to speak about living through it. We are so glad that devotees have stepped up and offered so much helping service, and we thank HH Gopal Krishna Maharaj for facilitating that help.

    We pray that you both will soon be able to enjoy your service to Sri Sri Radha and Krishna in a more and more comfortable state.

    Madhusudan das and Kanchanbala dasi (ACBSP)

  3. Ananta Purusottama says :

    Hare Krsna

    Dear Syamasundara and Sundara Radhika,

    It must have been extremely testing for you, and a real lesson in patience, I cam’t imagine how you have tolerated such long periods of pain and no sleep. If I get a bad flu for three days, I get frustrated not sleeping, what to speak of 50-60 days. You have both shown great forbearance, and are a good example to follow, you have taken shelter of the Lord very nicely, doing what we should all do, and I know it is easier said that done!

    Syamasundara, you might remember me at Bhaktivedanta Manor, I am the one who would get you on the internet when you were over here in the UK!

    Thank you for sharing your tribulation, and teaching by example, it is important testimony for us all to learn from

    Your servant

    Ananta Purusottama das

  4. HH Gopala Krsna Maharaja is very considerate when it comes to devotees personal health,
    I have personal experience of this while serving in Vrindavan in 1986 and I got jaundice,
    only he was really concerned for my health, and immidiatly arranged for me to go to NEW Delhi and see better doctors there. I am glad to see Maharaja has taken good care of you Shyamasundara Prabhu – I pray Lord Dhanvantari will bestow quick and rapid recovery for you and you wife
    your servant
    Payonidhi das