My aunt, my mother’s youngest sister is sick, very sick. She has always been thin and frail, but now she is quite severely ill. She has had cerebellar ataxia for as long as i have known her. That is an illness of the cerebellum, the part of your brain that controls voluntary movement. There seem to be mini strokes in this region so that there is cell death and the person who suffers from it loses control of their limbs, extremities, and finally they even lose their swallowing reflex, so they cannot even eat. She has always been painfully thin, since her twenties. She lived with my family in Buffalo from 1979 1984. When she came to live with us, she was like a stick figure, and I nursed her and fed her and took care of her until she looked a bit better. Then in 1984, one of my cousins was getting married in Pakistan, we were all going to attend the wedding, and she insisted on going with us, although she was not an American citizen. We told her to stay back, she may not be able to get a visa to come back with us again, but she insisted, so she went and she was not given a visa to return back with us. So we had to leave her behind with another one of my aunts. Then for a while she and her brother (my uncle) lived on their own in their own apartment, and then my uncle passed away and she moved to live with my cousin Munib. He recently sent me a picture of her on Whats App and I was totally shocked and appalled to see her skeletal condition. Gentle readers, if I posted that picture her, you too would be shocked. Anyway, my cousins have been taking her to the doctor and having her treated. But what i worry about after having seen that picture is: can anyone recover from the state I saw her in in the picture? I don’t know. I hope so.
She took care of me when I was a newborn baby. My mother was still in Medical School in Bhopal when I was born, my grandmother took me to Karachi, Pakistan. I lived with her, my two aunts and my uncle for two years. They took care of me as if I was their own. That is the love, the love I got from the four of them, that love has carried me through to this day. This aunt of mine was like a little mother to me, she was 20 years old then. And she took care of me day and night. And now she is in dismally bad shape and I am not there to take care of her. Just looking at her last picture, I broke down in tears of sadness, anger and dejection, I cannot look at it anymore, yet it is burned in my memory.
Her illness and my powerlessness to do much to help her directly has been having a bad effect on my affective disorder. Sadness, anger, hopelessness, helplessness, and fear, all working in my brain to create a hyper alert, worried state that I cannot shake. Haven’t been feeling very normal, sort of up, sort of down, easy to anger, just all out of sorts.
I will go to Pakistan. I am planning a trip in September. I am in close contact with my cousins, they tell me she is doing better, getting better nutrition, vitamins, minerals, Ensure, all things the doctor ordered.
She is 70 years old, she has always been frail. I hope she recovers, I hope I see her once more so I can tell her I love her and make her smile.