“Call for help” is the first step in Basic Life Support. At the hospital, I encourage Junior doctors to recognise early when a patient is too complex or too sick and ask for help at an early, rather than late stage.
It took six sessions of counselling to wake me up with a jolt to the fact that I needed to ask for help. Yes. I was a strong and independent woman. Yes. Very self-sufficient. Omnipotent, in my view. I offered help generously but hesitated to ask. Saagar was ill. I was looking after him the best I could while working full time. All our family was in India. Saagar’s dad stepped in as much as he could. He worked full time too. We had no back-up. No support net-work. No community. We were muddling along till it dawned on me after 6 weekly Talking Therapy sessions of one hour each, that I could and should ask my family for help even though they were thousands of miles away.
I didn’t know it then, but it would seem I didn’t like asking for help. It made me feel weak, vulnerable and inadequate. Exposed. I don’t know why but it seemed like an admission of failure to manage my affairs. But now, Saagar was ill and we needed help.
On the night of the last session of therapy, I wrote an e-mail to all the adults on my side of the family, explaining our situation and finally, asking them for help.
One of my brothers responded. He applied for his UK Visa at once. A few days later he was told there weren’t enough blank pages in his Passport for the Visa to be stamped. He took the document back to the Passport office to get more blank pages added on. That took a few days. He then re-applied for his UK visa and finally got it a further few days later. By now 2 more weeks had passed.
In the mean time I arranged with one of my young friends, Jan to come to stay with us. Jan and his mum attended meditation lessons with me. Jan was a compassionate and enthusiastic young man who had recently lost his job and was looking for something meaningful to do. I offered him our guest room and invited him to stay with us, explaining the situation. He was excited about it. I asked Saagar how he felt about this temporary arrangement.
“It’s okay Mamma. I’ll wait for Uncle to come.”
I listened. I understood. I was tempted to push it. But I wanted to respect Saagar’s wishes. I didn’t want to take away the little control over his life that he had left.
A few days later, the visa arrived. Just in time for Saagar’s uncle to attend his funeral.
Moral of the story: Ask for help openly and EARLY.
Reminder: It takes a village …
Song: Lean on me: