Healing: Story of Dr. Veena’s Ayurmantra ~ Thrippunithura, Kerala, India

Me and Mr. Mohammed the Ayurvedic practitioner at Dr. Veena’s Ayurmantra in Kerala, India

What follows comes from my erstwhile “Healing Journal” – written/compiled on a foggy meandering journey to various countries (Pacifica, Phitsanulok, Cochin/Kochi, Pokhara, Dikwella/Galle…) visiting all manner of hospitals, clinics and exploring various healing modalities and techniques. Shared here more-or-less unedited for posterity (whatever that is) and to shed light to those struggling who might come across this riff.

Please watch the “Healing Ramble, introduction” video for context on this series. Importantly, this is not meant to be a travelogue or creative writing exercise, just laying out my experience as it came to me. I may include some links to other projects or creations that came out of this, maybe… I’m not there yet.

This entry, from Thrippunithura (Kochi), Kerala, India (wiki), late 2016 and was written during my stay and in the weeks following – hence possible tense shifting and “note-style”. For the record: it’s nowJune 2021, i live in Japan, am stable if far from “normal”.  No advice or sympathy requested or accepted. Carry on. 

Thrippunithura, Kerala, India , Nov. 2016

Intro: On my healing journey, I had tried most every possible medical modality to find some relief, and was determined to try everything which showed reasonable promise a benefit.

A friend from Dubai recommended Ayurveda as a natural and holistic approach, and in a fog – truly, in a really difficult point in my healing process, I investigated 20+ Ayurvedic clinics in India and Sri Lanka – very rapidly and without knowing what i was doing really…, received all manner of different replies, prices and recommendations.

my first cup of Chai in India! such splendid heaven for a dime

I settled on Dr. Veena’s Ayurmantra the province/state of Kerala, India due her excellent clear communications and no nonsense approach to the clinic (some seemed dodgy, others were “resorts for yuppies” with very high rates, most told me to “call” and i am not a phone calling type). 

Settling-in

I flew from Thailand (after time doing a load of tests at a hospital in Phitsanulok) to Kochi (aka Cochin), spent two nights in an airport hotel recovering in a bath {note: will share travel tips later in the series}, venturing out only to drink coconut (below) and tea (above) and rolled by taxi to the clinic – exhausted, demoralized, confused but open to anything.

stepping out into “all of the India” to drink a coconut 

The clinic was run by a whip smart woman named Dr. Veena who was sometimes assisted by her husband, a jovial tall thin man named Dr. Hemesh who worked at a regional Ayurveda hospital requiring a long bus ride for him every day. Such chemistry between them ;)

I lived in-patient in this facility for three weeks. My room was simple with the bed, wardrobe and desk and a wet bathroom. For much of the time, I was the only patient in their small three-story facility. Other times, there was a couple from Malaysia.

They also had a wonderful 3-year-old daughter who spent the day with relatives and came home welcoming me with a best hug calling me “Uncle”. The staff included a house lady, and a practitioner, a short Muslim man with a moustache – though almost every man the state of Kerala had a moustache. My 3 week, intensive, in-patient program of traditional Ayurvedic treatments was designed to address chronic pain, pain and heaviness in legs, reduced/uneven sleep. The treatments consisted of various massages with medicated oils, plus inhalations, purging, dripping medicated oil/milk on forehead, eyewashes … plus specific food for body’s needs, meditation time, stretching and a variety of herbal medications.

assorted Ayurvedic medications i took “to go” at the end of my treatment cycle along with Dr Veena’s handwritten direction 

Left with 2 month program of medications (capsules, liquids, ghee, powders…) and advice to avoid cold, avoid acidic food and meat, do yoga stretching and breathing exercises. Day-to-Day

Shirodhara vessel for gently pouring liquids over the forehead 

My world was very small in the sense that I took my meals at a table right outside my room, and my treatments in another room on the same floor. In other words, 5 steps to eat, 10 steps to treatment, 15 steps back to my room. I went days and days without leaving the small area.

My activities were writing letters and listen to music (a few downloaded albums as was staying offline for the most part – esp due to various votes in US and UK causing a ruckus and minimal access).

treatment table, specifically purpose-built. spent a lot of time here 

The treatments were performed on a carved, curved, treatment table made from a specific wood and hundred+ years old.

oil and other liquids drain from here 

During the time, I noticed the drain holes and construction seemed like an autopsy table. Dr Hemesh later replied to my queries that”yes they had used it for autopsies” {wrote a poem about this} with the ubiquitous Indian side head nod.

the treatment room, efficient and tidy 

Mr. Mohammed (the practitioner) tied a small loincloth on me for the treatments, barely covering my “delicate parts“ and performed all manner of massage with various oils rubbed into my body, dripped onto my head and so on.

oils for treatments are warmed up / stainless steel abounds in India 

Plus different oils into my nose in which I would inhale vigorously and then spit out through my mouth, not pleasant but impactful.

I remember the day, that my “brain begin working again“ after some of these nasal treatments. Suddenly neural pathways started reconnecting, and “spark started flying“. I wrote much poetry – or tried to rather as my skills were quite dull from extended period of being “checked out”.

Dr. Veena would sit with me, watch what i ate and talk and very rapid English (keep in mind I am a fast talker with a large vocabulary, but had nothing on her) and thoroughly answered my myriad questions about Ayurveda and health and healing, our conversations also went into politics, life and so on.

typical meal / 5 tastes as per Ayurvedic instructions 

The meals were specifically prepared and quite simple. I very much wanted to drink delicious Indian tea but that wasn’t part of the program. We did reach a “compromise“ in which I could have a small cup of delicious milky tea if I woke up by a certain time (10 AM if I recall correctly). While on the treatment table, Dr. Veena noticed my legs twitching and my discomfort just being on the table and recommended I go for an MRI of my spine.

just a snap of spine MRI, handily arranged – i still have the films to make some art project maybe

The MRI was arranged for the next day(!) and I picked up the films and report a day or two later, finding that I had two prolapsed discs. While under normal circumstances not extremely significant, but due to my condition with my nervous system, certainly causes of magnify the pain in my neck and left shoulder and my lower left back. 

the films came in this tote bag along with a written report and digital version on CDROM

Oh the MRIs came with the films in a totebag, results on CD, report in English. Rode by ride-hailing app watching the whole world of vendors and strugglers and signs and commotion roll by.

Finally, on the last night of my treatment cycle, the doctors took me out to a nice restaurant for a long meal (in which I was able to order my favourite palak paneer), and I got to know them more personally about how they met and fell in love and all that kind of stuff.

outside Dr. Veena’s Ayurmantra, started to get some courage and spark back amidst so much turmoil (with much more to come #foreshadowing) 

Aftermath:

Note: The treatments were relatively gentle and not too much in one day (the doctors realized I was in delicate condition and went easy on me. I realize this more now.) I couldn’t have handled intense treatment cycles at that time.

I had planned to return to this lovely clinic (after the “aftermath”), but my India visa was denied so I want to Nepal instead to continue I will be at treatments. I remain in touch with remarkable Dr. Veena who I found to be knowledgable, empathetic, smart and did not let me make any excuses :-)

Thank you Dr Veena, i am very grateful for you (this is me saying good-bye and heading out by taxi into the unknown in my new shirt) 

Next up: the now not-so-secret review of posted of the wonderful clinic (nothing new but another context of the same experience) and maybe a few field notes Kerala area about other activities when i ventured out from the clinic, and even some diaries from Auroville &/or maybe the log of leaving India to the toughest month of my life. Who’s to say? 

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