Temple of Healing



"This pain was a blessing"

SHIV Kumar's story

A happy Shiv Kumar and his wife Anita, during a follow up visit to the hospital

Reclining on his bed in the urology ward of SSSIHMS, Prasanthigram, recovering from complex surgery, Shiv kept steadily gazing out of the window at the lush green lawns on the hospital campus. Though pretty, one could tell that he was not actually admiring beauty of the lawns. As we waited for him to return from his reverie, his countenance progressively became more relaxed and eventually his lips parted and broke into a smile. He had finished racing through a flipbook of all the events of the past few years. The initial pain, fruitless efforts towards getting treatment, disappointment, a chance encounter and then succor, solace and finally relief. His eyes then shifted from the lawns to Swami's photo kept in the ward and stayed on Him for a long time and then slowly Shiv's eyes became moist.

When Shiv finally spoke, he said something, which we seldom hear.

"I don't wish to call it a disease, I call it a blessing," Shiv said. His wife, Anita, who had joined him by now nodded. "It is only because of this disease that we both could eventually come in contact with Baba", he added. "It was a blessing".


Shiv Kumar worked in a mill in Mumbai, Maharashtra state of India, but then the mill closed down some 5 years ago and he made his way back to his village in Uttar Pradesh. There he took up small jobs before eventually settling on a small business of buying clothes at wholesale prices and the selling them at a little profit in and around his village on a push cart. On the whole Shiv in his own words would earn around Rs.5000 a month and the family of three, Shiv, his wife Anita their 5-year-old-son Manu would have enough to go by.

One day, Shiv found it difficult to pass urine and had a burning sensation as well. After suffering for quite a while, he finally visited the local doctor. "The local doctor gave me some medicines. I took those medicines for almost a year, hoping that the problem would go away," Shiv said. But the problem became worse. Left with no alternative, Shiv visited a surgeon at the district headquarters. The surgeon put him on medicines for a month and told him that a surgery would be performed after that. “When the medicines did not yield any results, I lost faith in the treatment and then went to Lucknow, the capital city of the state of Uttar Pradesh, on the advice of a friend," Shiv said.

In Lucknow he went to a private hospital. It was here that Shiv eventually came to know that he had a blockage in the urinary passage due to enlarged prostate "They told around Rs.50,000 would be required for the surgery. And if it would be a success then it would be all right otherwise they would perform one more surgery and more money would have to be paid," Shiv said.

"Having no other go, I took loan from friends and somehow managed to put together Rs.50,000. The first surgery was over and I went home. Everything seemed fine for three months, and then the problem returned. When I went back I was then told that my urinary bladder had swollen up like a balloon and a complex operation had to be performed for the same. "I was told to get ready with Rs.80,000, for the surgery, but I knew that including additional charges would push the cost upwards of Rs.100,000. “ I also found in the estimate, the hospital had mentioned an additional Rs.6,000, when I asked for what it was, the man behind the counter told me that a doctor will come and see me every day and I have to pay Rs.1,000 to the doctor for each one of his visits,” Shiv said. I had already taken a loan of Rs.50,000 and it was impossible to take anymore loan from anybody. “We quietly went back to the village," Shiv added.

Shiv's treatment seemed to have reached a dead end, and then Swami stepped in.

"My wife and I went to her hometown Kolkata in the state of West Bengal. There when I mentioned about my condition, my brother-in-law immediately told me that I should have not gone all over the place, rather should have taken the train to Puttaparthi where Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has opened a hospital, which performed treatment completely free of charge," Shiv said.

"For us it was hard to believe, but he told me that many of his acquaintances had visited the hospital and had told him that it was completely free and in fact there was no billing department in the hospital. We both were taken aback and in the next few days we were on the train to Puttaparthi, " Shiv said.

Shiv's wife Anita who had been keeping quiet all this while, could not contain her enthusiasm and took over the conversation. "Bhaiyya, I want to tell you this. It was our first time that we were visiting Puttaparthi, but when we got down at the station this lovely peaceful feeling enveloped us. We felt as if we were on a pilgrimage, "she said. "We had in fact reached heaven on the Earth and we got everything we wanted."

The surgeons at the SSSIHMS, Prasanthigram, first made Shiv undergo all the tests. Ultrasound examination, the CT scan and many other tests were performed and the surgeons confirmed what he was told earlier. Shiv was then asked to get admitted for surgery. "I was told that two surgeries would be performed one immediately and one more later," Shiv said.

Consultant Urology, Dr. Ashwin Sekhar explaining the surgery said that the patient's prostate had enlarged, which was blocking his urine flow. “Outside the doctors had performed a Bladder Neck Incision (BNI) procedure, which cleared the urinary passage temporarily , but did not solve the problem, “ he said. “He also had a bladder diverticulum, which means that his bladder was swollen and the issue was that ureter was in fact draining into the swollen part of the bladder, " Dr. Ashwin added.

"At SSSIHMS, Prasanthigram, we first performed a surgery to resize the prostate, called the Trans Urethral Resection of the Prostate (TUR-P) so that the flow of urine could be normalised and later we performed bladder divertiulectomy in which the swollen part of the bladder was removed and the ureter was re-aligned. The patient had a perfect recovery and he can go back to his normal life," Dr. Ashwin said summarising simply an extremely complex surgical procedure. According to Dr. Ashwin, the entire surgical procedure at a hospital outside would minimum cost around Rs. 200,000, which would be beyond the reach of most of the poor people like Shiv.

Speaking to Shiv after his discharge, when we asked about the quality of care he received in the hospital Shiv said, " I should not say this, but I must. The care I received in this hospital is better than the care I received from my parents."