FOR more than 50 days, 56-year-old Dattatraya Kamble, assistant sub-insector with Chinchwad police station, has been doing his duty diligently at a time when the police force has the onerous task of ensuring that lockdown norms are followed by local residents. Even as he serves the force conscientiously, Kamble, as a father, constantly worries about the well-being of his son.
His 27-year-old son, Akshay Kamble, has been suffering from muscular dystrophy for the past 15 years. In the last nine months, Akshay’s condition has worsened so much so that he has been on ventilator since June last year. “Last year, for four months till October, Akshay was on ventilator in a Chinchwad hospital. Then we brought him home and the doctors installed the ventilator there. Since the last six months, my wife and I are handling the ventilator and monitoring his health 24X7,” said Kamble.
Kamble and his wife Vaijayanti have already lost their younger son, Ashish, to muscular dystrophy. “Akshay was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy a few days after Ashish, the younger one, was diagnosed with the same disease. The doctors suspected that since one of them had the disease, it was possible that the other one also had it,” he said.
Ashish died at the age of 14, six years after he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy.
In the last 15 years, the Kamble family has spent lakhs on treatment for both their sons. “I have spent all my savings on the treatment of my sons. We don’t mind that. Be it top doctors in the medical field, ayurved or homeopath doctors, we have got them treatment from all of them, but nothing has worked. Doctors told us that this a rare form of disease and there is no cure…,” said Kamble.
“We know Akshay will also die one day… He has been in a critical condition for months now. But we will continue to pray for his well-being and are confident that God will listen to our pleas,” he said.
Akshay fell ill in June last year. “He was cycling near our society in the rain. A couple of days later, he developed pneumonia and after that, he had to be admitted to the ICU,” said Vaijayanti.
Akshya still responds when his named is called out. “He is conscious, though he can’t move his limbs. He acknowledges when we call out his name or ask him if he wants anything,” she said.
Vaijayanti said she and her husband monitor Akshya’s health round the clock. “In between household work, I look after Akshay… sometimes, he wants to move his legs…”
Vaijayanti said her husband drops in at home once or twice a day. “…In the night, my husband sleeps or sits next to Akshay. We have to be with him all the time,” she said.
In the last 50 days, Kamble has taken leave only on two days. “That’s because we needed to take Akshay to the hospital, twice in two months. Otherwise, I have not taken leave,” he said.
Kamble is on duty in Chinchwad area. “I issue passes for the movement of vehicles and help enforce lockdown in our area, among other duties,” he said.
Kamble said he had to be on duty at this critical hour. “I know there is a threat of infection from coronavirus. But all my colleagues are also working. They are also putting in their best efforts. And all of them have supported me… I have been given the day shift and they allow me to rush home whenever Akshay needs me or there is an emergency,” he said.
Kamble said he always has a mask on while doing his police duty. “I know some police personnel have been infected… but I take all the precautions. Before entering my house, I wash my hands with sanitiser and then take a bath,” he said.
The only hope the Kambles have is that sometimes when the ventilator is removed, Akshay seems almost okay. “This has given us hope that one day he will be off the ventilator. Doctors have told us that they can’t predict anything about Akshay…we keep praying for his recovery,” said Kamble.
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