November 18: Mukunda Goswami’s health update.
Thanks to all your prayers and good wishes, Mukunda Goswami is making a slow but steady recovery from his two surgeries.
On November 6, Mukunda Maharaja was transferred from Gold Coast University hospital to the rehabilitation facility of Murwillumbah hospital, which is a 15-minute drive from New Govardhan farm community and his residence there.
In the next 12 days that followed, the local medical staff have been doing their best to gradually encourage Mukunda Goswami towards complete recovery.
Initially Mukunda Goswami was placed in a room with two more patients. But later an intestinal infection, a highly contagious and tenacious bug, Clostridium difficile, was detected and Maharaja was shifted to a single room. This was a blessing in disguise since being alone in the room allowed Maharaja to continuously listen to Srila Prabhupada’s classes played via his loudspeaker system, chant and converse with devotee attendants. Doctors put Maharaja on a course of antibiotics, and as of yesterday, his blood markers indicated that the infection is all but gone. He will still be kept in quarantine for a few days until his recovery is confirmed microbiologically.
Although Mukunda Goswami was quite weak, dehydrated and undernourished after the surgeries, it was a challenge for doctors, nurses and devotee attendants alike to encourage Maharaja to eat more and drink more water. They even had to put him on an IV drip for two days to replenish fluids in his body. It got to the point that one nurse, an elderly lady named Jan, had to tell him: “Look, Mukunda, you Hare Krsnas are very peace-loving people, right? So if you do not drink enough, you’re gonna see one very angry woman!” The nurses also try to trick Maharaja into drinking more water each time they bring him a pill, which fortunately works. Still, Maharaja is very reluctant to drink more, joking today, a cup of water in his hand, that he feels like Socrates forced to drink hemlock. Heparin injections are given twice daily to prevent clotting as well other blood thinning medications until Maharaja starts moving more and is further reviewed by the cardiac team.
As far as nutrition, Maharaja conceded to start taking more food, and has three meals a day supplemented by a high-protein Resource drink that is put on his medication list so he cannot avoid it so easily. All his food intake is carefully logged by a dietitian and Maharaja’s attendants
Being a rehabilitation facility, the staff here are trained (and train us as well) to make sure that Mukunda Goswami feels him more like a normal healthy person than a patient. Their mantra is “You are helping him best by not helping”. They encourage Maharaja to increase his level of self-dependence each day in such basic things as getting out of or into bed, transferring himself to the chair, using toilet, showering, helping himself on water etc. As recently as one week ago Mukunda Goswami could not do much on his own, but soon he started walking using a walking frame Maharaja walks daily laps around the rehab, as much as 800 meters a day and counting. Yesterday, for the first time since his hospitalization on October 23, he went outside on a wheelchair accompanied by Krsna-kirtana Prabhu, breathed the fresh air and basked in the sun for 30 min while enjoying a beautiful view of the Tweed river commanded from the hospital deck. Whether permitting, such outings will become a daily part of his recovery. The aim is to make him secure and confident using the wheeler so he could resume his normal lifestyle at home. A local devotee, expert masseur Trayadisa Prabhu also visits Maharaja twice a week to work on his legs, which helps reduce post-operative swelling and pain .
A few words must be said about the staff. Female and male nurses, most of them in their late 50s or early 60s, are very friendly, caring and attentive. Murwillumbah being the seat of one of the largest and oldest Hare Krsna communities in Australia, most of the staff workers either have friends among devotees, live next door to one of them or in the very least have a very favorable opinion about devotees. A couple of devotees work at the hospital too, one of them, Mahavan Prabhu, serving as a security officer here. They treat Maharaja will a lot of respect and affection. One lady, Maharaja’s occupational therapist, said she was “blown away” after looking “Mukunda Goswami” up on Google and learning of his world renown. Another male nurse asked for the Hare Krsna mantra, which Maharaja had written out for him, and still another swore by “that wonderful pudding with dates” (halava) and indicated he would not mind trying it again. Mukunda Maharaja remarked that the nurses here are very positive, personal and “winsome”.
Today’s medical assessment concluded that, if all goes well, Mukunda Goswami would be discharged in a week or two, but still kept as an outpatient for some more time until they are confident that Maharaja is strong and able to walk assisted with only a walking stick. The intestinal infection quarantine forced us to discourage visitations to Maharaja for now, but hopefully the restriction will be lifted in a few days after Maharaja is ruled as C.diff.-negative. Still, devotees keep regularly sending Maharaja flowers
With Mukunda Goswami’s discharge nearing, an assessment visit to his house is scheduled by the occupational therapist for November 20 in order to identify all the necessary adjustments in his living space to enable him to resume his normal lifestyle safely and securely. We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to devotees from all over the world who have generously contributed funds towards preparing the house for his rehabilitation needs.
As I said in the beginning, barring any emergency, this is the last detailed report on Mukunda Goswami’s health sent to this forum. However, we will continue regular or live updates on Mukunda Goswami’s health, recovery and service on hisTwitter account at: https://twitter.com/Mukunda_Goswami
And, again, we cannot thank enough all of you and thousands of devotees across the world for their ongoing prayers form Mukunda Maharaja’s full recovery and many more years of service to Srila Prabhupada’s mission.
On behalf of Mukunda Goswami’s disciples and followers
your servant, Madana-mohan das