Diabetic amputee pundit still needs helps with medical bills

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Pundit Mehindra Rambally at his Elliot Trace, Madras Road, Cunupia home in January. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Mehindra Rambally is still asking for financial help to cover some of his medical bills and to clean his home, among other issues he faces daily. The Hindu pundit said he has no family to rely on, though some of his close friends help as much as they can.

Speaking to Newsday on Tuesday, he said he had got some public assistance in January after Newsday wrote about his struggles.

But only a few people have visited him since, at his home in Elliot Trace, Madras Road, Cunupia.

“The little assistance I get from people, I used it to pay for the therapy, because it’s not food I need. People wanted to bring groceries, but it’s the little assistance to pay for the therapy I need.”

Rambally’s left leg was amputated in September 2020, after a cut became infected while cleaning up after his home was flooded in August that year.

He was then given a wheelchair by Xtra Foods supermarket, which has continued to supply him with groceries. He added that a temple group of the Devi Mandir in Charlieville collected donations to help him buy a prosthetic leg, which amounted to $40,000.

But in order to use it, he needs therapy, because he suffered a stroke in September 2021. This affected his balance and speech, but he is slowly recovering, according to his doctor.

He said he has not been to therapy in two months, since it costs $400 per session. He needs therapy three times a week to help him keep his balance and walk properly with the prosthetic leg.

Rambally said he gets some medication from the Chronic Disease Assistance Programme (CDAP) but has to cover doctor’s visits and adult diapers, which add up to $3,500, monthly.

He said, “If anyone wants to assist me, they can come and see how I live…the house I live in belongs to a friend and I’ve been here for a while. It’s covered with woodlice. People could see how the structure is rottening. When I’m sleeping at night the woodlice fall on me.”

He added that it gets worse when it starts raining and it’s hard to clean, given his physical disabilities. Rambally said he tried contacting the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development but was told even after a site visit in 2021, his file is under the emergency housing programme pending approval. He was told an apartment in Port of Spain could be arranged for him, but he declined because of the inconvenience of having no friends or family nearby.

He also applied for a food card through the Social Welfare Division, but was told those were no longer being offered.

Rambally said he wants his current living situation to improve, so he is asking for a new bed frame, since the base is broken, and for help with his laundry.

He added, “Being amputated like this, I can’t get up at night to go to the washroom properly, so sometimes I have to urinate on the bed and it’s more difficult to wash.”

He said his doctor’s visit on Friday will give him a clearer insight into his progress, saying a few months ago, he could not even read, but can do so now in moderation. He explained that his doctor said he can try reading at least two chapters a day, but no more, because it can become strenuous.

Rambally said in March he had another MRI at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex which showed his brain had stopped bleeding, meaning his state is improving. The new challenge he has to overcome is spelling, which has become taxing.

He said, “It’s simple words like ‘see’: I wouldn’t be able to spell it. I would spell it as ‘cee’ and it’s a problem I am having.”

Rambally wants to be able to work. With therapy and his prosthetic leg, he could even conduct ceremonies or pujas on a table, as opposed to the floor.

He added that he would also like to do jobs he has done before, such as being a supervisor at a grocery, or data entry.

He also said not only does he need financial assistance, but he wishes people would visit more, since he lives alone. He said, “Like everyone forget me,” and added that people he met and for whom he had performed religious ceremonies while still a pundit have not contacted him.

How to help:

Anyone who would like to help Mehindra Rambally can call him at 348-7358