In Camas, Washington there is a very special woman named Kathryn Oftedahl who creates the most beautiful quilts. They are not just creations of beauty they are creations of love.
Recently, Kathryn graciously asked us to gift one of her quilts to a patient of our choice at our Bajrabarahi clinic and after much consideration we chose Laxmi Buddha Shrestha and her husband Ram Krishna Shrestha. Laxmi and Ram have lived in the village of Bajrabarahi their entire lives and they are farmers who grow rice, millet, potatoes, corn and more.
About 8 years ago, Laxmi began presenting symptoms of personality changes and uncontrollable muscle spasms. When Andrew was introduced to Laxmi a year ago, her family claimed that she had suffered a stroke, however, he immediately recognized it as Huntington’s Disease. Huntington’s is a progressive neurological and psychological disease that is due to a genetic defect. It typically appears in mid-life and starts with a slight tremor similar to Parkinson’s Disease. The tremors get progressively worse until every joint in a person’s body twitches violently in puppet-like movements. The tremors are relentless and even when Laxmi is sleeping her body doesn’t rest.
Laxmi is very fortunate to have a loving and compassionate husband whose humor brings a smile to her quivering face and extended family that help provide for her. She is especially appreciative of visitors as they bring a bit of joy and entertainment into her isolated world. A few of our ARP team visit and have tea with her at her home twice a week and Jamil, her doctor, treats her with acupuncture. While nothing can be done to cure or even slow the progression of Huntington’s, Laxmi says the acupuncture helps her feel “lighter” and sleep better.
In late October I had the opportunity to meet Laxmi and she had a ready smile as Tsering, Andrew and I walked into her room. Nothing that I had been told about her case had prepared me to see her twisted and constantly tremoring body on her sleeping pad. Amazingly to me, her eyes immediately went to the bright quilt Andrew was carrying and she was delighted when we covered her with all of the colorful flowers.
I cannot describe how very blessed I feel to have had the opportunity to be part of sharing Kathryn’s gift and seeing the joy it brought to Laxmi.
I would like to offer my heartfelt Thanks to Kathryn and everyone who makes this project possible. I wish you could all be here to witness the effect of your support. --Sheri Barrows, Secretary/Treasurer, Acupuncture Relief Project
Directors Note: A few weeks after Sheri's visit to Bajra Barahi, Laxmi quietly passed away in the arms of her husband. We were all honored to be able to work with Laxmi and her family and while we are deeply saddened by her passing we also recognize the relief in the end of her suffering. We continue to see Laxmi's husband, Ram Krishna, in our clinic and he is a cheerful reminder of the small role we play in this village in Nepal.