We primarily deal with patients suffering from respiratory problems so patients come complaining about all sorts of symptoms like tightness in the chest, breathlessness, wheezing, coughing at night and many more. But at times one comes across people who shake your sensibility and in the process make you realize the magnitude of the responsibility that you have taken upon yourself.

I had always looked at the patients coming to the SRT India clinic as ‘clients’, we were nice and polite to them, we genuinely cared for their betterment and we were working to treat their problems for good. Basically all good and ethical business practices that help establish business brands.

But when Ms Sharma (name changed to protect identity) walked into my clinic in Noida, little did I think that this meeting will change my perspective towards this therapy forever. She was a small, frail looking creature with bright smiling eyes, perhaps inching towards her early fifties.

All patients coming to the clinic have to follow the ritual of going through a detailed consultation with the doctor available and then proceed to take the salt therapy. We don’t allow casual visitors or attendants into the salt room to maintain the hygiene level at its optimum.

But Ms Sharma was different. She wanted to talk to me and not the doctor. For some reason we broke protocol and I met her first. Her opening sentence was ‘Are you looking after this centre? Do you even know how I feel?” and before I could respond she, with a gesture of her hand said in a very forlorn tone ‘I feel like a fish without water…’.

There was sadness in her tone, the kind of sadness that is born out of years of suffering, desperation and a deep sense of disheartenment. It was as if she had given up on life itself. I later learnt that she had been suffering from Asthma for the last 40 years, ever since she was a young teenage girl. Years of enduring a disease can make one bitter and then it is this bitterness that starts working against all treatment and cures.

That day the realization dawned upon me about the enormity of the task that lay ahead of us. The task of giving not just good clean lungs to our patients but also hope, for a life without disease. And the realization that the breath we take so much for granted is life’s gift to us. The gift of life!

By Anju Chandna (The author is the Owner of SRT India - The Salt Room Therapy Chain of clinics)