The magic of mobility

Three things are of the utmost importance to Johannesburg’s Shirin Vaid: her faith, her family and mobility. CHARLEEN CLARKE discovers that she is finally able to tick all three boxes …

Shirin Vaid was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) some 15 years ago. As a qualified nurse, this was one of the most devastating moments of her life. “With my medical background, I knew exactly what to expect – and it wasn’t good. I was extremely sad at the diagnosis,” she tells Rolling Inspiration.

Mrs Vaid’s greatest concern at the time was that her quality of life would suffer – and so she turned to Ayurveda to assist her. “Every year I travel to the south of India, to Kerala, and I visit a hospital there. It is called the Punarnava Ayurveda Hospital, and it specialises in Ayurvedic treatments,” she reveals.

Ayurvedic medicine – also known as Ayurveda – is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems. It was developed thousands of years ago in India and it’s based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body and spirit.

According to Deepak Chopra, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, Ayurveda is one of the world’s most sophisticated and powerful mind-body health systems. “More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant and healthy while realising their full human potential,” he explains.

There are two main guiding principles of Ayurveda. First, the mind and the body are inextricably connected. Second, nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind.

The primary focus of Ayurvedic medicine is to promote good health, rather than fight disease. “That was why I went to the Punarnava Ayurveda Hospital; it’s common knowledge that there is no cure to MS but I wanted to maintain my quality of life so far as possible,” Mrs Vaid explains.

The family is a firm proponent of Ayurvedic medicine but Mrs Vaid was the hospital’s first MS patient. “I have been going there every year now for 10 years, and it’s a superb facility that I can highly recommend. They use natural remedies – spices and oils are administered through massage therapy. They do an incredible job,” she says.

While Mrs Vaid has been delighted with the efforts of the Punarnava Ayurveda Hospital, the natural consequences of MS – increasingly limited mobility – have, sadly, had their impact. “My wife was able to move around with the assistance of a walker but she became a wheelchair user five or six years ago,” her enormously supportive husband, Ahmed, says.

Her diminishing mobility has resulted in some spells of depression. “I counter these by praying, meditating, spending time with the family and listening to the radio, which is a great companion,” says Mrs Vaid with a smile.

She also likes to spend time with other MS sufferers. “I can comfort others and also gain solace from them.”

She finds her garden very soothing, but her ultimate treat is going for a drive. This was becoming increasingly challenging. “We used to go for trips in our previous car, but access and egress were real problems. We did consider adapting it, but you cannot fit a Turny seat to that particular vehicle because the seats fold into the floor, so it just doesn’t work,” explains Zubair, one of the couple’s four sons.

The family is large, and so seating capacity was important. Bearing this in mind, they chose the incomparable Mercedes-Benz V-Class. “Honestly, the V-Class is in a different league. It’s not only a practical vehicle; it’s also the height of luxury,” says Zubair.

Mr Vaid says that he wanted a vehicle that was as comfortable as possible. “My wife already has so much to contend with; it was important to me that she be treated to the best possible vehicle.”

Mrs Vaid says that the family also wanted a vehicle that could accommodate her scooter. “Loading space for both people and my many bits and pieces was important too,” she says.

As such, the comfort and practicality of the V-Class sealed the deal. It accommodates eight family members, plus a scooter or wheelchair and portable ramps too – with ease. The family chose the top-of-the-range model, the V 250 BlueTEC Avantgarde.

The next step was to contact Shoprider in order to arrange for the fitting of a Turny seat. “We were very happy with their service; they did a great job,” reports Mr Vaid. Yusuf (11), Mrs Vaid’s grandson, loves operating the seat. Sometimes he allows his sister, Humairah (8), to have a go – but only if he’s feeling particularly charitable.

The dealer that sold the V-Class to the family performed equally well. “We went to Shiraz Auto in Lenasia, and we were very happy with their service,” says Zubair.

Mr Vaid and Zubair are generally behind the wheel of the V-Class and they agree that they are very impressed with the vehicle’s powerful engine (which churns out 140 kW of power and 440 Nm of torque), its advanced technology, the build quality and the distinct lack of noise. They also like the fact that the ergonomics are excellent and they’re pleased that, despite its size, the V-Class has a relatively small turning circle, making it easy to park.

But mostly they are delighted at the joy that it’s bringing to Mrs Vaid. “It has made my life very easy; it was such an ordeal to get in and out of our previous car,” she recalls. “It’s really wonderful to be mobile!”

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