I would be lying if I said I have been positive right from the moment I suffered a stroke five years ago on October 22nd 2017. It took me exactly 5 long years to accept this new me.
If I had blogged on that day, I would have probably written about how a stroke hit me like a Tsunami, at the age of 31 when I was least expecting something like that and took away from me almost everything dear to me. The stroke affected my eyes and the left side of my body. It paralyzed one of my vocal chords and took away my body balance. Forget pivots, I had landed in a wheelchair, I couldn’t stand without holding onto anything.
At the time, I hated to look at myself in the mirror, because all I could see was a person who had lost everything. Stooped, one eye turned, huge glasses, hair not combed (because the hairbrush’s bristles used to hurt me) and in a wheelchair. I couldn’t recognize this person in the mirror. I was someone who was hyperactive, laughing, singing and dancing all day and now I could barely talk. I had developed speech ataxia and my voice had become raspy. I didn’t feel beautiful in any way no matter how many motivational videos I watched.
Then my therapist told me I should take time to grieve and not suppress my frustration or emotion.
I took my time to grieve and today all I can see in that mirror is resilience, strength and will power. And that is what makes me beautiful now.
The ability to smile, the journey from the wheelchair to a dancing stage, to being able to simply wake up and get my son ready for school. None of this came easy, but I’m only thankful and grateful today for this entire journey.
I will share a photograph of me from 4 years ago and now. I definitely look different, but the pictures can’t even begin to describe what it took.
3 extremely painful eye surgeries to correct my strabismus, yes, but behind the scenes there was a girl crying for her husband at the doctor’s table because she was scared. She didn’t want to be the “survivor” and to be called “strong”. All she wanted was a simple life with her little family.
It broke her heart to see her husband feeling helpless when she cried in pain and threw up all around the house. It broke her heart when her son got scared of her hallucinating under strong medication and he told her to please sleep in another room.
No, I didn’t ask for this life. But here I was, dealing with my son’s disability for 7 years and now mine!
But today I have the maturity to say that none of this happened to me alone.
My mother has been practically living my life for the past eleven years, since the time our son was born with Cerebral Palsy! My husband has been with me every moment of everyday trying to tackle this life with me! That is where I was lucky. I didn't have to do any of this alone.
I get anxiety, I get panic attacks, but I know I have someone to hold me.
My world revolves around my son, but without even asking he took it on him to hand hold me for the past 5 years. I’m his responsibility now and he never complains.
The other day I went out with my friends to celebrate my 5th year of kicking the stroke’s ass. These are some of my friends who fed our family for months without even asking. And I felt great to be able to celebrate this moment with them. Every ten minutes I used to get a text from my son inquiring whether the lights were bothering me, was the sound too loud for me, that I shouldn’t talk to strangers, and to be careful when I cross the road, because he knows I lost my peripheral vision with the stroke. I am sad that the poor boy had to grow up too soon, but I’m also glad what a fine compassionate human being all of this has turned him into.
Just like today we look back at our child’s birth and his journey and think how it has actually been one of the best things to happen to us. Today I can look back and say this stroke was also probably a good thing.
Not many know this yet, but I had this stroke due to an aneurysm that ruptured. So, I think this was God’s intervention to keep me alive for my son. This was probably the best He/She could do to keep me from dying! And when He/She saw that even in my rehab, I practiced carrying weights equivalent to what my son weighed (because at the time he wasn't walking), he miraculously helped my son to walk!
After enduring so much in life, you naturally develop the ability to look at the good side of things. When I had finally made peace with what happened to me, I realized this was for the better too.
Today I’m more confident in my skin. I know that I don’t have to change for anybody else to like me and that I shouldn’t bother about what anyone else thinks of me, because none of them have walked in my shoes for even a mile. The right to judge us is theirs, but for it to get to us or matter to us is our prerogative. As long as it doesn’t matter to us, it will not have any effect on our life! Honestly, this didn’t come easy to me. Like I said, it took precisely 5 years.
But here I am today, a better person, a more confident person. Today I know I survived a stroke of such magnitude for a reason.
I lost a few talents and so explored within for some hidden talents and found writing as my solace and am doing fairly well at it. I kept giving myself small challenges instead of big ones so that I don’t end up frustrated and instead can celebrate the small achievements. I am working on slow dance movements, more contemporary, I restarted cooking, I have restarted socializing, I unlearned my singing and am doing speech therapy to first start using my voice right. I have begun humming while cooking again!
These little challenges have taught me that life is all about the small moments. You don’t need a terrace garden to see the starry sky; a broken roof will do too!
Another small challenge I had given myself was writing a fictional story for a little sweet girl, who had shared a beautiful thought to me. It took 2 years to complete it, owing to my unpredictable health conditions, but nevertheless, it’s complete now. “Meera” is in its final stages of editing.
I also want to announce my next challenge, my next project, an autobiography, titled, “The Mighty Little Woman”.
I know this is not the end, I know Life might still show me rosy days and dark, but now, I’m prepared to face it, because I have my family and I standing like a tiger ready to prowess and take on the battle.
I would like to end with the profound lines from Robert Frost’s poem; ``The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep…”