Saturday, August 29, 2009

if these eyes could talk

i was defined and confined by my eyes. they were the only muscles in my entire body, besides my heart, that worked. my eyes had to speak for me, smile for me, cry for me, and scream for me. after some trial and error, i was told to look up for yes and down for no. that was my only form of communication for months. it killed me so much to look into baldeeps eyes, hear him say 'i love you' and only able to respond 'yes' with my eyes. my eyes were useless when it came to vision because i couldnt look left or right and i didnt wear my glasses much in the icu and you guys know im pretty much blind with out them, so i learned to rely on my ears a lot. i could hear the nurses coming in and out and changing something or the other on one of the many machines i was hooked up to. i could hear the whistling of the janitor every morning who cleaned the floor. i remember wishing with all my strength to trade places with them. i was so jealous of them because everything seemed so easy for them like walking and talking. i didnt understand why i was the one lying in bed and they were the ones taking care of me. i was absolutely helpless. the nurses would position my legs and some positions would kill, but i had no way of telling them that. so i would just pray that visiting hours would begin soon and my parents would come. then i would show them somehow an uncomfortable expression with just my eyes or maybe i sent a telepathic message to my mom, who knows, but regardless, my parents could tell something was bothering me. then we would begin a 10 minute guessing game about 'what was bothering harshada'. hot? cold? arms? stomach? i would answer 'yes' or 'no' with my eyes. its like in pictionary, when you think you have a great drawing, but your teammates keep guessing wrong because they have no idea what youre thinking. your teammates feel bad because they cant figure out the answer and you get so frustrated and you just want to yell out the answer but you cant. there is so much i wanted to yell out but couldnt. there is only so much my eyes could say. i would have told baldeep i loved him so much too and told my family thank you so much for always being by my side. but i couldnt. the only way i could sleep at night was knowing that they could already see in my eyes, all the things i wanted to say.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

i can cry if i want to

i cried alot. that is def an understatement. the doctors said i had less control over my emotions, but the truth of the matter was that there was nothing to be happy about. i hated when people told me to stop crying because it wasnt like i wanted to cry. i knew crying wasnt a good look for me and they had no idea how shitty i was feeling. you would cry too if it happened to youuuu. for 13 days in the icu, there was no laughter only tears. but then on the 14th day, something magical happened. i laughed. there was no smile yet because i couldnt move the muscles of my mouth and there was no voice because my vocal cords werent working yet, but if you listened closely there was laughter. it was my birthday and ankur and laju said something crazy. and then it happened again, when bobbak, neil, and subie told me they had first gone to the wrong hospital, and then again when leah and jen gave me a singing balloon. and the laughter continued-whether it was my dads poor jokes, my brothers funny lines, my inside jokes with baldeep, my old memories with rajul or the ridculous things nisha would say that leave me laughing for hours, days, and weeks after. when you feel like crying all the time it feels really good to laugh. really good. now i even have a smile to accompany my laugh, not a symmetric smile but a smile nonetheless. i even had a sound to my laugh, not a very pretty sound, but at least it was something. i learned to laugh at myself too which made this awful situation a little better. like when leah made fun of my old wheelchair or when baldeep coined a term for how my family transfers me, the"bachu toss" (bachu is his nickname for me), they made the things i was most embarrassed about seem funny. they always treated me like they used to which was so refreshing. i also loved watching comedies like friends because for those 23 minutes, i could just get lost in ross's awkwardness and phoebes craziness, get some genuine, free laughs and forget my situation. nowadays, iprobably laugh just as much as i cry, which is still pretty bad, but hey its an improvement. i love laughing because for that one little second, that one fleeting moment, i could escape my reality.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

the variable (continued)

i really wish that nurse could see me now. today was the first time i walked. granted i was using a special walker and two people were helping me, but it was def still walking!

Monday, August 17, 2009

the variable

(another lost episode) the variable was the polar opposite of my constant. they were the people in this struggle who hurt me rather than helped me. they left my world in pieces. they added to my fears and confusion and made me doubt who i was inside. they were certain nurses and visitors who said things to me that cut me deep and left wounds that lasted months. one day in the icu, a nurse practitioner came in to see me. my grandmother, who was the only one in my room, innocently asked "when will she walk again?" she replied"she will never walk again. she has locked-in syndrome." those words crushed me. i felt like my entire soul and spirit had been sucked out of me. i didnt know what locked-in syndrome was but it sounded awful. i hadnt heard anything from the doctors about my situation, i had only heard from my family who was more optimistic. it was never something they questioned. my parents kept saying " have faith, everything will be fine again". but i didnt know how to reconcile that statement with what that nurse said. and when something terrible happens to you out of the blue God is the last person you wanted to trust so i cried even more. since that approach clearly wasnt working, my brother came to me with a different approach. he said i was young and healthy,and because of the plasticity of thebrain, it will make new connections. he told me i would get better with time and to always have faith. and he was right...i only now researched more about locked-in syndrome and im so glad i didnt really know about it before because i would have been even more terrified. that nurse was right about one thing - i did have locked-in syndrome. many people who have this never recover and die soon after. but 20% break out of the syndrome and pretty much have full recoveries. by some divine intervention, im miraculously part of that 20%. i know it will be a long road ahead, and im sure i will come acros some variableswho can definitely hurt my spirit but they will never change the fact that my journey on this road will have a happy ending.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

the constant

i decided to title this post after my favorite episode of lost. in this episode , desmond has to find the one thing in his life he can rely on when his whole world is falling apart. this is the one thing that reminds him who he is and where he comes from. this is the one thing that can save him...i had that something. that something was someone. that someone was my constant. baldeep was my constant,and he saved me. when my whole world was crumbling apart, he was there to pick up the pieces. he reminded me that underneath the fear and confusion, beneath the completely broken body, it was still me. he had given me a greater gift than i could have ever asked for. he loved me. not because he had to, but because he wanted to. and thats all i needed to get by.... at the end of the episode, desmond finally contacts his constant,penny, the love of his life. it was a touching moment when the viewer realizes that penny still loves desmond and is waiting for him. she didnt save his life just by being there when he needed her most, she gave him a reason to live...

Monday, August 10, 2009

the great escape

from the moment i blacked out to the moment i woke up in the icu, i dont remember anything except one distinct memory...I was somewhere between being awake and being asleep. i was laying down in some bed. my dad and possibly my nurse were standing over me on either side, watching me. i could hear my dad crying and reciting a hindu prayer. my breathing was getting slower and harder. was this the end?! scared, shocked, and confused dont even begin to explain my feelings at that point. all i could think about was how there were so many people i could NEVER leave behind, but it didnt seem like i had a choice.`my breathing got even slower and i felt myself drifting away... but to my surprise, i woke up in the icu. i was def relieved! but i knew i had a host of other problems, but at least i was still breathing. i realized that God could have ended my life when he had the chance, but he didnt and there must be a reason for that. instead of being sad about that, it motivates me to keep trying, to keep working, to keep fighting. or as howie told me, to just keep swimming.... my parents reassured me later that i was nevdr in any real danger. they were just weaning me off the ventilator and it wasnt fun to watch. i had escaped a huge battle but little did i know that i had a terrible battle ahead...

Friday, August 7, 2009

celebrate we will

i spent my 24th birthday in the icu. and i thought having an anatomy test on my birthday last year was bad! a month earlier, i had planned the most perfect bday. my bday was finally going to be on a saturday, so i was going to host a party at my apt with the purple wall on friday night. i had the perfect dress with the perfect accessories all picked out. for saturday night, i had gotten john legend tix for baldeeps bday and the concert happened to be on my bday. could it sound more perfect? but when my bday came along, instead of being at a fabulous party in my apt with the purple wall, i was in an ugly icu. instead of the perfect dress, i was in some gross hospital gown. instead of my cute accessories, i had other accessories, like a hideous bite block, a trach, a PICC line, a PEG tube, and a catheter( i looked awful) instead of hearing john legend live, we had his cd playing in the background. but one thing was how i had hoped. i had my amazing friends there. i felt so touched that i had so many people in my life who WANTED to be there with me. i had about 40 visitors who came into my room in pairs and i was so shocked everytime the door opened because i didnt know people loved me that much to be brave enough to come see me. it was people from charlotte, people from undergrad, and a ton of people from duke med! i had everything emotionally - an incredible family, an unbelievable boyfriend, and amazing friends, but i had NOTHING physically. this will always be the birthday i spent in the icu,but it will also be be the birthday i realized i already had all that mattered.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The worst nightmare

what the hell happened to me? that was one of the main questions consuming me. i didnt find out many of the details until much later.i remember praying that it was all a nightmare and that i would wake up and it would all be over. i wasnt stupid - i knew a stroke could cause this but wasnt i way too young for that? some may call me a cougar, but i was still only 23! through my anger and tears, my family and baldeep tried to explain to me what happened. let me tell you how this nightmare began... so i went to my eye doctor one morning because i had two migraine-like headaches (student health seemed pretty sure they were "opthalmic migraines"). the eye doctor thought this too but suddenly as i was sitting there, the room started spinning uncontrollably. i was having an episode of vertigo for the first time and i felt so nauseous. my parents took me to urgent care like we were told. they gave me a shot and right after, i felt a tingling all over my body. i tried to callout to my mom, the words were there, but my voice wasnt. then everything went black.... apparently they rushed me to the hospital,did a CT scan that didnt show anything wrong, and finally an MRI/MRA. it showed i had bilateral vertebral artery dissections causing a basilar artery clot leading to a pontine stroke (sorry very medical!) i didnt really understand it at all, but hearing those words hurt so much because they confirmed my biggest fear - that this wasnt all just a nightmare, it was my reality. why did this happen to me and could it have been prevented? these questions were killing me. the answer was that it was totally random and it couldnt have been prevented because no doctor in any ER or hospital would have expected this and would have the foresight to do an MRI/MRA. that answer was both a blessing and a curse. it made me less hard on myself but it gave me no one to blame except for God. im still praying that i will wake up one and this whole nightmare will all be over...

Monday, August 3, 2009


imagine waking up one morning without a care in the world. imagine waking up the next time alone and in a strange place with no recollection of how you got there. imagine then not being able to move a single muscle in your body and barely able to see the world around you. imagine not even being able to call out for help as if someone had stolen your voice (like ariel from the little mermaid). imagine hearing silence interrupted by beeping...that was me and it was terrifying. i had a million questions and two million fears running through my head but all icould do was wait. so i waited. but as i waited, my mind wandered even more. sometimes, your mind can can be your own worst enemy. just when i thought i couldnt take it anymore, something happened... what sudd'enly appeared by my side were the warm, smiling, familiar faces of my family and baldeep. and for a second there, ifelt comforted, like their smiles were shielding me from all those fears and quetions that were consuming me. and they have been by my side ever since...