Thursday, October 29, 2009


lifeless...motionless...powerless... that was how i felt 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. i needed someone to do every little thing for me like adjusting my legs if they were stiff or moving my arm if it was hanging off the bed. i was completely aware of the world around me, but completely unable to interact with it. some describe it as being buried alive and i think it feels like something between that and hell. i really and truly felt like a waste of space. when i had a test coming up in med school, i would waste hours on gchat and facebook instead of studying, and i would always say i felt like a waste of space, but this was the real thing. i could just lie in bed looking straight up (because i had no peripheral vision: my eyes didnt have full range of motion and my neck obvi couldnt move at all and often wore an 'awesome' neck brace) and i wasnt adding anything to the world around me, if anything, i was hurting it and the people around me. i was really just dead weight with a brain. i was physically (and probably emotionally) REALLY hard to handle. to transfer me, i needed two strong nurses or something called a hoyer lift which is the most god-awful piece of equipment ive ever used (sorry jeni!). everyone would try to be so gentle with me, but it was inevitable that i was beat up everyday, like my arm would get stuck under me when they turned me or my foot would get hit during a transfer. but i couldnt do anything about it. i was powerless. every single part of me, from my relentless spirit to my strong, running crazed legs, was powerless to the wrath of the cruel, cruel world around me. so i surrendered. i surrendered to the powers of fate. i couldnt compete with a world that could do this to me. i realized that it didnt matter who i was or what i believed, i couldnt control fate. the only battle i could fight was therapy - i could work harder than i had ever worked before. i couldnt fight with fate but i could certainly work to get the odds in my favor. somewhere in my heart, i did believe i was going to get better but that belief was hidden behind all my fears, covered by all my concerns, and poisoned by the awful things i heard people say.i didnt have the power to fight with fate, but i was able to surrender because you all were fighting that battle for me. it was the unwavering faith of my family, the reassuring confidence of baldeep, and the overwhelming support of my friends that was all more powerful than the strength of fate. fate had silenced us once before with this horrible injury, but we weren't staying quiet anymore. nisha once told me, ' we are all in this together,' and she was right. alone i was powerless, but together we were invincible, untouchable, powerful... and we wouldn't let fate win.

Friday, October 23, 2009

pappu cant dance, sala!

this is for you nisha! this is probably one of the best/worst indian songs of all time, but i have to admit, i love it because it is catchy! dancing, as most of you know, is a HUGE part of my life. ever since i was 3 years old in my pink tutu doing a dance to "im a baby ballerina," i have loved dancing. from jazz, tap, and ballet to indian dancing, dance has always had a place in my heart. in college, duke dhamaka (I see you! DD4L) was my life. i met baldeep because of this team, and i found some of my amazing friends because of this team, like raj, rajeev, ami, and maanasa. but now, i couldnt dance, i couldnt even walk. i needed a wheelchair, a wheelchair! i couldnt believe it. a few weeks ago, i was dancing the night away at georges with baldeep, and now i was paralyzed. how could i get used to the idea of a wheelchair?! i remember my first physical therapy session - it was in the icu, and it just consisted of sitting in a wheelchair. though my back and neck were fully supported, it was so painful and so hard just to sit! and i had to get used to sitting in one all day. when i got to the rehab hospital, i had to be fitted for a wheelchair. as we neared the doorway to the wheelchair clinic, i started crying. not just any crying, but sobbing, weeping, blubbering, and it couldnt be stopped. what did this all mean?? if i was going to be fitted for a wheelchair, then it would be mine. that meant i wasnt going to wake up tomorrow, or next week, or next month, and be able to suddenly walk. would i need this hefty, awful metal thing (that not to mention,TOTALLY cramps my style) forever? the answer was no, but i wouldnt find that out until a lot later. there will come a day when i dont need this anymore, i dont know when that day will come, but it will come. from the beginning, whenever i pictured the day i would be better, i didnt picture myself walking, i didnt picture myself running, i didnt picture myself jumping, i pictured myself dancing. in the icu, i was told i would be up dancing bhangra in 6 months at my brother's graduation. it was nearly impossible to imagine something like that when youre completely paralyzed in bed, but with my heart bursting with hope, that was the image that took over most of my dreams. the sad reality was that in six months, i wasnt even well enough to even GO to my brother's graduation, but thats another story. now, my more realistic goal, is to dance at nishas wedding - i dont know if that will happen, but i say, if youre going to dream, you might as well dream big. GO BIG OR GO HOME! in the meantime, i have rajiv's one-sided shoulder shrug dance down! i decided if i am going to get better, im going to be 110% better, otherwise this whole battle wouldnt be worth it. i sit in a wheelchair so one day i can walk, i will walk with a walker so one day i can run, i will run slowly so one day i can dance, i will dance confidently because it was, and is, my life.

Friday, October 16, 2009

you can stand under my umbrella

some days i didnt want to fight anymore but i had his motivation to keep me going. some days i did just feel like crying, but i had his silly comments to make me smile. some days i did just want to give up, but i had his strength that got me through. some days were rainy, but i had his umbrella to protect me from the storm. i am talking about my brother, anand, who has been unbelievable through all of this. right from the beginning, he spoke my language when i couldnt understand anyone. he explained what happened and what was going to happen in terms of religion AND science which is what i needed to hear. with that he gained my trust at a time when i didnt trust anyone. for some reason, i felt like if he was with me, i would be ok. and though i never told him this or asked him to be here, he has been holding my hand through it all. that trust grew as he became my best therapist, my best advisor, my best doctor, and most importantly, my best friend. yes, every moment was awful still, but in those moments, he helped me breathe a little easier, and really, thats all you can do in situations like this. the angry thoughts and fears could have consumed me but he wouldnt let it. the funny thing is, nothings changed. he is still my motivation and strength. he is still my best therapist and my best doctor. he is still helping me breathe easier. anyone who visits can see that he puts me and my happiness first, even at the expense of his own best interest. though he will never admit it, he has sacrificed so much to be there for me, and that is infinitely more than i could have ever asked for. i am so grateful for having him in my life. im rarely bored because its like having your best friend around all the time. he distracts me from thinking about my awful situation with movies, shows, games, friends and therapy. to quote our favorite song 'tere bina,' "ab tera bina sajna, sajna kaate kate na" meaning 'without you darling, time doesnt even pass.' with him, there are less rainy days, but if it does rain, i have his umbrella to protect me from the storm.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

rain rain, go away, come again another day

i dont know if im exactly a strong girl or a superwoman. there were and still are many days where i dont feel like fighting anymore.there are some days where i just cry uncontrollably all day. there are some days when iwish this battle ended before it even started. yes it would be harder on my loved ones but it would have saved me all this suffering. i would often cry myself to sleep - i dont think people really know what that really means until they actually do it. it took my mom and dad begging me in the icu to realize that it was still me inside, it took my brother countless times to convince me that everything was going to be ok, and it took baldeep reminding me that he loved me, all to get me by. and to get through each day, it was all your letters and prayers. i must have had my mom read your cards and my prayer book like 20 times. the first time i cried so much that my heartrate went up so high to like 160, so they sent me for an emergency CT scan of my chest because they thought i had a pulmonary embolism (these can kill you silently and swiftly so i was defiinitely scared). but iwas fine after that. i still remember some lines people wrote that really touched me, like bobbak told me he needed me, megan reminded me what my name meant, and rajul said was her rock. i didnt have much to look forward to, so i found happiness in these letters. so if you thinkabout it, itwasmt me who was strong, it was the people around me who were strong for me when i couldnt be. you know what the sad thing is? nothings changed. i still have horrible days. i still cry uncontrollably. i still need my brother to convince me that everything will be ok and baldeep to remind me he loves me. i still need the people around me to be strong for me - my housekeeper constantly tells me, "no llores hija. Dios va a curarte" (meaning "dont cry my child. God is going to cure you") and my aid says she sees progreeveryday. i still need to hear from all of you. i cant tell you how much i appreciate your emails - the happy ones, the sad ones, the simple ones, and the touching ones. still, the only thing that can make me stop crying is a visit from friends or a call from baldeep. i have been living for the future,for tomorrow, for when im better, but to be honest, i have no idea when that day will come. so in the meantime, i need to learn to live for the present, for today. but if you look at my today, you will see that it is pretty sad, not at all what a 24 year old should be doing. so help make my today worth living, help me find the strength to get through to tomorrow, help me be your superwoman i wish i could be.

Monday, October 5, 2009

they try to make me go to rehab....

i said no no no! just kidding, i never said no. i was always up for more therapy, and that was because i knew i had nothing to lose and only everything to gain. my brain believed that nurse practitioner (because it was the only thing i had heard from a medical professional at that point) but my heart wanted to believe my parents. but i knew that if i wanted any chance of getting better, it was going to be through therapy. therapy was really frustrating the first couple of weeks, for me and for probably all my therapists too. i had absolutely no movement in any of my muscles so there was nothing really we could do, except they could passively move my joints and electrically stimulating my muscles to contract. i remember the moment we first used the e-stim unit on my hands. i saw my fingers move for the first time in weeks. they had been so lifeless seconds before, but now they were moving. i know it was just because of the e-stim unit but it was still so overwhelming to actually see that somewhere inside, there was life. that gave me a little hope and thats what i held on to. i had overheard a doctor recommend 4-6 weeks,but it had already been 4 weeks and i hadnt seen any improvement yet. i was terrified. but that fear made me want to work harder. but it took a lot of effort to have therapy 6 hours a day everyday, not only because it was discouraging not seeing any improvements,but also it make me leave my room and go to the gym where i would actually see all the other patients. most of them were triple my age and they seemed much better off than me. some had an injury that affected only one side of the body,or either the top or the bottom. and most could talk. i didnt understand why i was so behind. i used to sometimes like it when my parents would forget to put my glasses on for therapy (you guys know im pretty much blind without my glasses), so i couldnt see the world around me. i felt like if i couldnt see them, they couldnt see me. it was (and is) so hard to get up every morning to face an uphill battle. part of me wanted to stay in bed with my misery and avoid the looks from people wondering what the hell happened to that poor girl. but most of me wanted to fight. for everything i am, for everyone i love, and for the fear of what my life could be like, i chose to fight. in one of the first cards megan sent me, she reminded me what i had written in my embarrassing autobiography ( that many of you found) ' I am a writer; I am a poet; I am a dancer; I am a tennis player; I am a leader; I am a fighter; I am a dreamer; I am a friend.' as the esteemed poet dylan thomas once said, 'do not go gentle into that good night. rage, rage against the dying of the light.' i wasnt going down without a fight. ever since november 29th, i get up every morning because i choose to fight.