Wednesday, November 25, 2009

King of Wishful Thinking

'You are going to be fine!' this is what i heard from all my friends and family. u would think these words of positivity would provide me some comfort or relief, but no, they made me cry more. i didnt understand why. i was so confused for the longest time until a few weeks ago when a friend was explaining to me a similar situation. i cried because i SO BADLY wanted those words to be true. i cried because i SO BADLY didnt want these words to be too good to be true. i cried because i SO BADLY wanted to believe those words. but i couldnt. why couldnt I let myself be happy and be hopeful and just believe? any happiness and any possible hope had been stripped away from me. i was vulnerable and scared which allowed my mind to be tormented by all the negative, awful things i heard from medical professionals, which made the positive, hopeful things i heard from my family and friends seemed like mere wishful thinking. in the ICU, i overheard a nurse say, 'her parents think she is miraculously turn around, but i dont see that happening,' which destroyed the little hope i had, and another nurse said, 'why on earth was she at urgent care? if i was her, i would have gone to the ER!' which made me feel stupid and gave me the false idea that this could have been prevented had i been smarter. another doctor, who, i found out later, knew virtually nothing about my case, said that my stroke made me a quadripelegic and only my voice would return. she went on to educate me on the grieving process, and was probably in stage two: DENIAL. her words hurt, more than any other, and i cried, oh i cried. yes i trusted my family and friends more than these strangers, but arent medical professionals supposed to say things founded in fact and experience? there was a constant battle in my mind, hope versus hopelessness, optimism versus pessimism, wishful thinking versus wishless thinking. i could hear that nurse practitioner words on repeat, 'shes never going to walk again,' but then on the other side of that, i kept hearing, 'dont let the haters stop you from doing yo' thang!' ( you better know where thats from!) i didnt know what to believe. we had a meeting with my family, my doctors, and my therapists, so I thought I would finally get answers. The truth was, no one knew what was going to happen, so my doctors and therapists justifably didn't say anything about it. I began to cry because I was so scared and so confused. My cries were like howls that echoed across the room, so everyone must have felt how scared I was. So then my resident stood up, walked over to me, kneeled down, grabbed my hand and said, "We are just waiting for all the connections to be made, it all gets better from here."This was the first piece of positivity from anyone in the medical profession. I was so touched by her words because I felt like my two worlds that were battling each other were finally merging together. She gave me the strength to hope, she gave me a reason to believe, she gave me a chance to be free from all the negativity, she gave me a reminder that I am and always will be the optimistic, hopeful king of wishful thinking.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

hanging by a moment

life is just a long string of moments, good moments,bad moments, meaningless moments, and meaningful moments. some moments define us, whether we like it or not. a moment on november 29th when i had a stroke defined me, and now another moment would come to define me... so dr. m would come everyday or every other day to check my general status and to see if any of my main muscle groups had returned. he would ask me to do something little and then would wait and watch or feel for any muscle movement or contractions. they would go something like this: ' squeeze my hands' and then he would wait... and nothing, 'wiggle your toes' and then he would wait... and nothing, 'raise your shoulders' and then he would wait... and nothing. they were such little motions but i couldnt do any of them, not even a little. it must have been hard for him to do because it was disappointing everyday. it must have been awful to watch too because it highlighted how hopeless i was and that i couldnt do ANYTHING. i remember the first time someone watched. i remember the first time someone watched. anand and baldeep were in my ICU room saying their goodbyes before visiting hours ended for the day. dr. m came in to check on my status. anand and baldeep sat down while dr. m checked my muscles. again, nothing. after dr. m left, anand and baldeep said their goodbyes and left too so i was alone. a few minutes later, my nurse came in and i overheard her talking to someone. she said, 'i feel really bad for those boys. they arent handling this well. i saw tears in both their eyes when they left this room.' i cried myself to sleep that night. those words burned me, and burns never really go away. anand tand baldeep were the last two people in the world i ever wanted to hurt or disappoint. at that moment, i realized something needed to change. i couldnt hurt them anymore so something had to change, it just had to. but then nothing changed. everyday was disappointing. everyday was heartbreaking. i was so used to feeling stuck, frozen, still. but then, something miraculous happened. my mom and i were in the despised wheelchair clinic. dr.m came in to check on me. he cracked a few much needed jokes and then proceeded to check my muscles. 'squeeze my hand'...nothing, 'raise your shoulders'...nothing and then, 'move your head to the right'...SOMETHING! my head moved ever so slightly to the right. it was such a minuscule you could easily have missed it. i completely disregarded it because it was so small and seemingly insignificant. but from the excitement in my mom and dr. m's voice, it was a big deal. but i wouldnt realize that until much later. that was the moment i started to break out of this locked in state. that was the moment i started to get unstuck. that was the moment i started getting into that 20%. that was the defining moment i started to come back to life.

Friday, November 6, 2009

luck be a lady

'If God will take you to it, God will take you through it.' i heard that line one day on the way to therapy when the lady driving my van was listening to gospel station on the radio, and it really stuck with me. yes, god had let this awful thing happen to me, but even though i couldnt see it, he was helping me everyday. i told baldeep once that i was in an awful situation, but it was the best case scenario. yes i was couped up in the hospital, but i had the biggest room all to myself (which was really rare) and i was in the best place i could be. even though there were hellish circumstances, i was treated like a princess. i was SO unlucky that this happened to me, but i was lucky in that i had an amazing family, a loving brother, an incredible boyfriend, awesome friends who would fly accross the country or drive down all the time, just to see me for a few hours, and some of the best doctors. for as long as i can remember, i have wanted to be a doctor, not for the fame and fortune, but for the dream of really, truly touching someones life, whether its helping someone breathe easier, whether physically or emotionally. i hate to say it but so far in med school, i was working with residents who were overworked, underpaid, and completely and utterly exhausted who made it seem like it was a nightmare i was working towards rather than a dream. but my set of doctors were really something else, so passionate and caring, who all went above and beyond the call of duty, who reminded me why i wanted to be a doctor in the first place. first, there was my icu doctor, whose duties ended after the 2 weeks i spent in the ICU, but he continued to visit me almost everyday for the 5 months i spent in the hospital. then there was my main rehab doctor who was an inspiration because he had a terrible accident when he was a teen but turned it into a positive experience by going to med school and becoming a doctor! then there was a neurologist who was a friend of the familys, who provided support and advice that only a friend could. there was my amazing resident, who you will definitely hear more about, who instantly reminded me of myself (because she was a small indian girl) and instantly won me over with her friendliness, knowledge, kindness, and her ability, on her first day, to recognize my 'duke dhamaka' t-shirt. (because her brother was actually my friend at duke! small world)! speaking of small worlds, finally, there was dr. m. he had been our neighbor and friend for many years but now he would become our hero. i even used to babysit his daughters, but i wouldnt call it babysitting, i would call it a sunday afternoon, because we would just play like always! but dr. m happened to be a rehab doctor and one of the smartest/ best doctors im lucky enough to know. from day one, he has been there for us with his unwavering support, words of wisdom, and his hilarious wit. he was a dukie, so i instantly knew i could trust him! he was quietly the brains behind my treament, so with one of the most respected doctors overseeing everything, i knew i was in good hands. i realized that there were probably many people who had awful injuries but didnt nearly have the social support, resources or care that i had. so was this all coincidences, the works of god, or mere strokes of luck?