Thursday, January 17, 2013

Break From The Past: Patience & Perseverance (Part 10)

 My eldest son ( one of the twins)  who had recently graduated from Med School, kept telling me that it was possible to completely recover, and I should not to get distracted, and drown myself in negative thoughts.  It was true the recovery would be slow, but my focus should be on doing everything possible to make it happen.  But to a person in my state, nothing made sense. I think it was too soon to change my mindset so easily, for I was still trying to get a grip on my situation. 

Soon a Physiotherapist was assigned to me, who helped me walk short stretches of the corridors of the hospital and put me through simple stretching exercises. Even with his support and coaxing, everything was so difficult to do.  Looked like my body had a mind of its own, it refused to do what I wanted it to do.  It left me wondering whether I would ever be able to anything by myself. I had only some vague idea about stroke, and had seen one or two very old people struggling with their speech, and  whose movements were severely restricted. 
I had to know more about stroke, so that I could know how good or bad my road to recovery would be. I borrowed books from our local library and started getting to know the reasons, symptoms, the treatment, the recovery etc. None of the reasons seemed to fit me, and I had never experienced any of the symptoms, except, the shock of seeing Chandran unexpectedly that day, (although I always wanted to see him) and  the subsequent joyful turn of events, which eventually ended in my fainting. I could not understand how that could be shocking enough to give  me a stroke. But I decided not to dwell on such unimportant issues, which would only add more pressure to my already muddled brain.
Things that I took for granted like walking, talking, holding things, etc., everything became a pain for I had to learn to do everything from the beginning like a child : only, I was not a child. There was no further treatment to be had, I was pronounced fit to be discharged from the hospital.  The doctors had done all that had be done, and now the extent and pace of recovery was in my hands alone.  It all sounded so forlorn and bleak.
How could I,  who always led a very healthy and active life, get stroke, and how could  I ever even think of becoming normal, in the miserable condition that I was?
Questions like these were  constantly plaguing me round the clock. Even the books I read, had only examples of people who were very old, who had recovered, but only partially, and they seemed to be happy to have achieved at least that much.
Would I be satisfied with only that level of recovery.... Oh God, such morbid thoughts were sending shivers down my partially paralyzed spine.
 There  were so many things that had to be done for me on a daily basis,  starting with giving me a bath, combing my hair, helping me eat and drink, giving me medicines on time.  Most of these chores were done by Chandran,  and of course my friends Paula and Juliet and my sons also took turns to pitch in.
I was so touched to see so many people genuinely doing everything they could,  to make feel cheerful:  their sincerity, and dedication often moved me to tears.  

Again, evenings were time to do the daily drills with the Physiotherapist. I was chagrined that I could barely walk a few steps without his support.  The things he asked me to do were so difficult, though to a normal person it might look extremely simple and easy.  Like a school teacher, he prescribed homework that I should do at other times like, turning pages of a book, holding a spoon in my right hand and bringing it to my mouth to feed myself, holding a glass in my hand, bringing it up to my lips to drink, and many more exercises.  Suffice is to say that I was to relearn everything once again. Everyday he would expect some improvement, but I could hardly show any, though I tried my best.  Also I was very weak, and the medicines were making me drowsy most of the time. Looked like my whole life had come to a sudden stand still.
 I had to practice writing also, but however much I tried I could not make my fingers hold a pen or a pencil properly – it was twisting and turning in my fingers and slipping out. To think I had the most beautiful handwriting, and now when I tried writing something,  it came out only as a very bad scribble, which even I couldn't understand. It was absolutely frustrating. But I kept on trying every exercise, at least 10 times before getting tired and giving it all up.  However, as my confidence level dipped, I immediately pulled myself up with determination, and again continued the exercises.

 I  continued my physical training with weights, continued my finger exercises and gradually found some improvement. I found after trying for about 5 times I could turn pages, cut paper with scissors, pick up things from the floor, comb my hair, have bath by myself, walk around without support, cut vegetables, wash vessels and so on.  The  right side of my jaw too was also slightly drooping, and here my dentist suggested I exercise my jaw by chewing gum regularly. All the effort put by me, slowly started showing some definite improvement in my condition. I was extremely overjoyed, and my doctor having seen the improvement in my condition, stopped most of the medicines.
 Time now to start walking outside the house.  Chandran took me very religiously to the nearby park, but here too I noticed another problem.  First I was dragging the right foot and I was not able to walk even for a few minutes  without stopping for a rest.  It continued like this for sometime. And although it was disappointing, I knew from previous experience that I would surely overcome this failing also with patience and continual practice. In time, I did overcome this problem, but before I could rejoice at my success, I noticed that I was not moving my right hand at all while walking. So before I could fully correct one problem, I was plagued by another.  Why ....  Oh why,  this constant struggle, would there ever be an easy way out ? The answer was of course a loud “NO”.
 But having a wonderful husband and good friends,  like Paula and Juliet my student cum Reiki Master,  and my three children,  made all the difference.  Though, sometimes,  I was very skeptical and critical of the extent of progress I had made,  they assured me that what I had achieved thus far was substantial and significant, and that I should not be too hard upon myself : a positive attitude would push me faster forward towards full recovery.  Every small and new success was to be cherished, leading me to my ultimate goal.  Of course, I couldn’t stop pushing myself despite all the well meaning advice. I felt I had to race against time and get instant results.  During one of my visits to the doctor for a checkup, I implored him to be frank with me and tell me whether I could fully recover to my old normal self, and would I be able to start dancing again like I used to.  To this, his evasive answer was that people have been known to have achieved full recovery after a stroke, everything was possible. Then he said something that really shocked me : he said that whatever recovery was possible had to be achieved within a year’s time,  and after that time, further progress would be negligible.  He said it was important I kept on working my muscles to achieve my goal. 
From that day on wards, it was 3 hours of workout in the morning and another 2 to 3 hours in the evening for me.  Mostly it was swimming in the evenings with my former dance teacher and business partner Paula.  After swimming it was 1 hour of practicing dance moves. My students were now my teachers, for they made it a point to come home and practice dance moves with me, patiently guiding me. It  was difficult  for me to keep my tears under control, they were such darlings. 
At first everything - right from swimming to dancing was tough, but gradually I improved till I almost became perfect. It was not just one thing at a time that needed my attention, but rather concentrating on every aspect, simultaneously, that brought about the desired progress. Every part of my body needed equal attention.  With every success, I goaded myself to push further forward with determination, for having come thus far, it would be meaningless to be satisfied, become complacent and slow down or stop.  By now it was almost eight months since the fateful day of the stroke, and I was happy with myself and with life in general. The progress was steady, but I must have  patience, and not hurry, patience... patience, was the key word.
 I also realised that although I had refused to acknowledge the pain of separation from Chandran, and was continuing to live on as though nothing had happened, deep in my heart, I had never stopped loving him totally and the depression was eating me away unconsciously. When Chandran,  had all of a sudden come to my life, the happiness of getting him back was too much.  I suppose everything happens for a reason.  Whatever the reason, ultimately we were both together like never before.  When I look back, I don't see any reason for all that had happened in our lives, but it had happened,  sometimes instead of talking/ sharing, we let things just simmer down till it cannot remain in that level, and blows up on our face. Anyway, I felt it was in the past: now we have the present and future in our hands, and we were both determined we would not let our past cast its shadow on us anymore.

 There was now a maturity in our love, where love had a totally new meaning for us.  It meant that we could  give love unconditionally and also receive love unconditionally. Each of us in our own way had learnt a valuable lesson in life.
 Well, everything was now near perfect with me, as though I was born again. There were no tell tale signs of lingering disabilities overtly visible. It was visible to only to me, and  as my doctor had told me that,  some amount of cell damage cannot be reverted, and I should not give it much importance. I had to understand and be practical, and celebrate my progress which was indeed remarkable by all medical standards. According to my Neurologist, I was 98%  cured, the 2% was negligible.
 I got my beloved back and I got my lost movements back. I could talk, I could drive my car,  my writing is still bad, but most important of all, I could dance again.  It all seemed like a miracle, but miracle it was not.  It was patient, persistent, determined, hard and back breaking work that did the trick. I never fail to thank the Universe for being by my side constantly guiding me, encouraging me, giving me the strength to overcome the most traumatic phase in my life.
I have now come to firmly believe that somehow, the break that happened between Chandran and me in the past was an essential event that brought us together to our present life, and will keep us ever together in the future.
 Now, all I can do is to look forward to the dance competition that is coming up in a month’s time.  I have to do my best for that, and to come out a winner.
Wish me luck as I go shopping for the most beautiful dance dress, with my wonderful husband, who not only is my life-partner but also happens to be my dance- partner…….how cool is that !!

The End.

I once again thank everyone for following this story till the very end.
I would love to hear from you.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Break From The Past: Helpless (part 9)

I must have lost consciousness, for when I came to, I only had a vague remembrance of the things that were happening around me.  Chandran was sprinkling water over my face, and I could hear him call out my name several times ….. but wait a second! what is this ? 
Though words were forming in my mouth, no sound as emanating ….why couldn’t I speak damn it ?  
Have I suddenly become dumb? I was confused ……and what had happened to my hand ? 
I could not move it the way I wanted it to move.  Something was terribly wrong with me, and then I heard a man, may be a doctor, telling my husband that it appeared to be a stroke, that I should be taken to a hospital immediately.  Soon I was in the hospital, surrounded by doctors, nurses, emergency technicians, ward boys.. The doctors seemed to be totally baffled, as the various test results showed  nothing that was wrong with me : I had no diabetes, blood pressure, or high cholesterol for that matter, and I had no symptoms of headache or anything, prior to the stroke . But stroke it was : my speech, and all movements on the right side was paralyzed. I was shocked when I heard the diagnosis.
 However,  the doctors were still trying to find out the reason for the stroke.   Luckily, after a few more tests, surgery was ruled out, I was on drips and some drugs were given to me on regular basis to dissolve the clot.  Apparently, a clot had occurred somewhere in my leg,  which had traveled to my brain and had again traveled down to lodge itself in the left side of my throat region : which was why the paralysis had occurred on the right side of my body,  and that was the reason I lost my speech, and had lost all movement on my right side. But, the good news, according to the doctors, with specific medicines my speech would come back and there was nothing to worry.  Some pills were even given for my memory,  to clear my brain, which was for the most part disoriented. But no medicines in this world was going to give me back my movements.
I was totally disgusted with life ……..what was going to happen to me ? 
I would never be able to dance again, my movements would become very restricted.  I might even need the support of a walking stick, or worse I might be bedridden.  Desperately I tried to move my hand but nothing happened it lay there, limp and not budging. The same with my right leg too. I could only sob, sob, sob .  Seeing me cry, the nurses would console me saying everything would become alright .... but they didn’t  know what they were saying, or may be they did, and were trying to cheer me, and that made me cry even more.  Most of the time my husband was with me,  telling me to rest and not to unnecessarily worry about anything.  I was asleep most of the time and started channeling Reiki to myself.  Although,  I could hardly feel any thing as part of my body was immune to sensation, but never the less, I continued, for I knew whether I felt it or not the healing would take place for once a Reiki channel you are a Reiki channel for ever.
 By and by, with passage of time, I could utter a few words and even put together short sentences, but they all sounded gibberish and made no sense to anybody. Though the sentences would form properly in my mind, but when they came out, they came out different, and made no sense to anybody.  But the doctors told me not give up, for soon my speech would come back to normal. I should keep working at it . Similarly I had to work on my body too, for unless I worked hard, I may never get my movements back fully.
 It was all so disappointing and depressing, and there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel.  People were just saying that I would become alright, but it was all only in hope: nobody knew for sure. How I hated the word 'Hope', which actually only means 'maybe', when all I wanted to hear was a definite answer, which of course nobody was in a position to give it to me.
(To be continued)
I wish to thank every one of you, who have been patiently following this story so far, and I promise you, that it would end in the next part.