16th November 2009. Max Hospital, Saket, New Delhi.
I was lying on the stretcher outside the Operation theatre. My grandmother had her hand on my head, showering me with her blessings. Friends and family all gazed at me with worried faces, as if this could be the last moment they were seeing me alive. I don’t know how and why, but I smiled through it, as if nothing critical was happening. Maybe I wanted to give courage to those around me or maybe I was trying to be strong for myself.
I was going to have critical surgery for my broken C4 and C5 vertebrae. A cervical vertebrae injury is one of the most severe of all spinal cord injuries. This spinal injury happened in that fateful accident in NY. Hospital boys came and wheeled me inside, I simply smiled and said Jai Sri Krishna to all.
I waited in another room alone. I could hear the preparation for the surgery from across the closed door of the operation theatre. As I lay there alone, the severity of the situation struck me. Tears rolled down my face. I asked God “Why me?” And immediately I was reminded of my grandfather’s teaching – Jo hota hai ache ke liye hota hai (Whatever happens, happens for good). It was as if God was reassuring me.
The hospital boys wheeled me inside the OT. As I lay on the operation table and stared blankly at the bright light above me, a Doctor came and asked me – How did this accident happen? I think he was the anaesthesiologist. It took me back to that morning in NY. The squeezing sound of braking cars and the opening of the airbags. I was trembling. I felt severe pain on my wrist and could feel blood on my face. But I was alive. And within minutes there were ambulances and cops.
I wanted to go back home. Later I came to know that two people had died in that pile-up.
Traffic on the bridge had come to a standstill. People were rushing in. There was smoke coming from below the bonnet, and I imagined the car was going to catch fire. And suddenly I remembered my new Thinkpad lying in the boot of the car. I got out, opened the boot, and took it out.
I was alive and able to walk without much pain. The cops asked me to get back inside the car till the para medics came. The doctors came and asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital as physically there weren’t any injuries except for a few cuts and sprains. I said I was fine and asked for help with a cab. I wanted to go back home. Later I came to know that two people had died in that pile-up.
A couple of times, I fell while standing. I had no strength to even hold a pen while signing
I was back home and back to the same routine. I was excited to execute the projects that I had won from the trip. But in a month or so, I started to feel irritation and tingling in the fingers of my left-hand. I took it casually. Then I began to experience pain in my deltoid region. I visited my family doctor, and he prescribed a few medicines to take for a couple of weeks. Nothing worked. The problem had started to affect my left leg now also.
But I had no time for myself as business was booming and needed me. I travelled to Germany a couple of times with all the pain. I carried on like this for almost four months. One Sunday, while playing tennis, I realized my range of motion was limited. I couldn’t stretch out.
Then the symptoms started to become severe. I was having breathing problem. My knees were not able to sustain my weight. A couple of times, I fell while standing. I had no strength to even hold a pen while signing. My muscles were weak. I had lost feeling in the chest, left arm and left leg.
That’s when I visited a neuro physician who did an MRI and was shocked to see the slides. He was surprised at how I was not in paralysis. The spinal cord was severely injured and compressed. It was partially torn because of broken C4 and C5 vertebrae and needed immediate surgery. He directed me to the neurosurgeon, and after more tests and check-ups here I was in the operation theatre to fix my injury using a titanium disk to replace the broken vertebrae. Surgery was needed to release pressure from the compressed area.
One day I looked at the mirror and couldn’t recognize the man looking back at me. He looked old, tired and haggard
Post-surgery I needed long-term rehab, and all the pain that had started in the left part of my body would remain for life. It was going to be a long journey to everyday life if I survived this surgery. A week post-surgery, I was released from the hospital, and my long rehab and physio sessions started.
For almost two years, I was not able to do much physical activity. I gained weight. I started looking old. One day I looked at the mirror and couldn’t recognize the man looking back at me. He looked old, tired and haggard. I had gained weight and was depressed about the way I looked and felt.
My medical reports were terrible. Lipid profile, Uric acid, blood pressure – everything was out of range. I could barely walk 100 meters. I felt there was no essence left. Something had to change, and I had to initiate the change. And that’s when the transformation started.
In the next blog we talk of the first step to a fit life – Living life without Stress. Stress is the biggest hurdle to a fit you.