With unimaginable pain …

And as the steroids ended and my body struggled to fix itself I understood what pain and starting over truly felt like.

Steroids made me relearn how easy it is to take our body for granted. The simplest thing like taking a straight step became a chore and my body hurt in places I didn’t know could hurt at all.

But with that came respect. I began re learning movement, the joy of getting one step right– I can do about 5 now and the absolute joy of even one second of no pain.

It also made me re look at where I was and who I wanted to be and I realised with great joy that I had become the person I’d dreamed of becoming… the person in ‘if (by Rudyard Kipling)’ who learns to start over without a moment’s hesitation, who keeps on going and who is inspirational. And I was proud.

In life we all get our own personal struggles, it’s how we deal that makes us the people we are.

The weekend had 2 blocked veins – I equate it to 2 long client meetings. I had so much pain… I equate that to crazy work stress that we all often deal with. And I had sleepless , painful nights that I compare to the delays we face in work done and appreciation received.

And then I got the flu on a day we had a long, much awaited for Client meeting and woke up in a personal hell of pain and sickness. I put my ego aside and asked for help and with the strength that can only come from family (i.e. Mom), I was able to semi-recover and power on to a fabulous and rewarding day.

We all have a choice- every day, to either get up and roll with the punches or go to sleep and wait for another day. The new day may be brighter or duller- but a dull day can always become bright- it’s up to you to wake up and do the best you can with it.

We don’t get just one chance to make the day a better day. We get numerous chances. So why waste it? I was told numerous times I was doing too much and needed to recover and much as I agreed… I knew I was also getting a second chance at making things right and doing things over and re-learning.

And as much as every day hurt, I would have hurt more if I hadn’t tried.

So I get up and fight another day knowing that the world and my life is worth fighting for, knowing that it’s both the ups and downs that makes life worthwhile…and it’s because of the downs that the ups are even more special.

And so I’m off to a party filled weekend with tons of laughter and joy knowing that this will drown out the fuzziness and pain and illness and even happier that I have another day to recognise the power and awesomeness of the life we get to live.

P.s. (Palat says)-: It shouldn’t take illness or pain or steroids to learn to value all that we have… but sometimes its a good push in the right direction.

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Sometimes we all need steroids…

It was a leap of faith- this was what the entire week seemed focussed on. On Tuesday I was told that in all likelihood my MRIs were false negatives and I would need to be put on to an immediate dosage of steroids! This is the first time this has happened since 2005 and naturally I was extremely worried about this. Another attack of multiple sclerosis seemed overwhelming not just for me but for my whole family. Wouldn’t I get better naturally? The pain has been worsening for over 6 months now and has been really bad for more than a few years and now I was walking like the Leaning tower of Pisa (if it could walk); so may be I should trust the good doctor’s expertise and take the leap of faith by taking treatment no matter how scary it seemed.

Sometimes you have to trust yourself and the people around you.

It seemed like I needed a bit more than faith and chocolate ice cream when the Nurse who came home couldn’t find my veins .She did try in three injection points and I held on to faith till she twisted the needle so hard it hit a nerve and I just saw black all around.

Must I actually do this? I asked Aditya as we now then decided to do this at the hospital. ‘Well, if you want to feel better, it’s the only way- ‘ he said. So the 5 days started and well I’m going to hope the pain is better and the walk a little straighter. I am going to feel better. I will. I have to.

A friend dropped in, having given up a steady job , he seemed worried about reactions around him.

He’d lost joy.

I know sometimes that (joy) seems such an elusive concept, but I do believe that we all have the power to search , nay the responsibility to find our joy. It is only when we know how to find joy can we truly live our best lives. It is only if you know how to be joyous , that you can truly inspire and give happiness. Responsibilities must be fulfilled but it should never be at the cost of joy. This world can be such an incredible place, it is up to us to find at least one thing that brings us happiness/joy every day.

I used to make that a task every day because I didn’t know how to find it! Now I do this out of habit. There’s always at least a few moments that give me absolute joy, if not more every day and it also keeps me grateful.

Just FYI it’s Masterchef and trashy TV shows that keep me happy thru the hour long injection… see even in that there can be joy.

P.s. (Palat says)-: The leap of faith can be terrifying… much like when I jumped off a plane to sky dive… but its only when you jump that you truly experience freedom and complete joy.

Fear, MRIs and 5 ams

The stress of or the fear of something often is far larger than the actual task itself. This was at its clearest this week. With the planning of a surprise party, the visit to a new doctor, yet another (though each one is as stressful as the next) MRI and the travel and return travel on 5 am flights made for a memorable week.

The surprise party had to be perfect. Everything had to be planned without the inquisitive Birthday boys’ knowledge and we had to get him back in time lest the guests and here we kept it to family only let the cat out of the bag! The menu had to delight him and each of our demanding guests and the party had to be run on time despite the Mumbai rains and horrendous traffic snarls. Add to that a power cut which took out all the lights in the house, but none of the air conditioning! Candles were lit and the dinner with all its pre planning drama ended perfectly. The minute I just allowed myself to go with the flow instead of fighting to control it… I learned to have fun and actually enjoy the party!

I met the new doctor with trepidation and cynicism. Challenging him almost by telling him the hateful, scary things I’d been told over the years; I was taken aback when he empathised and even apologised for Doctors without tact and bedside manner. This threw me off because I expected him to stick with the way I had been treated thus far. The apology made me learn that the fear of one doctor can’t make you avoid all others. And as much as I don’t want to be seen as a clone of anyone else… I mustn’t assume that all in the same profession are alike either.

The MRI technician asked if I’d like to see ‘Friends.’I was taken aback. How was that possible? With a new machine, you could watch something, you may not hear it all but you could watch it. The 2 hr long series of MRIs were made more tolerable with a comedy show playing above my head!

5 am flights to meetings- would I hack it? Would I be on my best game? Worried I did not sleep all of night 1… And then the day ended and I was wonderful. The staying awake only made for dark circles- didn’t dampen my enthusiasm at all!

I write this as Day 2 begins (at 4:30 am now)- and now I’m not scared!

P.s. (Palat says)-: I do now what I do during an MRI. Take a deep slow breath and let the fear find another person they can cripple- not me!

To My Bullies…

And the city was rocked when a promising young Doctor took her life because of harassment and bullying by her fellow seniors. It put into perspective the fact that bullying was something that was accepted. People had seen her being bullied but nothing had been done. If it doesn’t happen to you- we adopt the ostrich mentality- we don’t see it!

And these bullies cost her what could have been a fabulously successful career, a happy marriage and a wonderful life.

We shame them now on social media and in the papers but it’s too little too late. When we see bullying we more often than not turn a blind eye to the issue unless the issue is us.

And then there’s the hidden bullying- the trolling where faceless , nameless bullies feel it’s okay to shame you. And we can all pretend that these people are cowards and that their words don’t sting- but truth be told-we might all have a witty , caustic reply- but to put it plainly- it’s just mean. It’s mean to bully. It’s mean to gang up on people. It’s not just cowardice. It’s downright nasty!

And is that who we’ve become? Are we so dissatisfied with our lives that we think it’s okay to hurt others? Are we that full of ourselves that we think it’s okay to critique others? Are we that hurtful, prideful and egotistical?

So here’s to all my bullies, I didn’t say anything then and it’s taken me time-but I now have my answer-:

  1. To those who pulled my pigtails and made fun of my plaits- my hair is even cooler now because I looked after it then! Most of you have lost hair or have none. Guess it isn’t so funny now?
  2. To those who called me a nerd- I was a nerd. Still am. Nerds are cool. I own it! It also helped me get admission at Stanford and more than a few Ivy Leagues- so ….
  3. To those who made fun of my crushes and teased me, it’s because I was open to love that I found love.
  4. To those who mocked my choice of profession – I get to wake up and do something I love every day. How many of us are actually that lucky?
  5. To those who made fun of me and how I look post my illness- I was left side paralysed after my first multiple sclerosis attack and have a brain tumour and I still do more than most. And am hotter than most- still.
  6. To the “fan” who wrote to me last week criticising and taunting me for looking different from my 17 year old self…. well you probably look a heck of a lot different from yourself 20 odd years ago…. and well read Point 5!

I didn’t get to sit with the cool kids then. I got bullied and laughed at. It hurt then. And often , when idiots like my “fan” wrote, it hurt now. I’d like to believe that I am stronger for the bullying- but honestly I’m just a little more jaded, a little more complex, a little less trusting, a lot less nice.

I’ve now rid myself of most of the complexes and I hope one day I and we can all rid ourselves from the bullies.

I forgive myself for hurting. One day I hope to forgive you.

But most of all I know that I will never be a bully and most importantly if I see someone being bullied, I promise myself- today and forever- I will stop it.

P.s. (Palat says)-: Don’t mourn my obituary. Make a difference to my life while I’m alive.


The Dirtiest 3 LETTER word!

feed-your-own-ego-im-busy

A common ailment most people are suffering can be put into just 3 little letters… E-G-O!

We’ve all heard “Jaante nahi ki hum Kaun hai?” (Do you not know who I am?) but nowadays it’s not just about stupid and cheesy lines , it’s about shouting louder, valuing your opinion above all else and not listening to anyone’s voice but you’re own, it’s about thinking of yourself as smarter and more important than anyone else in the room.

And even if you are, it’s when the ‘ego’ comes in to play that you drop in the eyes of those around you. The most successful people, I believe are those who let their words and work do the talking- not their ego.

I remember a client I worked with, who’d spend the first half of a conversation dissecting what I was wearing and how I was looking just to prove that they were ‘in charge’ of the meeting.

They would then continue to tell me how they laughed at someone’s ideas, how unfit another of their own employees was and use the first 40 + minutes of a meeting  talking themselves up by talking other people down.

At first I’d wonder about the personal attacks and then as they became the Modus Operandi – I realised there was no point in worrying, justifying or even thinking about this- because that would be an absolute waste of brain space!

Ego shows insecurity. It shows nervousness and worries. It shows you’re not as smart or as important as you think you are. And it even shows you’re probably not even right!

Rather than fight over non-issues these days, I’m realising to state my case and leave it at that- let the egos fight it out. I’m not in their ring. I don’t need to be.

While they bash themselves up over who’s more ‘important’, I might as well strut along at my slow but solid space- get out of the fight and go a long and win the war!

P.s. (Palat says)-: I am getting wiser in my youthful older age I’d like to believe or may be I’ve just realised if you’ve not got the ending you want… it’s probably not the end… 

…to all who have lost someone

What if I were forgotten , as if I were never there?

What if you couldn’t see me anymore , what if you didn’t care?

When my life is over , would you know my name?

Would I be remembered, would sunsets feel the same ?

What if I were forgotten , as if I were never there?

Isn’t life so transient- a breeze just passing air,

And for a while you’d miss me , see me all around,

But then you would forget me ,forget whether they were blue or brown…

What if I were forgotten , as if I were never there?

Would it even matter , should I even care?

Tonight I stand beside you and all the world stands still…

Tonight I’m yours forever , my fears are none , they’re nil.

So tonight let’s always remember, let’s not waste any time

Tonight I’m yours for always , tonight you’re always mine

And so if I were forgotten , I’ll never be not there

Because somewhere deep inside of you , some part of you will always care.

Sour Puss & Kotak Mahindra Bank

So off to the bank we went. Adulting is hard even when you are older. It seems everyone and here, by everyone you really mean your parents,- can do stuff way better than you! How they got so good at fixing everything is beyond me… but I decided let’s give it a try and handle some bank work on my own!

It seemed simple enough… we were paying money back to a bank- an absolutely unheard concept for most but since the amounts weren’t sufficient for us to do a Mallya or Modi and buy a new citizenship, rant about the fact that we ‘wanted to pay a debt back’ on twitter and afford a mansion in Europe- I figured let’s get out of debt. So off we were to Kotak Mahindra Bank, and sitting in front a sullen woman , who seemed unhappy that work was being given to her on a day she’d rather eat lays and glower. My chirpy (yes that happens occasionally) attitude annoyed her and she moved us away from her line of vision and then recommended (and I use the word kindly) that we leave. But we want to pay back a debt , we informed her. Well, the paper work was going to be an issue- i.e. she hadn’t printed them out yet , so may be we could take our selves out and come back later. While we changed schedules around to accommodate her, a gentleman who looked worn and tired brought paper work to her. “That’s it , right Ma’am, I’m done? Loan free?” Sour puss (my name for her) glared at him as if he’d broken the system by doing his own printouts and then grudgingly said yes. We congratulated him but the poor man was almost in tears– ” it’s been so hard…. just to give them the money and close the loan ,” he said.

And that’s when I realised. Every day we have a choice- a choice on how we are viewed. This man had probably taken a loan for his dream home. Today should have been the happiest day of his life- now that his home was finally his and yet she chose to make it hard on him. Instead of being his supporter, his cheerleader and his helper- she chose to vilify herself.

We get a choice every single day to make an impact on someone’s life- to make a difference. That difference can be either negative or positive- but the choice is solely ours.

Your life impacts others. Your choices impact them. Your behaviour impacts them. We can’t live selfishly unless we’re in a box. When you converse with someone don’t just turn up- actually show up. Be present and be aware of your impact.

So what happened to my interaction with Sour Puss? Well she pushed us out of the branch and we returned (more because of that gentleman’s warning). She remained sullen and upset when we now had done the hard job of print outs for her. She made us sign all the wrong sheets for her own record and had to then spend the next day coming to our office and correcting all her mistakes.

She made an impression on me but like the gentleman earlier- she made a terrible one. But she also inspired me to start being present during my interactions with people because I want all those that I meet to feel that I am present and that I want to be there. In a terribly negative situation, I learnt something…though more often than not I wish you could just learn life lessons from fortune cookies… not miserable encounters 🙂

P.s. (Palat says)-: Be grateful for the people you meet. Learn from them- not just what to do but what never to do.