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!

Live the Moment

We all believe we live in the moment but I have to be honest most do not! Unless you go through something life changing, you don’t even recognise how long or how powerful a moment can be. This is true. A moment really counts when my arm hurts so bad tears stream down my face or when the husband holds me apologising for the arm pain which he didn’t even cause-the MS did!

Most people just turn up in their lives. They make a guest appearance. You go to your 9-5 or 10-6 job and you just count the hours so you can leave and go back and do another mindless thing you won’t give yourself to.

You shouldn’t have to have MS or a brain tumour or nearly die or do something equally dramatic to care about your life! You can be the hero- the star of your own story- shouldn’t you use your potential to do that

With those I work with and those I’m friends with , this is what I try and enforce

  1. Do one thing- but do it well, else don’t even start.
  2. In a conversation with me , lets both look at each other and actually listen.
  3. A job is not 8 hrs, it can be 1 hr or 2 hrs as well- it’s just about applying yourself when you work
  4. Do something- one thing every day that you absolutely love and be present during that moment.
  5. Have one conversation every day- not on the phone but face to face. Make sure it’s honest and be absolutely involved in the conversation.
  6. When you are doing your job- make that the most important. When you are with your family- make that the most.
  7. Be true to yourself, even with new people. People will either like you or not but you can’t live your life acting like someone you are not.
  8. You are the star of every day. Your film stars you. Make a it a film you’d like to watch. Be proud of you.
  9. This won’t happen easily- there’ll be many times where you are not even present during a work day or a boring family dinner. Stop, reboot, refresh!

I write this because I see so many who just turn up in their lives and never actually show up and enjoy it. We get one chance, (even if we believe in rebirth and after life) to be the best version of ourselves- to be a part of a film called our life. Wouldn’t you want a blockbuster? I do!

P.s. (Palat says)-: Its the husband’s birthday weekend this weekend so stay tuned for soppy posts and mushy , unwritten love letters!

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.


My Harshest Self

And with Multiple sclerosis , the mood swings for me are a bit intense. It doesn’t help that I’m a Gemini- Taurus cusp or that I have a steroid producing brain tumour or that I’m plain nuts… but I do seem to have really low lows. The plus is that I am logical enough to know it’s temporary and fixable. The minus is more often than not I’m not sure how to do that and get frustrated with myself for not knowing how to!

And then I think about the number of times we’ve had flaws pointed out in our Bffs by others and how fiercely we’ve stood by and protected them! They are not flaws, we insist; merely traits that make them more unique, more special and more loved.

What if we were to apply the same rules to ourselves?

So when we are meeting an indecisive client who doesn’t see the amount of effort it took us to create something special and we’re feeling low, instead of blaming ourselves for not realising that the work we’ve done won”t be immediately appreciated or faulting ourselves when the work out we’ve been killing ourselves with doesn’t give us the results we need today- we should love ourselves- much like the Bff who doesn’t always return calls or the one who is perennially late. We know that good things come to those who wait for them… why don’t we allow ourselves the same indulgence?

Why are we so mean to ourselves? Why do we give everyone around us a break except ourselves?

And it’s almost with pride that we say that ‘we are our harshest critic!’ Isn’t that sad? Shouldn’t we instead be our biggest fan? Cos if we were friends with ourselves , we’d actually think that we’re pretty darn amazing! Why shouldn’t we allow ourselves to be proud of who we are?

So I’m gonna start- I am absolutely nuts on one hand and supremely focused on the other- that makes me fabulous to hang out with, never short of conversation or gossip! I’m insanely driven and I’m fiercely protective and loyal. I am a fighter having fought MS and fighting it every day and that makes me pretty amazing! I would choose a friend with all of these qualities. So today and forever I choose me!

P.s.-: We have enough people in the world who’d like to pull us down…. there’s no point joining them. They don’t need the help!

I’m never gonna be who I thought I would

All through our lives we’ve been taught to make a difference, do more, be more!

And then it gets to a point- and here may be it’s the impending Birthday Me talking, where you worry- have I actually achieved what I was supposed to have… or was it all just castles in the sky created by my indulgent, loving parents (who btw are throwing a birthday dinner for me tonight- so yay!)… so I decided to take stock!

Well I started out right, topped school, went to Stanford and then I left Stanford prematurely to start acting. Interesting choice!

I started doing films, and started a Production house. One film became seven; the production house put on some truly memorable plays. Each play made me learn to give back to society and be really grateful as to where I was.

I got sick, got Multiple Sclerosis, was told I wouldn’t move but Docs ain’t got nothin on my stubbornness! So up I was and back at work!

I wrote and here I shall boast a bit (allow me, it’s my blog) a truly exceptional play where we toured the world, won numerous World Awards and gave lots of money to a cause I truly supported.

I found a tumour in the pituitary in my brain- didn’t waste a second ,started another company and an Not for profit charity, moved offices.

I have directed TV, commercials, digital, short films and anything that has a story- I have learnt to tell.

I have loved one dog with all my soul and another takes up my heart.

I see my family regularly and it’s still not enough; spend every waking moment I can stalking my husband, who annoys me , infuriates me, challenges me, engages me and loves me.

I’ve not done anything I planned to do when I was a child- but I’ve done so much more than I dreamed of. I’ve lived a life that I couldn’t have imagined because you can’t write lives like mine…

I may not be who I was but I am so excited to see who I will become…so as I countdown the days to my birthday…I’m going to celebrate who I have become with all those who’ve made me who I am on this crazy journey we call life.

P.s. (Palat says)-: You may not be where you think you want to be; but you are exactly where you are supposed to be right now!