Sunday, July 5, 2015

Injury and beyond: advice to my future self


It happened in a blink of an eye. There I was, lying frozen and numb, on my back, on the hard ground. 

As I came back to consciousness, trying to make sense of all things around me, a dozen thoughts bounced in my head. I am so late to work! again!. My back hurts so bad, should I go back home, call in sick. I hope I'm ok, its not too serious. wow I cant move, must be serious. I call my husband who jumped into his car, still in his yoga pants and flip-flops, without a jacket on a cold day. 

And there it was, a spinal chord fracture, and two crazy months at home, mostly lying on my back with a huge metal brace around me. And now as I near the day where I get to take off the brace (3 more weeks and counting each day), I look back at this experience like a dream. Here are the lessons I learnt, which I think will be useful for other rainy days in future.

1. Break from planning. Sometimes you just need some time off from the world. And just retrieve into this world of your own. To rethink your life's objectives, and what would you do if you had a second chance to do it all differently.

2. Life can be over in a second. I remember one moment I was running to catch my train, wondering who just pinged me on whatsapp and planning my dinner menu at the same time. And the next I was unconscious for what seemed like ages. When I regained my consciousness, none of those things mattered. 

3. Feeling lucky to be alive. When I got my first X-ray report, the doctor said I was saved from a operation due to the fact that the fracture was on the other side of my spinal chord, such injuries can also leave one disabled for life.

4. Grateful to have people around you who care. I put a status on Facebook saying I had an injury and need prayers and blessing. I had more than 300 comments and many phone calls (my husband  and I connected with friends who we haven't spoken to in years). Though I was in pain and admitted in hospital, reading those messages made me feel so loved and secure. It made me realize that reaching out even through a small comment on social networking site makes a huge difference.

5. Its OK to be not OK. Sometimes we feel guilty about others taking care of us. I had to be at the mercy of my husband and friends until I could move around more. But I learned to be comfortable with that, and feeling natural in the state I was. I surrounded myself with hundreds of books (reading being the only activity I enjoyed that I could do somewhat without too much discomfort)


6. Stop being in a hurry. I am still working on this one. Being in a hurry is my defining character. I might as well stick up a huge placard on my forehead saying "whats next". I keep seeming to go though activities and events, sometimes just to get it over with. I would probably say stopping to smell the flowers is such a waste of time. And then, when I seemed to have nothing to do the whole day except staring at the ceiling  and dodging uncomfortable thoughts (you know the whole range of why mes, and what about mes) there probably comes a point when you tell the mind to shut up. Its probably the best advice a mind gave itself.

7. Taking care of your body and mind. The thing I missed the most was being able to do my daily practices of Yoga and meditation. Its like my anchor in this world of chaos and commotion. My quiet corner on a busy subway of life. My sanctum sanatorium of inner peace. Its where I draw all my inspiration, energy and enthusiasm from. Over the years of doing Yoga and meditation, and even teaching it, I realized that I was somewhere taking it for granted.  These days also gave me a chance to listen to talks by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Patanjali (the founder of Yoga) Yoga sutras and to build back the same honor and reverence I had when I started.

8. Everything is changing. Now that I am stronger (not yet strong enough to do Yoga though) It feels magical to be able to move better. To turn and to not feel any pain. To sit for longer without discomfort. And to travel to work everyday (with a bit of discomfort). And I know this will also change. But amidst all this, holding on to the one thing that does not change (the precious one that meet it in my meditation everyday) is my real key to happiness. 

I think I have enough advice here for my future self. Maybe I will even come back and add to it when I have something new.

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