Discovering The Undiscovered
Discovering The Undiscovered
‘The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your hands,’ said Mary Pickford. Life is unexpected and you never know what will happen to you.
Hi! I am Anuva Maheshwari and I am 16 year old. I am a massive stroke survivor. This story is about during and after my stroke.
It was my 8th birthday, when my parents gifted me a beautiful diary as I was fond of writing and penning down my emotions. After a few days later of my birthday, I got high fever in the school. My mother was called up to pick me up from school. Due to my high fever she took me to the hospital. For 10 days I had high fever around 104 to 105 degree. With medicine the fever went down but again it bounced back and doctor was treating me, but I felt uneasy. My parents then changed hospital, the other doctor took my X-ray immediately and he found something very serious and thus suggested bigger hospital set up.
Then I was admitted to the hospital recommended by the doctor. Immediately after admission, the nurses started taking blood samples. It was little painful but as I was in fever I did not make any fuss but trying my best to be conscious. After some time I felt drowsiness and I went blank. I guess time stopped in vacuum. When I opened up my eyes, there were machines & nurses all around. Soon I came to know that I was in ICU. There were mixed feelings within my heart. I had too many questions for them. My eyes shifted here and there in the room and I tried to remember what had happened to me. Suddenly my heart was filled with sorrow because I was all alone, my parents were not there, to tell me what had happened to me. I believed and I was sure something was wrong with me and that’s why my parents were not around but I didn’t leave hope to see them.
I was sure my parents would come. I was calm and patient. I was waiting and looking at the door all day for my parents. Finally my mother turned up in the ICU room. She looked at me and held my hand. I didn't know what was going around, my mother said I didn't opened my eyes and responded since two days. I struggled to talk but words were not coming out. My brain was talking yet no body part was responding. I tried to smile but felt difficult to even smile.
Few days later, I tried to move my right arm to sit up but I could not. What happened? I had no sense of my right limb’s existence. I wanted to ask what has happened to me but how to ask? No one could listen to me. My body was pierced with needles and tubes and I could barely move. Therefore, I laid down quietly with all the pain hidden in my heart. I had undergone stroke! I was told much later, which I couldn’t understand. I just wanted to get out of the hospital and be with my family and friends.
No one could visit me except my parents. I was missing my family badly especially my little naughty sister and my beloved father. Later I discovered that children were not allowed in ICU as they would easily get infection and I guessed my father did not had that courage to see me in this condition. He has been always like this, loved me so much but couldn’t express. I had many questions to be answered but how to ask?
Going to vacuum was a common phenomenon, in that phase I felt nothing, thought nothing. This was very painful to my parents they said. One day, when I opened my eyes my mom was sitting beside me with Chinese checkers which once I told my ‘Nani’ to bring, I knew she would bring it. Also, there were many Get Well Soon cards made by my friends and relatives; hanging near drip bottles. Suddenly from distance I saw my favorite class teacher, Sujata miss and primary section Principal. My smile was filled with gratitude as they had come to the hospital to visit me. Now I was motivated to recover soon so that I can start going school again, I loved my school and friends. I always had 100 percent attendance. Later that day, my dad turned up, he held my hand but did not utter a single word. He looked so pale. But he left soon. Only my doctor aunt and mother stayed for most of the time.
My mother used to talk endlessly and discussing things as if I am answering and responding but I couldn't understand many of her talk. I mostly didn’t understand because it seemed to me very fast, I couldn’t keep up with her. One day in evening my mother was leaving I didn't like it because then I felt alone in ICU, my brain screamed Mumma don't go, my mother turned up and she cried that I spoke “Mumma- my first word” after so many days; she called up every one and said this. Now she persuaded to repeat what I said. But I couldn't. I felt so helpless..Whenever I was alone, I thought of some words to say in my mind and I tried to speak it. I failed every time but I never left hope that I can talk someday again. My mother used to stay all day, talking to me which I tried to reply but sadly no words were coming out.
Next day when physiotherapist visited she was helping me to do some exercise; it was just impossible to lift my right hand, I shouted out of pain and try to say stop but it came out word “Mumma”. This condition is known as ‘perseverance’ as told by speech therapist, where patient repeats one word again and again. Most of physiotherapists were good to me but the one who was especially assigned to me was very stubborn. She didn’t listen to my requests of pain and inability.. I started to move my right limbs little bit because of her. My gratitude reserves for her now. Meanwhile, my speech therapy also started.
After 21 days in ICU, I was shifted to private room. After that, I had occupational therapy (OT) & Physiotherapy (PT) in the morning, later speech therapy (ST) rigorously. After these therapies, I used to have free time. In that free time, I used to solve sheets which were prepared by my mother. We both were determined not to give up. Looking at my efforts doctor used to comment that I would become ambidextrous. Before this illness I was right handed and now because I became hemiplegic (My complete right side was paralyzed). The unaffected hand from the stroke was left hand. Therefore, I started learning to do things with left hand like writing which was earlier done by right hand. I couldn't not walk as I couldn't balance my body. Still I had no clue that what has happened to me but I was trying very hard to recover and wanted to live a normal life.
Many of my relatives has started to visit me now. They talked to me, blessed me, and played with me. Those who couldn't visit sent me cards for quick recovery. Whoever came, I tried to speak but no luck. Once I was playing my favorite game UNO with my aunt and I was about to win and suddenly said ‘UNO’. Everyone was shocked and even me. This encouraged me that I could talk with little more effort. Meanwhile the process of writing improved. I was able to lift my right hand independently with the help of therapies and I had strong determination to become ambidextrous. I used to grab pencil with right hand and over that I wrapped left hand to write. Slowly I was able to write with my left hand properly. I used to sweat a lot during this process. With regular practices and therapies, I could do things in a better way. I was determined to live normal for sake of me & my family and prove that I could recover from my disability. Neurologists told my parents the list of things I would never be able to do in my life. But my progress with strong determination was overpowering those predictions. My parents believed in me and myself too. I don’t believe in giving up.
Still I was waiting to see my sister. One day, I saw her almost after a month in my room when I returned from therapies. Nonetheless to say, she came very quietly to surprise me. When I first saw my sister my eyes sparkled, my stomach did a somersault, all my pain was gone. First time my senses approved with me. I stood up from my wheelchair forgetting that my legs were not working, that I can’t properly balance myself but only keeping one thing in my mind, to reach out to my sister. As I almost reached her, I fell down before having a hug from her. My five year old sister horrified and clung to father. Later I had a gala time with her. With this incident, I realized that with focus, will power and determination, I can recover and I would be normal child as others.
My parents narrated to me that doctors were not expecting me to live a normal life after so much destruction in brain as my ⅔ rd of left brain was dead. I was not only hemiplegic but my complete speech centre was gone, major insult in prefrontal cortex, I would not be able to rationalize my decisions. I wouldn't be able to do certain things like tying shoelaces with both the hands, writing with right hand again, buttoning up my shirt without others help, I had to learn alphabets from the scratch. But I proved doctors wrong. Now, I can tie my shoelaces, can do buttoning independently, now I can write perfectly with left hand I received best handwriting award in my class. I survived with all odds and difficulties though doctors could not predict my improvements.
At present when doctors look at my MRI and my improvement, they call me a ‘miracle child’. It wasn't easy to refute medical science. It took hard work and most importantly strong will power. My parents, sister and other family members all were there for support.
Talking about my academics, I was promoted to next class although I wasn't there in the school for six months even I didn't appear for final exam. My heartfelt gratitude to my school who supported me in the best possible way for which I am indebted to them. I started learning alphabets, then words and then sentences again. It was difficult to frame sentences but I never gave up. Even teachers taught few sentences when I was free during school-time. I never felt bored to learn new things in fact I was excited. Now I could willingly express my feelings through words. My school friends and teachers were appreciative. When I was giving first exam post stroke, I knew much of the content even though not attended the classes, due to regular therapies. When the results were out, the ones who knew me well were happy that I could score average marks in fourth standard.
With respect to language I am still compromised. My sister was too talkative and whenever we quarreled, I always lost because it took time for me to speak and she wouldn't wait for me to speak. My mother took notice of it. She explained it to everyone to give me sometime to talk. But these arguments with my sister helped me to gain my vocabulary and language faster. I had innate desire to give her good justifiable answers during arguments. Now I have become as swift as earlier though some grammatical errors are there. My speech is as good as normal. Whenever I narrate my story to anyone, they are surprised as they see me as normal girl. Today I can dance, swim, cycle and compete with my sister. Concept of hemiplegic exists no more.
Though I lost my speech and my academic strength. I regained both. The medicines did their work but it was not the medicines that healed me but the support of the family and the flames of hope inside our hearts. Slowly and gradually I understood that only medicines can’t do their work I need more willpower, hope to recover and love for me to see me again standing on my feet independently.
Though I am very young to inspire the minds of young generation. I have not achieved yet anything great in my life. Even I do not know where my life will take turn but I am sure whatever I do I will do my best. I got few 1st prizes and certificates for my handwriting post stroke. I learnt calligraphy and I was the one who got the comment that I wrote most beautiful calligraphy handwriting. As per doctors I could command only one language, so my mother wanted me to drop Hindi; my second language to reduce the burden of academics, but I denied. I participated in Hindi Rashtrabhasha competitions; I got the appreciation certificate for that. Now I will learn French in my summer break and prove that even though I had stroke due to which my speech centre in brain was affected I can still learn new language.
I lastly conclude that will power & hard work would help to achieve anything in the life. These two things always go hand in hand and have a great impact on our lives. There are many miles to go. My journey has just begun. I have taken Biology & Maths as my major subjects to become a genetic engineer in future. Education counselor says I wouldn't be able to do. But I believe in myself and I will do it. I want to be genetic engineer because it fancies me as I shall modify genes and can prevent certain genetic disorders.
“Where there is a will there's a way” I believe.