The Road to Recovery – Part 2

“Fun is Good”

– Dr.Seuss

When I was about 10 years old, my father would tell me – “Go downstairs and play, go break some bones.” I took it too literally, sadly a decade later.

When you injure your hand (I have experienced this too, and that was pretty serious as well!) you can still move around and do things, but when its your leg – you are immobile, and you need help for every little thing. For someone, who needs to constantly move around, this got extremely frustrating. I was bound to my bed the entire day, and I absolutely resented the thought of putting my entire weight on one leg, to hop to the restroom  and to think that I used to love playing hop scotch at one point in time!

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Mobility Aid – My New Saathi (observe how I respected it by keeping the bubble wrap on) 

My physiotherapy started about 10 days later. Again, I was blessed with a wonderful doctor – Dr.Kiran. He would come home at 7 am and we would do strengthening exercises which I felt were more painful than  Jumping Jacks and pilates put together, why you ask? The aim was to get my New Leg to bend and I couldn’t move it – even a slight push would feel like someone was trying to dismantle my leg. And I had a big target already set in my mind.

When you get an ACL reconstruction – the doctors tell you – you need 9 – 12 months to get back to your prior activity levels. (No Dance, No basketball, No Adventure – SIGH!)

But, I had my convocation coming up on May 23rd 2015, and I had made it very clear that the doctors need to ensure I can go on stage to receive my degree without a walking stick. My father would tell me ‘why don’t you just go on stage with the stick? Set a style statement’, and trust me – I do wish I had listened – it would have made a better story!

I spent a month after college trying to walk again. It was like an infant trying to learn. I had to hold onto something , in this case it was my saathi. There was a particular way I had to do it, first I put the mobility aid down, then put most of the pressure on my left leg (this leg will play a greater role in the stories to follow) and then slowly try to move my operated leg.

Once I had learnt how to walk, my exercises were upgraded too! They got more intense, but I had a goal – No crutch on Convocation Day!

I remember making a list of movies and TV shows I wanted to watch and books I wanted to read to kill my time, but unfortunately I spent a major chunk of time overthinking and wondering how on earth would I ever get my previous life back. Everyone from my class was already working or on a job hunt, and here I was – bound to the four walls of my room.

My grandparents had also flown down to be with me because my parents were both working. Having them around was the biggest blessing and  that was when I got really close to my Thatha and Patti (grandparents).

The very first miracle:

My mom is an artist, she even has an art studio and conducts classes for over 50 students. So, I just got lucky to inherit some of her genes. In college I really wanted to open a personalized gift shop because I love making cards and making people happy!  In fact, my roommate and I had already decided the name and the B- Plan but never got around to it. But everything has its time – and so did Artista(My personalized gift store). So in the month of April the complex that I live in Hyderabad was hosting a Mela(fair) where the residents can put up stalls, and this was my golden opportunity. And my grandmother(Patti) had been a constant motivation for me. She would often ask me what was the latest craft I had made. So with my Brace and a special set up for my leg by my parents I sat and made 40 cards over two nights and put up a stall with my mom’s products as well. We were not sold out, but people seemed to enjoy what I had made and the appreciations received were a major boost that I had been craving for.

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Getting the art right with my Amma since 95
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First batch of Artista

To keep myself further occupied I made a 20 page scrapbook for my best friend Cynthia – because her birthday was coming up right before our convocation. I also got a surprise visit from my school friends in Hyderabad, which was just the thing I needed!

May 23rd was only a week away. I had gone from Mobility Aid and Brace to Walking Stick and Knee Band. But on that day it had to be ONLY Knee Band.

Dr. Kiran made it happen, did I play a role in it? Yes, I did the exercises diligently. Its human nature to work harder when there is a reward attached to it.

So, we decided to travel via road to Bangalore as this would also allow me to comfortably place my leg – however I wanted. Thankfully, I was able to get passes for my grandparents to attend the convocation as well.

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Can you see me beaming? I was for sure, at that moment just those few seconds, I completely forgot about my pain. Dr. Kiran had a very interesting way to teach climbing up and going down the stairs. He said while going down – you are going to hell – use your operated leg first, and while climbing up use your good leg because you are going to heaven. So before I got onto stage, I had help from my classmate Sanskriti and while getting off I had help from my classmate Nikita.

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(Left) My Appa’s Graduation – National University of Singapore (2007) and (Right) Rachna’s graduation – Christ University – 2015.

I was so exhausted by the end of it , that I just wanted a place to sit, and never get up again. I returned my robe to the college, meanwhile, my mom and dad were both trying to find me but on different floors. That day, I realized that when you are tired and worn out , anything can cloud your judgement of right and wrong. I hadn’t  got a picture with my dad, and if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have the coolest dad – daughter picture in the history of photographs. He insisted that I go back and get the robe(which required me to climb two floors), because only then we would have the above collage. And as always, my parents had saved the day and gave me another story to talk about.

After what felt like the longest and most overwhelming day of my life, I came home to a surprise (extended celebration) by my wonderful aunt, uncle and cousin! Since I couldn’t go anywhere, they brought the party home!

Start the day with a smile, and finish it with Champagne!

 

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The Road to Recovery – Part 1

I have divided my life into two categories – Before Surgery and Post Surgery. This has a greater significance than those five hours where I was under General Anaesthesia and have no clue whatsoever about what happened, but I was a different person before that, and some one else after it (and so was my leg, obviously!)

As you might have read in my previous post, I was taking my final semester – final exams in college with a Brace on to protect my now ACL and Meniscus torn knee. On March 31st, I headed back to Hyderabad after a very grand farewell from my wonderful friends and also a special drop off at the airport!

Farewell, Me trying to own the Brace and Walking Stick look and the Grand drop off at Kempegowda International Airport

What was next? That one dreaded word: SURGERY.

I will be very honest with you, I wanted the surgery so desperately and I didn’t at the same time. I knew surgery was the ultimate solution, but I also constantly lived in the fear that my leg would never be the same again, because there would be some external particles taking over it. One cannot really put into words how much mental preparation it takes to say “YES” to a surgery – when they are also given a choice to say no.

Right before I went into the operation theatre my dad told me “Go in and have some fun”, and I did; I asked the doctor who was about to give me the Anaesthesia “Is this the Magic Potion that will fix the pain?”, after which I blanked out, only to be woken up in a different room , by a woman who I believe had been asking for water for a long time. This was the observation room – and I pray that no one ever has to undergo the torture of being “Observed”. I have never felt that ignored in my entire life. My parents, who had been waiting to get a glimpse of how I was doing, were allowed only once for about 2 mins each. The irony is that one is protected from loved ones to prevent the patients from catching infections.

Now before I tell you about post surgery, let me rewind a little to talk about my Doctor. Do you believe that everything that happens , happens for a reason? Because I do.

My mom had taken an appointment with a Doctor recommended by my aunt. So on the 1st of April, my mom and me went to Apollo Hospital, a day after I landed in Hyderabad. I got VIP treatment, from my car to the Orthopedic department, I was taken in a wheelchair by not one, but multiple people (whoever was available). We were trying to find the cabin of the doctor that we had an appointment with. Guess what? We couldn’t and no one had an idea about who she is. Yes, I am serious. We asked 5 different staff members at Apollo Hospital, and all looked at my mom with a bigger surprise than the one taking over our faces, but by now my mom and me had become experts in trying to hide our Panic. My mom has always had a great presence of mind, and she really believes in doing things in the moment. So she decided, she will take an appointment with the doctor who was available at that time. Turns out, I was going to get one of the Best Doctors who has also been a doctor for Mumbai Indians and a few football leagues in England(Pretty cool huh?). The fact that the same person who might have checked Sachin Tendulkar will be operating on my leg, was very satisfying. Dr.Sharath Kumar, is such a passionate and positive human being, that anyone would instantly feel at ease with him and might even forget the pain for those few minutes, I didn’t fear visiting the doctor anymore, in fact I quite enjoyed it!

But no matter how well its put across to you, the word “Surgery” will still pierce through your heart.

So exactly a week later – 8th April 2015 is when the great and much awaited surgery took place. You would want to think that when you are in unbearable pain and have a surgery, the pain would reduce right? I mean, isn’t that the whole point? Well, I was wrong, the pain just amplified by about a 100 times (I swear I am not exaggerating) and it remained for about one week.

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I matched my outfit to my brace to stay positive about the operation ahead of me!

You know what is the worst thing about having your leg operated? Well two actually, the first is – finding the right position to sleep in and second is getting to the restroom, I won’t get into the details, but you get the idea.

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Seen in picture: The amazing Dr. Sharath Kumar, Operated Ligaments, and My darling aunt Dr.Reeta who decided to surprise me (and we hoped to reduce my pain over some LIT’s) . Do excuse me for not having the strength to pose for better pictures.

I think through out this entire process there were two very prominent traumatizing incidents. First, getting me into our car after my discharge, and second, finding the right level of elevation for my leg on the bed. And hats off to my mom, dad and aunt, they mastered it (After about 20 tries, and multiple loud shrieks from me).

The operation is just one hurdle. What came next was really what transformed me into the person I am today. Stay Tuned…