By Beena Joshi • February 12, 2019

Have you ever found yourself cribbing about having a busy life? Feeling tired of waiting for a lift for so long because you don't want to take stairs? Felt so lazy that you didn't want to go to work/school/college? Or even feeling so exhausted that you wished for a break where you could just lie down on the bed all day and not worry about work/studies?

If someone had asked me these questions 2 years back, my answer would have been YES! ALL THE TIME.. My name is Beena, and my story begins from here..

I was born in a poor family where we, my parents, brother and myself lived in a small room for many years. While growing up, I saw my parents making many sacrifices for me and my brother. They wouldn't buy anything for themselves so that they could fulfil all our wishes. The small amount of money they earned, they invested it all in our childhood to make sure we don't feel lesser than other kids around us. My parents were not educated and they had a dream to see me and my brother educated so that we don't end up living life the way they did. I decided to focus on my studies and give my parents a better life, the life that they deserve for all the hardwork and sacrifices they have made.

I finished my graduation and got placed into a Leading firm in Audit industry. That moment changed my life completely. From my salary, we could gradually buy a TV, a bigger bed, rent a bigger house and slowly life started getting better. My father had always taught me one thing, wherever you go, work wholeheartedly and honestly. Be an example of sincerity and dedication not just at work, but at everything that you do. I worked really hard and I was always counted as one of the top performers in my team. After working with the same firm for 4 years, I got an opportunity to move to the London Branch and work there permanently. I saw a sense of pride in my father's eyes that day. My family was scared to send me so far away from them, but at the same time, they were really proud of me, they could never even dream about this day. I worked in London for 2 years and in those 2 years I could give my family the life that I wanted to give them. Our lives had completely turned around and we were all living our dreams.

In the process of fulfilling my dreams, I took my body, my health for granted. I had worked really hard since I started my career but the 2 years I spent in London I worked days and nights, taking no rest. I was mentally exhausted. I took a lot of stress because I wanted to compete and I wanted to win. I wanted to be the best in everything I did. I had become a workaholic and that was the time I felt that I needed a break from work and relax for some time. I felt physically tired of travelling and being so busy that I didn't have any time for myself. I decided to go back to my parents in India. I knew that with my experience, I had an aspiring career in India as well and I badly needed a break. So after spending 2 years in London, I came back to India but little did I know that my life was about to take another turn. And this time, it wasn't going to be a positive one.

After 1 month, I decided to join back my previous office in India. I still remember it was June 8th, 2016 when I got a job confirmation call from the previous employer. I was really excited to start working there again. On the same day, I started feeling a weird numbness on my right foot and by the evening I found myself dragging my right foot. I went to a doctor's clinic and he told me that this is due to dehydration in my body because I workout at gym and my body needs more water. I came home, had a lot of water and thinking that I will feel better tomorrow, I went to sleep. The next morning I woke up at 4 am to go to the washroom and I found that my entire right side, including my arm was feeling extremely heavy. I was scared and I woke up my parents and we all went to a nursing home nearby. They admitted me immediately but till the evening they could not diagnose what was wrong with my body. By the evening my entire body felt extremely heavy and I could not move anymore. I was shifted to another hospital and during this process I started facing difficulty breathing. A doctor came and asked me and my family about the symptoms and that was the moment when I heard these 3 words which changed my life forever – I was diagnosed with Guillian Barre Syndrome (G.B.S).

It is a rare neurological autoimmune disorder which leaves your body paralysed, damage your nerves and in 30% cases the patient requires a life support (Ventilator) to be alive. Unfortunately, I was one of those 30% cases. The cause of this disease is still unknown. My breathing was becoming more and more difficult for me while I was in the ICU and at that moment I saw my father looking at my face, talking to a doctor and crying. All my life, as a kid I have seen my family facing many difficulties but I had never seen a tear in my father's eyes. Doctors had told my family if I don't get put on a ventilator, I will not survive and they can't say for how long I might have to be on ventilator. It was 12th June 2016, my 27th Birthday when I was put on a ventilator.

I was in the hospital for 2 months on life support. This disease takes away your ability to swallow so I survived on milk feed given 3 times a day. During these 2 months I had survived some near death experiences, including skin allergies and multiple infections. There is no cure for this disease apart from physiotherapy to regain the muscular strength and bring back the erased muscle memory. I was sent home from the hospital immediately after being taken off the life support. My body was still fully paralyzed from neck down and I couldn't even lift a finger at that time. I started my Physical therapy from home. Slowly I started gaining some strength in my arms, fingers, my back, my neck and rest of my upper body. It was a very slow process and it took me 1 year to be able to take my first few steps with the help of a walker. I fell down many many many times while learning to walk again. Many times I cried whenever I looked back at my life, I was an independent girl travelling places and now I was dependent even to get out bed. I remember going to a neurologist in a big hospital at that time who saw me on a wheelchair and said to me, you should accept that this what it is going to be like. You have recovered as much as you could. But then he said, keep pushing as well because Miracles do happen. I had two options at that time, first was to give up and accept that I will never be myself again and other was to keep pushing. I chose to be my own miracle.

I started working on myself with a will to get my life back. I started working for a small company from home and put my recovered hands and brain to good use. That job really boosted my self-confidence and I realised how blessed I was when I had such a busy life, when I was running to different clients, when I could take stairs without waiting for the lift, when I could get out of my bed and get dressed. I felt more motivated to get fit and I started practising everything that could help me getting through a day independently. It wasn't easy with so much internal weakness in my body. Every time I used to attempt anything outside my comfort zone like standing with a walker or stick, my body would start to shiver. I used to feel like a bird in a cage whose wings want to fly but no matter how much it tries, the cage won't open. I spent all the money I saved while working in UK on my treatment and now I was back to square 1.

But, as my father always taught me to be an example for others, I decided not to get defeated. I had to break the cage and fly again no matter what. I practised more and more to learn how to walk with a stick, how to go up and down stairs, how to sit and get up from a chair, how to turn, how to get into a car, how to walk while carrying a bag on your shoulders. I did Yoga to strengthen my stamina. I practised everything which could help me go to work without having any caretakers around. Another year passed and finally after 2 years of hardwork I was ready to go to work again. I joined my previous company which I could not join 2 years back. And since then I have never looked back. I had the courage to look into other's eyes and walk with a stick and give them a huge smile when they feel pity for me. My parents feel extremely proud of me again and now whenever I see someone cribbing about having a busy life, I tell them.. You are lucky! And it's a blessing..

This journey has given me many life lessons:

1. Count your blessing every day, because everything that bothers you at this moment is in itself a blessing.

2. Never ever let someone's words decide your destiny. Be your own miracle.

3. If you want something to change, you need to change something.

I still have a long way to go, but I have decided I will never give up my fight. There will always be problems in life, but there will always be two doors from which you need to pick one. Either live an unhappy life counting your problems, or live a happy life counting your blessings. It's that door you choose will decide whether you will fly or live your life in a cage.


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