Yup, its two years from my Stroke and it's been a journey, but I have overcome the difficult period and look forward to the future. Dec 23rd, 2018 was when I was given another chance to impact this world, and we don't know now why. But we have to wait for the future to connect the dots but am sure I would make a strong impact.
To begin, I want to thank that supreme power for giving me a chance. And it would not be appropriate without saying a big thank you to a host of people who are/was with me on this journey. To begin with, Rekha. She was resolute in handling the initial months, connecting with the different doctors, insurance, work, and more so her mental strength. Thank you, Rekha.
My doctors in the hospital, who till date answer my emails and are willing to have a coffee with me. To the Physical trainers, physiotherapists, ergotherapists, speech therapists, the neurologists and the team at the reception of ZAR Munich, my therapy centre. A huge thank you to the wonderful people, without whose empathy, patience and care, I think I wouldn't have recovered so fast. You have instilled these values deeper than before.
To my friends' world over who were more than willing to speak to me, from week six on and still encourage me all the way. To my very close friends / inner circle, for their never-ending belief in me and saying it all the way, thanks for spurring me on. I hope not to let you down. To those who look up to me now, more than before, a big thank you for respecting me.
Lastly, my parents and brother. They may be thousands of kilometres away, they may not say a lot, but I know you love and care for me is unprecedented. Love you, Appa, Amma and Papu.
So, how have the two years been?
I can't describe the whole two years in this article and have a lot of content, which will come out in the future. So the snippet.
So let's start with the least affected part, the leg. I was able to walk, the second day after the Stroke and the leg continue to gain strength. I can go for a 5km walk regularly. The endurance was pathetic last year, which is coming back for sure.
The hand: From not able to lift a spoon at all, now I can lot of things, such as even writing this article. So, power has certainly got better. But, the control of the wrist is something I go to therapy even now. It's not consistent for my liking. For you to visualize it, sometimes I can't pour a spoon of instant coffee from bottle to my coffee mug, without spilling some granule on the kitchen top and sometimes I can cook a meal from start to finish. The control of the wrist is not helping to write while the coordination of the fingers is coming back slowly, but I will take what I have.
Now to my eyes. I don't know whether the eyes were impaired just before or during or after the Stroke. The eye as an organ is healthy, but some nerve connecting the brain to the right eye has got impaired. So I can read only half of letters or number if I see with only my right eye. Half means, sometimes it will half vertically and other times it will half horizontally. You can compare it to a loose connection of your charger to the socket, while you are charging your phone, as an example. But fortunately, the left eye is saving me, and if everything goes right, the next quarter they will clear me for driving again, as the reflex and vision field is not affected.
Speech: The first and only thing the doctors recommended was to pick one language to get my speech back. I chose English. The state I am now in is that, if you did not know that I lost my speech or you didn't know me or the last we spoke was maybe five years back, then you will never figure out about my speech impairment unless I tell you. That's the progress, and I am grateful to my speech therapists and hundreds of people who spoke to me. These people were so patient in the initial phase because I know what a strain it was for them to listen to me. The other languages are in the head for sure, as my cognitive abilities were not impaired, but I have to train in any/all those languages if I have to a stitch a sentence together in that language, but I can respond with one-two words at a time.
The brain. What an organ !!!
We disrespect it so much by not sleeping enough or not using the positivity around us or binge drinking or simply not hydrating enough. As I wrote initially, there is a lot of content to write, so subscribe to my articles.
Like any of stroke victims, I had significant stroke fatigue. I was like a child who wakes up a few hours but sleeps a lot. My brain used to get tired within two or three hours and badly wanting to sleep. After two years, I can say that I can be awake for 12-15 hours and focus on work without any fatigue for 4-8 hours continuously. After that my brain must calm down doing nothing for about 30-120 minutes to recharge itself to continue working. One thing is for sure, if I don't get adequate sleep at night, the endurance will dip just after 3-4 hours, or I know that my speech is not coming out as it should be or I am stressing my vocals, that's when I have to sleep again. And sleep is one thing not in control, and I can find a pattern till now. So one advice to all of you reading this article, get your 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
Overall, I must say that I am very lucky or blessed that the impairments I had were not so severe when I look at others, and I thank the almighty every day for this.
What did I learn in these two years?
I learnt a lot which I will write in due course, but I want to point out two significant aspects. One is People's Behaviour and how it changes towards you based on your situation and how silence is golden.
What I call as the one-percentile rule, that only one-percent of people in your life will be authentic or empathetic. The other 99% are selfish, who act as if they are interested in your welfare but with underlying selfish interest. In these challenging circumstances, you can see the crack in their relationship towards you. I used this rule a lot before my startup, during my corporate days, but somehow I diluted it. You know very well if you are the one-percent or not. There is nothing wrong about the other 99%, just that they fake the relationship and if you are a being, whose is self-aware, you can see their inauthenticity.
Keeping silent has helped me be in the present while speaking. Before the Stroke, my brain will be at least 3-4 sentences ahead when I used to talk. Now, it is one to one. So in some way, I am in the present, while talking, which helps to mentor, advice or coach startups. Also, it has helped to weed away the 99%.
How has COVID been?
This pandemic is the best thing to have happened to me for the reasons below.
The world slowed down, so there wasn't any pressure to get back on track quickly, and I could take my time. Secondly, since virtual was the norm, I could talk to hundreds of people, which help to recover my speech faster as practice, practice, practice was the mantra. And this kept my mind sharp as ever, because of the variety of topics and startups ideas I was engaging. This sharpening of the brain takes me into the future.
The future – Don't write me off, yet!!!
I started publishing daily snippets called Awareness Alerts and Mentoring Mantras at the beginning of the year only to pause showing empathy towards world due to pandemic. Soon, I will start to share this again, along with my articles.
While speaking to different players/actors in the European startup ecosystem during this year, I figured out many gaps, which has re-kindled my entrepreneurship DNA. My new startup PEPROTE (People | Process | Technology) will go live in a few weeks, starting to offer cost-conscious digital marketing and low tech services delivered from India.
I would need all of your help and support to grow this venture. Wish me luck and good health. To my 99%, I am not done, don't write me off yet.
I am a person who will celebrate success for the minute things in life because that moment won't come again. I like to be in the present, and so I will open a bottle of my favourite poison and have a few wee drams.
Cheers and have a Merry Christmas and Happy & Healthy 2021.