It has been more months than I wish to count, enduring the aftermath of an accident that only took ten seconds to change our lives. It has taken us by shock and surprise; and no degree of knowledge or past experiences could have trained us to face this reality. Nothing can prepare you. You can choose to live life in fear and constant anxiety, or let go and believe that ‘come what may’, life will be happy in one way or another. Sooner or later. I can almost hear his voice telling me this.
Jitish has always been one to take on challenges with enthusiasm and energy. More than I could muster at most times. He is a survivor and has taken on the biggest challenge in his life; beating dangerous odds. After almost 5 months, he is medically stable, eating food, walking with help, communicating functionally and thinking intelligently. We have higher brain functions manifesting in simpler forms and I don’t think I can ever express the amount of gratitude and joy I feel.
Jitish is going through his battle to come out of this spell. I see him in some therapy sessions, trying hard to make sense of why he is here and why he is made to do tasks and take tests. He might not know who he is yet, or have no memory of anything. But he is still somewhere inside, fighting to get out. He is climbing his Everest. And I want him to get to the peak.
Our priorities have changed in an instant; from fighting for higher responsibilities, challenging projects, promotions, better jobs, financial investments, travelling around the world; to now, hoping to walk independently, read, speak, being unattached to a wheelchair, to be home and to be normal again. It takes the wind out of me everytime I think of how things have changed. When I see others going about their normal lives complaining about the traffic, a dead end job, or an annoying person, I want to say to you, “You have it better”. You can fix those things in your life. You have control over them. And I am happy that the normal irritants are stressing you out, and not things that you have no control over. I am oh so badly waiting to be stressing about a deadline or my waistline.
This is our personal tornado, and it will decide where we should be. We have no control. And the best thing I can do is to plan the immediate future, the next day, and the next week. And wait. Wait until time decides. Wait until Jitish comes back. Wait until I can finally start to freak out about all this.
I wish I could do more to help him. I wish I knew how. Dr. Joshua Medow, the Neuro ICU Director from UWMadison Hospital, gave me an important lesson. He used to keep insisting that I go outside, take time out for myself, take time to just be. But I never did, never would I have either. Not while Jitish was in the ICU fighting to be alive. I never understood why he insisted on taking time out. One day he came to me and said these words,
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.
It has taken me a fair few trying months to understand the meaning and depth behind the proverb. Over the last month, I have learnt to think less. Think less about what I cannot control. To instead focus my energy on things I can control. On work. On setting our home. On different activities that could help Jitish. On praying.
We have got a lot of support and advice over the last months, most of which have made us survive through this. People that have made this as bearable as it could be and keep my head as straight as it can be. We will be forever indebted to them.
People urge me to stay strong, I have to have the strength and the focus for the both of us. I am trying hard. As hard as I can. But this is not my best. Nothing could have prepared me for this.
I know I have to ‘Do my best!’. But this, is my worst! I am trying to do my best, at my worst.
And that is all you can do. If you are in a similar predicament as ours, focus your energy. Question yourself, and your decisions. But if you feel like you will cry, cry. If you want to hit something and scream and shout, find a batting cage. Find your vent. Your hormones are going to play tricks on you, and don’t for a moment be guilty of it. Grieve. It is a loss. Not the loss of a job. Not the loss of money or wealth. You will yell, and scream, and lose your mind. You will be fine the other times, get hungry, thirsty, feel normal. And then go through the whole emotional upheaval again. Grieve.
And then prioritize. Prioritize on what and whom you want to focus your energy and time on. For me, my priorities are set. Jitish, Finances, Work. It takes up all my time, leaving some time in the night to unwind and refuel for the next day. Find your relaxation method. Netflix, blogging, working out, whatever it may be. Take that time. This is not just for yourself. You have to refuel for him too. To be a better you that life can let you be.
Armed with all the optimism and faith, Jitish and I will persevere.
Until he comes back, We are going for broke.