Thirty-two stitches at the back of my head, 7 across my throat, 7 on my stomach, a squinted eye and a long tube (shunt) in my head… that’s the price I paid for staying alive.
It all started in my first teenage year. At 13, the doctors told me there was something dark inside my head that caused the unbearable pain and fits I had been experiencing ever since I was a baby. A tumour, they called it.
So there was a thirteen-year-old me in the anaesthetics room taking a high dose of anaesthesia and preparing myself for undergoing a brain tumor surgery. Honestly, I wasn’t really afraid. I guess the tender age had led me into oblivion. While everyone in my family was worried sick, all I could think of was getting this over with, and going back home.
All this was way back in July 2010. Post the surgery, I was restricted to my bed for 3 months, recovering, recuperating. Before the year was even over, I bounced back bursting with new found energy. Knowing that I was alright now, free of the tumour. Ready to take on the world, going back to school and getting life back on track!
But little did I know that this society that preaches acceptance of all kinds would be ice-cold to my struggles. Some of my very own classmates started to avoid me, the ones who didn’t were even worse. They mocked me for my shaved head, the newly developed squint in my eyes and some precautions I was supposed to take post-surgery.
To make things worse, PTSD (Post-trauma Stress Disorder) made it impossible to sleep, making sure, I relived my worst times in my dreams. The hospital room, the bed, the horrible food- all came back to me in my dreams.
At this point, I would like to take a moment to stop and thank the few good people who stood by me in my tough times. While most people failed to understand what I went through, there were some who became my strength.
Fast forwarding to 2015, I was healthy, I was happy and finally school was over, which meant my bullies from school were gone forever and a new group of people would enter my life. Now like any other kid, I had big plans of qualifying into some big college outside my city- enjoy my hostel life, share a room with friends, party on the weekends. However, my parents were too afraid to let me out of the city. So, once again, “I accepted” God’s plan, and enrolled in a law college in my hometown- Dehradun.
Despite a rocky couple of years, college started on a happy note with me becoming Miss Fresher. Finally, I thought my life was going as planned. But, that’s where all goes wrong, isn’t it? We think the steering of our life is in our hands, and we can ride it easily through, but we don’t take into account the bumpers and the broken road that we cannot see just yet.
Three years passed like this and it was 2018. I had fully recovered from my past and was taking my life in a stride. I was going to be the head of the theatre group, I had what I thought was the start of a healthy relationship, I even had a part-time job. Life was perfect. Or was it?
One fine day, sometime in March 2018, I don’t remember what happened but when I opened my eyes I was in the ICU. Confused, I asked my mother what was going on. She told me, that after coming back from college one evening, I had simply fainted. That was 15 days ago, and since that day I had been in a coma.
Life was never the same after this. I was put on bed rest for a year. There I was, in an almost vegetative state, without any memories and understanding of what was happening around me. That year was tough. I didn’t even remember how old I was, partly because I had spent my birthday in the ICU, unconscious. I wasn’t even capable of carrying out the basic daily activities on my own- my family had to feed me, bathe me, take me to the washroom.
Frankly, I do not have much to share about that one year because I have no memory of it whatsoever. All I know is that my life came crashing into a thousand pieces. Obviously, I had to put my college on pause. Someone else became head of the theatre group. The guy I had just begun dating, started seeing someone else. That part-time job wasn’t something I could handle anymore.
When you hit rock bottom, there’s only one way to go: up. That became my motto as I resumed my college in January 2019. I knew I had to make up for two lost semesters, and that I did. Sitting for back to back classes and exams each month. All this with a very weak immunity, extreme weakness and a shattered soul.
Today, as we have entered the third month of 2020, I have come quite far. Out of 26 back papers, I am left with only 10 more. College for my classmates ended earlier this week, while I am still left to cover up the remaining exams. In a couple more months, I will have completed my BBA LLB. Not bad for someone who cheated death eh?
Yes, I do still feel the after effects of the many many brain surgeries I have had in the past decade. I wobble when I walk, I cannot run fast, my vision has been significantly affected, I have lost one complete year of my life, I have gained over 20kgs of weight, medicines and follow up doctor visits do not seem to end. But I have something which a lot of “normal” people out there seem to lack: Patience and Will Power.
Yes, life is tough, life is unfair and it gives you a hundred reasons to quit. But you can show life that you are stronger by looking it right into the eyes and telling it you are tougher and stronger than she is! All you have to do is take baby steps one day at a time.
Thirty-two stitches at the back of my head, 7 across my throat, 7 on my stomach, a squinted eye and a long tube (shunt) in my head… that’s what saved me and gave me a new life. And I rise.
Shubhi Sharma, 23, is a law student at ICFAI college, Dehradun. Apart from her big, fat law books, she is passionate about theater, social services and funny animal videos. In fact, she might just love animals more than her fellow humans. Her biggest strength is her family, which she loves to the moon and back.