That is what I call myself. Before my stroke, I had completed two bachelor’s degrees and an MBA. Then I worked with several global companies for 24 years in different roles in management, consulting, technology, sales, account management and knowledge management. There was no thought whatsoever of writing. I had not even written anything for the college newspaper or for the various companies I worked for. Forget formal writing, I had not written for any informal channels such as a blog either. Also, I hardly used to read any books (I read newspapers and magazines regularly but not books). However, for more than a decade, I supported my ex-wife in her writing endeavors by primarily giving her feedback for the various articles and books she wrote. That was the closest I came to the writing process. But even if I had not written anything myself, I got to learn about the writing and publishing industry.
Until January 31st, 2017, my life was chugging along fine, it was normal and predictable. I had adjusted well to my life in the United States after I moved from India in 1990. I was living the American dream - great job, nice house, loving family, fancy sports car, and was generally well settled. But on that notable day, I suffered an extremely rare and massive hemorrhagic brain stroke suddenly without any warning. On that one fine day, my previous life ended forever, and a new normal set in and has changed ever since. I would require two different brain surgeries and spend the next month in a medically induced coma before I could even begin the years-long hard path to recovery, which is still ongoing. Also because of the stroke I had to quit working after doing so nonstop for more than two decades. Then, on top of it I went through a divorce. My life had come crashing down. I was at the lowest point in my life. I had a choice to make – be miserable and depressed about my situation or accept it and find ways to be positive and to express gratitude. I chose the latter. As Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted when she was 14 for nine months from her home in Utah, says, “Ultimately, it’s our choices that make us who we are.
After my stroke, I was completely bed-ridden initially, then started using a wheelchair, then a walker and now on a cane. Having had to stop working and the divorce added to my emotional turmoil. Despite all my adversities, I felt profoundly grateful and thankful to have this second lease on life. As part of my recovery, I had done many treatments/therapies in Western and Eastern medicine to help me heal my mind, body, and spirit. I wanted to give back to society somehow - i.e., to help others going through adversity or any life changes by sharing my stories, experiences, lessons learned from my journey. My mission became to help and guide people worldwide on how one can prepare for and embrace their new normal. I also wanted to thank the hundreds of compassionate caregivers, family, friends, colleagues, and supporters in both my adopted country (USA) and my country of birth (India) who aided me and literally saved my life. I found a way by penning my memoir One Fine Day and I sincerely hope that it will provide some comfort, information, and inspiration to others. Also, as I wrote One Fine Day, I also realized that doing it was also helping my healing.
My calling to help others going through any adversity or life changes was strong. But I was not sure how I would write due to my health condition. I could type with only one hand and could not focus on my laptop more than 10 or 15 minutes at a stretch, and I was not a writer. I found a way to do it by hiring a professional ghostwriter to write for me. I would be the author with my stories and experiences, and the ghostwriter would help me write it. The process was, for each chapter I would make notes. The ghostwriter would then do an initial draft. Then I would add/delete to it and send it over to the ghostwriter. He would fine tune it further. Like this, we went back and forth several times and then I did the final additions/deletions. We wrote eleven chapters this way in about a year. I have to say it was a great collaborative effort between us. What this process allowed me to do is not sit in front of my laptop for a significant time at a stretch. And I found out I was a decent writer.
I have learned to play the hand I was dealt, not the hand I wanted or thought I deserved and have slowly accepted my ever-changing new normal. “It is what it is,” became my mantra and it means taking my new normal on its own terms, with acceptance but also with hope. However, acceptance is hard but it increases over time, although I must be honest and say I have not fully accepted everything— I do not think one ever can. With this memoir, I have now become an author and I am trying to reinvent myself – from a corporate guy to a writer. If someone would have told me that I would have a life altering stroke at age 47, still be rehabbing after four and half years, be on long-term disability, not working, divorced, and writing a memoir, I would have laughed. But this is how life is. My intention is to continue writing full-time in the future and if my health allows it. But I also need to put food on my table and full-time writing may not cut it. So, I may write part time and quietly go back to doing some part time work. Only, time will tell!
All I can say “Never say Never” – you just do not know which direction life will take you. I am a living proof!