You may think what the big deal is about this simple number. But for me this number means a lot. That is a number for which I am incredibly grateful. That is a number I cannot believe I thought I could see. That is a number which makes me very emotional.
Five years ago, on January 31, 2017, I suffered a massive and an extremely rare genetic stroke (brain hemorrhage). It was a miracle that I survived, and I am extremely grateful and thankful for that. As a friend put it, I touched God and came back. God decided it was not yet my time to leave this beautiful planet of ours, so I survived. I keep telling myself there must be a reason I was saved; there must be a reason for this second lease on life. Only God knows. My loved ones and I can only speculate. I do not believe in organized religion or in any specific god.
But I do believe in a supreme power.
After the stroke, I was completely bed-ridden initially, I started an intense rehab regime supplemented by holistic treatments and therapies which helped me move from using a wheelchair, to a walker and to a cane now. I started doing basic activities which I could not do right after my stroke. And over these five years, I was also able to do some more day-day activities.
However, there are still a few activities listed below which I enjoyed a lot before the stroke which I am still not able to do after five years. I am not complaining – I am just noting the fact. I am just grateful that I am alive.
Drive a car
Go to a Washington Football Team or Washington Nationals game
Wear contact lenses
Go to work
Play racquetball or tennis
Travel the world for sightseeing
Although I am still not able to do these activities, I am blessed to be able to do some others and have discovered some new ones such as:
Help people find the right opportunities or connections using my network
Listen to spiritual recordings
Volunteer my time
Besides being able to do the above, I can see some silver linings in Sameer 2.0. I am much calmer and more patient than I was before. I have become more compassionate and empathetic and have a greater sense of gratitude. I am reinventing myself as a writer. And some aspects of the old me have not changed such as my ability to laugh at life.
Although my life changed forever that day, every morning when I wake up, I thank God that I am alive, I am breathing! Otherwise, it was all over for me five years ago - I was this close to death. I remind myself of this constantly. And that gives me strength to go on every day as I reinvent myself. No matter how difficult it is to face my new normal, I am taking my new normal on its own terms, with acceptance but also with hope.
And whether I can do any of the above activities or not, I intend to live life fully with this second lease on life and approach it with a spirit of gratitude and find ways to move forward.