For A Feminist The Word “Sick” Was Unacceptable: My Journey From Being Bedridden To Boardroom

It is the undying memory of the cold MRI machine in the quiet hospital that stays like a pending shut and open case of my heart. As I shut my eyes, even today I can recall the memory of being strapped into a contraption, it was like a space machine. It was like the cold comfort of death of the old me. 

I was greeted with pale white all around, smiling nurses and unemotional medical interns. I began travelling into my body to find courage. 

I began for the first time to talk to my body, that was refusing to respond. 

I tried to remember the hypnotherapy classes but could not lull my anxious mind and remained awake. The trauma of complete consciousness and the happy, lucid dreams of the past that refused to come and take me away to the meadows and the cascading waterfalls. 

I tried hard to cajole and ask my body, “why are you abandoning me?” My body wouldn’t respond. 

I was being told by the nurse that I have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and the scare was, it could be the dreaded C or maybe I was just dying. 

It was beginning to become like a haze. The meshed up emotions all piled up like the piled up medicines, kept on the side of the bed. Four in the morning, two at noon, four at night and painkillers SOS. 

I recall one evening, it all started out of the blue, as I couldn’t look into the light bulb in my room, it began piercing my right eye with excruciating pain and my head was throbbing beyond control. 

I was in denial because my brain was refusing to admit that I was sick. The words were overwhelming for my weak heart. 

I reminded myself that I am brave, a goddess, who is on a pedestal and she can manage it all. For a strong, feminist the word “sick” was unacceptable. I was dreading losing my femininity. 

I was cognitive that inch by inch my body parts were giving away. It began with one eye that couldn’t look at light without steroids, one arm that wouldn’t move beyond the elbow, feet that were swollen beyond belief and a toe that was slowly becoming stiff. It was inch by inch and hour on hour I was becoming immobile. 

I couldn’t walk anymore without the help of my caretaker. The simple walk from my bed to my bathroom was getting impossible. Social relationships and friends began avoiding me and I was all alone with my body and mind that was breaking into tiny fragments. 

The flurry of hospitals and various doctors began. Some said it’s my health karma, some said it’s emotional stress and some told me that I was imagining the pain. My child was barely 7 years old and I died every time he returned from school and like usual, instead of rushing to me, he would at times in all innocence search for my household. I began resenting the caretakers and the support. But I had no control over my debilitating body and mind. I wanted my old self back. 

I had lost my career from a leadership role in the communications business to being bedridden, alone and isolated. 

I was estranged from my old self of who I believed I was and I didn’t recognise the new me any longer. 

It truly was a ride of compromises with the self-inflicted violence of deep grief in my mind that could not fathom what lay ahead. I desperately wanted an end and every little victory took me closer to euphoria. I was stoic and kept reminding myself that I would soon be out of this and shine like the sun. This was my blackhole moment, in the canvas of my art. I would soon paint the sun and the moon, in this canvas the star would be me. 

It was 7 long years of a tumultuous ride of doctors, medicines and deep sadness of losing myself. 

It is 10 years since those days of immobility and huge weight gain, a lack of self-confidence and a corrosive reality of my situation, that the universe found me and the right diagnosis with the right medications began. It was light at the end of the tunnel. 

Today I am back on my feet, wearing my heels and running from meeting to meeting, as I started my own brand consulting firm and writing extensively on gender, Indian arts, crafts and human interest stories. I began blogging from a cafe and today it has over 19K followers. I call my blog MoodyMo and I have also begun a podcast series where I interview entrepreneurs and women leaders who have dared to swim against the current. 

For very long I believed that I would never get back on my feet, never feel the wet grass under my soles and not walk into streets and alleys to find quaint cafes and mad artists. But I want to assure you that most things pass. 

I hope my honest writings find women who have not dared to voice their angst and not been brave to love themselves because of various conditions that may have altered their lives. I hope my writings give them courage and hope. I wish to say “if I can do it, anyone can”! 

This blog was featured in SheThePeople.TV, which is an Indian digital news website that focuses on women.

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