I can feel her hand slipping away, I’m holding as tightly as I can but I’m losing her, I don’t have the strength to hold, I can’t do it anymore…I just want to close my eyes, I can’t do it…I can’t…I…
“Kiran! Stay with us! You have to stay awake, Mum, keep talking to her!”
My eyes shoot open and there she is right beside me.
“You’re going to be okay, just stay awake. Everything is going to be okay.”
She just wiped away the single tear that was rolling down her cheek, thinking I didn’t see it. She squeezes my hand and gives me a faint smile. I don’t know how she does it. So courageous, so strong; my beautiful mother…
…I see them, holding their charts, looking at records, looking at the machines that I’m plugged to; their concerned looks piercing at me, hurting more than the IV needles I can hardly feel; as a matter of fact when did they even put those needles in me…and why do I have these bruises on my arm…
…Right. Blood tests. But when did that even happen…
“Unhooked insulin pump…hyperglycemia…diabetic…careless…unreadable numbers…high blood pressure…risk of coma.”
Whatever, I’m too tired, my eyes are shutting again and I can’t stop them. I CAN’T FEEL ANYTHING, WHY CAN’T I FEEL ANYTHING?! I can’t lift my head…her hand is slipping away…again… I’M slipping away…all this beeping…make it stop, so many questions, medical gibberish…it’s all so distant. I just want to sleep…for a very long time.
…I’m awake again, I see him. My baby brother and oh look, my sister too. But wait, why are they crying hysterically? WHERE AM I? WHY CAN’T I SPEAK?
I heard them say I’ve been here for an entire day, I can’t remember anything
…I had…an exam..this morning…did I write it? No, not this morning…how long have I been sleeping?
“Can we take her home mom?”
I’m still tired…
It’s daddy! I open my eyes and I reach out but I can’t get a hold of his hand, WHY CAN’T I REACH OUT?!
But daddy takes my hand and he holds it close to his heart. Hmmm, when was the last time I even held his hand? It doesn’t matter, it feels nice, it feels like home, it’s warm and I finally think I’m going to be okay.
Yeah…I’ll be totally fine, everything is going to be okay…Dad will take me home and I’ll be okay…
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
They’re all rushing back into the room.
“We’re moving her to SickKids NOW! Mom or dad? Who’s coming with us in the ambulance?”
Dad tells them he’ll go, but I’ve never done this whole hospital thing without mom before…oh well, I guess it’s okay. I just want to close my eyes and sleep…yeah, I’ll just sleep…
…SOMEBODY STOP THESE STUPID SIRENS!
“Miss Bhullar, can you hear me?! Do you know where you are? Do you know where you’re going? Kiran, can you tell me how old you are? What’s your full name? Do you see your dad right beside you? He’s right here with you. Can you stay awake for me? We’ll be there soon, I promise. Just stay with me.”
WHY IS HE ASKING ME THESE QUESTIONS, SHUT UP
“If we lose her now, she’ll be gone. Possibly into a coma, brain damage, we’ll lose her.”
WHAT? NO! This paramedic is an idiot; I’m not going anywhere Mister. I can answer his questions, watch me!
…. Wait. Why can’t I answer? Come on Kiran, stop nodding your head and SPEAK! Tell him your name, tell him you know you’re going to make it, COME ON.
UGH THESE STUPID SIRENS.
“Kiran, I’m Dr. Cristi, we’ve met before, Dr. Kao’s clinic? You’re in good hands, they took good care of you and now we’re going to make sure you’re okay.”
All I can do is nod my head. Stupid. Stupid beeping, stupid noises, stupid hospital, stupid ambulance, I never want to hear those goddamn sirens again. Stupid nurses.
…I can’t do this. I need to sleep again…
…I’m slipping away …again…I’m going to be gone…No..NO NO NO, come on Kiran…where is dad?! Where the hell is mom?! I want to cry, I want to scream, GET ME OUT OF THIS PLACE, I’m falling… I’m going…I’m…slipping…away…
“Good morning Kiran. How are you feeling now? Rough night, huh? My name is Jonas and I’ll be your nurse. I know you probably have a lot of questions; the doctor will be here to see you soon and the nurse should be here any minute to do some more blood tests. Your dad is downstairs grabbing coffee, and your mom is on the way, you’ve all had a rough night. You can’t drink water right now, but I’ve left ice cubes on the side table so you can keep yourself hydrated.I have to finish my round, but just buzz if you need me! Oh…and welcome back.”
Am I dreaming? Was this all a nightmare that I’m waking up from? Am I a part of some sort of miracle? I can’t even remember what happened. How long have I been here? What day is it? Ugh, I need to lie down.
And then I suddenly realized that the only thing I needed to understand and remember back then is the same thing that I haven’t forgotten ever since:
Five years ago, I was given a second chance at life.
I have never been sure of how to share my story without it seeming too dramatic, or like a sob story being told for attention, or without it seeming like I’m trying to portray myself as some sort of hero because I’m really not. I’m just an ordinary girl who has made some extraordinary, life altering mistakes in her life, but someone who has also learnt her lessons and continues to learn them even today. The only difference between the 15-year old girl in that hospital room and the 20-year old young woman sitting in this chair today is that whereas one made mistakes while ignoring the potential consequences, the other realizes that while all mistakes have consequences, they also come along with lessons that can be shared with the world as an attempt to make the world a brighter place while she’s still here; there’s no shame in making your scars visible.
For a long time I always asked myself the question What if…? What if I had never made it out of that hospital room five years ago? But then I realized I was asking myself the wrong question. The right question to ask myself would be: Now what…? How do I not only learn from my past to make myself a better person but how do I also use this second chance to make a difference in the lives of others?
Though I try my best to make a difference each day of my life through several, varying outlets, today I plan to make a difference not only through sharing this story, but by also sharing the most important lessons taught to me through this life altering story of mine. Because the positivity and the bright smile that belong to me are much more deep-rooted than most people think and I want everyone to realize that no matter what struggles you have to endure, the dark tunnel eventually ends and once it does, you’re bound to find light.
My second chance at life has taught me these important lessons:
We all have demons inside of us; they consist of our fears, our regrets, things we’re ashamed of. What’s important is acknowledging the presence of these demons, which may be a terrifying act in itself because then suddenly they become real, but that’s the only way to fight them off. Otherwise they will weigh you down and hold you back. My demons were the ones that allowed me to blindly make the mistakes I did, almost costing me my life and then they showed up in the form of regrets refusing to be forgiven. But I eventually fought them off. And it’s a given that as we continue on with life, new demons take over the homes of old ones in much more complicated forms, but once we grant ourselves the ability to bring them to life and kill them off, we also give life to the possibility that as long as we can identify them, we’ll gather the strength and courage to get rid of them also.
We can’t spend our lives being bitter at the world, at people, at ourselves. Of course my struggles didn’t come to a halt after I had conquered the mess I put myself into. They continued and they still exist even now. But I had to stop feeling so entitled to my suffering because each and every individual around me was and still is fighting their own battles and in no way whatsoever was I granted the right to alleviate the struggles and battles of others. There’s a certain beauty in seeing the world through a once damaged and then repaired lens, beauty in going through struggle and pain and then being able to look at others with a new found extent of compassion and understanding. When you go through your own period of sadness, get back up and make the world a happier place to live in. “Let your past make you better, not bitter.”
Love is important. Give and receive love openly. I know that if it hadn’t been for the love I received from my family and friends, the tough road I have travelled might have never ended. Give as much love as you receive and a bit more on top of that. Love yourself too. Love yourself and others so much that your positive energy shines through no matter where you go. The cliché one-liner “Tell everyone you love how much you love them before it’s too late” is easily one of the most over-used lines in my writing because I relate to it so well. When I felt myself slipping away in the hospital room that night all I could think about were the last conversations I had with my siblings, my parents, and my grandparents and I was so bothered by not being able to remember the last time I had told them how much I loved them; perhaps because I had never actually openly expressed my love for them and I wanted to do that so badly right then and there. There’s no better time to express love, to reciprocate love, to receive love than right now. “Love makes the world go round.”
Share your stories. I love reading and hearing stories revolved around personal experiences from which I can learn and also be intrigued by the fact that there are so many of us in this world all working towards our destinations, each with our own story and not one story is the same as another. Stories allow appreciation for the human race and how intricately and beautifully our journeys are woven. I know my story won’t necessarily stick with everyone who comes across it and that’s okay, because if I make a difference in the life of even one person then my job here will be done. We all fear sharing our personal stories because of judgment, opinions and our perception of the concept of isolation and thinking we won’t connect with others so we’re alone. You would be amazed at how wrong you are. Storytelling has existed for centuries and it has its own magical way of drawing its audience into its web; into such a depth that they have difficulty escaping. After all, that’s all we are; merely actors playing the lead roles in our own lives and using the world as a stage to narrate our stories, and the people alongside us playing the role of our audience.
That’s really all there is to it. If I’m ever meant to understand this extremely complicated yet beautiful life I’ve been granted, then I believe that the above is as far as I’ll ever understand it and that’s enough for me. Many of those who know me are familiar with my positive attitude and big smile like I mentioned earlier. Well, now I’ve shared the secrets to my formula. A positive attitude and a smile do wonders! Besides, there’s no reason to make life any more complicated than it already is.
Not a day goes by where I’m not thankful for the life I’ve been given. It doesn’t matter to me whether what happened that night was luck, a miracle or doctors merely fulfilling their duties; I’m here, I’ve been given a second chance and I’m going to use it to make my life exactly how I want it to be, all while making the difference I want to make. I always say that life has taken a lot from me, but it has given me a lot too. And you’ve just got to work with what you’re given because it should always be enough, it will always be enough. Life is beautiful. Keep smiling, keep sharing, keep loving and just keep going!
Side note: The story above might leave some of you hanging because to add every detail would mean having to write a book (which I one day hope to do) but also, I myself cannot recall every detail that happened within those crucial hours because as the story portrays, I was not aware of my surroundings. To write about something means to bring it to life and I really have struggled to bring what happened that night back to life once more. I have re-lived that night through writing this story and I hope my readers can understand my experience to some extent through the above story. I don’t hesitate when talking about any of this, whether it be through conversation or storytelling so if you have questions, ask away!