In March 2015 I was taken into A&E with a life threatening illness - subarachnoid brain heamorrhage. I was treated by The Salford Royal Hospital with 4 brain operations leading to a Shunt inside. This condition is 50% survival and the remaining have serious disabilities like hearing problems, difficulty walking and brain damage.
I'm extremely lucky that I'm here today to be able to share my story and trying to do my best to give something back to be able to help others. I have created video blogs, do regular motivational talks at schools and for charity including the Royal College of Surgeons London. I am also Ambassador for the Brain and Spine Foundation charity. This unfortunate situation has also given me focus and direction in my work - I’m a VP in a multi-global fashion company, which has helped me to be able make a difference on how I now approach any situation.
A week before I suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage I told my sister, Rajni, and husband, Deepak, about a reoccurring dream I was having.
“My head is shaved and I’m in my pajamas in a wheelchair being pushed around by family members,” I said.
“It’s just a dream,” they said. “Nothing to worry about.”
But this wasn’t the first time I’d had premonitory dreams. I wasn’t feeling well the day of the haemorrhage. My back was hurting and I had a headache that wouldn’t go away even after taking aspirin. We had our usual team meetings at work about how to increase revenue for our growing fashion business.
And I was due to be in Dublin the next day for customer meetings. I decided to leave early since my headache wasn’t going away and I needed some rest.
My daughter Jasmine’s birthday was the following day as well. Instead of resting when I got home I wrapped Jasmine’s presents with my son, Jay, and we hid the birthday cake. It was so hard to believe my baby was going to be fifteen.
Later in the evening, I huddled together with my kids and husband on the bed to watch my favourite TV program, Mr. Selfridge.
I still had a niggling headache.
It’s been three years since I suffered the brain hemorrhage early on that morning of Jasmine’s birthday. I was in the hospital for a total of seven weeks, only two of which I remember. During that time, I underwent four operations.
Though recovery from a brain haemorrhage is a lengthy process - one whose end I, just three years out from the incident, have not yet seen - I felt it was important to share my story in the event it could help others.
However, writing my story wouldn’t have been possible without the shared memories of my friends and family, who helped piece together the events of a timeline I don’t entirely remember.
Even though it feels like so much time has passed since my brain haemorrhage, I still sometimes think about what may have caused my brain to bleed. People who suffer a subarachnoid haemorrhage often have or are one of the following:
I was none of these.
Before the incident, I was a mother and wife working as a high-powered executive in the fashion industry who travelled internationally most weeks of the year. I was a pescatarian and exercised regularly. I didn’t feel under any more pressure than usual to maintain our very busy, modern lifestyle, though I had been getting headaches more regularly.
The only other explanation was that this could have been hereditary; my grandfather had a history of stroke.
I don’t think this is a question that will ultimately be answered.
I’m a different person now as a result of this experience. I feel closer to the person I was when I was younger, before the world got its hands on me and moulded and shaped me into what it wanted me to be. I feel a sense of freedom now that I didn’t have before. I’m direct and say what I mean. And I’m taking advantage of life’s opportunities in a new way.
This change hasn’t been easy for all of my family and friends. As I’ve slowly recovered, they’ve had to adjust to this new person I’ve become. I feel like the change is positive, but others don’t always perceive it that way.
I’ve always had a sense that I want to contribute something to this world. My hope is that through my book, Room 23 – Surviving a Brain Hemorrhage, I will.
My intention for this book is for it to not only help those who have suffered and survived this deadly brain bleed and other neurological problems, but also to be a comfort to family and friends of those in recovery, so they know they are not alone and have a sense of what to expect.
You can buy Room 23 - Surviving a Brain Hemorrhage on Amazon.co.uk and visit kavitabasi.com to read more of Kavita's blog posts.
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