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My Phoenix Diaries

It’s not every day that you are given a chance to live… an opportunity to start over… a lesson to learn…

And so, when such an event does occur in your life, you must give it your everything! Seize it as an opportunity, rather than a crisis, and work on yourself, your life, and your dreams.

Same time a few years ago, the morning of 17th January 2019, I was being wheeled into the O.T. where I would undergo the most severe surgery of my life.

The night of 16th January 2019 changed my life. A bike accident led to a broken shoulder and the lower jaw in 4 pieces. What happened in a split second, took me a year to recover, and its effects will last for a lifetime.

Six months after my accident, I took to Instagram to share my story, along with 12 lessons that I have learnt in the process. Twelve seems like a small number to me now, considering the easy additions that I can make to this list. But I made it a point to share this blog last year, and will continue to do so on every second birthday of mine.

These words found me and became my source of inspiration when I was on my way to recovery, and I hope these they give you some solace as you grow to become your best.

So, here we go!


1. Accept and Rest

The first lesson that I learnt was to accept. Accept that you are in this particular, difficult situation. The next step is to put yourself on priority #1. When you lie in bed with people around you doing all of your work for you, you tend to feel helpless, useless, invalid, and frankly, a burden. Stop right there! Remind yourself that the most important thing for you now is to rest and look for ways to heal faster and better. Plus, these people love you and honestly don’t mind helping you out. Every relationship need not be a give and take. Either way, you will always find means to tell them how you feel later on.

Most of us take our body for granted, but at this point, you must embrace the flaws in order to heal. I found this to be the most difficult part of my journey. Questions like why? how? and what now? traumatised me for quite some time. And while feeling this is normal, these aren’t answers that are readily available. And so, it becomes even more important to rest your body, not let your mind wander, and heal your soul.


2. Patience

After my accident, I was taken into surgery within the next 12 hours. A plate in my lower jaw, and the jaw wired shut to the upper jaw for a month or some was the treatment. I couldn't talk, eat, drink, cough, sneeze and sometimes even breathe.

You know how we wait at the traffic signal that lasts a minute, and you think to yourself, is a minute actually this long? Well, imagine how my four months were. Physical damage was done… surgery was done… but the body needs time. In such a case, you will have melt downs, tantrums, and would want it all to end, but it won’t. Have patience… breathe… smile…

Don’t expect your body to give you miracles. Give yourself time, take it slow, focus only on yourself, and have patience. I say this after a year, but I don’t think we give our body due credit. It is capable of healing itself so beautifully, it is no less than a miracle!


3. It’s okay

It’s okay to be scared, angry, frustrated… it’s okay to feel like giving up… it’s okay to want to cry, scream, break, fight and more! In fact, do all of this and more. You are an emotional wreck, and deserve to feel negative. But this path can also be a little dangerous. It can make you feel worthless, unimportant, negative, and worst of all, guilty. So be sure of one thing, this is all temporary. All these negative emotions are valid, but only for now. They are going to change soon, and the amount of energy that you have put into these negative feelings, you’re going to need a lot more to think in a positive manner.

Another thing that mattered, was that I was in an environment where I could be feeling all of this, and would last for just a few minutes before I saw that it’s all temporary. So, surround yourself with your loved ones, parents, pets, family… people who will just be there for you.


4. Life goes on

The hard reality of life is that it goes on. Your family will take care of you, but will also have work and plans of their own. Your friends will visit you, but they won’t stop by every now and then, they won’t leave their jobs to sit next to you all the time, nor will they not make plans because your bedridden. While you are just sitting in one place, seemingly waiting for something to happen, no one, and nothing will stop. It’s not like they have a choice, and it in no way means that they love you less. But it’s a crappy place to be in.

And the hard reality is that life going on might not necessarily mean that you get to dance in a meadow. It was during my recovery that my sister got married, and it was one of the most joyous occasion in our lives. I sang, danced and was also a part of the ceremonies. Anyone who didn’t know about the accident, wouldn’t ever guess what I was going through! It was also during my recovery that we lost our very dear Casper. The Sun that I had orbited around for 12 years and more had peacefully passed on, leaving me with an aching soul, and a confused mind. We do have our lovely Spooky, who makes sure we keep smiling, but you get my point.

There are many ways to look at this. Sometimes it’s good that the world is moving and you get to rest, eventually your world will move too and that will help you out of your slumber. Sometimes you feel it’s unfair to go through pain one after another; but even in this situation, my worst fears seemed futile. My fear of not being able to be a part of my sister’s wedding, my fear of not being able to say “I love you” to Casper, my fear of not being able to hug my parents and Spooky… all proven wrong, gracefully! So, if you feel you are stuck in one place, make that place comfortable for yourself, and before you know it, you’ve moved out of it!


5. Express

Express everything. Literally.

Shout, scream and cry, and laugh, love and speak… it’s all important. Having my jaws wired shut for months deprived me of many things. I obviously couldn’t eat and speak, not to mention the pain if and when I sneezed, gagged, or coughed, with the luxury of puking when sick snatched and shoved out of the window. But with all that I couldn’t do, one thing that messed with me is not being able to talk. With my right shoulder injured, writing too was a difficult task, and the one thing I hated is people telling me to stop writing/ talking. Jokes ranging from "vipasana" to my "metal jaw" became repetitive and honestly, not very funny! While it did to them seem like a hilarious take on the situation, they didn't realise it stabbed me right where it shouldn't.

NOTE FOR THOSE VISITING THE INJURED: Do take into account the patient's mental and emotional state. There are times when you can joke about it all to lift the mood, but the timing is key, and so is the joke! To be on a safer side, let the patient joke about it first. Also, stop thinking you know what's best for the patient. You are wrong, and you will only add to their discomfort. I remember someone taking away my writing pad and, in an instance, I became an angry helpless soul, shouting inwards wondering how the person just next to me cannot hear my mental screams.

Of course, I made it a point to tell my loved ones exactly how I was feeling and what they had to do, and things that were never to be done.

So, I'll tell you something, don’t listen to them, and don't stop. The more junk you keep inside, the worse ways it’s going to find to come right out. So, let it all out!


6. Small victories

I cannot stress enough on the importance of small victories! It’s not only a great way of telling yourself that you are on the right path of recovery, it is also actual measurement of your recovery. What worked for me, is a calendar I made. I made it on the day of the surgery itself and every small step right from ‘not feeling nauseous’ to ‘discharge’ and ‘first word’ to ‘first bite’, was noted in it. It is only when you appreciate the small victories, do you actually reach the final goal. Or else, you keep waiting for the final, and get frustrated when it doesn’t come fast enough.

The small victories phase lasted for quite some time, and it kept me motivated, positive, and confident!


7. Be positive

Being positive doesn't mean thinking of only the good things that are going to happen. It is not a state of mind, nor an attitude... It's something in between, a process. It is an understanding of the situation and the process of deciding what your method of dealing with it is going to be. Sometimes it may take you a long time, sometimes all it may take is a second. For me, I needed just a nudge to hasten the process.

My best friend stays across the world. The first time I chatted with him after the accident, I ranted on and on not letting him reply to any one complaint. At the end, he just asked me one question, "Arundhati, why do we fall?" For those of you who haven't got the Batman reference, it's a question Alfred Pennyworth asks Bruce when Bruce has seemingly lost everything. Alfred continues to explain to him saying, "So that we can learn to pick ourselves up."

This really is true, and I thanked my friend for this gentle reminder. Even if this experience would have taught me nothing, it would have at least taught me how to rise up again. I honestly believe that there is no way any of us can go back, to the worse. There is only one way to go and that is move forward. This doesn't mean that the road is going to be through a paradise, but the journey is a wonderful school to learn and grow.


8. Ask for help

Accepting help was another challenge for me. Right from getting up, sitting, walking, going to the bathroom, I needed help for everything. I had no choice. So, I could do it 2 ways. I could either sulk and ask for help, or I could just be matter-of-factly. I chose the second option. You are surrounded by people who love you and want to help you. Don’t shy away from asking for help, no matter how stupid you think the task is. I surrounded myself with my loved ones... My parents, sister, Casper and Spooky. They served as my hands, legs, my words, and my strength and joy. Also, don’t shy away from asking from professional help in case you are going through something mentally, emotionally. I did take help of a counsellor to overcome the after-effects of this trauma, and it is refreshing to say the least! This doesn’t mean you are weak; it only means that you want to heal, and want to become stronger! So, ask for help, get pampered and surround yourself with love!


9. Joy of a fresh start

In June, me and my brother were discussing how we should celebrate 6 months of recovery, and he by mistake said, “on your birthday….”. I corrected him, “it’s not my birthday- “, to which he very coolly replied, “it kind of is, right?”

Yes. I was born again. I learnt to walk, eat, sleep, talk, write, draw, sing…. All over again. And while the pain was an obvious factor that troubled me, I realised that there are so many people craving for a fresh start, and here I am with one. Literally! Keeping aside the physical challenges that I faced, I did realise that a fresh start is actually a frame of mind. It is the motivation to make things better and to make yourself better. It may be put away till tomorrow, or your fresh start could start right now. The beauty is that the choice is yours. It has always been yours. Even if things take some time to change, it is your attitude towards the situation that makes all the difference in the world!


10. Dream

Don’t stop dreaming. A bump does not mean that your life has come to an end. Dream about the things that seem impossible for you right now, the things that are sure to happen in the future, the accomplishments waiting for you, the places you are waiting to see, the things you’ve always wanted to do, the things you could do before that you may never be able to do…just dream. And don’t just say “I wish” … say “I will” … it makes all the difference in the world!

It was in January that I had planned on launching myself as a full-time artist. If things would have gone as planned, I would be planning on launching my portfolio anytime now. I lost 6 months of time, and years of practice…

A year later, I was in my tiny art studio, writing this, thinking about what the past 6 months have been, the past one year has been, and waiting for all the surprises that the coming year will bring!

Your plans may be paused, but it takes just a click to hit ‘play’.


11. Gratitude

Always, always, always be thankful. Gratitude is one of your best serving friend. On my worst days I have even been thankful that I am breathing, and that is enough to keep you going. On the best days though, my mind races to my parents, my sister, Casper and Spooky, all the loved ones without whom this journey was impossible; the doctors and the medication that has brought me to my current best; all the things I can manage now, like eating, drawing, writing, and even dancing; and of course the universe and the Lord for making this journey so much less scary than what I had anticipated it to be! Know that somewhere in this world there is someone who is suffering just like you, if not more, and amongst all the pain that everyone is going through, yours can be healed. This in itself is something to be grateful of, don’t you think?

Gratitude is that secret medicine that works wonders but is more than often ignored and underappreciated. Use it well, and to the fullest!

Remember, there is always something to appreciate, and so much to be thankful for!


12. Pray, have faith

I've noticed that people find it difficult to talk about faith, spirituality, and God. For some it may be because they may not be interested, for some it may seem to be a little uncool, while for some it may just be a little too personal. I am from the 3rd category. However, right now seems to be a good time to open up a little about it.

While I am a spiritual person, praying for me doesn’t mean praising the Lord all day long. It only means having faith in a higher power, knowing that someone or something is protecting you always, and believing in their love for you. It is a communication between you and something that seemingly doesn’t exist, but makes sure things turn out to be the way you want, or the way they are supposed to be. Through the past 6 months I have fought, screamed, and thrown tantrums while communicating with my God, and all I can say now is that my faith in Him has become stronger than ever.

It is an understanding that things always happen for a reason, and that the reason will make you a better person should you choose to learn.

For those who don't have faith in a higher power, know that it isn’t necessary that you believe in any higher power, but having faith that the situation you are in is not permanent is enough.

These were the 12 lessons from my Phoenix Diaries.

To all of those who are currently struggling emotionally, physically, or in any other way, know that you aren’t alone. I have spent the last year talking about my experience with those who have reached out for help, and I wish for more people to share their stories!

It is in this togetherness that we support each other and heal.


Spread love and keep creating!

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That is beautifully expressed Arundhati. Good on you for waking up every morning and deciding to make it a new day instead of falling back on the past!

And remember we are all creatures on this planet who have our own journeys and hardships however with god the impossible becomes- all is possible :)

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Very well written.. I can imagine what it must have been because I have seen what my daughter went through after her accident.. Gratitude, faith, belief etc are what helps one to overcome challenges..Keep inspiring…

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Smita Anirudh
Smita Anirudh
17. Jan. 2022

Dear Aru... So beautiful! Your simplicity and clarity of thought in the way you have penned your experience and learnings, is just so endearing. I know this will make a difference to many 🙏❤️

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Prasun Banerjee
Prasun Banerjee
17. Jan. 2022

Very well articulated !! Appreciate your emotional strength & clarity of processing a hard fall in your life . Wishing you complete healing and much strength to your writings .

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Arundhati Bhand
Arundhati Bhand
17. Jan. 2020

Thank you so much Dad🤗😘

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