STROKE: Remember The 1st Three Letters... S.T.R .

My friend sent this to me and encouraged me to post it and spread the word. I agree. If everyone can remember something this simple, we could save some folks.

During a party, a friend stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine and just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. (they offered to call ambulance) . They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food - while she appeared a bit shaken up, Ingrid went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Ingrid's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00pm , Ingrid passed away.) . She had suffered a stroke at the party. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Ingrid would be with us today. Some don't die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead.
A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough.
Remember the '3' steps, STR . Read and Learn!
Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster.
The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.
Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions :
S * = Ask the individual to SMILE .
T * = TALK. Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (eg 'It is sunny out today').
R * = Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS .
If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call the ambulance and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

NOTE : Another 'sign' of a stroke is
1. Ask the person to 'stick' out their tongue.
2. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke.
So please spread the word. You may end up saving a life….and it could be your own.

Me: Roshan, can you count by 10?
Roshan: Yes, I can, It is 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100.
Me: Wow! Taran, can you count by 3?
Taran: No, mummy, please ask me some tricky ones.
Me: Ok, can you count by 6?
Taran: It is 6, 12, 18, 24, 30 and 36.
Me: Excellent! Now, Rosh can you please count by 5?
Roshan: Ok. It is 5, 10, 12 ...
Taran, interjecting immediately and itching to give the answer: No, it is not 12. Please let me tell you what it is.
Roshan, vehemently sticking to his stand: No, it is 12.
Taran: No, it is not. Ok, please let me whisper the answer in your ears. It is 15.
Roshan: It is 12.
Me: Are you sure Rosh?
Roshan, aware that he made a mistake but not wanting to be outdone: Actually, they changed the skip counting from today. Till yesterday it was 5, 10 and 15 but from today it is 5, 10 and then 12.

Of Trials, Tribulations and Training
(Posted on my Avon walk for breast cancer web page on Thu, May 01, 2008 @ 11:10 PM )

Training begins in earnest! If you are thinking "WALK?!?! 39.3 miles!!! this girl ????" then, I am definitely with you.(If you are not thinking that, look at the photo and you will) It is definitely a Herculean task. And trust me, for someone who has not walked a total of 39 miles in her life, it required a lot of physical/mental strength and motivation just to sign up for this. But if there is one thing I do not lack, it is determination especially when it comes to helping out in this dreaded disease - CANCER. As many of you know, I have seen this closely. My father is a cancer survivor, two uncles fought bravely but could not make it, a good friend's mother is a breast cancer survivor and now, a very close friend's husband is trying to fight it off (and I sure hope he wins this battle).
So, when an opportunity came in the guise of walking for breast cancer, I sure took it up. I also derive inspiration from some friends who have run the marathon and some who swim 10 miles at a stretch and cycle 20 miles at a stretch (I bow my head in reverence to them). If they can do it (and return to run the following year), I can, at least walk. I am certain it will be an experience that will test my endurance but I am positive that my faith will help me through this journey.
I started training earlier this week (April 28th 2008) and I have reached the recommended goal of 14 miles for this week. Sure enough, my muscles are screaming, after all I had not stepped into the gym for the last 3 months. But, with every step I took, I felt there was a hope that someone somewhere in the world may not need to experience this horrific disease the way the less fortunate have. With every step I took, I felt there was a hope that at least there will be one less person who gets to know (the way I did 4 years ago) that their parent is suffering from cancer.
I am so glad I took the opportunity to dramatically impact the lives of millions affected by breast cancer worldwide. And I sincerely hope that you will support me in my endeavor. Just remember, your support can make a difference to the lives of not only those men and women who are affected by this disease, but their loved ones too.
So long!

Support me in my Avon walk for breast cancer by visiting my homepage and donating towards the cause:

On Sunday, May 18th, my friend’s husband, Atul passed away at a young age of 38. He was diagnosed with brain cancer merely 6 weeks ago. He is survived by his mother, wife, a 4.5 year old son and a 1 year old daughter. The last few weeks have been grueling for him and his family. They had to go through what no one should ever experience.

We all have been programmed to believe that one should let fate intervene in our lives and decide what is best. As much as I try, I fail to fathom what is good in this particular situation. On the contrary, I find it very harsh and cruel for both, Atul and his family. I was fortunate to stand by my friend while she dealt with this crisis. To all out there at the hospital, she was the epitome of strength. But the anguish in her eyes was evident while she stood there helpless, seeing her husband slip away gradually. His mother stood there holding his hand trying to make sense of a situation which was completely nonsensical to begin with. Each day his children waited with anticipation for their dad to return home. Now the only memories they will have of him will be through some video footage and photographs clicked over the years which were meant to capture happy moments and not serve as the only means to know their dad.

Thing will never be the same again for Atul’s family because they have felt the pain of seeing the most important thing in their life disappear from one moment to another. They have experienced their souls getting a blow as if some force snatched their joy away. Yet, they need to go back to the world of dropping the kids to school, washing the dishes, paying the bills, cooking and eating to keep their bodies alive while their souls have a permanent hollow. But at night, they may remain wandering in space, cherishing the moments they spent with Atul as they toss and turn in vain to accept the fact that he is not lying down next to them. However, they have to keep going on, perhaps, with the faith that he has gone to a better place, or else, risk going mad.

As for me, I suffer a huge sense of loss with Atul’s passing. I have always enjoyed interacting with him but what endeared him the most to me was to see how happy my friend was with Atul. The phrase “made for each other” was probably coined with them in mind. I sit here today, reminiscing about the time when Atul made bubbles with his son and my kids in the backyard of his beautiful house, when he drove us to Monterey to see the aquarium and Carmel to experience a stunning sunset and enjoy walking across the cobbled street of this quaint town. I also remember the time when he insisted he would take me to the Golden Gate Bridge on my first trip to California. Years later, it was the same bridge where Atul ran the half marathon with an injured leg. Atul was never the kinds who would fret and fume about anything; on the contrary, his “never say no” attitude and positive frame of mind won him many friends. Perhaps, deep down, he knew that our time on this Earth is short but sacred and we should celebrate each moment. I sincerely hope that he will remain as happy, if not happier, in the place where he has gone. I hope and pray that God gives his family and loved ones the strength and fortitude to deal with this unimaginable loss.

Me: Taran, Roshan, what gift would you like for your 4th birthday?
Taran: Maybe a soccer ball.
Me: Sure. How about you, Roshan?
Roshan: Maybe a car.
Me: Hmm! Ok! Would you like to come with me to Toysrus to choose one?
Roshan: Actually, I meant a car from the dealership.

If anyone knows me even remotely, they know how much I relish spending time with my two chimps and doing all kinds of fun activities wih them. So, in an effort to do some cool stuff (my idea, as you will soon find) with them, I made a presentation for them to take to school and talk about in their "circle time". The topic was "Our trip to India". The presentation had about 10 slides, with a picture and a caption in each slide. The project was supposed to be a group effort but midway into the presentation, I found myself working furiously at the laptop while I heard some real high-pitched noises "Goal", "Good shot", coming from the foyer. Yes, Taran and Roshan were busy playing soccer while I was working on their project!!! Not a good omen, I say!!! But I am quite thick-skinned, so I brushed away the initial exasperation I felt and praised one of the pictures we had taken of the boys during our trip. Vain as they are, they rushed to admire themselves on the screen. When I had their undivided attention, I started talking about each picture on the powerpoint. Now, since they both like to listen to stories, they were eager to know about the Mughal emperors. They found the discussion quite fascinating especially when I explained that Sikandra is Akbar's mausoleum and Taj Mahal is Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan's mausoleum. And then came a moment that is so characteristic of any 3 to 4 year old- "Mummy", Roshan asked innocently, "So many people are dead. When are you going to die?!?!"

I was positively giddy with happiness when I found out that my cousin was celebrating the birth of his son. Everything in me, right down to the pores of my skin, was expressing joy at the thought of meeting my extended family and be part of the festivities in India. So, our fourteen pieces of luggage hauled in two limousines, winsome smiles on our faces and a song on our lips (aptly “Chaiyan chaiyan”, ‘coz given the number of suitcases we had originally pondered if we would be sitting on top of the cars instead of inside it), we drove to JFK airport, eager to board our flight to India. The 15 hour flight was a grilling session on geography, what with Taran and Roshan’s consistent questioning “Are we still over the Atlantic?”, “Which European country are we flying over?” and “How long will it take?”, yet, the anticipation of the trip, made me respond to each question, however annoying I found it, with a beatific smile.

Taran and Roshan’s first reaction on exiting the airport was sheer amazement. During the drive to my parents house, they discovered the extraordinary variety of the means of transportation in India. To this day, they remain intrigued and enchanted by the autorickshaws, cycle rickshaws and the variety of buses, rattling or screeching, on the Indian roads.

As our trip was short, our determination was grim and blind. We felt we had no time to waste and so, right from the get go, we were savoring the pleasing things in life such as spending time with friends and family, shopping and pleasing the taste buds. We had promised the children a trip to the Taj Mahal and so off we drove 220 km to Agra. Sikandra, Akbar’s mausoleum, was the first monument we visited. It is a perfect example of the blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture with inspiration from Christian, Buddhist, Jain and Jewish motifs including the star of David. The project, started by Akbar, and completed by his son, Jehangir, was built over a period of 13 years. I found this monument stunning and unfortunately, highly under-rated. Every aspect of the monument is inspiring , right from the huge gateway, Buland Darwaza, modeled on the famed victory gate at Fatehpur Sikri to the great Moghul gardens where deer, monkeys and even parrots flirted with each other. The striking inlay work of white marble on red sandstone is grand. But the biggest feast to the eyes are the lavish stucco paintings in gold, blue, brown and green colors at the portico in front of Akbar’s grave.

The Taj is indeed, synonymous with profound beauty. This was my third visit to the Taj but so grand is the monument, so flawless is the calligraphy, so intricate is the stone carving and the inlay work, so magnificent are the Moghul gardens that each trip makes me spellbound. They say that the white marble reflects the various moods of the day so we decided to experience it and visited the Taj during sunset and in the morning. The bonus was to have a hotel room with a view of the Taj and indeed, we found Taj by sunrise to be breathtaking. It is not a surprise that the Taj is unsurpassed in splendour by not only any Moghul building, but by any other monument on the face of the earth. This, surely, is one site that surpasses any hype.

As Taran and Roshan’s restless hunger for excitement continued through the trip, we proceeded to Fatehpur Sikri. Akbar built this city in honour of Sheikh Salim Chishti, who had rightly predicted the birth of the son of the childless emperor. Akbar's first son was born in 1569 A.D. and was named as Salim in honour of Sheikh Salim Chishti. This town had its’ (not so) brief tryst with glory and abandoned only after 15 years of its construction, due to scarcity of water in the town. This one time capital of Mughal Empire still stands majestically, almost untouched by the passage of time. Today this ghost city has a population of about 30,000 and runs on the economy of tourism. The Jami Masjid, the tomb of Sheikh Salim Chisti and the Buland Darwaaza are all sights that will remain permanently etched in our memories.

The trip was spectacular in one more aspect - In one single trip, Taran and Roshan rode the camel, a cycle rickshaw, an auto rickshaw, a horse cart ride, a camel cart ride and a tempo. They were very insistent that I sit on the camel with them! I may not be the smartest alec around, but I was pretty certain that if I grant their wish, the camel is surely going to kick the bucket. So, with some cajoling from my side and a downright appeal from the camel owner’s side (you should have seen the gloom on his face), we saved a life that day.

The next day we found ourselves on a flight to Mumbai. We had a very good time with Ritesh’s family. My sister-in-law, Preeti, doted on the kids and, among other things, bought them umbrellas which they showed off to everyone including strangers at the airport. She also took us to Juhu Beach which enthralled adults and children alike and treated us to Naturals ice cream, which, to this day, remain my favorite.
My “rakhi-bhai”, Sonu bhaiya, Anju bhabhi and Roshni played the perfect hosts. They made us feel completely at home and took us around on a big shopping spree apart from introducing us to the high and mighty of the Indian corporate world at the Bombay Gymkhana on the bar night. They also indulged our taste buds with mouth watering Konkani food at the Konkan cafĂ© at the President and Chinese food at Marine Plaza. It was also a delight to catch up with our friends, Prashant, Preeti and their son, Pratham and to meet up with other family friends.

We then moved to my uncle’s house in Delhi to stay with them and the entire extended family. For those who do not know my family, just imagine 50 times me. That is how vocal and demonstrative my whole family is and yes, we all love our own voices. What? Did you say “Cacophony”? We all, i.e. the whole 50 of us, respectfully disagree. We call it “Lyrical”. The festivities, extended over 3 days, saw, apart from the rituals and customs, some family drama, music, a lot of dancing, merry-making and feasts of monumental proportions. Ritesh, unused to such cultural fervor, was overwhelmed initially, but by the end of our stay, I had a sense that he was enjoying every bit of it. As regards myself, I was completely at home. By now the heat was really beginning to get us but nature forever holds surprises. Delhi was blessed with showers a few days in a row bringing the temps down. It meant that I no longer felt guilty of letting the children play outdoors throughout the day while I was busy exercising my vocal chords.

I also had the privilege (or not) of visiting a government office for some personal work. Coincidentally, I was reading “Yes Prime Minister” during my trip. Suffice to say, the combined forces of Hacker, Sir Humphrey, Bernard Woolley and the whole of Whitehall/ 10 Downing Street seemed the epitome of efficiency when compared to the Indian bureaucracy. For those who are yet to discover the joy of reading Anthony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, imagine someone explaining the word “delay” in slow motion – that is how I felt.

The remainder of the trip was spent shopping, eating mouth-watering food and meeting and calling friends and family. The air waves became so crowded that one fine day papa’s cell phone chose to humbly retire. And MTNL, in the fear of making excessive revenues and therefore disturbing their trend, thought it prudent to, not only disrupt the lines in my parents phone, but the whole community/colony’s phone lines lest I trouble the neighbors. Phoneless, but not clueless on how to spend time, we decided to ride the metro everyday and hit the malls. The former was a joy to my children and the latter, to Ritesh’s chagrin, was bliss for me.

Soon, it was time to pack our bags (yet again) to come back home. Oddly, despite the fun in India, I was beginning to miss home, my life in NJ, my friends and my schedule that revolves constantly around my kids. Yet, I had the most wonderful time during this trip. On the flight back I was ruminating over my trip and the amazing memories I was carrying back of this trip and of all the time that I have spent there. I can truly relate to Shantaram where he says, “I surrendered to India, as I did every day, then, and as I still do, every day of my life, no matter where I am in the world”.

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