For many years while I stayed with my parents in Gujarat, Winter meant kite flying, Chikki, Undhiyu, etc. After coming to Delhi, the memories of winter metamorphosis-ed into Fog, Thermal Wear, Sarson da Sag, etc. But even now, It’s still very strange to see people flying kites here on 26th January and/or 15th August and not on Uttarayan.
These days I’ve been missing my mother’s home made winter specialities. Today we spoke about it and she gave me a recipe outline for how to make simple organic jaggory based chikki ( peanut brittle) as I would rather not eat commercially made chikki with sugar, liquid glucose and other additives. I like my chikki pure. Just jaggory, peanuts and a spoonful of Ghee. Apparently this is not very difficult to make though when I was young I remember this being a tedious process.
So I attempted it today, for the first time in my life. And its turned out great.
Although the best thing about it was the time when jaggory was being cooked, the fragrance it created transported me to my mother’s kitchen, two decades back. For us humans the sense of smell is closely linked with memory, probably more so than any of our other senses. This smell was strong and familiar and it evoked such strong association that when I closed my eyes I could see it, ever so clearly. My mother making chikki in the kitchen, shouting away at us to keep a distance cause the hot jaggory can cause burns if not handled correctly. Us sisters sitting together and laughing, waiting impatiently for chikki to cool down enough to be able to eat it as soon as possible. The crisp chill in the air as we sat huddled together…
… For the first time in a long long time, I’m feeling homesick.
General wisdom say “Courage” is something you have.
I’ve come to learn otherwise.
Courage is something you cultivate. You do.
Its a choice. Choice to confront your pain, agony, fear, discomfort, etc.
If you think that doing what scares you will make you never feel the fear again, You’d be disappointed.
You’ll feel the fear everytime. It never really goes away. You’ll learn that there will always be the sharp pain of fear, the thrill of butterflies in stomach. But you’ll also learn to accept that as long as you keep putting one foot infront of other, you will conquer it, because you have already done that in past.
I learnt swimming this year. I had a debilitating fear of water before that. I can’t say its all gone. I still feel it everytime I step into the pool. It’ll always be there. But it doesn’t hold me back anymore. my brain reminds itself that we have done this before. we have confronted this fear and came out better at the other end.
I’m experiencing it again these days with my fear of driving in Fog. I first discovered my extreme fear 4 years back when I shifted to this city which is prone to dense fogs in every winter. I have had panic attacks getting out on the road alone in fog and gotten so nervous that I drove back home every time.
From last 2 days the fog is here again. Early mornings and Late nights. But this year, its different for me. I have chosen to confront it. I have gone out, driving. And its such an exhilaration to be able to do it. I feel the sharp twisting of my innards every time I take out the car in fog, but it’s not reaching the stage of panic attack.
I’m taking it one step at a time. One foot in front of the other. And it’s working.
Doesn’t make it any easier, But its no longer impossible.
I have been pondering over this question a lot these days and its safe to say that after 3 years of a particular incident that happened to me, I can definitely see how it changed me in myriad of ways.
Being diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 at the age of 30.
I was never the one who took life too seriously; Who took health too seriously. In my earlier years, I partied like any teenager, took risks like any 20 something. Never worried about the repercussions of those on my health.
Things changed the year I turned 30. It was scary, because suddenly you have the realisation that you are not as young as you think you are. You have crossed 1/3 of your lifespan ( hopefully if you make it to 90 ) or perhaps even half of it.
Even then, the seriousness of that fact hasn’t sunk in just yet.
It took me a random blood sugar test as a part of regular vitals check to be jolted awake though. Having a fasting blood glucose level of 294 mg/dl and later on the result of HbA1c test of 14% , the diagnosis was crystal clear.
Of course, With family history of diabetes, Having PCOS from years, And bad lifestyle habits had put me at higher risk, I still did not expect it at this early age.
I am still going through the stages of grief because of my diagnosis I guess. Surprisingly, at first, I was quick to accept the fact that I’d be living with this for as long as I breathe. A little bit of anger was there, But largely it was self criticism. How could I have let this happen?
Two stages were down, Three more to go.
I bargained with my self that If I make enough changes in my life, If I incorporate disciplined exercised regime, then everything would eventually be OK. It was difficult, for someone who enjoyed her sweets and chocolates, a sudden withdrawal from all sugary stuff affected me a lot. The good thing I did was to take up running as an exercise and it got me happy, healthier for that time being.
Exercise and Diet, Along with Medication, made the subsequent HbA1c tests go down to 8% and 7%.
There was a motivation in the beginning, to feel better, which made it easier to cut off sugar entirely at one go. But that motivation dwindled after 6–8 months. Even the running stopped due to the summer season that ended all outdoor running activities in my city. I took up yoga, that helped though I lacked the self discipline that was needed to be really helpful in long term. For a few months, I followed everyday. But that started to go down too.
I went into denial phase. There seemed a no end in sight for this fight. I was numb and in shock for a while. The reality of this disease hit me then far worse than when I was first diagnosed.
Health deteriorated and HbA1c went up again. This time leading me to Stress, Anxiety and a sort of depression. Physiological changes in the body had also made everything worse. Six months back health tests showed that I had severe lack of Vitamin D, Iron and Vitamin B12. Later on at a discussion with my doctor, we came to realise this could’ve been other way round too. Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked with elevated Anxiety and Stress. That could have led to higher cortisol levels and blood glucose. On top of it, I started waking up to terrible neck and shoulder pains.
My diet plan had gone awry as well. Because of the continuous pain, eating made me nauseous and I didn’t have enough energy to do anything. This affected my life, my relationships and my work. It was turning into a vicious cycle.
This was not how I wanted to continue living. Medicines helped big time with this. B12 injections, supplements for iron and Vitamin D first helped me get out of the fog of anxiety, stress and depression. Next I got onto better eating habits again. Then I took up meditation, which on most days is still quite calming. On other days I struggle to focus.
From last few months, I have taken up swimming too. Its helping me stay positive and lessen the anxiety. The biggest take away from this is that I’ve been successfully fighting my hydrophobia and that’s making me feel victorious. every single day.
2 months back, I finally found the determination to enrol in a Gym. That has added to the feel good factor after seeing the progress in terms of strength and stamina and I hope to continue with it for a long time.
Having been diagnosed a diabetic has changed me in many ways. I can clearly see there is a vast difference between a Before and After me.
I’ve had my days when the fight has proved to be too hard. But in the end, I’ve came out stronger, more self aware, more positive over all.
The biggest change has been to realise I have a unwavering resilience that helps me get back up on my feet every time I fall.
Adults can learn from children the very thing they used to have but lose eventually after growing up.
Imagination. Sheer and Brilliant.
A few months back I came to realise this from my nephew Shlok who turned 5. He had gone to a Christmas party for kids his own age and had an interesting story to tell after he came back.
He explained how he fell from a sofa at the party.
Now, it wasn’t an extra-ordinary story about his acrobatics that landed him in a fall. It was as boring as one moment he was sitting, the next he was down. But the imagination with which he explained his fall, adding visual aids to his tale that made this uniquely creative.
So here is how it started. He was sitting on a sofa. OK, a bench actually. That piece of furniture didn’t have back support built in it, but rather it stood right next to a wall which moonlighted as the the back support. In my darling nephew’s words, he started out sitting in an “L” shape. something like this. ( pardon my awesome drawing skills! and no, that’s not a levitating bench! 😛 )
He leaned back onto the wall a little too much and bench shifted forward. Because, Newton’s third law. So the little guy now explained that he went from “L” shape to a sleeping “I” shape.
Now, the bench shifted even further away from the wall. The baby boy is now hanging between the wall and the bench. He now explains that he turned into a “U” shape at the end.
I don’t know about you but this just cracks me up everytime. His ordeal had ended in that hanging equilibrium but he managed to create an awesome story by using the shape of alphabets to tell me exactly how he fell in a heap.