I am writing my story not to glorify the life style I used to have, but it is an honest effort to educated irresponsible people who endanger their and others' lives. It is the story of transformation of an immature boy into responsible adulthood in the past year and half. My life has been very colorful. There is hardly anything I haven't done.
In 1996 when I turned 21 years old, my dad asked me that I should go to USA and learn how to live life the hard way. It was easy for me to come to the states because I was born in New York City. I decided to live in Tampa Bay, where I used to work in a gas station 50 plus hours a week. Bored, I decided to join a university. My life at university of south Florida was awesome. I made a lot of friends. Life was good, playing volleyball every day, cricket on weekends and the nights were like never ending alcohol festival. All this ended on the 26 December 2002, my 28th birthday.
I was very happy and looking forward to enjoy that night. So along with my friend Jignesh Bakarania, I went out clubbing where I drank like a fish. Everyone in the club was offering me drinks and the whole atmosphere was wild. That's all I remember about that night. When I opened my eyes, I was surrounded by a herd of medical people. One of the nurses told me that I had an accident and my body was paralyzed below the chest. I thought I was dreaming. I asked the doctors how were my friends. I was very worried about him.
According to the report my friend was driving the SUV very fast, which caused it to flip. During this impact I was thrown out of the window of the front seat, and I was found 20 feet away from the car. The doctors told me that I had incurred a spinal cord injury; my spine was compressed from the T-3 to T-5 region. Luckily my friend escaped with just some minor cuts on the face. This event shook my entire family, I realize now that how much pain I had caused them. I didn't realize how serious this injury was; we thought I would get all right in a month or so. Spinal cord injury was a new concept, which we didn't understand in the beginning; even the doctors didn't give us a straight answer when we asked them if I would be able to walk again.
The first month I was not able to get up, due to the heavy blood loss. One day had changed my entire life. I was such an independent person, and suddenly I was entirely dependent on people.
Dr Kumar of Tampa Bay did a fantastic job with my spine. It was an amazing feeling when my Indian, American, Pakistani and Bangladeshi friends came to visit me at the hospital. I was in Tampa general for two months, where I started my physical and occupational therapy. At first this was very hard; I barely had any strength in me. Even small functions of daily life seemed like mammoth targets. My friends used to visit me everyday at my place, used to take me around. But Jignesh was nowhere to be seen. After some time, he went back to his old ways. The shocking thing is that he was charged with a DUI again in March 2004, the cops arrested him at 9 am, unbelievable? You better believe it people. I felt hurt a lot when I heard that, I thought that our incident didn't make any difference to him. Anyways in May 2003 I left Tampa for a new hope.
I went to a very renowned ayurvedic hospital in Kerala, Arya Vaidya Sala that is located in Kottakal. After treatment for six weeks, I flew to Baroda, Gujarat, and my hometown.
I wish I could get well soon, so that I can put a smile on my parents face. They have been through a lot emotionally and financially; I really want to change this situation. I am thankful to all my friends in USA; they have been very loyal and understanding. I would also like to thank Pawan Mehra, who was never there in the good times, but one of the first ones to get in touch with me in the bad times. Pawan has inspired me to write about my story.