Vandna Mittal (above) had a stroke when she was only 15. Read her story of not giving up at Heart.org
Robert H. Schuller
“Tough times never last, but tough people do.”
“Life is like a sewer… what you get out of it depends on what you put into it”
“You can do everything you can to try to stop bad things from happening to you, but eventually things will happen, so the best prevention is a positive attitude.”
We all face challenges in our day-to-day life, small or big. Be it getting a job or starting a business or maybe just working through relationship issues with family or friends. Every task is accompanied by a challenge, you need to overcome in order to succeed. But somewhere there is a point where our enthusiasm, our will to accomplish our objective, the desire to reach the destination, fades out because of these consistent hurdles. Often, we are passionate and full of spirit when starting something new, but gradually, this enthusiasm starts dimming with each complication. But there are people, who no matter how many hurdles they are facing, always keep their spirits high and overcome the challenges, this is the story of Vandna Mittal of California, USA, who had a stroke when she was only 15.
I read Vandna’s story in Heart.org. Vandna loved dancing and snowboarding. She played varsity tennis and took honors classes at her high school in Redlands, Calif.
At the age of 15-year-old’s had a headache on her walk to class, she dismissed it.
“Who would think it was anything?” she recalled. “Just a headache – harmless.”
Walking to her next class with a friend, she felt something odd happening in her body. As they arrived in the classroom, Vandna was weak and collapsed to the floor. Though she could hear others talking, she couldn’t speak. School officials called her father, and she was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.
Taken by helicopter to UCLA Medical Center, Vandna underwent more tests to pinpoint exactly what was going on. Doctors determined hers was a complicated case involving a clot in her carotid artery because she had a dissected artery – a condition where the lining of the artery separates from the artery wall, causing two flow pathways. Meanwhile, the three-hour optimal window for getting immediate stroke treatment had passed.
“The damage had already been done,” she said.
The stroke had caused her brain to begin to swell, and she needed surgery to relieve the pressure the swelling was putting on her brain. Her uncle, a renowned anesthesiologist, flew in from London with Vandna’s grandparents and conferred with the California doctors. They removed part of her skull to make room for the swelling. Once the swelling subsided, her skull was placed back intact.
When Vandna initially was told she’d experienced a massive stroke, she simply couldn’t believe it.
“All I knew about strokes was that old people had them,” she said.
Having been on a breathing machine and barely able to eat or talk, Vandna used hand gestures to communicate and didn’t say much.
“Honestly, I was in such shock I didn’t know what to feel, what to think,” she said. “I just chose not to talk.”
Vandna was in the hospital and a rehabilitation center for about three months beginning in April 2005.
At the rehab center, Vandna began to realize “my whole life has changed.” She learned again how to turn down a bed and use the restroom on her own.
Despite an initial prognosis that she would never live a normal life, Vandna gradually improved. She finished high school, earned a degree in speech therapy at University of Redlands and recently finished her master’s degree courses in elementary education at California Baptist University. Now, at age 24, she’s completing her student teaching certificate.
Getting around on a college campus wasn’t easy. She wears a brace on her left leg to support her ankle. Her left arm tires quickly, and she often become exhausted.
Another lingering effect is the left side of her face and left eye are not parallel with her right side when she smiles. By doing some modeling, Vandna has worked to boost her self-esteem. She feels she was robbed of her time in her late teens and early 20s to learn social development, when others form new friendships and begin dating.
“I was in survivor mode,” she said. “I’m, in a way, playing catch-up. I’ve gone through a lot of dark days.”
Vandna dislikes the word “disability” and prefers “physical impairment” to describe her body’s limitations. Fortunately, today she can drive and getting dressed is getting easier. She chuckles when explaining some of the challenges she’s faced.
As she embarks on her new life, she urges others to stay positive and to remember that there’s always someone else in a worse situation. Vandna offers one of her favorite sayings: “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”
Never underestimate the value of an idea. Every positive idea has within it the potential for success if it is managed properly.
Tough times are inevitable. As a matter of fact, you don’t have to look too far back to find out that tough times are actually around you and I, as I write this I can not stop thinking about the people of Afghanistan, who are going through some tough times, I am praying for the many innocent women, children and men who have so much uncertainty in future.
My prayer for all of us is that, no matter what your problem is, whether it’s job or business problems, health issues, fear or anything else that blocks your success, you can turn your negative into a positive. No matter how tough times get, you have the great potential to achieve the best of life.
It’s very much true that even the toughest of times don’t last forever, we see that in Vandna’s life and I am very sure there are million other stories out there that are a testament to this. My encouragement to you is that, as long as you remain strong you’ll make it to the light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve all faced different types of adversity and challenges, and if you’re reading this you’ve proved to be able to make it out alive. The human spirit has shown that it’s capable of making it through tough times, and getting to the end of the tunnel. The best part of dealing with adversity is that it toughens you up for the next trial in your life. Knowing that you’re only getting better with each new struggle can be an inspiration during those times when you feel like giving up.
Being a tough person doesn’t mean you have to be hardened and true strength is not about how much you can bench, squat or curl. It is not a measure of your chest and biceps. Strength is about what you can face and overcome. Strength is only found in adversity, and sometimes the strongest people are the most unlikely ones. Please remember: God is our reliance. Instead, approach the problem with determination and resolve yourself to overcoming it. Adversity always brings strength.