Critical illness gave this former realtor a reality check
Kirtikumar Mehta’s life as a real estate agent was all-consuming. He traversed Mumbai daily to meet buyers and sellers, spending much of his time on the road, inevitably stuck in traffic.
With two teenage sons and a wife to support, Kirtikumar was at the top of his game. His success as a prominent realtor paid off – he had brokered a number of high profile deals in the city. But that success eventually came at a cost.
One day in early 2011, 45-year-old Kirtikumar awoke at 6 a.m., as usual, only to discover the entire left side of his body was frozen.
“I was confused and disoriented,” he says. “I thought I might be dreaming and was just numb.”
With no feeling in the left side of his body, Kirtikumar headed straight to the hospital, where doctors told him he’d suffered a stroke.
“They ran some tests and discovered I’d previously suffered a mini-stroke, although I’d had no idea,” says Kirtikumar.
“The doctors said my blood pressure was dangerously high, and I had some heart damage.”
Years of living a fast-paced lifestyle had taken a toll on Kirtikumar’s physical and mental health, without his knowledge. His diet, lack of sleep, and constant phone calls had led to total and unavoidable burnout.
He spent two weeks in hospital under observation. While doctors said the paralysis was temporary, it would be some time before they could be certain.
“I left the hospital with a bleak future,” says Kirtikumar. “I was alive, but paralyzed on one side and not sure if or when I’d return to normal.”
The best chance of recovery came from bed rest and taking time off work or eventually moving to a less stressful job that required little travel. But that meant taking a financial hit.
“We really struggled a lot because of the cost of hospitalization, timely check-ups, plus dad’s income was drastically reduced,” says Kirtikumar’s son, Kunal.
“We could hardly take care of our basic needs,” he adds.
After a few months off of work, Kirtikumar recovered from his paralysis. By then the family had obliterated their savings on medicine and hospital rounds. Despite Kirtikumar’s successful job, he didn’t have any insurance, so the family borrowed money from a relative at a 24% interest rate. They are finally close to clearing that debt, totalling almost 10 lakh.
Faced with returning to a high pressure, but lucrative job, Kirtikumar opted for peace of mind. He now runs his own business along with his eldest son. He mostly works from home and now travels only for leisure, which gives him the flexibility to spend more time with his family and new granddaughter. He has also started going for a daily walk in a nearby park.
“I don’t make as much money as I did in real estate. But I’m happier and feel healthier,” he says. “I didn’t realize how much I’d neglected my family and my health before.”
“The first thing I did when I regained full mobility was to make sure my family and I are financially protected in case of any health scares.”