With retirement in sight, a stroke robbed me of my income
In 2014 my career had reached new heights. I was 48, a senior executive for a major national media company, earning more than 55 lakh annually and looking forward to the next phase in my career.
I was doing very well in the company, so they suggested I move to Mumbai to handle western operations.
Because I’m an only child and my father had recently died, my wife and daughter stayed back in Bangalore with my mother while I relocated to Maximum City.
I lived alone in Mumbai and relied on a cook to prepare meals. I focused on my work – perhaps too much. There was probably too much pressure on me. I was bogged down by stress and too much work.
In retrospect, I realize my lifestyle habits were causing my blood sugar to spike. The timeliness wasn’t there in food. There was nobody to take care of me and many days I used to complete my lunch with one vada pao.
On the night of March 12, 2014, I was working on my company’s annual budget. I played a game of table tennis and drove home just after 9 pm.
After dinner and a shower, I tried to sleep, but the moment I laid down I had a terrible headache. I couldn’t sleep the whole night. When I woke up I still had a headache.
I thought I would go for my morning stroll, but the headache persisted. My neighbour, a doctor, got me admitted to a hospital.
I ended up staying there for a month. Doctors discovered a clot in my brain that had damaged the left side of my body – I’d suffered a stroke.
I was immobile and had nobody to look after me in Mumbai, so I had to return to my family in Bangalore. At first I couldn’t get up from bed, but I made a gradual recovery with the help of a physiotherapist who visits home.
While my physical recovery was underway, I couldn’t help but feel restless as boredom set in. I decided if I stay at home, an idle brain is the devil’s workshop.
My company recognized my value but didn’t want to overburden me during my recovery, so they offered me a consulting role where I could stay in Bangalore.
They were very good to me. They paid my salary while I was hospitalized, and covered my hospital fees, but the travel for me and my family between Mumbai and Bangalore came out of my own pocket. That was a difficult period.
As a consultant, my income has dropped to 12 lakh annually. My wife does not work and my 15-year-old daughter aspires to be a doctor. While I’m fortunate to have a decent retirement corpus and am debt-free, I do feel pressure to look after my family.
I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future and I have to make enough money to help my daughter fulfill her ambitions in life.
Ideally I would like to retire in six years. I have made many adjustments to my budget – we don’t have the same quality of life as earlier. We’ve cut down on dining out and going out. All the expenses we could afford to curtail we did.
There are positives in this story – I came back from a stroke of death. I am back in the care of my family, have changed my diet and my goal is to return to my previous physical state. I can walk independently, albeit with a limp, and I’m hopeful I’ll regain full use of my left hand.
I am now more independent but still things have to improve. My muscles are getting stronger, and once they’re stronger then I’ll be back in physical shape.