“Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.
And I’ve been through some tough times,
and I know a lot of people can recall tough times,
and maybe are going through some tough times right now,
but they don’t last.”

— Alonzo Mourning

Born in the lap of luxury with a silver spoon in their mouth the rich and pompous often fail to experience the vagaries of nature. They remain sheltered from adversaries and hence life for them turns chaotic as they steer forward. More often than not an upbringing of high standards is not enough to make one battle ready.

Life for these people can be downright difficult at times. It is a no holds barred fight that can punch you and beat you down. Having seen problems at different levels from close quarters, life for me has never been easy. Repeated suffering , failures and setbacks of different nature have been my soulmates.

But like they say in Hindi – Bhagwan Ke Ghar ,Der Hai Andher Nahi. God has been great enough to give me strength and helped me rise like a phoenix.

I vividly remember the evening of August 13, 1980 when I got the biggest shock of my life when I felt all my dreams had reached its dead end at the age of 20.

I had just joined Asia’s biggest Drug Research Institute CDRI as Junior Research Fellow. I had been diagnosed with Bone Tumor in my right knee and malignancy was not ruled out.

Orthopedic Surgeons asked me to get the knee operated immediately as Tumor was growing and could break the knee plate.

By now I was already a patient suffering from Glaucoma in both eyes barely managing to maintain it with drugs. I have struggled for years to get adjusted with the only drug available in India which caused constriction in eyes after inoculating drops for two hours which had to be used four times a day.

My miseries had trebled given my sisters’ marriage was due in November later that year and all responsibility was on my shoulder. I went for surgery immediately and as luck would have it the tumor was “Benign”. It took me six months to get back on my feet again. I had quit my CDRI Researcher job since I had offer from India’s premier news agency, the PTI  to join as Journalist. I was in for a turning point in my life. From Scientist to Journalist . I thought a tough time has passed.

But you can’t change destiny. Life had even tougher times for me in the years ahead.

I skidded off my scooter and broke the other knee and dislocated my shoulder. As a science student I always knew the angle and not the impact matters in such road mishaps. This hence goes on to cause a bad fracture and I was forced to be on bed for another six months with a plastered limb and chest. I was completely dependent on others for my daily routines.  My God here too turned out to be my guiding light.

My better half was always on my side but it took quite a toll on her to strike a balance between work and taking care of my day to day needs. With some love, care and support from nears & dears I was back on my feet again.

When I started thinking that life will now sail smoothly at 28 I was father to a baby girl. There was joy and merriment at home. The responsibility of parenthood was looming large on mind. I suddenly started feeling a sense of pride in bringing home my little embodiment of Lakshmi, but there was another bout of bone tumor waiting to haunt me.

A tumor of the size of a guava was detected. While the talk of malignancy and amputation did not seem to stop, doctors had their wonder weapon Cryosurgery something unheard of in 1990s medical science parlance. The technique is such that special gas freezes and kills cancerous tissues at temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees Celsius . A 10 member team of top surgeons from prestigious King George Medical College performed the marathon six hour surgery to save the limb.

God once again was kind to me as pathology of the excised tissue came out to be benign though of high grade. The limb was saved. “We knew a Journalist (Reporter in my case) should have his limb otherwise how would he run around & our focus was to save your limb though the odds were stacked against him”,  said elated surgeons after a biopsy report ruled out malignancy.

This time recovery process was longer since doctors took all precautions of periodical check-up and strictly warned me not to be involved in any kind of adventure since bony tissues had been grafted.

By now life had become like that clichéd Bollywood one liner – Picture Abhi Baaki Hai Mere Dost.

Ten years later I slipped in my court yard and broke my Tail Bone and the hip joint got defused . Life and aches and pains have been two inextricable entities. I avoid pain killers because they don’t work and are often harmful for human health.

Diabetes , Hypertension and Cholesterol are these days considered Royal Diseases  so how can I be away from these.

I will be turning 58 and God has been kind to me as well wishes from my family and friends have helped me in my voyage on my chosen path. As a journalist who boasts of a three decade plus body of work I still work 18 hours a day , enjoy a good position and have a never ending desire to experience life one moment at a time. Of my two kids my daughter is a Network Engineer ( Canadian Citizen ) and Team Leader in Deloitte (London) & Son In Law an Electrical Engineer with Blackberry London .

Son is a Professor in Economics & International Affairs and wife, a perfect partner.

Pushing past difficulties and surmounting adversities, especially in the face of very trying times, is a monumental undertaking.

To add to that, if you have the regular stresses of everyday life like repeated medical problems, financial crisis, domestic concerns among others, it can be trying.

What makes me happy is that I have been able to weather life’s many storms. Haven’t I ?

Cheers …

(Dr Sanjay M Johri )

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