No Regrets…

Today is my 40th birthday. It is said that 40 years is the midpoint in one’s life. It is a milestone and the beginning of a new phase in life. But, somehow I don’t feel old. All of my classmates are married and well settled in different parts of the world. But I have lost contact with almost all of them.

I think the reason is that I don’t fit into their group or profile. I am still a bachelor, still think that I am 27 years old and talk about subjects that are no longer in their radar. I think at least half of my brain had gone into a time freeze and is still at 27 years. Even my younger brother acts and feels more matured than me. Having a family and kids has that effect on people. Me… I still think and act as if I am just out of college.

It has been 13 years since I met with my accident. And, quite eventful 13 years it had been. I saw all my dreams and aspirations getting washed away by a giant tidal wave. Like any normal person, I too had dreams about my life. I too had ambitions. I wanted to go abroad, work there, study there, and visit a lot of places. I wanted to have a family, and have kids. I wanted to be a good husband and a great father.

If fate had not intervened in 1993, in all probability I would have worked in US and Europe, took my PhD in software engineering from MIT or Carnegie Mellon University, got married and probably would have had kids. I am absolutely sure that I would have been a good employee, a brilliant student, a loving husband-friend to my wife and a caring father to my kids. But none of that happened. God had other plans.

Before my accident, I used to study hard and work hard. At the same time I used to have a lot of fun. I really enjoyed life during my college days and while working. There never was a dull moment in those days.

Spinal cord injury robbed me of all the comforts and conveniences that I took for granted for 27 years—the ability to stand, walk, climb stairs, drive, ride, swim, feel—the list is endless. I can’t go shopping, sightseeing or for a movie. I can’t attend the marriages, birthdays, anniversaries and other functions of my relatives and friends. I can’t get a job and I can’t do most of my favorite activities.

It is difficult to adjust, when all the things that one has taken for granted for 27 years are lost in the blink of an eye. It is a very depressing for a person who used to be physically very active and who was a fitness freak to just sit on a wheelchair, watching helplessly the muscles going soft and body weight going up. It is agonizing for a car and bike lover to sit inside the house looking at other people whizzing around in the latest model cars and bikes. It is unbearable for a person who enjoyed good food and drinks to become a teetotaler and be on diet indefinitely. It is tough for a person who smoked about 40 cigarettes and drank about 20 cups of coffee a day to completely stop the intake of nicotine and caffeine. It is completely demoralizing for a person who was fiercely independent to be dependent on others even to sit up in bed.

Out of the 13 years after my accident, I had a regular job for the first 2 years. Then I stayed at home, venturing out only to go to the hospital. In our country, where places are designed for able bodied people, there is not much point in going out as it is not at all enjoyable and the end result is days of body pain due to the ‘handling’ that one has to endure to reach those inaccessible places.

Being paralyzed from chest down in not the end of things, being confined to the wheelchair does not make one useless. Having no sensation has its advantages (like lack of pain, capability to undergo major surgeries without anesthesia, etc.). The restrictions on alcohol, coffee, cigarettes and food are good for health. Inability to go out can be considered a blessing as it gives you a lot of time to work, read, write and dream. The trick to survive is not to think about what you have lost and concentrate on what is left and how to make the best use of it.

This day, my 40th birthday, I thank my family, especially my brother, for the abundant support and love they have given me. I am also very grateful to my friends who have helped me, was with me and who are still helping and encouraging me.

I don’t harbor any ill will towards my friends who left me when I needed them most. They had their lives to live. I wish them all the best in their lives.

I would be lying, if I said I don’t have any malice towards those people, who have cheated me, used me, manipulated me, hurt me, and most importantly took advantage of my disability. I am no saint and I cannot forgive them or forget what they have done. I sincerely hope that one day they will get the taste of their own medicine. But their numbers are too few and the incidents are far in between to lose my faith in the underlying goodness of humanity.

When I had a chance, I lived my life to its fullest, enjoying every moment. Even when I am down, I try to give life my best shot.

For a person with spinal cord injury, every day is a struggle—struggle for survival. It is not easy to live when 80% of your body is not at your command. I think, I have survived so far, and survived with honor.

I borrow the words of Terry Waite to conclude this post—no regrets, no self-pity and no-over sentimentality.

Thank you friends…


  1. Alexis Leon said,

    July 22, 2006 at 11:01 pm

    mohammedjensin: Thnak you very much friend.

  2. D said,

    July 24, 2006 at 3:04 am

    Hello Alex,

    Is there an email id i can write to you at?

    thank you,

  3. Lekshmi said,

    July 24, 2006 at 12:01 pm

    Hi Alex,
    I’ve been reading your blogs regulary. They are a good source of inspiration.

    After reading this post, I could not resist posting a comment; it is marvelous.

    Belated Happy B’day.

  4. Alexis Leon said,

    July 24, 2006 at 12:24 pm

    Lekshmi: Welcome to my blog Lekshmi and thank you very much for the wishes. Really loved your blog and the post on Brahmacharya was really hilarious.

  5. Sreejith Kumar said,

    July 25, 2006 at 4:23 pm

    Belated Birthday wishes… I have no words having read your story…. Just HAPPY BIRTHDAY………….

    Mine was on 18th July

  6. Alexis Leon said,

    July 25, 2006 at 7:36 pm

    Sreejith: Thank you Sreejith and happy (belated) birthday wishes to you too.

  7. Jithu said,

    July 26, 2006 at 10:42 am

    i cant access blogs from my office. cant post any either. so out of blog world for the last one-two months :-(. using, now i cud read blogs atleast, illegally though, bt who cares :-). bt i cant comment any. last day i found out that i can do both on ur blog so here i am :-). btw i am 10 “days” elder to u. 9th July was my birthday :p. hope u had a nice time during ur birthday.

  8. Alexis Leon said,

    July 26, 2006 at 10:55 am

    Jithu: Inability to access the blogs is sad. I think, you were unable to access and post on my blog because it is not on blogspot. Thanks for dropping by. And happy birthday to you too. A lot of Cancerian bloggers 🙂 10 days elder to you That was a nice one, and many many years younger 😉

  9. Sreejith Kumar said,

    July 26, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    Re: Alexis

    happy (belated) birthday wishes to you too

    Thanks a lot 🙂

  10. Quills said,

    July 26, 2006 at 7:50 pm

    A very happy belated birthday! I had been traveling plus facing a lot of connectivity issues and therefore have been an irregular blogger. So I apologize for my late comment. Reading this post I am just reminded again, what a source of inspiration you are to me and many many others. I admire your strength of character, your convictions and your never give up attitude. All the very best Alexis and May God bless you.

  11. Alexis Leon said,

    July 26, 2006 at 8:41 pm

    Quills: Thank you very much Quills. Working really hard. No posts recently. Take care.

  12. Masd said,

    July 30, 2006 at 9:54 pm

    In you I have found a person of phenomenal courage. I extend my hand of friendship to you and I mean it. Happy Birthday to you.

  13. Nikhil Narayanan said,

    August 1, 2006 at 3:04 pm

    Hope the party is still on…..
    Keep celebrating……

  14. Alexis Leon said,

    August 1, 2006 at 6:49 pm

    Masd: Thank you buddy.

    Nikhil: Oh yes, the party is always on. Like Mohanlal said in one movies “Life is the celeberation of events.” :-). Thanks friend for the wishes.

  15. Vibha said,

    August 22, 2006 at 2:09 pm

    Many Many happy returns of the day !
    Great source of inspiration.Just loved the way u look at the positive side of life,and being happy with what u have and not brooding over what uve lost!

  16. Shwetha said,

    August 22, 2006 at 8:52 pm

    Hi! I have come across your blog many times. Linked by many persons.
    I salute you, bravo. 🙂 I will read your blog regularly fro mnow. May the force be with you. 🙂

  17. Alexis Leon said,

    August 22, 2006 at 10:51 pm

    Vibha: Thank you for dropping by and thanks for the wishes.

    Shwetha: Thank you Shwetha.

  18. ash said,

    August 23, 2006 at 4:16 pm

    hi alex
    wonderful post-deeply moving-greatly inspiring-
    just have two words to say
    “keep rockin”!!!
    happy bday!!

  19. Alexis Leon said,

    August 23, 2006 at 8:09 pm

    Ash: Welcome to my blog and thank you very much for your wishes.

  20. Pramod said,

    October 25, 2006 at 11:35 pm

    I read this post today. Arguably it has been one of the most honest posts i’ve seen on Blog world.

    I just want to say this . ” I dont have words”

  21. Alexis Leon said,

    October 26, 2006 at 12:04 am

    Promod: Thanks Promod.