I want to share a personal story today.

My mother was in the hospital for the last 5 weeks. She was in the ICU and went through many things including 2 cardiac arrests, 72 hours on full life support and a severe lung infection.

There were times when we (and the doctors) lost hope. When she was on life support – she was unconscious, she could not breath without a ventilator and there was no way of knowing if there was any brain activity happening. Doctors told us that they will keep trying but we should keep our expectations low.

I was in the hospital nearly every day for five weeks from morning to the evening. Sitting outside the ICU in the waiting area, I ended up doing a lot of waiting; waiting to talk to the doctors, waiting to get the results of a procedure, waiting to see my mother and sometimes waiting just because there was nowhere else to be and nothing to think about.

Over the five weeks of waiting, I learnt to recognize the fellow “waiters”. People whose loved ones were inside the ICU and who were waiting just like me. I saw them come with hope or without . I saw them leave with a healthy loved one or without. I heard their stories. I shared in their hopes and fears. Then, I saw those hopes and fears come true.

Seeing life and death so often, from so close changed my perspective. I learnt a few things:

1. Health is important: Its important to exercise and eat right. I have a limited amount of time in a day but its important that I ensure that taking care of our body is on the todo list every day. I can play, swim, run, bike or walk. The important thing is to get some exercise every day. The hospitals are full of people whose hearts or livers gave in because they did not take care of them when they should have. All the money in the world will not help if we do not have a body to enjoy it.
2. Money is important: Having said that, money is very important. In the hospital, I saw up close how having money could literally be the difference between life and death. Nobody has to chose between giving the best life for their kids or giving best healthcare to their parents just because they have money for only one. I always thought that beyond a certain threshold having more money does not contribute to happiness. It might still be the case. But, I think that threshold is much higher.
3. The time is limited: This is the most important point of all. Regardless of how healthy I am and how much money I have – I can still die before I am ready for it. I need to consider every day I am alive as a blessing for I do not know how many more I have. This means considering my time as a precious resource and carefully thinking how I am using it.

While each of those points is important, it’s the last one that deserve the most thought. I will try to expand more on it in a future article.

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