In March of 2015, Kavita Basi was taken to the hospital with a life-threatening illness – a Subarachnoid Hemorrhage.
She was treated with 4 brain operations. There is a 50% survival rate with the remainder of those who do survive having serious disabilities like hearing, difficulty walking, partially paralyzed and brain damage.
Kavita has overcome just about all of these obstacles and now she is giving something back to help others. Kavita has shared her video blogs, she gives regular motivational talks at schools and charities, including the Royal College of Surgeons London, she is an Ambassador for the Brain and Spine Foundation Charity in the UK, she shares her experiences on social media and has now written a book, entitled “Room 23.” Kavita is also back to work as a full-time VP in a worldwide fashion company – Li & Fung. Now, she will be sharing her story with all of us, at this year’s Honey Bash 2018 as one of our very special guest speakers.
We got to spend some time chatting with Kavita about her experiences before, during, and after her illness, and how these experiences have affected her life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I started working at 17. I’m the VP at Visage / Li & Fung. I’ve been at my company for 25 years. I started as an administrative assistant and worked my way up and I’m now the vice president of business development. I’m a very passionate person. Since my illness, I’ve started many of my hobbies I had before where before I had much more of a social life.
How is life different now- after your experience and recovery?
I’d say I’m about 90% recovered. The other 10% may not ever come back. The things that are most different are things like left from right and coordination. I’ve had to build some things up. I have occasional hearing deficiencies now and the fatigue I experience is very difficult. However, my fatigue might be due to me always pushing myself harder every day. I just have to do my concentration in the mornings. Any big decisions I need to make I make them in the morning. I know what my mind is like now. I save the easier things for the afternoon.
It seems like to are very in tune with yourself, were you always that way?
I’ve always been into meditation and yoga but much more so now. I don’t want to fail. I want to live my best life. I am very driven to do that.
Why is it so important for you to tell your story?
I want to help other people. I don’t want anyone to ever feel the way I did after my illness. I felt so alone. I would never wish that on anybody. I thought there was nothing out there. No one told me all of the things that would happen: hearing, memory loss…the hospital expects you to know, but you don’t. It was so hard, but once I knew it became so important. I’m part of this group called Headway. It’s a social group for people with neurological problems. They talk about the issues I had. Some people have it so much worse than me. It’s so important for me to share the things I’ve tried that worked so that I can help others with their recovery.
What was the most difficult part of your journey to recovery?
My husband took a lot of time off to look after me and had to leave his job. But, I could have died. I had a second stroke and he was there when the left side of my body just went numb. He called the nurses to rush in to stop the seizure which prevented the full stroke. He saved my life. He fed me, he changed me. It was a very difficult time for us as a couple. I didn’t like the way I looked. I had lost my confidence. When he wasn’t working it put a lot of pressure on me and I had to be admitted to go to a hospital for outpatient care because I would just cry every day. I realized after 3 or 4 weeks that positivity was the only way. It was my only option. I think I had to get to that low point so that I didn’t see any other option.
How do you stay so positive?
Things were so difficult at first. There is not really any information about what happens to someone after a brain aneurysm. The doctors work so hard to save your life and then you almost just have to figure it out. I think that’s how I stay so positive because that motivates me to tell my story. I don’t want anyone to feel the way I did then. Ever.
What are some of those things that helped you in recovery?
I had a real issue with motion sickness and loud noises. I couldn’t watch TV at all. When I tried it would be so loud and painful. So, I would play music instead and turn it up a bit more every day. Now I can watch TV, but I still have some days it’s worse than others, especially if I’m very tired or overworked. I think I began to recover quicker because of doing this. Just the mentality of pushing myself a bit more each day.
What are you currently still working on in your recovery?
Right now, I’m still coping with my personality change, my filter, and short-term memory loss. I write a lot of things down to cope with this and I add notes on my mobile phone. I’ve found that I can remember visuals best so I take a lot of photographs of things. I will also repeat things back when I’m speaking with others so that I can remember what they’ve said. Reading can still be difficult at times. I sometimes miss words or numbers. Names are difficult to remember for me as well.
What advice do you have for someone struggling with the effects of a brain aneurysm?
Talk to others who are going through it. You can learn a lot and then you won’t feel so alone. Join a social group like the one I’m in. (Headway)
Stay positive. Do meditation. Do yoga. Get therapy. The doctors will explain and the care will help you to understand and change your perspective of what happened. Instead of why this happened to you, you have to say, well, it happened and what are you going to do about it. They will help you turn your negative thinking into positive thinking.
How has having a brain aneurysm had a positive impact on your life?
Now, every day is a bonus. That’s how I think now. Every day is an exciting adventure. I actually love it. Being here every day. Spiritually I know why I’m here now. I thought, why did this happen to me? I had lost my confidence and I went to therapy. I decided I wouldn’t let this take over and that gave me a clear focus. Also, my husband has changed to adapt and he has started cooking! So, it helps me. We like to spend our nights in with snuggles. He’s become more romantic!
How has it been negative?
My social group is not the same as what is used to be. They have a different want in their spare time and it’s different than mine. I experienced a lot of difficulties in work. They didn’t understand that I wasn’t the same as before. It’s difficult for the people you know to be different with you. I just blurt things out and sometimes I need to apologize. I have no filter.
My fatigue has also been a difficulty and prevents me from doing some of the things that my friends do. I have to save my energy for things I really want to do …but if I want to go or do something, I will go. I feel like I have become selfish.
How else are you different now?
I don’t want to waste time. Things aren’t black and white but that is sometimes how you see them and you have to force yourself to see the gray.
You know when you’re a teenager and you have a very pure personality but you adapt as you grow with adulthood, with your children etc. I’m doing a lot of research on this and I write about this “pure personality” in my book.
I’m not interested in drinking as much or partying like I used to. In life, you sometimes want to fit in and do what others want. Now, I spend time doing so many things and I have so many hobbies. I like to paint, sing, dance, cook, I go running, cycling, and I walk a lot. I walk everywhere. It’s so important for me to be outside with fresh air and nature. It’s a proven fact that it helps those with my condition, so much. I enjoy my time alone and I think of each day as an adventure.
What did you think after they told you what had happened to you?
I don’t remember 5 weeks after and I don’t remember the nights right before so I lost about 2 months.
Everytime family came to visit I would tell them a different reason I was in the hospital but no one was allowed to challenge me because the doctors said my brain needed to comprehend what had happened in my own way. Every morning I didn’t know where I was and they had to explain it to me every single day. That was very hard.
What is your role in the fashion industry?
I am the VP of Business Development. I introduce new business and clients to the company as well as growing existing accounts alongside our management team. It’s due to my knowledge of being there for almost 25 years.
How did you decide to write a book?
I decided to share my video blogs on my personal facebook page. They went viral very quickly, in a year it reached something like over 5,000 views. Within 2 years people and organizations were asking me if they could add my videos and Youtube channel to their websites. The feedback from the videos led me to share my diaries. I realized I had to write a book to help make a bigger impact.
Writing was very therapeutic. I enjoyed sitting at the computer and just typing away. It was really helpful to just get out everything I was going through.
I walked into the bedroom one day and I said to my husband, “I’m going to write a book.” He just looked at me said, “ok.” Then I went outside and started typing. I typed every night for 1 hour or more and in 10 months I said to him, “ I’ve finished my book.”
How did you start doing your videos?
I went to see a charity and a woman there told me there is a lot of information about the surgery but not afterward, which I knew from my own experience. But, hearing it from her made me realize what I had. I had been taking videos every day to help with my short term memory loss. I would videotape to see my improvement every day. It was just for me but I realized I had so much information including my diary and I needed to share this.
It was very scary. I was at my lowest point at some of them. I am a professional person normally looking top notch at work with prestigious colleagues and here I was, not looking my best and so emotional. But I thought if I don’t do this, how will I be able to help anyone?
What details can you give us about it?
I want people to relate to it and hopefully, it will help give those who read it information. I also added QR codes to each chapter of the book, similar to how visuals are really important. I wanted to reach out to the next generation who rely on technology. The barcodes can be scanned and will transport the reader to what I was doing at that time whether it’s an Instagram post or youtube video. Also, 10% of all profits of my book go to The Brain and Spine Foundation Charity. They do a lot of research and their neurological research is all funded by donations.
What are your thoughts on coming to the US for Honey Bash etc? What do you hope to get out of it?
I’ve been the US numerous times but this is the first time I’ll be there for a speaking event. The publishers I’m with are U. S. A. based. (She Writes Press, Amazon USA) I’m already with so many UK organizations so it will be great to share my experience on another continent to help more people.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Maybe just to explain all that happened in case anyone has a similar story to relate.
I’ve had 4 operations:
to stabilize an aneurysm with the coil.
to add an external drain to release fluid on the brain
clearing out the arteries with injected fluids
add a shunt a machine that releases the fluid from the brain to my bladder or stomach
I still suffer from ongoing issues that I’m dealing with every day. I still suffer from my earlier symptoms but I’ve learned to adapt to this. I continue learning about myself every day through neuropsychology which is a huge help for my work and family life as well keeping my confidence.
We are so excited to have Kavita at this year’s 5th Annual Honey Bash to speak about her experience, her book and to raise awareness about brain aneurysms. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear from this amazing and inspiring woman and get your ticket today!
Get Your Ticket Today