From having several major surgeries at a young age to channelling all his experiences, hopes and joys into a book that will help others in a similar situation — this is the journey of Rishabh Puri.
I learned to cultivate joy from a young age. It was either that or the option to give in to despair and consider my life to be over before it had even started. I was just six months old when I was diagnosed with Hyperlipidemia — a condition that leads to increased levels of any or all lipoprotiens in the blood. And then, at the age of 10, the discovery of a leak in the aortic valve of my heart sentenced me to an adolescence of surgeries and visits to the doctors. The outcome often looked grim. But I soon discovered that my outlook did not have to be a miserable one.
The doctors tried to put off replacing my valve as long as they could but a replacement was eventually needed. I was almost 18 when I had my first surgery. And just 10 months after that the doctors diagnosed some blockages in my heart, which led to a bypass surgery when I was 19. Life was good for a few years following this, but not for long. After a car accident at the age of 27, I had a burst of pain in my hips. While I initially thought it must be a muscle tear, the doctors later found that I has avascular necrosis, which is basically the death of bone tissue because of the lack of blood supply.
They said that I would need a double hip replacement, else I would have to spend my life on a wheelchair. It has been n long and winding road to recovery since that surgery. And the journey continues to this day.
While other children frolicked in school yards, I had to build my own playgrounds and secret worlds in recovery rooms and hospital halls. Doctors and nurses were my peers and playmates. By the time I reached adulthood I had undergone several major surgeries, more times than most men three times my age. But, in spite of all this, I learned how to greet people each morning with a smile on my face and hope in my heart.
That was how I learned a lesson more important than anything I could have learned at school — the simple idea that I am in control of my own happiness. Once I discovered that, no diagnosis could depress me. No grim doctor’s face could dim the joy in my world. I began to thrive in the face of adversity when I tapped into the eternal sense of hope that flowed through my faulty human heart.
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I took up art with the zeal of a man who has discovered that he has a new lease on life. Painting, writing poetry and even cooking filled my days with an impenetrable joy that no bad news could demolish.
I realised that each day is a gift from God and that I should fill it with as much joy as I can — not only to move forward but also so that I could give the gift of optimism to those who loved and supported me.
That discovery led me from the hospital all the way to Nigeria, where I was involved in a family business, and then to Dubai where I became one of the youngest entrepreneurs in UAE. The feeling of success is now as familiar to me as was the feeling of fear when I was a child.
I am grateful for the love and support of my family. And I also want to spread the message of hope and joy to people who are where I am, dealing with health struggles and wanting to live full lives. I want to let people know that not only can they find happiness in even the most grim situations but that they are allowed to take that happiness and let it flourish within them
That is why I wrote my first book, Inside the Heart of Hope, and it is also the message of my second and forthcoming novel, Flying Without Wings. Not only does the process of writing free me from the sufferings in my daily life and helps me align myself on the path of joy, but it allows me to reach people I might not otherwise speak to. My message to all such people is — Hope is within you. Joy is possible, no matter what your circumstances. Choose them, whenever you can.
You can purchase Rishabh’s book here.