"While there's life, there's hope."
One Friday night, Sushmita Saha's seventeen-year-old son fails to return home. She soon discovers he is in a coma, suffering a traumatic brain injury.
Sushmita is moved to share her story as a way to pass on hope to other parents and children who are going through a tough phase of life...
It was Friday evening. I stood in the kitchen cooking dinner. My husband and daughter were upstairs watching TV. I looked out at the day sky transitioning to night. My seventeen-year-old son, Ayush, would be home soon. We’d soon be seated eating fried rice and chicken masala chops - one of my son’s favorites.
The phone rang. A lady on the other side said, “Ayush Saha?”
I said, “Yes, I am the mother.“
She said, “I am calling from the hospital. Your son is here, and you need to come here immediately.“
A hot wave of panic rushed up my spine. “Is he OK? What happened?” I asked.
She replied, “I cannot tell you over the phone. You need to come here.“
My husband, my daughter and I rushed to the hospital trauma center. My son lay unconscious. Bruises and blood covered his face. Tubes hung from his body. Monitors beeped, bleeped and buzzed. Doctors and nurses rushed around him.
A nurse asked, “Are you the mom?”
I nodded. I could not speak. He said, “Your son met with an accident and is in a coma.”
I wanted to ask, “Is he going to be OK?” Instead, my whole body shook. I opened my mouth, but no words came out. The nurse gave me water and brought me a chair to sit down. I felt numb. My head went blank, my throat dry. I was in a daze. My husband and daughter held me to stop me from shaking and sobbing uncontrollably.
I looked at my son and thought, “God, you cannot take him away from me, I will not let you.”
My son was a smart, athletic and happy teenager in his senior year of high school. Every day he enjoyed being outdoors, riding his scooter around our area. That Friday evening, he met with an accident riding downhill. His head hit the pavement causing internal hemorrhage, cheekbone fracture, a traumatic brain injury and multiple bruises.
I opened my mouth, but no words came out. The nurse gave me water and brought me a chair to sit down. I felt numb. My head went blank, my throat dry. I was in a daze ...
The next few days in the ICU, I sat by his bedside. I held his hand and talked to him. The doctor said even though he was in a coma, he could still sense things. When I could not control the tears, I cried in the bathroom. I wanted to spare him my fears. I wanted him to sense the love and hope I held in my heart.
Three days later, Ayush came out of his coma. We cried with relief. But he was very weak. He could not sit by himself or talk but responded by raising his fingers. Seeing his eyes open and turn towards me when I spoke made me so happy.
Now conscious, Ayush had further challenges to face. The doctor in charge spoke directly, “Ayush has damage to his frontal lobe. He is going to have learning difficulties and may not be able to go to school for a few months.”
With no family support around me, as they were in India, I felt lonely and helpless. I saw my son suffer. I saw him depressed. Often, he shut himself away and refused to let us help him. I wondered how we would make it through.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. I am grateful for the medical staff and his rehab team who helped Ayush. They helped him to first stand on his own, then walk with assistance. A Facebook group for caregivers of TBI patients became my support system. I am grateful for the support given by my son’s Boys Scout troop and my close friends. My son’s school helped by providing accommodation so that he could attend his 4-hour daily rehab sessions while attending school. And, of course, my family in India prayed for him every day.
Together with Ayush’s determination and the support of others, what seemed impossible a few months ago became a major achievement in his life.
In June, Ayush graduated high school in the top 10 students, with the highest honors. We celebrated by going out for dinner to our favorite Mexican restaurant.
Ayush graduated high school in the top 10 students, with the highest honors. We celebrated by going out for dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant.
I’m so proud of my son’s determination and hard work. And I’m even prouder of what he is now doing to help other children dealing with brain trauma...
Ayush designed therapeutic exercises for a 5-year-old who had hemispherectomy and semi-paralyzed limbs. He also started tutoring kids in foster homes. After a tutoring session, Ayush came to me. “Mom, my student, Kayla has lost all hope because she got an F in Maths. I am trying to motivate her.“
“While there's life, there's hope," said Marcus Tullius Cicero.
My son’s challenges are not over yet. I know he will face hardships in college. I know he will vent his anger and frustration on me, but I will be there for him, loving him and motivating him through the tough times together. Every step, I will be with him, proud of his progress and proud that he is using his struggles as an opportunity to help others.
Meet Sushmita Saha
Hi, I'm Sushmita Saha. I am the Mother of Ayush, my seventeen-year-old son who endured traumatic brain injury. I share my story to give hope to other parents and children who are going through a tough phase of life. It's hard to deal with it at times, but love and hope can change everything.
I'm so proud of Ayush and everything he has achieved despite his challenges. Every day Ayush continues to heal and help others. As a family, we try to focus on what brings us joy.
We want to give back to the community by trying to help other children.
Click here to discover more about Ayush.