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Harshada Rajani
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Harshada Rajani, hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina, graduated from Duke University in 2007 and began medical school at her alma mater immediately thereafter. In late 2008, at age 23, she suffered a vertebral artery dissection leading to a bilateral brainstem stroke. She spent the next several months completely paralyzed from head to toe. Now, nearly three and a half years later, her life is still a struggle. With the support of family and friends, she is fighting furiously to regain her voice and her muscles, but in the meantime, she's found an even more powerful voice through her writing.

Entries by Harshada Rajani

My Love/Hate Relationship With My Stroke

(18) Comments | Posted January 26, 2016 | 3:02 PM

"Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light."
- J.K. Rowling, via Albus Dumbledore

The first few months after my stroke, also known as the dark(est) days, are emblazoned in my memory, forever holding the screams and...

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What I Learned From Jay Williams, Duke Basketball Legend

(5) Comments | Posted April 2, 2015 | 10:04 AM

One night in late 2003, during my freshman year at Duke University, I remember we were all packed into Cameron Indoor Stadium, cheering wildly as we anxiously awaited the events of the night that would kick-off the highly anticipated basketball season. Duke basketball legend, Jay Williams, was there, just a...

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You Haven't Lived Until... You've Had a Stroke

(10) Comments | Posted March 3, 2015 | 4:24 PM

That is one insanely odd, oxymoronic-seeming statement, I know, but let me explain. While I was studying abroad in Spain and working in India and China, as expected of any carefree, fun-loving college girl gallivanting across the world, I had some unbelievable memories that couldn't feel real unless I wrote...

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Open Letter to Kanye West, From a Kid Who Gets 'Special Parking and S**t'

(150) Comments | Posted September 17, 2014 | 6:18 PM

To the esteemed Kanye West:

I wanted to sincerely thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the strength and character you showed at your concert in Sydney. You are a consummate performer who just needed to put those lazy, unappreciative fans in their place. You are...

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Lifting the Veil of the Ice Bucket Challenge

(0) Comments | Posted August 27, 2014 | 6:01 PM

"Pride is a luxury of the strong." -- Patrick Rothfuss

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was just another exhausting day of medical school, full of painstaking lectures and copious note-taking, my brain overflowing with essential facts and figures. I was mentally drained and craving a welcome...

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5 Not-So-Obvious Challenges for a Young Stroke Survivor

(1) Comments | Posted April 11, 2014 | 5:10 PM

In most cases, being a survivor is better than being a victim, but arguably, not in this case. The immense pain and unrelenting heartache of a stroke lies in its aftermath, not in the injury itself. One goes through so many unbelievable challenges, large and small, as a result of...

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The Terrible Silence Between Breaths

(0) Comments | Posted January 31, 2014 | 10:04 PM

"Wow, you can actually breathe on your own!" exclaimed a doctor friend of the family upon seeing me for the first time since my stroke. I was immediately taken aback and kind of offended by the seemingly strange comment. If this statement was made five years ago, soon after my...

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The Ugly Truth About Karma

(12) Comments | Posted October 31, 2013 | 5:30 PM

Karma really is a bitch. It isn't because what you do always has a knack for coming back to haunt you, but because karma, simply, is not true.

In Hinduism, karma is the concept that events happen in your life, whether good or bad, based on your previous actions or...

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Can Dogs Help Some Patients More Than Docs?

(10) Comments | Posted August 1, 2013 | 10:45 AM

"Buy a pup and your money will buy / Love unflinching that cannot lie..." - Sir Rudyard Kipling, "The Power of the Dog"

While doctors are the obvious magicians behind maximizing our quantity of life, dog lovers would agree that dogs are the quintessential kings...

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The 5 Most Underrated Virtues of Great Doctors

(1) Comments | Posted May 29, 2013 | 1:01 PM

I want(ed) to be a doctor. Specifically, I wanted to be a pediatrician since... since... well, let's just say, I don't remember life before wanting to be one. I do love the science and art behind the practice of medicine, but I'm madly, hopelessly in love with the service aspect...

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The Cost of My Catastrophe

(22) Comments | Posted March 15, 2013 | 9:00 AM

Click here to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post and watch the TEDTalk below.

Finding opportunities out of tragedies, making dreams out of nightmares, and discovering gifts out of punishments. Those seem like the great accomplishments of an insightful survivor,...

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Taking Back My Happiness

(4) Comments | Posted February 20, 2013 | 11:27 AM

I think I've forgotten how to be happy. I'm not trying to sound depressed or melodramatic, but I really think I forgot what that emotion is supposed to feel like. I've mastered pretty much every other emotion under the sun, but happiness still evades me. If the world or fate...

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My Love/Hate Relationship With the Brain

(96) Comments | Posted January 4, 2013 | 9:00 AM

Watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

I don't feel perfect. I don't feel whole. I don't feel beautiful. I haven't found euphoria. I haven't found peace. I haven't found nirvana. I know that as a medical student and a fellow miraculous survivor, I should, like...

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I Found My Voice in a Hopeless Place

(4) Comments | Posted December 13, 2012 | 2:41 PM

I loved people. They were my energy, my strength, and my drugs. I was hopelessly and happily addicted, and couldn't quit them, even if I tried. I thrived on interacting with people. I spent my entire heart and soul on them, and in return, I received laughs, love, and one...

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As a Patient, I Need Obama to Win

(4) Comments | Posted November 5, 2012 | 5:40 PM

Every single day that something awful doesn't happen to us, is a gift. Every single night that we can go to sleep smiling, is in itself, a dream. Every single second that this pile of muscles and bones we call a body functions perfectly, is a miracle. We believe we...

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Go Hard or Go Home: Fighting for My One Sweet Day

(4) Comments | Posted September 20, 2012 | 12:07 AM

"You see the two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you discover why you were born." - Viola Davis, 2012

The day I was born -- December 13, 1984, and the day I discovered why -- November 29, 2008 -- the...

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From Invisible to Invincible

(2) Comments | Posted September 4, 2012 | 12:49 PM

Have you ever felt invisible? As if your every action and every emotion remained unseen? Has it ever felt like the world was moving and shaking around you, but you were frozen in place, resigned to watching the world unfold without you? November 29, 2008 -- I woke up in...

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My Stroke of... Luck?

(38) Comments | Posted August 22, 2012 | 1:58 PM

In a second, I fell, from heaven to hell, from peace to utter chaos, from perfection to obliteration. In a second, I lost it all, my past, my present, and most tragically, my future. In a second, I simply faded away... a part of me died. A huge part of...

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