Tharshika Thangaraa is a fourth year medical student at the University of Ottawa.
The sound of her alarm pulsated through her room. Startled, she awoke. It was just another day. As the fog of nighttime cleared, she felt the weight of everyday resurface. Gradually, they claimed their spot, perched atop her shoulders. She sunk deeper into her bed.
What would she wear?
How would it flatter her figure?
What would they think?
She managed to pry off the covers and make her way downstairs for breakfast. She poured herself a bowel of cereal and set the coffee to brew. She barely noticed the happy chirps of the morning songbirds or the vibrant petals of the summer flowers starting to bloom.
How could she ever
She reached out towards the handle of her mug and lifted the steaming cup of coffee towards her lips. Suddenly, her arm became weak. The cup hit the ground. Shards of ceramic scattered across the room. The coffee seeped deeper into the fine threads of her carpet, staining it. Preserving the moment when it would all change.
A connective tissue disorder, they told her.
Not that it mattered now.
She had stroked.
This artwork and essay was created in the aftermath of an elective experience in stroke neurology. Inspiration was drawn from the beautiful coronary angiography images acquired during endovascular treatment. Watching blood fill the vast and intricate network of coronary arteries, nurturing the organ responsible for what makes us human, was incredible. The image also aims to capture some of the dark realities of strokes: dead brain tissue, lasting functional impairments, and changed lives all in a matter of minutes. My hope is that this work will serve to remind people to appreciate the small things that provide momentary pleasure amidst the chaos. Seeking to control and fixating over what will ultimately bare little weight on your life provides next to no benefit.
Learn from the past, be mindful of the future, but most of one’s time should be spent in the present.
The following art piece was created by the author, inspired by the event.