What is it like to almost die?

Answer by Virali Modi:

I survived death three times during a 23 day period.

I was 14 at the time, located in Pennsylvania, USA. I had come back from a trip to India. I went during the monsoon season, July 2006. I came home in middle of August, I was to start school in about 2 weeks.

School started, I had bought all my back to school clothes, pens, notebooks, pencils, etc. Suddenly, during history calls I get a severe headache, it wasn’t like your normal temple headache. It was more like the headache formed a halo on my head. It started from the forehead all the way around in a circle. I went to the nurse and took some Tylenol. The nurse called my parents and let me go home early.

I went home and I fell asleep. I woke up after maybe 3 hours with a very high fever reached 102 degrees. My parents made an appointment with my pediatrician and he said that it might just be because of the season changing. He advised me to take Motrin every 4 - 6 hours for the fever. I went home and started getting the shakes, I would be feeling extremely hot for an hour or two, and extremely cold the next couple of hours.

My parents rushed me to the emergency room where they did an MRI, CT Scan, Blood and Urine work which all came back negative. As a final resort, they did a Lumbar Puncture (Spinal Tap). The doctor who was performing the procedure was a resident, there was no senior doctor present. He poke the needle in between my vertebrae approximately 4-5 times, when he gave up and called his senior. His senior doctor withdrew Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) and sent it off for testing.

During that time, my mom told the doctor that I have all the symptoms of malaria and that I had visited India during the rainy season. The doctor agreed and said that it does look like malaria, but since they didn’t have any proof; it would be unlawful for them to provide me any medication that may cause harm to me. The CSF checked out to be negative. I was sent home with Tylenol.

Once I reached home, I slept for maybe 4-5 hours. Once I woke up, I was burning in a fever and was hallucinating. I kept yelling at my parents to stay away with me because I thought they were going to hit me in the head with a remote control. I fell asleep after 5 minutes of hallucinating. After waking up, I was totally normal and got up to go to the bathroom. As soon as I stood up, I started to walk as if I was drunk. I was not coordinated. I got to the bathroom but could not urinate.

I was rushed to the ER again, where they inserted a tube through my urethra to remove the urine from the bladder. I was transferred via ambulance to Hershey Medical Center. I was sent to get more testing done like an MRI which showed something in my neck, they assumed. During that time, I was having very small seizures which I was not treated for.

I was taken in for another LP, which resulted in me having a major seizure, respiratory and cardiac arrest. They declared me dead on the spot. They still paged CODE BLUE and called all the ICU doctors in the room to perform CPR.

My mom was in my room speaking to a social worker when my nurse came running to her and screamed, “If you want to see your daughter for the last time, you better come with me”!

My mom is a healthy woman and she never runs, she just can’t. My mom, dad, aunty and uncle ran like anything, they threw their phones away and literally pushed people to get to the testing room.

There, I was laying bra-less and top-less on the examination table where they were giving me electric shock to my heart.

The resident who performed the LP came out and faced my mom. My mom grabbed her shoulders and shook her violently and screamed, “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY DAUGHTER YOU BLOODY PAKISTANI! YOU’RE TAKING REVENGE BECAUSE WE ARE INDIAN AND YOU ARE PAKISTANI!! HOW DARE YOU”!!!

Every doctor there, utterly shocked. My dad took her to the side and made her calm down. Fiza, the resident who performed the LP, was crying and said, “Mrs. Modi, I didn’t do anything to your daughter. She was laughing and talking about her life, school, and you. We don’t know what happened.. We weren’t prepared for this”. My mom looked at her with furious eyes.

After 3 electric shocks, and 7 minutes without oxygen, they revitalized my heart but could not get my breathing back. I was unconscious and had a breathing tube stuck down my throat, IVs in both of my hands, heart monitors hooked up, and a blood pressure cuff on. I was transferred into the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit). I came into consciousness that night and recognized everyone. I shook my head if I knew someone or not.

The next day, I was taken again for another LP, which resulted in my going into a coma for 23 days. The doctors said that there were uncountable white blood cells in my CSF, which meant a viral infection.

During the third day of the coma, my body temperature went below 90 degrees, it was sudden and there was no reason for this to happen. The nurses piled heated blankets on me and surrounded me with heated lamps. I was left like that for about an hour. The doctor called it serious and said if my body temperature didn’t go above 90 degrees, I could die. After one hour, they removed the lamps and blankets, my body temperature rose immediately.

A couple days later, I lost a lot of blood resulting in my hemoglobin going down below 5 (the normal is 11.5-15 for women). They didn’t know where the blood loss was from.. So they gave me 3 units of blood and again called it fatal. Finally, after the blood transfusion, my hemoglobin came up to a safe level.

The date was now September 19, 2006. A family doctor of ours is an Infectious Disease Specialist. He spoke to the team of doctors that were in charge, and requested them to give me a 14 day course of Doxycyclin (spelling?) and Quinine (spelling?) because I didn’t have anything they were treating me for. I had malaria.

The doctors didn’t approve of my doctors’ request so my mom laid down by their feet. In a position where her face was facing the ground and her head was touching the tip of their shoes. She cried and requested them to listen to our family doctor.

Finally, at 4am the doctors injected me with the first dosage of those medicines. My parents went to sleep.

On September 21, 2006. The doctors decided to take me off of life support and told my parents to call all of my family. My mom begged them and told them to keep me on life support until September 29 because it’s my birthday. The doctors said that if there was no improvement after the 29th, they would pull the plug from my breathing machine which would lead to death.

On September 29, 2006, my mom catered for 60+ people, decorated my room in the PICU and called all my family. At 3:05 pm, the exact time I was born, everyone was signing Happy Birthday and my dad held my hand and cut the cake. I opened my eyes and was staring up at the ceiling, I couldn’t recognize anyone.

My family screamed for the doctor, he came in and gave me a quick check up and screamed and jumped himself. He hugged my mom with teary eyes and said, “Mom, you saved us from committing an unforgivable sin! God bless your spirit. Your daughter will survive”! I went into a coma again after 10-20 minutes.

On October 5th, 2006, I was sent into the operating room to transfer the breathing tube from my mouth, to my directly through my neck and vocal cords. After the anesthesia wearing off, I came out of my coma and started to recognize everyone.

But the coincidence is that, when my mother was pregnant, her original due date was October 5, 1991. Another thing, everyone in my family except my mom knew I wasn’t going to make it.. Her faith and belief is what saved me. I was paralyzed from my neck down, it’s been 8 years just yesterday (09/29/13) and I am able to move and contract a few leg muscles which the doctors thought I would never be able to do.

I’ve posted my story many times as answers for different questions, but never in so much detail. I’m sorry if you are being forced to read this the umpteenth time but I love to share this story to give inspiration and motivation to others who are having a hard time.

Stay smiling! And thanks for reading!

* Edit 10/08/13

I forgot to mention my diagnosis and what the doctors make out of my case. I am an unknown diagnosis. They like to diagnose me as meningitis, enchephalitis, meningioenchepalitis, spina bifida, and/or transverse myelitis.

The doctors call me a miracle at Hershey Medical Center, and any where I go.

I’ve also tried to sue the hospital about a year after my hospitalization but the lawyer whom I hired, made an agreement with the lawyers at HMC. I tried to file a law suit again earlier this year but the statutory age prevents me from filing.

Also, I really want to thank ya’ll for reading my story even though I’ve used this as an answer to many questions and I really appreciate the support. :)

Edit 12/15/13 -

Here’s my testimonial video which will show you all my ups and downs and the things that I’ve achieved. If you want anymore information, kindly message me.

Enjoy! Ps. Mind the catheter, I have to use it in India. Accessible restrooms in India are impossible.
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What is the most valuable skill a person can have for their entire life?

Answer by Manish Barnwal:

Resilience -  the ability to bounce back

Life won’t always be fair to you. The ability to fight back and the attitude of not giving up on life is one trait which is rare but a priced one.

Don’t let life defeat you. Bounce back and this time stronger!

Most importantly your are stronger than you think.

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What is the best way to improve your piano skills?

Answer by Garrick Saito:

You must make a commitment to play everyday.

Embrace the fact that the skills you admire when you see others much better than yourself came with hard work and dedication.  There is no magic bullet, I’m sad to report.

There will be a rough correlation to “What you put into is what you’ll get out of it.”  The more you do, the better you’ll get.

Think about the music (or the problem you’re experiencing) when you’re away from the piano.  You’ll find your brain searching for solutions if you think about things long enough.  Many times, you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Listen carefully.  Once you’ve have the notes down, listen very carefully if it sounds right.  In time, you’ll train your ear to know what sounds good and what sounds bad.  Do you hear the sounds that you hear in your head?  If not, you need some work.  Focus on technique.  Do your arpeggios sound smooth and even?  Do you detect unevenness in your block chords.   Record yourself and listen to your dynamics with a critical ear.

Get some feedback.  If you don’t already have one, get a qualified piano teacher to help you, someone who is far more experienced than yourself and who has gone through and overcome the problems you are experiencing.  I cannot count the number of times “I” thought I did really well, only to have my teacher point out things I could have done to improve.  The money you spend will be well worth it.

Good luck with your piano studies.  Be patient and persistent.  That’s the best advice I can offer you.
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What is the most misused word in conversational English?

Answer by Xu Beixi:

A list of bungles, homonyms, and misused terms from an old notebook:

  1. aberrant (deviation) vs abhorrent (disgusting)
  2. adjure (command) vs abjure (formally renounce)
  3. adverse (bad) vs averse (strongly opposed)
  4. aggravate (make worse) vs agitate (disturb)
  5. akimbo means ‘bow-like’
  6. all together (everyone) vs altogether (entirely)
  7. allude (hint to) vs elude (evade)
  8. altercation means ‘heated argument, but doesn’t come to blows’
  9. alumna (female alumni) vs alumnus (male alumni)
  10. anal (relating to the anus)- it’s technically not “anal”, but “anal-retentiveness”, like I am.
  11. angst (anxiety, often with sadness) vs anger
  12. annihilate (destroy all) vs decimate (destroy some- deci means 1/10)
  13. another think coming, as opposed to another thing coming. I’m not sure about this one myself- anyone? (You’ve got another ‘thing’ / ‘think’ coming?)
  14. aprops- by the way (on a matter not appropriate)
  15. assault (doesn’t have to be physical) vs battery (unlawful physical contact)
  16. author (published writer) vs writer (both published and unpublished)- wonder how this relates to Quora and the internet, since everyone’s published.
  17. avenge (more noble) vs revenge (less noble)
  18. average vs mean (middle of high and low) vs median (the “middle number” in a sorted list of numbers)
  19. awhile (short period) vs a while (any length of time)
  20. beg the question- means “assuming the conclusion (of an argument)”, a type of circular reasoning. It doesn’t mean ‘leading to the question’.
  21. bemuse means to bewilder. Not amuse. (I’m looking at you, Bigfoot!)
  22. bereft means to have something taken from one without consent
  23. billiards vs pool- the billiards table has no pockets
  24. blatant (offensive, overt) vs flagrant (also overt, but emphasis on the heinousness of the act)
  25. blithe (happy) vs blither (babble)
  26. bow (front) stern (back) port (left) starboard (right)
  27. casualty means ‘injury, but not death’ (I’ve seen this misused in newspapers!)
  28. census vs consensus (generally accepted opinion)
  29. circa means approximate date, not ‘has been around since’
  30. classic vs classical (a specific time period, European, 18-19th century or modern stuff that reflects that style)
  31. compliment vs complement (highlight, bring out)
  32. compunction means ‘guilty conscience’
  33. concave (curve inward) vs convex (outward)
  34. contagious (process/ degree of ease of spreading; capable of being transmitted by bodily contact with an infected person or object) vs infectious (agent likely to be transmitted to people, organisms, etc., through the environment.)
  35. cracker vs hacker (They are subject to the long standing hacker definition controversy about the true meaning of the term hacker. In this controversy, the term hacker is reclaimed by computer programmers who argue that someone breaking into computers is better called a cracker,[4] not making a difference between computer criminals (black hats) and computer security experts (white hats).[5]) Also, cracker is a racist term for white people, and a delicious sort of wafer.
  36. CV vs resume (CV is more comprehensive and used for academic/ research positions more often)
  37. defamation (both written and spoken) vs libel (written, with more legal consequence *dun dun dun!*)
  38. dilemma (2) vs quandry (>2 options)
  39. discomfit (verb, action) vs discomfort (noun, state; but can also be used in verb form)
  40. effete means ‘(of a person) affected, overrefined, and ineffectual’, not effeminate
  41. elicit (to coax/ obtain) vs illicit (forbidden by law, rules, or custom)
  42. epitome is both ‘a person or thing that is a perfect example of a particular quality or type’ and ‘a summary of a written work; an abstract’
  43. erstwhile means former/ formerly, not missing/ lost
  44. factoid is a questionable or spurious (unverified, false, or fabricated) statement presented as a fact, but without supporting evidence. It isn’t a mini-fact.
  45. forebear (ancestors) vs forbear (politely or patiently restrain an impulse to do something; refrain) vs for bear, which is just plain cute.
  46. forego (precede, as in time or place) vs forgo (choose to give it up), but now they’re used interchangeably.
  47. grammar, not grammer
  48. hanged (past tense or past participle of hang) vs hung (past and past participle), though some men are also hung.
  49. hark means return to a previous point, as in a narrative, or to listen; pay attention. Not ‘hello’.
  50. homely means ugly/ unattractive/ nothing to write home about, and also ‘cozy and comfortable, as in one’s own home’. WTF, English language? It can’t both be bad and good!
  51. immolate: can involve fire or no fire, just self-sacrifice (kill or offer as a sacrifice, esp. by burning)
  52. impeach means to accuse, or discredit, or to charge (a public official) with improper conduct in office before a proper tribunal.
  53. incredible doesn’t mean ‘awesome’, but difficult to believe; extraordinary. Or not credible; hard to believe; unbelievable.
  54. internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to serve several billion users worldwide. It is a network of networks. It isn’t the WWW. The WWW falls under it.
  55. irresistible, not irresistable
  56. light years isn’t a measure of time but distance, equal to just under 9.5 trillion kilometres.
  57. livid doesn’t always mean angry/ furious, but also having a discolored, bluish appearance caused by a bruise, congestion of blood vessels, strangulation, etc., as the face, flesh, hands, or nails.
  58. loose (opposite of tight) vs lose (opposite of find)
  59. mano a mano means ‘hand to hand’, not ‘man to man’. Women can fight, too.
  60. melee generally refers to disorganized close combat involving a group of fighters, but can also mean turmoil and confusion.
  61. mendicity is the condition or activities of a beggar. Not mendacity, which is lying/ untruthfulness.
  62. moot: subject to debate, dispute, or uncertainty, and typically not admitting of a final decision. the definition of moot tells us it’s both debatable or of little significance. Think ‘Jessie’s Girl’- I wanna tell her that I love her but the point is probably moot. This is pretty confusing since it goes both ways- is it important or not?
  63. mother lode. Not mother load.
  64. nonplussed doesn’t mean ‘unmoved and stoic’. The formal definition goes “(of a person) surprised and confused so much that they are unsure how to react.” Or to render utterly perplexed; puzzle completely.
  65. pernicious means ‘having a harmful effect, esp. in a gradual or subtle way’, easily confused with perspicacious, meaning ‘having a ready insight into and understanding of things.’
  66. pithy means ‘concise and forcefully expressive’. Not impactful, or just succinct.
  67. popular is positive in all its definitions- ‘liked or enjoyed by many people’- ‘popular cause of death’ makes no sense, unless people enjoy dying that way. Popular doesn’t mean common.
  68. prodigal means ‘giving or yielding profusely; lavish’, not necessarily bad e.g. prodigal of smiles, prodigal of upvotes. It also doesn’t mean ‘prodigy’ (usu. young, gifted person/ electronic music group formed by Liam Howlett).
  69. prurient means lustful, not childish or silly/ immature.
  70. raise (animals and crops) vs rear (kids) Incorrections - New York Times
  71. regime (e.g. evil regime of Dr. Doom) vs regimen (e.g. skincare) vs regiment (of a military unit)
  72. sherbet (has milk) vs sorbet (no milk)
  73. shoe in, not shoo in, as it originated from the old door-to-door salesmen tactics who knew if they stuck their foot through the door, it increased sales. Weasels.
  74. taciturn- reserved or uncommunicative in speech, not mean or bad. But rather, stern and dour.
  75. virtual- the quality of having the attributes of something without sharing its (real or imagined) physical form. It doesn’t mean ‘not real’.
  76. wherefore art thou- ‘for what reason’. It doesn’t mean where are you, Romeo. It means why the heck art thou Romeo.

Special thanks to Google, Wikipedia, and the Library for all the above.
View Answer on Quora
Woman as Goddesses

Post by Xu Beixi:

Woman as Goddesses
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What are some of the most inspirational real life stories?

Answer by Indrani Mahto:

Neha Awasthy….
I know that you people won’t get significant results when you would look up for this name on Google…but mark my words, in the coming 10 years…YOU WILL…

For all the curious cats out there…let me introduce you to this fabulous person who loves life more than any of us ‘normal’ people…Suffering from polio since she was 1 year old and walking with the help of just one of her legs with crutches but still refusing to give up on the faith that she ll walk someday…just like all of us…:)

This is Neha’s pic with me…:D

In India, where kids born with physical anomalies or aquiring them later in life is so badly attached with stigma…that people used to tell her parents to marry her off very early in life even before she could complete secondary level of education…From neighbors to relatives, no one was supportive of her education.

Things got worse for her when she cracked one of the most coveted examinations of this country, AIEEE (All India Engineering Entrance Examination) in 2010 and got into Production and Industrial Engineering at National Institute of Technology, Jamshedpur

This meant that she had to come thousands of kilometres away from home to study for the next 4 years and the idea stirred a lot of displeasure in her relatives and some of them even went to the extent of suggesting her parents that she should pursue some conventional course in the field of fine arts from a local university ( There’s nothing wrong with that option but trust me, my best friend, Neha wanted to study engineering very badly). Some even claimed that making her study won’t bear any fruits as she won’t be able to accomplish anything thereafter.

Inspite of all this, her parents showed faith in her that she would be able to survive the next 4 years all on her own, which she eventually did. But, the journey had been really tough for her- From climbing stairs to walking long distances on just one leg, she did everything. She attended all the classes, had been an active member of almost all the clubs in our Institute and hey!!! did I tell you….SHE IS AN AWESOME DANCER.

People go crazy when they watch her dance and trust me, watching her  dance will give you the most emotional experience of your life. You’ll have tears ready to trickle down your cheeks and it’s not because she dances despite her handicap. It’s because she’s so full of life, more than any of us. She enjoys her dance like no one else.

She has even represented our country and our institute at the international level when she along with her team, Top Guns (the aero-design team of our institute), designed and fabricated an Advanced class radio-controlled aircraft for SAE Aero Design East 2013 held at Fortworth, Texas, USA. This competition was organised by NASA and Lockheed Martin. Although the team couldn’t win the award, they won many hearts as their aircraft completed all flight rounds successfully :)

She still faces infinite number of challenges in her daily life, which get worsened as our country’s infrastructure isn’t PH-friendly (physically handicapped).

She has a small little dream of opening a dance school for the differently abled kids one day. Trust me, SHE WILL.

She is the biggest source of inspiration for me and a lot of other people. I remember how a Flipkart delivery guy broke into tears when he met her in our hostel because he had read about her and her dance in the newspaper and couldn’t believe that he was meeting her in person.

But not everyone she meets is so cooperative. There are people who try to  take advantage of her situation..e.g..the auto drivers suddenly start demanding double the fare knowing that she has no other option than to take the auto.

And eve teasers….BEWARE….NEHA AWASTHY IS HERE….It doesn’t matter where we are. If any guy passes any ‘uncalled for’ or lewd remarks…she doesn’t let him go without shouting at him, which attracts a lot of public attention and the guy has to leave after losing the battle with her :D

Thanks so much everyone for liking my answer…And a big thanks on behalf of Neha…:D You all have made her immensely happy…and yes on a little fun note…here is another pic for all of you…Im the one giving ‘scared’ expressions sitting in middle…And you all already recognise Neha…and the one sitting behind me is our friend and our partner in crime Rashmi..:)
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What is the best way to deal with disappointment?

Answer by Leonard Kim:

We live our lives, setting goals, which lead to expectations of ourselves. We expect others to stay our friends forever and to help us in our times of need. We even expect to arrive at a certain destination if we live our home at a specific time.

Yet, when we live in this world, nothing ever goes as planned.

We can miss some outrageous goal we set for ourselves, such as selling 25 cars a month when the average is 8. We can fall short by two vehicles and become completely devastated.


Because we set ourselves up with an expectation, yet failed to meet it.

We can expect our friends to listen to us when we are sad. Sometimes, they won’t be able to drop everything and get around to it. Then we feel ignored and unloved.


Because we set ourselves to expect more of our friends, even though they have their own lives.

We can even expect to make it to work in an hour if we leave at a specific time. If there is an accident along the way, then we become panicked because we’ll end up becoming late.


Because we expect the world to go according to our plans.

All of these expectations just lead to disappointment down the line. It is impossible for us to hit all our own goals. It is impossible for our friends to always be there for us. It is impossible to even get to a destination on time, all the time.

The best way to deal with disappointment is to avoid it altogether. To do that, we need to eliminate our expectations.

Without expectations, there is no disappointment.

For me personally, this was one of the hardest lessons I had to learn. I always put huge expectations upon myself, like wanting to get rich, to outperform everyone, to be wildly successful, yet I always fell short. Then I would go home and cry in bed for months, because I missed my mark.

Instead, what I found to work for me was that I needed to adopt a philosophy of consistent and never ending improvement. I needed to work on myself, not what the world expects of me. I needed to forget about comparing myself to others and how well they are doing. I eliminated the concept of Darwinism, or survival of the fittest. I just focused on bettering myself, in all aspects of my own life.

In turn, my life flipped right side up. Then everything just started to go right for me.

Your position in the world isn’t to compete with others. It’s to become the best human being that you can become.
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How should I cope with a lack of good sleep when I have a very important interview in two hours?

Answer by Xu Beixi:

See your zygomatic bone?

Feel your way to its highest point (at the front of your face).

Below it, there should be a small depression.

Press on it. Harder, if possible.

This will keep you awake.

Caveat: it may make you feel like you’ve been punched in the face.
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