One Millisecond that Changed My Life

Anum Nawaz
4 min readMay 5, 2020


Often we hear of people who’s lives change in a matter of seconds. Mine did too. In the May of 2019, I was selected for a fellowship for my philanthropic and humanitarian work by Asha Jadeja Foundation, based in California, USA. As I reached California, after about a week, I mysteriously fell unconscious. The doctors say it was an onset epileptic attack, perhaps, my sleep cycle was disturbed and I wasn’t getting enough rest. I was also stressed. All of this could have trigged an epileptic episode.

However, when I think of my accident, I quite vividly remember, I was talking to a friend just outside the house where we all were lodged in. We were talking about how we need rest, if we really have nothing to do right now. And as we spoke, I fell unconscious. There were no auras. I just fell with a jerk backwards and my face hitting the pavement directly.

When I woke up, I saw all my friends, I remember I was crying with pain. I also remember asking them if I had broken my teeth? And started looking for them on the ground. I remember I asked my friends, “What happened to me?” I couldn’t sit. A friend helped me sit, by sitting behind my back and giving me support. I was crying. I didn’t know what had happened. I was constantly asking when would 911 come? “I need help1 It Hurts!” My friends were calming me down. I remember, when it came, I looked as they went across the street and I asked them, ”Help me, I have pain”.

I was taken into the ambulance, and all I asked was for …a pain killer. I kept saying that I’m hurting. I kept crying but the could not relieve my pain in the ambulance. My friends followed me behind the ambulance.

I don’t quite remember much, once I reached the hospital. I only remember that I puked blood on the floor. I remember the nurse changing my clothes. I remember I was scanned for any brain injury.

I had 4 fractures in my jaw. Two major dislocations. Two hair line fractures in my teeth. M lower jaw was split in two halves. I spent two days in the hospital at Stanford, waiting for my surgery. They fractured my lower jaw, and also aligned it. I was on morphine, so I didn’t feel a lot of pain. But when I came out of the surgery, I was jaw shut. When I realised what a jaw shut means, I told my doctor, I want to remove it. But I had no option.

I had no emotional support except skype calls with my family and sometimes when other fellows and friends would visit me. I was so alone and traumatised. I think I have been alone before as well, but when you are sick, going through a physical and mental trauma, you want people around.

I left for Pakistan 4 days after my surgery. This was the most difficult decision to take and the flight I have ever had. I was broke, I couldn’t eat, I was not on morphine anymore. And the surgery required a heavy dose of painkillers.

Though I landed safely in Pakistan, I was not the same person. I had to figure out the best medical help in Pakistan, I had to figure out my next steps, I had to figure out my duties as a lecturer at IAC. No doubt they my institute supported me alot. I had a huge injury, and I was not physically the same anymore.

I took a month off from work, and tried to adjust with a new anatomy, but as time passed, I had a major deformation. I could not collide my teeth. There was no occlusion as they say it. I also had a lot of TMJ pain and with all the root canals, I could not open my mouth for long hours. I always had to be on narcotics. The next 6 months were used to complete my root canals. It would take 3 hours for one root canal. Sometime more. I was in constant pain.

After 6 months of my first injury, I had another surgery. It was a 6 hours long by a talented Dr. Mr Asher. The surgery was done through my nose, by hammering my upper jaw i.e. calculated fracturing, removing a bone and an open slit of my upper jaw. I took off from work again for a month, then continued going back.

I was hospitalised for 4 days, then I tried to return back to normal. But this time I had no pain. I was not on drugs anymore. Thanks to a good surgeon!

Its been 6 months and I still have sinus issues, swelling, pain, sensitivity. I have been in physical pain for almost a year now. And nobody can imagine what it’s like to be in physical pain, constantly, 27/7/365. I was still lecturing, trying to make my muscles work again, to feel having teeth again.

In my journey, I found my love. I found happiness, but the pain, it never went away.

When I look back at this year, it has brought me troubles, sadness but also love and acceptability. It brought me new friendships, new relations but also adversity. I still can’t feel my jaws or teeth. I can’t chew well. I can’t eat what I really like and if I do, it hurts. But I guess, I have to learn to live with it.

Maybe with time it would heal, or I might adjust to it, but it will always be. This was my moment of a millisecond that changed my life.



Anum Nawaz

Lecturer @IAC|Fulbright Alum @TheNewSchool| Founder @myvoice_unheard ,@academicsaccessible,@cc.canvasconnection,@la1dayuniversi1|Previously @rabtt,@yesnetworkpk