How I battled prolonged lung infection, got my body back, and paved my way to happiness

For Shweta Kujur Joshi, life came to a standstill when she got diagnosed with a severe lung infection that required her to go on steroids. This is how she took charge of health and got her body back.
lung infection
From being on steroids to hiking across North India, this Shweta’s story. Image courtesy: Shweta Kujur Joshi
Reader Submission Published: 27 Sep 2020, 11:00 am IST
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Raised by working parents with transferable jobs, I grew up to be fearlessly nomadic and independent by nature. I was out of my protected township environment at the age of 18 to live in a big city on my own. 

Delhi surely was captivating but it also subjected me to a culture of late nights, fast food, and erratic eating. At the age of 19 I had tasted my first beer and by 20 I would easily down a couple of breezers. 

Post my graduation I pursued my MBA degree and shifted to Pune, while I was training to get into the corporate world, my drinking only increased.

I joined an alcoholic beverage company and what was restricted for the weekend became a daily affair. Every day I would have at least one or two beers, and weekends I would party for work. I was in my early twenties and never thought lack of sleep, excessive alcohol, pressure at work would stress me out to a level where I suffered from prolonged cold and cough.

And then my body started giving up
I was naïve and didn’t take the signs that my body was showing seriously, until a day where during a late-night meeting, in a restaurant I broke into a sweat with my heartbeat racing. 

I went back home and finally called in sick. I couldn’t be back in office as my health kept deteriorating and from a person who would love to hike, I was someone who couldn’t even walk 100 meters without panting.  

lung infection
Me when I was on steroids.

I went from one doctor to another to get my cold treated and finally when I went to go to a lung and chest specialist, I was straight away admitted to an ICU.

I had a severe lung infection
After several tests and scans, I got to know that I had a severe lung infection which had damaged my lung function. As a result my oxygen levels were down to 68 when they should have been 98/99.

I fought for my life behind the oxygen masks and was in the ICU for 10 days. My lung function had gone down and I was on oral steroids for almost a year. The steroids on one hand helped me breathe easy, but on the other played havoc with my entire system. 

Water retention, hormonal imbalances, weight gain, and salt cravings were few of the visible side effects and me disliking my own image in the mirror was the invisible one.  

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I had not only put on weight but would look swollen. I discussed this with my physician and was told that the impact was permanent and was asked to stay away from intensive workouts as I might not even be able to get my lung capacity back.

lung infection
When I bounced back with power yoga.

I decided to challenge myself and get my life back on track
I was in despair and my adversity created resilience. I took my doctor’s words as a challenge and started searching for alternative healing therapies. The first task was to tackle water retention, salt cravings and lose weight. 

The second was to be fit enough to hike again. I enrolled myself in a gym and started training under a professional trainer, took up hot yoga (yoga in 45 degrees heated chambers), and went to a holistic nutritionist who gave me tips to keep my lungs active and healthy.

My training consisted of heavy-weight strength training, body weight functional training, and hot yoga. I would train for five days a week and was on a low-carb and high-protein diet. 

Drinking was kept to a bottle of room temperature beer or a glass or two of wine. I hadn’t only tweaked the way I ate and drank, I had also tweaked my sleep and wake up timing and was regular with my checkups.

lung infection
Yoga and me.

Within 6 months, I got my body back
It was a complete overhaul and within six months I got my body back. My doctor was really happy with my transformation and finally I got a green chit. I passed my lung function test with flying capacity, but the actual test was still awaited.

I booked a holiday and went hiking in Dharamshala, Dalhousie, and the final touchdown was Jammu where I hiked through the old temple road to Vaishno Devi. It was difficult for me and none of the weighted stair walks or stair runs came closer to the exhilarating emotions I felt on my hikes.

I came back a new person, never again to be swooned back by the food mafia that first entices you to eat and then sells you packages to lose weight.

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