Bound by Wheelchair, Liberated in Spirit
Every great dream begins with a dreamer.
And we have one such dreamer amidst us, India’s entrant to Miss Wheelchair World 2017 and the winner of Miss Wheelchair India 2015 - Priya Bhargava. Diagnosed with an autoimmune condition Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) that does not have a known cure yet, Priya’s life changed dramatically at 19 years of age. Diagnosed with that condition, she got confined to a wheelchair in a few years when her condition deteriorated. But that did not cripple her spirit.
Here is the story of the braveheart in her own words.
I am a girl of many dreams. I wanted to become a doctor and began studying physiotherapy. I was 19 when I got something that looked like rashes. Everyone told me it was just sunburn but I started getting fever and feeling weak. Paracetamol became a part of my daily diet. They thought it was typhoid and then malaria. Finally, I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), and there was no cure. I started visiting the doctor regularly. The treatment was harsh and had many side effects. I lost hair, my skin was damaged, and I’d gone through bouts of depressions.
The only one thing that I was sure of was my intelligence. I had to discontinue my dream career path - studying physiotherapy due to severity of the disorder. I went into critical depression as I had lost my hair due to chemotherapy. I would put a black ink marker onto the bald patches of my head or throw a scarf on, and go to college. Soon though, the treatment got harsher and I got weaker. I couldn’t go to college any more and gradually got bedridden. I even enrolled myself in a Nutrition and Health Education course, and had to drop out of that too. After I got a little stable, I committed myself to finishing my BCA and MCA, topping the regional centre!
Now, my aim is to sensitize people about disabilities and make this world a beautiful and safe place to live in. I want to be on the cover page of a popular fashion magazine. I wanted to crack the UPSC exams but that can’t be realized due to my illness (being medically unfit.) I wish to have my solo painting exhibition, I wish to publish my autobiography. There is so much left to do!
Doctors have tried a stem cell transplant on me twice but to no avail. Since 2004, I have been a wheelchair user.
Sources of strength:
My source of strength are my parents. They stood by me in my worst and of course in my best as well. If I am here in this world in some position, that’s only because of them and the Almighty. I was diagnosed with a clinical depression called schizophrenia. My parents handled me well, bore me in that madness, they did whatever they could to save me, to make me sane again. I owe a lot to them.
Moment of courage:
Participating in Miss Wheelchair India (MWI), though, was never my dream. It was just for a change from daily routine. Because my alimentary canal does not function properly, I had to keep myself hungry and thirsty throughout the day of the contest. It is almost unmanageable. Every time I would leave home, I needed to prepare myself for two days before that. It was a nightmare when exams were scheduled back to back.
To every woman out there, do not compromise. Dare to realize your dreams. Be a river which changes its course when met with obstacles. Always come out of your comfort zone. Life is so much better out there!
If that is not inspiration enough then what is? We wish you all the luck, Priya Bhargava!
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