“I knew tomorrow will be beautiful because when you hit rock bottom, the only way for you is upwards!”
How would you react if you come back from a dream holiday and your body decides to give up on you? From being an everyday 32-year-old with a successful career to going into coma, having a near-death experience and losing her unborn child, Shalini Saraswathi’s life changed just like that, like fate had flipped a button. And what did she do? She decided to give it right back. And how!
Just back from a vacation in Cambodia, expecting a baby and moving up successfully along a career path, Shalini was affected by a rare fever. Her hands and legs succumbed to a bacterial infection later. The consequence - Shalini lost all four of her limbs. In one of her blog entries, she describes how one of her limbs decided to ‘auto amputate’ and fell into her brother-in-law’s hands. Eventually, she had to get her legs amputated as well.
It has been 5 years since. Last year, Shalini participated in the TCS 10k with the artificial blades that were fitted in place of her legs just days before her first run. She is now an avid runner and trains regularly. It is difficult to miss her spirit and courage even in her writing. To a question on how the blades feel, she says, “Imagine yourself on really pointy high heels and then imagine being on a trampoline...if you are a man who has never worn heels...I cannot explain it to you!”
Here is the story of the unbeaten optimist in her own words.
How do you deal with a life change…from being fully in charge of your life physically and mentally to seeking help to brush your own teeth?
Honestly, you just do!
The first three months were easy, because I believed I would be back on my feet and life would go back to how it was.....until the gangrene set.
Everyone visited at the hospital, my room were filled with people ‘trying’ to accept what happened, unshed tears, nervous laughter, everyone being brave for me and themselves and more than anything else not sure how to deal with me or the uncertainty of life itself.
Six months later, my right hand auto amputated. For those of you who have not heard of this before, it literally is the body shedding a part it no longer needs. In my case it fell into my brother in law's hand. A look of disbelief passed through the room, my mom being the only witness. While we did not know what do with situation, I knew this was a sign – a sign to move on.
We took the decision to go ahead with amputating the legs the next month. I was relieved - I knew I could only move forward now and there is no stopping!
Sources of strength:
I guess it was the way I was brought up. I had a feminist mother who always spoke about the importance of a woman being independent and standing up on her own, no matter what. My family and friends played a really large role in my recovery by being there for each other. We drew our strength from each other.
These years though difficult and painful(mentally and physically), opened my eyes to a very different world. I was upset, hurt, angry at everyone who could walk or even itch and the constant battle of WHY ME! In time, and with wonderful constant support of friends (I love you guys!) and my family I have now reached a state of liking who I am (with or without limbs).
I lived each day at a time, made small achievable goals for myself, read every book I could lay my hands on and like my life depended on it, learnt classical music, looked forward to friends visiting – more than anything else hoped and believed that tomorrow will be better…
Moment of courage:
During the first run, after the 6 km mark, I did not feel very great, it was a particularly hot day. When I knew I wouldn’t complete the race within my targeted time, I was very upset and wanted to give up. I then had to remind myself that it is important to finish what you started and quitting was not an option. I practically had to drag myself through the next 4 kms to the point, where I had to be supported over the last 100 meters.
So walk in the rain, stick your tongue out and catch the raindrops, hold hands, feel the grass under your feet, smile at strangers, admire good looking men/women, fall in love, call someone you have been meaning to, give big tight hugs, kiss a boy or girl (if that's your thing), flirt, dance till you drop, wear your red lipstick, join that class you have always wanted to, buy the shoes you want, write a book, sing aloud, learn to play an instrument, bungee jump, sky dive, travel to Antarctica for all I care – LIVE TODAY AND LIVE IN THE MOMENT - you don't know what is going to happen tomorrow!
Also read: Bound by Wheelchair, Liberated in Spirit
Explore the entire collection of articles: Real Mom Stories
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