Paddleboarding. Surfing. Hiking. Skydiving. Seems right out of the bucket list of a sporting enthusiast, doesn’t it?
It is definitely a bucket list, and that of an individual deciding to live life on her own terms, despite what came along. Hema Subhash was 20-something when one of her legs was crushed after being run over by a bus in 2010. That did not stop the wheels of Hema’s life from moving - she has married since, is a mother to a 4-year-old and runs a support group for People with Disabilities (PwDs) called One Step At A Time.
Here is the story of the trailblazer in her own words.
On the fateful evening, I was hurrying to get into a volvo back home from work. I still wish I'd walked a little slower or met a friend of mine on the way somewhere. Yet, I boarded that bus. And just as I was stepping out, the driver abruptly started closing the door and moving the bus at the same time. I was pushed out while I stepped out and in a flash I fell out on the road.
I still remember that for a fraction of a second I was embarrassed, then that embarrassment turned into pure horror and excruciating, unimaginable pain when the bus's rear tire went over my left knee crushing it to the bone. For a moment, I managed to look up, at the mangled mess that my leg had turned into. I saw my own bones and my flesh, limp and hanging out. My knee cap was hanging off my bones by a thread of tissue. I saw my own flesh devoid of any skin. I saw blood oozing out, it was everywhere.
I almost died when I reached the hospital that I was taken to during the night. I was resuscitated back to life as my heart rate and BP were unreadable. Once I was a bit stable they tried to set my leg straight, the doctors pulled at the mangled remains of my leg to set the bones straight, without any sedation of any sort, that again was almost worse than the part where the bus ran over my leg. It was when they gave me anesthesia that I finally lost consciousness fully and stayed that way for about a day. When I awakened the next day my leg was gone.
My husband, boyfriend then, proposed to me when I was on the hospital bed, and we got married a year later.
I rejoined work after about 8 months of my accident and I wasn't confident about walking for many years to come. It was only after my son that I regained my physical independence.
Sources of strength:
My dad, who had boundless energy and positivity is my source of strength. I also try to look within, and trust myself to overcome challenges in life. I believe that the key is definitely in our minds and our attitude.
There were no other reference points or other women who were amputees who I'd known and who had been through pregnancy. I relied on one article online about an amputee mommy from the US, it wasn't easy to go through the pregnancy without any real reference points.
Our son Neil was born in 2013 after a C-section. I did all that was possible in my means to take care of him, it did bother me that I couldn't carry him and walk or bathe him for a while.
Motherhood unlike anything else, takes away quite a lot from a woman. And also gives the most valuable and meaningful purpose to life. I have loved almost every bit of being a mom, and taking care of my son, and watching him grow (not just with my eyes) from a tiny speck to a young boy now.
Moment of courage:
When I realized that I was bleeding profusely from the big wound in my leg, and quickly losing consciousness right after the accident, I was traveling alone without any friends or family nearby. The shock hit me then and I couldn't really believe that this was happening to me.
My instinct to live kicked in then, and I kept telling myself to not lose consciousness and just breathe. It took me a lot of courage to look at it logically to make sure I was not overcome by emotions at that situation and did what would get me to a hospital quickly and help me survive.
I think it was the emotional intensity of becoming a mom, and the other stresses around motherhood that really moved me to start One Step at a Time. It started as a support group for amputees and now has people with all forms of mobility impairment as a part of the group. Over the last year, OSAAT has evolved from being a support group to a lot more, and we are now in the process of registering this body as a not-for-profit trust.
Hema has set her sights on overcoming her fear of heights and of water next. She has applied to the Limca Book of Records for being the first Indian woman with a disability to skydive. Way to go, Hema!
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