Getting back to life: Prateek’s journey from a wheelchair to standing tall will inspire many

What will you do if you are told that you can no longer stand on your own legs and you cant walk anymore? How hard will it be for you to stand to gather the courage of starting the life again? We bring to you one such story which is sure to inspire many.

They told me I had a Spinal Cord Injury. They told me I have lost all movements waist down. They told me I would never walk. They told me I would never stand. Doctors told me to be ready for a wheelchair life as there are no proven medical solutions. I was told I should consider myself lucky even if I get a “little” movement back. People didn’t know how to talk to me and chose not to talk to me.

A close one told me she can’t live in our past and considering my present physical state, “anybody” would call it quits on me and so she did. Internet only showed me pics of wheelchair ridden people if I try to google “spinal cord injury”. I was no longer thought to be a part of the “practical” world. Other victims of the same injury hoped that I won’t go into a depression. And then, I told all of them, and I mean each one of them, that I had different ideas. I decided I will change the perception of this injury. I decided I will fight. I decided I will send out the message loud and clear that – RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE and that you can lead a life outside the wheelchair. I decided I will recover, not for anyone else but for myself.

Hi, I am Prateek, and this is my story.

On May 30, 2014 when I suffered this injury, loss of motor functions below the waist, in short – paralysis was only one of the problems. Over the course of next 6 months, I realized, without any real knowledge or solution that the doctors could have provided, that there are a host of other elements that go wrong in your body owing to a nervous system damage. You lose sensation below the waist which adds to the impact of injury majorly. Neurogenic bladder and bowel cause issues everyday and you start remaining stressed on a daily basis. You face sexual challenges. Spasticity becomes the order of the day. Muscle atrophy takes place on paralyzed body parts leading to a loss of muscle mass and your limbs are reduced to no more than a boney structure.

With each passing day, and with no hope or encouragement from any corner whatsoever, you become more and more secluded from your community and you just aren’t sure whether this “new” life of yours will be accepted by the people around you. You start wondering if your entire life has to be based around the wheelchair and you are sucked in by depression and sadness. For a guy living his life of 20s, before the injury, just how as he had imagined it, just how each one of you would have imagined it for yourself, one bad day and one fall changed everything around him and changed everything in him. But that was the test of his mettle and he decided he will fight. He decided he would direct all his will and energies towards his one single goal of life – his recovery.

Let me emphasize what I have always believed in – SPINAL CORD INJURY RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE and it is possible right in your own backyard. I am here to change the common belief that significant improvements can’t be made after suffering a Spinal Cord Injury. I haven’t recognized what all has gone wrong with my body and in my body, rather I have always worked in the direction of finding a solution to the problems I face on everyday basis. As you can see in my videos, I have constantly worked in the direction of living a life outside the wheelchair and I work harder each day to take a step, however small, in that direction. In this phase of my recovery (Aug-Dec 2016), I have made the effort of taking my walking outside in public domain and face the crowd. I wanted to challenge myself and do those everyday things like walking to work or to a supermarket or to the gym or to a mall. This is my effort to tell people of the immense power of self belief. This is my effort to tell people that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. This is my effort to tell people of what lies within each one of us.

I have had a lot of bad days. There have been days and there are days where my body doesn’t function that well, my exercises aren’t as good, I can’t walk as well. And those bad days were made worse because I used to be in bad moods for days together. But then I learnt that I can’t let such days disturb my momentum of recovery.

So I stopped over analyzing and over thinking and started focusing on how I can turn a bad day into a good one. Its all a state of mind in the end, isn’t it? So many of us waste so much time worrying over the job that no longer makes us happy, the boss who acts unreasonable, the client who makes unrealistic demands, the cab that didn’t come on time, the friend that didn’t meet, the partner who didn’t do something as you wanted them to, the family whose expectations you are not able to fulfill and so on and so forth.

You aren’t the same person anymore. You crib and cry. Slowly your professional goals start drifting away, the relationships start fading away, things start taking longer than usual, right doesn’t seem right and wrong doesn’t seem wrong.

The thing we forget to realize here is that things can be so much worse. SO MUCH WORSE. I have faced it. So instead of cribbing away to glory and complaining about things in life, we should realize that things aren’t as bad as they seem to be and if we think and do something positive and constructive in the direction of finding a solution, we will eventually find a way to get out of things bothering us. And slowly you will find that the problems that you once stressed about are no longer problems. That is the power of YOU. So take things head on, carry a smile and work in the direction of a solution. Small steps in the right direction will give you small pleasures and living those small pleasures is the most beautiful feeling of life. And you know where it starts from? It starts from YOU.

On 20th December 2015, 18 months into my injury, I decided to catch up for lunch with a friend. The mention of this date is important because it was the first time after my injury that I was meeting someone outside my home at a local restaurant. That day and during the hours I spent (about 4) sitting at that table, I was just laughing, cracking silly jokes, unleashing my sarcasm (but I am proud of it ;)) and my dirty sense of humor , saying not so nice things about our exs, striking a conversation, eating good food and just being happy. That day when I came back home and thought about my day and the time spent, I realized something. I said to myself – “Dude, this guy was missing. Prateek was always this guy and this guy has been really missing”.

I realized how I had always loved going out and I loved meeting people. And I realized that how I have been a social recluse because neither did I know if I am willing to take my wheelchair life out in public nor did the people around know how to catch up with me. But then I had to change it. And the change had to start from me. So I made conscious efforts to meet friends because it made me happy. Friends started meeting me more often because I was able to reflect through my attitude that I am not governed by my injury.

I was also giving a message that I don’t have to be treated as a patient and that I am as much a part of the community. My mind, soul and spirit are absolutely free. We all need to find the person we are and be the person we are. Happiness starts from you. Don’t let a circumstance or another person or happening change the very soul of you. Live your life being who you are and not someone else.  Believe in who you are and live that person everyday.

Since September 2016, I have made a conscious effort of taking my walking outside in public, but there has always been a risk involved. The risk of a fall while I am walking. It would probably hit my morale and the fall at a public place might also hit my confidence. But then the sense of achievement it instills in me is unparalleled. That high of life I get by being able to do those things in my own way and on my feet, is a high of a different magnitude. I like challenging myself on a regular basis and see how far can I go. And that is what drives me. So many times in our lives we fail to take on the challenge life throws at us because we are too scared to fail.

Our insecurities rule our mind. The fear of failure and the consequences that come along with it block any constructive thought process. We are too afraid of taking that big step which might change our lives for the better because we fail to recognize the immense power within. We are so dependent on living in our comfort zone that anything looking to even slightly disturb it, is considered to be a hassle rather than a learning experience.

But let me tell you that once you realize the magic of that inner power and the kind of things you can achieve with it, you will be a different person altogether. Find that power. Realize it. Use it. Change that job if it doesn’t make you happy anymore, meet that friend you haven’t met due to time issues, express your love, go on that holiday, eat what you want and hit the gym. Be involved in the solution side of things and keep moving forward rather than pondering for hours and weeks and months and years together over the same problem. Challenge yourself and extract ample self-confidence out of your daily wins. This is what will always keep you going. Any dull moment in your life? I cant see any!

Lets believe in our ability to bring a change. We all are powerful. We all have the potential. Let us work more, do more, be more and smile more. Let’s bring about a difference in how we perceive things especially in our own lives. Let us be the change. There is no event which can pull you down unless you allow it to. I haven’t let my injury rule my goal of living a wheelchair free life. And I work in that direction. Everyday. I am driven by the thought of jumping, dancing and running one day.

My life is fun. My life is exciting. I am fighting the fight. I am challenging the challenge. People who thought that I can’t lead a “normal” life were probably right. From where I have come, to where I am, to where I am headed, this life is special. And I am blessed to lead a special life. I am blessed to provide hope to people around the world who think of no life beyond this injury. Yes, I have found the person inside me.

 

 

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