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Disability is a matter of perception!

I remember, those were the initial days of my sickness. One morning, I was lying on my bed and a preacher on TV in the next room started narrating this story:

Once a king of an affluent empire was taken by surprise and attacked by a neighbouring kingdom. Unable to decipher the ambush, he lost the battle and his reign ended with terrible destruction of his empire and army.

To save his life, he somehow managed to flee. Fighting the depression and starvation, he roamed through the woods for a couple of days. That’s when he met a sage who was absorbed in deep meditation. And with an objective to find some solace, the king began to devote himself to his service.

A few days later, when the sage came out of meditation, he was gratified by the king’s service and gave him a little scroll made of silk as his blessing, and said,

“O king, whenever you find yourself in tough situations, you feel powerless and the demons of sorrow seem to engulf you, read this. Also, whenever you find yourself on the seventh heaven and the goddess of fortune can’t get enough of blessing you, read this again…” And saying this, the sage returned to his meditation.

The king was already facing the worst of his life. So, he opened the scroll to read. It said, This shall pass too.’

The king now felt somewhat optimistic. He gathered himself and, with new vigour, he found his way to another kingdom to seek their support.

His friendship was accepted warmly by the refuging king and helped him to raise an army, which later marched to the king’s native state. And as he knew all the secret passages, he was able to land a number of ambushed attacks successfully, causing a great deal of damage to the enemy. And with this, he reclaimed not only his realm but captured the enemy’s state too.

Startled and afraid by the king’s sudden uprising, the other monarchs too bend their knees before him and made a treaty with him. The king’s power, fame, and wealth increased by many folds. Overjoyed from this, he announced a year-long festival ignoring many pressing issues of the state.

After the first night of celebration, while he was shuffling through his personal stuff, the king’s eyes fell on the scroll given by the sage. It reminded him what the sage said about reading it again when things turn in his favour. But this time, it didn’t give him any joy, instead, he was reduced to tears after reading the parchment,

Again, it said, ‘This shall pass too.’

Moral of the story is, no matter what is happening to you – good or bad, gracious or unpleasant, just remember one thing – it’s not permanent.

Nothing is permanent in this world, except change.

This little story shaped my mentality. Every time I feel down, I remind myself – the situation I am in today is not permanent.

What went wrong?

Close your eyes and picture a young man on a wheelchair being pushed from place to place; a young man trying not to tumble while pushing himself up his bed. Imagine someone trying hard but unable to change sides on his bed because he is too weak and arrested by intense back pain… – that was me a few years back.

How did it all start, what actually happened, no one knows. All I remember is that it all began with a viral fever. And while every medical professional, including physicians and pathologists, were busy in chasing down the reasons, my weakness amplified to alarming levels. I could even feel the weight of cotton mattress I would be wrapped under. One day, when my breathing became laborious, I was rushed to a big hospital. A hot-shot neurologist was called in, who didn’t waste any time to pierce the back of my palm with a big needle and attach it to colourful IVs. Which, I was later told, were steroids.

I got out of the hospital in a week, with a little awkward gait. Which, I was told, happens to be residual weakness which would vanish with time. Meanwhile, oral medication continued, but funnily, I wasn’t suggested physiotherapy.

As often happens with teenagers (I’m 29 now!), the memories troubling days of past began to fade away and I started participating in sports and other physical activities. However, I wasn’t aware of the side- effects of the medication being administered, it later gave me minor fractures and multiple injuries. It’s then I learned that the steroids actually made my bones weak.

As a result of my newly acquired knowledge, things started turning ugly. In a bid to avoid any more pain and hospital visits, I started saying NO to sports and began absconding from any activity which tested my physical endurance. Whenever I was in a situation where my physical abilities were to be tested, an anxiety overlapped my confidence. And this affected me psychologically and resulted in gradual degradation of both, my physical strength and confidence.

Gradually, I lost power in lower limbs and I am unable to walk or even stand properly since then. It was (and still is) difficult to write. I completed my graduation somehow. I was unable to speak and hear properly, that recovered a lot but a fraction of that problem still remains.

The stumbling blocks in recovery

Regardless of how strongly you are holding, a problem with one’s unpleasant circumstances is that other people, including strangers, often think themselves to be an expert in dealing with adversities and start bombarding their advices.

“Hey man, what happened to you?” is a question I often get confronted to. Sometimes however, people don’t even ask me. They see me and reach a conclusion that I might be involved in some really bad accident. They start relating with themselves and showering their wisdom on me.

And even more frustrating thing was (…it still is) advices even when the conveyor has a zilch idea about your medical condition, and your folks seem to consider it. (I despise free ki advice!)

‘What’s there to lose? Try karne me qa nuksaan hai?’ my parents would say whenever I resist such trials. And I’m well aware that people often accept the same theory when nothing else seems to work. But the thing to understand here is – may the visible symptoms be same, but every ailment needs different approach. And nuksaan ye hai ki when the experiments fail, it only corrodes one’s confidence. And it’s for the same reason I avoid social gatherings.

My impression of physiotherapy

Ever since then, I visited many specialized and corporate hospitals in cities like Indore, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Delhi, and also frequented specialists in my native city. Many of them were busy chasing the initial cause. They believed that answers to my problems lies in finding the root cause, and subsequently the correct medicine. I won’t say they were wrong in their course, but they wasted a lot of time.

All of them gave the same proclamation – this is some sort of neuropathy. But no one was able to diagnose the root cause – but thankfully, finally they began recommending physiotherapy.

From last couple of years, I’m continuously undergoing physiotherapy. And a lot of things have changed from the time I started, for example, my uneven breathing patterns and frequently plunging blood pressure normalized in initial few months of going through physiotherapy, and many other improvements followed, one of which is my confidence.

…and now I wonder, what prevented my doctors to prescribe me physiotherapy for so many years? Had I been sent under physio supervision years back, would my health have deteriorated to the current stage of partial disability?

The problems that I face now are a combination of unbalancing of my body, hyperextension of knees, and lack of co-ordination in lower body muscles; which, in a nutshell means that I cannot walk independently. I also have slurred speech and difficulty in fine moments.

But I will be over it soon, I’m all positive. It might take few more days, months maybe, but I will arise. Remember – nothing is permanent after all.

Someone once said, ‘Disability is a matter of perception’, and Savneet Singh is also an endorser of this quote.
After an unexplained medical problem left him partially disable, instead of submitting to depression, he shifted all his remaining strength to bring his hobby to a full circle. After working as a content writer with a number of magazines and websites for a couple of years, he recently composed an anthology titled ‘Hypocrisy is in the air’, which received a warm approval by his readers. The book narrates the stories of double-standards of our society in a humorous way, which also projects his jolliness and unapologetic attitude towards life.

Fighting the bummers of life with a big smile, he is a real-life warrior.
Savneet is based in Bhopal.
You can connect with him on Instagram/savneetster

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