It’s been almost two years since my accident today, as I write and publish this blog post. I was avoiding writing about my accident and kept postponing it, ignoring people when they told or rather urged me to share about my accident.
Family, friends, fellow travelers and every person who has met me after my accident said “why don’t you write about this? Have you written about this ordeal on your blog?” But now I think it’s high time that I share the story. Honestly, I’m at a loss of words, literally, and am clueless as to what title should I give to this blogpost. So the title that you see is the last thing I’m writing before I publish this blog.
Disclaimer: This is a rather long blog post with very few pictures and a lot of reading is required. There are pictures of my wounds just after the accident as well as after my surgeries and they might be too graphic for some people.
I am going to share the story of my accident and my recovery (which is still ongoing) in detail. Some of these details might be too graphic but including them is important to me. The only reason I’m writing this post is that while they were urging me to share my story, several people said that I’m sort of an inspiration and maybe reading about how I faced this challenging situation might motivate others to keep going on in their lives, no matter what.
|This is me enjoying my backpacking trip in Meghalaya just a few weeks back.|
I sincerely hope that after reading this blog post, you feel a little bit inspired and motivated and if you do, please do let me know. I will have achieved my most important goal in regards to writing- inspiring others – and nothing will make me happier.
Et c’est parti!
THE ACCIDENT & events that followed
The nature of my accident requires me to tell the account differently. I will share the events that took place before my accident right until I reached the hospital in Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), date-wise. I understand that you must be wondering why does the story of a single event- a motorcycle accident needs to be shared date-wise. Well, keep reading and you’ll find out why it is so.
25th October 2017
I left the town of Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh at 0445 hrs. My destination was the historic city of Varanasi and I was excited to reach there. I crossed over into Uttar Pradesh at around 1030 hrs. I took a wrong turn somewhere and was confused as to which road to take when I reached a junction. I asked a person walking by and he showed me the way. As a thankful gesture, I offered to drop him at the next village where he was headed for some business. All this happened around 1130 hrs and that is the last memory I have before my accident.
Now I have absolutely no recollection whatsoever of how the accident happened but based on the accounts of the passers-by who witnessed it, I will share it with you. Around 1300 hrs I was passing through a village called Chitrakut when a truck trailer bumped me off the road and onto the gravel. I went skidding on sand, stones and pebbles for 7-10 feet and lay by the roadside. I was lying there unconscious for almost 30-45 minutes with people gathered around me but none brave enough to pick me up or at least call an ambulance.
Then a kind hearted gentleman named Bharat Divakar (I call him Bharat bhaiyya – brother) saw the commotion as he was passing by in his vehicle and stopped. He along with his friends saw my extremely dangerous condition and took the brave step of picking me up and taking me to a primary health care center. My wounds were so severe, the doctor at the center was baffled and said that he wasn’t qualified enough and the center lacked the equipment to treat me. Keep in mind that I was completely unconscious during all this.
When I regained consciousness, I was on a stretcher/gurney inside a police station with 4-5 people surrounding me and asking me questions. I handed my mobile phone and wallet over to them so they could contact friends and family, and I fainted again. Bharat bhaiyya called my family members and told them what had transpired.
Already 4-5 hours had passed by since my accident and I was in a horrible state. So Bharat bhaiyya and his friends decided that it’ll be better to shift me to a hospital in a proper city and Allahabad was the nearest one at a distance of 150km. There was chaos & panic at my home. My father along with my cousin left for Allahabad in an ambulance as they planned to bring me back to Bombay for treatment.
We reached Allahabad around 2130 hrs and Bharat bhaiyya diverted the van to a government hospital. I was taken to the emergency room of the hospital but the doctors and staff denied treatment saying they were underqualified and also they didn’t want to be involved in my treatment as it was an accident and the police department was involved.
26th October 2017
So then I was moved to a private hospital the next day where they accepted me as a patient and took me to the intensive care unit. But, the doctors at this hospital were reluctant to treat me, to even clean my open wounds that were oozing blood and pus or set my broken femur. They said they would only begin the treatment when my father arrived even though I was 20 years old and I told them that I had assigned Bharat bhaiyya as my medical proxy till my father’s arrival. They inserted an IV line and I was given saline as well as 3 bottles of blood but all of it went to waste because my wound was never cleaned. All the blood and medicines given simply oozed out of the enormous wound on my thigh and shin.
Almost 36 hours after my accident, my father and cousin reached Allahabad at 2300 hrs. They waited for an attending or a head nurse to come and give them some information but nobody came.
27th October 2017
In the morning, the doctor arrived and shared the reports of my blood tests, X-Ray, CT scan and MRI scan with my father. My condition was very critical and any further delay in treatment could worsen it. After seeing me in that horrible state all the people who were there looking after me urged my father to either take me to Delhi or to Bombay and avoid treatment in Allahabad no matter what. So he decided to return to Bombay via an air ambulance as it was the fastest way to do so. My father booked and paid for the air ambulance service but the greedy people at the agency said that there was no helicopter available at night and that we would have to wait till the next morning. All the fees for the air ambulance were lost and are yet to be recovered.
More than 50 hours had passed since I met with the accident and I hadn’t received any treatment at all. Frustrated at the inconsiderate behavior of the people, my father asked me whether I would be able to travel back home by road in the ambulance to which I said yes. We left for Bombay at around 1900-1930 hrs. I was still in and out of consciousness.
Amidst all this chaos, nobody except me noticed that the skin in and around my wound had started to decay as a result of excessive death of blood cells; a phenomenon known as Necrosis. I couldn’t see my leg, I couldn’t move at all but I realized that I was losing sensation in my thigh.
28th October 2017
We entered Madhya Pradesh at 0600 hrs and I regained consciousness. I was very uncomfortable on the gurney in the ambulance and I was feeling fatigued. So I told my father that I couldn’t travel till Bombay and we should stop in Bhopal to get treatment. To this date, everyone says that my decision to get treatment in Bhopal, a decision I took even when I wasn’t completely conscious probably saved my life.
Now it was past 65 hours since my accident with no effective treatment provided. I could actually smell that my skin cells and tissues were slowly decaying. We reached the hospital in Bhopal – Narmada Trauma Center at 1130 hrs.
70 ½ hours had passed and I was in a critical condition wherein any further delay in treatment could mean death. As my father and the hospital staff took me to the emergency room, the director of the hospital who was going to treat me saw the state I was in and literally scolded my father. Again multiple scans and tests were done, my wounds were cleaned, 3 rods were inserted in my thigh to support my broken femur, around 1-1.5 inches of my skin had to be cut as the cells and tissues under it had necrotized.
The doctors also mentioned that a medical condition known as traumatic rhabdomyolysis or Crush Syndrome had begun to set in. My creatinine and hemoglobin levels showed signs of renal trauma and a possibility of renal failure. I remained in intensive care for two weeks out of the 56 days I was there.
My enormous wound needed to be cleaned daily but after seeing the pain it caused me when the cleaning was done without anesthesia, the doctor decided to clean it on alternate days, always under general body anesthesia.
I was put under anesthesia 12 times in 2 months. I underwent 4 surgeries in Bhopal. Debridement to clean my wound and nailing to set my broken femur both on 28th October. As my shin was exposed and I had suffered major skin, tissue and muscle loss, a plastic surgery- superficial skin grafting was performed twice, first on 14th November and then again on 7th December 2017.
|My exposed shin|
|Necrotized skin and tissues on my thigh|
The severe impact on my right shoulder during the accident had caused complete degeneration of the nerve cells in the Brachial Plexus of my right shoulder. All nerves from the C3, C4 and C5 vertebrae totally degenerated. My right arm was paralyzed and I couldn’t move anything but the tip of my fingers.
After I returned back home on 20th December 2017, a couple of days later I met with one of the best microsurgeons in the country to consult about the treatment for my Brachial Plexus Injury (BPI). He told me that a nerve transplant was necessary and recovery will primarily depend on physical therapy. On 27th December 2017, I underwent the nerve transplant and nerve grafting surgery.
Those who’ve suffered from a major injury or have studied medicine will agree with me when I say that after all the surgeries, physical therapy and recovery are even more difficult and challenging, not to forget extremely painful too. The doctor said “The surgery went through without any obstacles or complications. Now whether it is successful or not depends entirely on you. You must do your physical therapy exercises scrupulously.”
Those words were so simple and straight forward; the progress of my recovery was in my hands. There was nothing to think about so I put everything I had into doing my exercises. I was determined and focused because the only thing on my mind was – I WANT TO TRAVEL AGAIN SOON. I was and still am ready to do anything required so that I can keep traveling.
25th January 2018, my birthday, was the first ever session of therapy. Till then I had never stood up, let alone walked. But I walked 10-15 steps in the hospital with the help of a walker and my doctor. My 1st day of physio and I walked! Everyone was shocked.
Why? Because the skin graft on my right leg was very rigid as my leg was in the same straight position for over two months. To enable movement, the doctor pulled my leg back and tied it to the foot of the bed in the therapy room. As she did that, I actually felt my skin being stretched over my knee, thigh and shin. I clenched to the mattress on the bed so tightly, even the doctor realized how painful it was. I was supposed to sit in that position for at least 15 minutes.
I won’t lie, it was excruciating and unbearable the 1st time. They told me to gradually increase the time by 5 minutes till I reached 30. But I was so determined that after a week or so I was sitting up straight on the bed with my leg tied for almost 45 to 50 minutes. I had already started walking with elbow crutches and a normal walking stick.
|1st day of physiotherapy - my birthday.|
This rigorous therapy regime and my goal of getting better so that I could travel are directly linked. Following that regime is the only reason that 15 months after my accident in March 2019 I backpacked to Varanasi and Pokhara (Nepal) for 3 weeks all by myself with the 3 rods still implanted in my thigh. Recently I also completed a month-long backpacking trip in Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh between 31st August and 9th October 2019.
My right arm is still partially paralyzed and the skin, tissues and muscles are developing on my shin but quite slowly. That doesn’t bother me. As I have traveled across the country as well as to a foreign one in this condition, I’m more than satisfied with my recovery.
In November 2018 my leg started to pain. Sitting down, standing up, walking and even sleeping was uncomfortable because the implants in my thigh were poking me from the inside. At times it felt as though someone was pushing a screwdriver into my skin, muscles and tissues. I went to the orthopedist who told me that as my bone was recovering, it was putting pressure on the rods which had caused them to move and they were bent in 3 places.
I wanted the rods removed immediately but my bone hadn’t completely calcified so the doctor told me that he will remove them in January. 2 months later my bone had healed 90% but removing the rods could be dangerous so the implant removal was postponed to May 2019.
After I returned from Nepal in April, a couple of x-rays and tests were done and the surgery date was fixed. In the operation theatre when my doctor made an incision to begin the implant removal, he found out that a pus-filled cyst had formed due to the constant irritation between the rods and my muscles. The cyst, as well as the nails, were removed and I felt much better while walking after that.
Listen guys! Many people, great and ordinary alike have said this and I’ll say it too- life isn’t fair. Once in a while life punks you. Things happen that put you in such a situation where you cannot seem to find any way out. The darkness seems to be closing in and you’re certain that the last sliver of hope is about to vanish. That’s not true at all. If you think you can get over and past what has happened, you can.
Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you are right.”
Everything depends on you. Don’t give up. Never give up. You’ve come way too far, lost way too much and endured a lot of things along the way. So Don’t Quit! I can assure you that you have the strength to wade through the dark swamps and reach the dry land where the sun is shining bright. It’s not going to be easy. But you can do it.
This might seem impossible and you’ll think I’m some idiot trying to build a career as a motivational speaker. Certainly not. I’m no motivational speaker. This is just a story about my experiences and I’m a simple nomadic traveler.