I am the youngest in an Indian family of two brothers and one sister. My father is a retired government employee and my mother, a house wife. I had the first symptoms in 1998 and it was only in 1999 that I was finally diagnosed with MS.
Today I am wheel chair bound yet totally free of any mental or emotional baggage. When I look back at my life post MS, I see a distinct and a definite growth in my graph. Many hurdles overcome, many challenges taken head-on and a few milestones achieved.
My life till I was 18, was like any other teenager. Being a hardcore soccer player, the thought of life without soccer was the final sin for me. Not in my wildest dreams had I thought that I would have to give up soccer. Thus life carried on when suddenly the MS jolt came out of the blue.
MS enters my life
I was 18, at the culmination of my school life, when MS struck. It was an attack, which happened while I was taking my examination. I lost hand control followed by incontinence. When the examiner realized I was not playing a prank, the seriousness of the affliction took over and I was rushed to the hospital. The rest is history. I had to spend 10 long days at the All India Institute of Medial Sciences, methyl prednisolone being pumped into me. The MRI conducted showed demyelinating lesions with no mention of MS in it. The diagnosis wasn’t clear and I was treated for bowel incontinence. Eventually I got back to my normal self and resumed school. I cleared my missed papers, went to Class 12, unaware of what had actually set in.
During 1999, the year I resumed classes, life seemingly got back to normal. I started playing soccer and all continued fine when suddenly on 19th February, while studying for my class 12 examinations I got stabbing pain in the lower back, lost my bladder control, lost strength in my limbs and couldn’t stand on them. I was again rushed to the hospital for another round of pulse therapy. 13 long days in the hospital left me with no life in my legs, an MRI report which confirmed MS. I spent 8 vital months comprehending that life had changed for me drastically and irreversibly. No soccer, no school, no running ever for me.
The scenario was grim. Confined to a room in my house, I would spend time staring at the roof, was inflicted with bedsores (decubitus ulcers) and battling with many issues of daily life. I continued with oral steroids. I had to skip my exams for 2 years; severe weakness, fatigue and a dull sense of loss is what I began to feel. I finally got in touch with the spinal injuries hospital and started physiotherapy for one and a half years. One of my brothers would take me to the hospital. I was dependent on them to take me.
The feeling that this was not the way I would like my life to take shape began dominating my waking thoughts and this is when I decided to take stock of my life. I was not meant to live a life like this. My inherent nature and the killer instinct (to do the best), the sportsman in me goaded me to start life again. I did physiotherapy in the mornings and spent the afternoons studying privately for my class 12 examinations. I scored distinctions in Sanskrit, Economics and Accountancy. Thus began my journey towards independent living. I had a purpose in life and I had decided to cross one bridge at a time.
My journey to independent living
There were not many institutes where I could have happily pursued my further studies. I did not get discouraged and it was in ISIC that my counsellor Shivjeet Raghavan advised me to enrol myself for Medical Transcription at Pan American Institute Of Medical Transcription. I took the entrance exam, which I cleared easily. I travelled in an auto rickshaw to the institute where initially my brother and later the peons at the institute would carry me up to the 4th floor.
Studying there was a challenge and often I was discouraged on a daily basis by people with statements like, “an MT needs to use foot pedals for making files, how can you do that? Who is going to give you a job?” But I refused to give up and despite my physical handicap; I finally got selected with excellent grades. In the Medical Transcription firm, I had to compete with able-bodied MT colleague and proving my capabilities and speed in MT became my aim and soon my forte. Gradually I made my presence felt and after completing my course with ‘A’ grade, I started working in the production house of the institute. After working there for two years, good offers started pouring. I had achieved yet another milestone! I was now a medical transcriptionist, working for the same institute. With some financial help from my sister coupled with my hard earned savings I became a proud owner of my first special car. I now head my own Medical transcription firm, MEDTRANS SOLUTIONS. I am also pursuing Bachelor of Commerce course from Delhi University. My first passion, sports, is still an integral part of my life. For the last three years, I have been playing wheelchair tennis in the courts of Delhi Lawn Tennis Association DLTA. Amongst the 7 to 8 Wheelchair Lawn Tennis players in India I am the youngest.
International Tennis Federation (ITF London, UK based) Members watched me playing Wheelchair tennis and they told me -- “YOU HAVE THE TALENT”. Oh! It made feel great and gave me the added strength to move on my selected path-that is to make my life an example for all MS persons, to let all know that we write our own destiny!
Multiple Sclerosis Society of India, Delhi and I
In the meantime MSSI had got in touch with me-- I was rather self-righteous to seek assistance—nevertheless MSSI -Multiple Sclerosis Society of India extended their supporting and caring hands towards me...and I started mingling with other members who were also struck with various stages of the disease. MSSI Delhi guided me to focus on my potential. I am proud that MSSI invited me to join their Executive Committee for the tenure of ’05-’08 as their youngest member. Duty allotted to me is to create awareness about MS and to be their face in the FIGHT AGAINST MS
The Wolfensohn Certificate
I was invited to join all India Meet of MSSI and attend its Annual General Meeting at Kolkata. It was quite an experience and got an insight into the working of the various chapters of MS Society of India. I was nominated for the prestigious Wolfensohn award for International MS Person 2005 at a conference held in Greece. The feeling of having overcome obstacles gave me a great sense of achievement and pride in myself. When I was felicitated with the certificate, it was not only recognition of my personal victory over MS but also a symbol of independence for all MS persons and their caregivers.
It was on 14th of October 2005 that I made up my mind to participate in the prestigious Delhi marathon, in which participants from all over the world had assembled. There wasn’t much time as I had yet to register in the race and on line registration had already closed. It was the joint effort of the MS Society and my determined effort that I managed to get registered. The prime sponsors of the Marathon JINDAL STEELS came forward at the last minute to give me a Bib number and the opportunity to ‘run’- not only for MS, but also to prove to my self and many others like me – that the message clearly was “ Keep moving ” - It’s the only way to get ahead!
I participated in the 4.3 km run and was a part of an eminent group of sports people and celebrities from various walks of life. I made it! I won the special category race and soon I got the taste of what it feels to be publicly acclaimed. A write up on me was given front page space in a prestigious newspaper and I was interviewed on a few TV channels. The happiest moments were when people started questioning me about MS, the society and myself. One part of my mission was complete The MS Society of India and the dedicated team of volunteers of its Delhi chapter received much deserved publicity and their endeavor to spread the message “ONE SHOULD NEVER EVER GIVE UP” was effectively conveyed.
Subsequently I was invited to participate in the Mumbai Marathon on the 15th of January 2006. MSSI once again pitched me into the forefront with many celebrities from the world of sports, industry and entertainment .Our MSSI brand Ambassador Milind Soman and other team members all worked to create awareness for MS . Not having had enough, I went on to win the "HT International Delhi Run" in February 2006 held in New Delhi.
This was a busy year for me, and in the month of June 2006, I won the double titles in the second ever Wheelchair Tennis Tournament held ever in India in Ludhiana.
It was always my dream to travel to the Himalayas, and this I did achieve later the same summer- In June 2006- along with a couple of other disabled persons , I drove my specially designed car through the Himalayan Mountains, crossing Rohtang pass and concluding the drive in Keylang valley, Lahol Spiti.
With spectacular views and an exhilarating experience, I felt truly on top of the world!
Earlier the feeling of being a MS person would make me feel incomplete but now it gives me great satisfaction and pride to know that I am able to contribute to society in a much more effective way. MSSI made me realize that I am not disabled, I am just differently able—and that’s true!!