“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
Making these words his motto, Udaykumar did not let an unfortunate accident deter his life. Rather, he used that opportunity to give a new meaning to his life and chase newer goals. His story is inspiring in every way and shows the power of human mind. Udaykumar’s life is a perfect example of what one can achieve with sheer grit and determination.
Join us as he shares his motivational story with us today.
Can you tell us about the start of your journey, the accident and how it all happened (in brief)?
One night, I was standing on the roadside, somewhere on Abu Road on 18th December 2007 around 8:30. Suddenly out of nowhere, a truck came and hit me. I fell down and the truck further, passed over my leg. There were no medical facilities available nearby, so after primary treatment I was shifted to Ahmedabad. The distance between the Abu road to Ahmedabad is about 200 Km. Next day, i.e. 19th December 2007, my left leg was amputated from my ankle.
During this phase, I underwent lots of pain and had almost slipped into depression. At one time I had also thought of suicide, but my better half gave me courage to live. However, life had other plans for me. After a month of discharge, there was an infection in my amputated leg. The doctor advised for another amputation. It shattered me when on 11th February 2008, I underwent another amputation, this time from below the knee.
Now I had two choices. One was to accept whatever happens in spirit of faith and to bear it cheerfully. The other was to resist it and spend life in misery. I chose the first option and decided to live cheerfully.
- Phantom Limb Syndrome impacted your life at a very early age. How did you deal with it, both personally and professionally? How did people around you react to it? Your teachers, friends, family, neighbours, etc.
During the early stages of amputation, my mind did not accept that the loss of leg. I would feel pain in my toes and feet. One particular night, I had almost forgotten that I have no leg. I suddenly got up in the middle of the night and started walking towards the wash room and fell down with a thud.
However, since then, every day I used to tell myself that I have no leg and if there is no leg then why do I have to feel the pain! Over a period of time, I managed to deal with phantom pain. It took me almost 4 to 5 months, during which I suffered from lot of pain and mental disturbance.
Some people showed their mercy saying “Bichara ladaka, itni chhoti umar me langada hoy gaya. Kaise jindgi jiyega.” (Translated: Poor guy, he lost his leg at such a young age. How will be manage to survive!) This sentence depressed me more. But at the same time, I also had people who encouraged and motivated me. Now I had two choices. One was to accept whatever happens in spirit of faith and to bear it cheerfully. The other was to resist it and spend life in misery. I chose the first option and decided to live cheerfully.
After six months of amputation I joined back at work. Before amputation I have worked at site and but after that they transferred me to the planning department. I felt this was their way of sympathizing with me and it hurt me badly. I decided to leave the job and searched for another job which involved site execution. Within no time, I got a new job and till date I have been working successfully on sites.
- Apart from living with pain, your story is also about channelizing your anger in the right way. How did you cope out of it and accepted the reality, the trauma you went through, since you were too young when it happened?
Can you imagine how badly it must hurt to see your child take their first baby steps while you have just lost a leg? My 8-month child had just started learning to walk and used to fall at times, like other children. But what hurt me the most was my inability to pick him up, take him in my arms and console him as he cried for having fallen down. Those were some moments when I hated myself.
After few months, I came to know about artificial limb and decided to go for it. I started using prosthetics in July 2008. It was not easy to walk with an artificial limb. In the initial first few months, I faced a lot of difficulties including severe bleeding, pain, and swelling. But, I was adamant on one thing- I wanted to live my life again. So, I learnt how to ignore the pain and keep walking with prosthetics.
Sometime in November during that year, we had planned for small trip to Dalhousie during Diwali. That is where I tried trekking which boasted my confidence. I felt I could now do everything a normal person could do. and thought that I can do everything as normal people.
It all went on fine till one fine day in August 2015 when Mr. Dastgir, Coordinator of TCO contacted me. He briefed me about TCO and Major D. P. Singh Sir. That is when I started reading about him and witnessed his journey. I was so inspired from his life that it eventually made me think, if he can run then why can’t I? I discussed this with Major Sir stating, “I also want to run.”
His reply reaffirmed my belief, “Agar tum ne soch liya he ki tum daudoge to duniya ki koi takat tumhe nahi rok sakti.” (Translated: If you have decided to run, nothing in this world can stop you from running.” )
His words inspired me a lot and I decided to run. Meanwhile, I was informed by Mr. Dastagir about a marathon on 15th November 2015 at Kochi with a limitation of 20 challengers. That is when I knew I wanted to participate in it at any cost. During my practice, there were lots of challenges. It was extremely hard to walk for even 500 meters at the beginning of practice. I used to get wounds on amputated stump. I won’t lie, there were moments when I was tempted to back out from the marathon due to excess pain and bleeding from my wounds. Added to it, there were people who made fun of me, calling me mad to be chasing this idea. It was only due to constant motivation of TCO and Major Sir that I was able to ignore my pain and continue my practice.
Finally, the day came when I completed my life’s first marathon of 5Km. Slowly I started participating in marathons and by February’16 I had completed four marathons of 5Km. Suddenly 5km felt like an easy task, so I started aiming for more. In March I completed the 10K in 96 min. And soon I had completed even the 21.1K.
Thereafter I started cycling also and completed by first Ahmedabad duathlon on 25.05.17 (5K Running & 21K Cycling). I ranked 3rd in 36 to 60 age category in (I was the only physically challenged participant) in Run with Soldire, Ahmedabad.
Now there was no stopping for me. I wanted to learn swimming next, but was denied citing risk issues. On a personal request from Dr. Dinesh Harani, I was allowed as his guest where he personally taught me swimming for a while before the coach was confident about my swimming skills. Within two month of learning how to swim I completed a triathlon held at Gandhidham (Swimming – 750mtr, Cycling 20Km, Running 5Km).
Now my dream is to participated more and more marathons of 10 Km & 21km and want to complete at least one BRM 200 (200Km cycling event). From my own experiences, now, I can tell the world how disability can be turned in to ability. As Major Sir always says “Ability is nothing but the state of mind.”
- You have been a part of a wonderful support group like The Challenging Ones. Can you share a bit more about TCO, the role it played in redefining your life post your diagnosis and how they supported you in your journey?
The Challenging Ones (TCO) is not organisation. It is a family of challengers where every member shares their challenges, knowlegde, difficulties as amputee, and solutions of their problems like one does in a family. All the members inspire and motivate each other constantly.
Due to TCO family and Major Sir, inspite of amputation today I have completed almost 23 marathons apart from being pondium finishers competing with normal people.Today I am treated as hero in marathons and people want to click selfies with me. I have been interviewed by news papers and news channels. I think without support of Major Sir and TCO family I could have never achieved these milestones. I am very thankful to Major Sir and TCO family. And a special thanks to Mr. Dastagir who introduced me to such great family!
From my own experiences, now, I can tell the world how disability can be turned in to ability.
- Please share some motivational words for fellow Warriors struggling in their lives.
I want to tell the challengers that break free from your fears. Never give up on your problems. Fight them. What keeps you moving is the mental strength and nothing else. It is a fallacy that losing a limb makes you weak.
तू दौड़ में अव्वल आये ये ज़रूरी नहीं,
तू सबको पीछे छोड़ दे ये भी ज़रूरी नहीं।
ज़रूरी है तेरा दौड़ में शामिल होना,
ज़रूरी है तेरा गिर कर फिर से खड़े होना।
ज़िन्दगी में इम्तेहान बहुत होंगे,
आज जो आगे हैं कल तेरे पीछे होंगे।
बस तू चलना मत छोड़ना,
बस तू चलना मत छोड़ना
Translated: It is not important that you come first in the race. It is not important that you leave behind everyone. It is important for you to participate. It is important for you to get up every time you fall. Life will test you many a times. Today what is ahead of you, will be miles behind you tomorrow. Just don’t stop striding ahead!
P.S: All images used are copyright of Mr. Udaykumar Bagade.
If you are a pain warrior or know someone who is one and would like to share their story with us, please do get in touch with us.