Every once in a while there comes along a story that takes our breath away. Shalini Saraswathi’s is one such story.
This quadruple amputee, who has lost all four of her limbs, will participate in the TCS World 10K in Bengaluru this Sunday.
In 2013, pregnant with her first child and returning from her fourth anniversary celebration in Cambodia, Shalini developed a mild fever. The doctors thought it was dengue. But it turned out to be Rickettsial with morts, a rare bacterial infection. Shalini’s life turned upside down over the next few months. Confined to the ICU and told she had a 5% chance of survival, this 37-year-old expecting mother lost her baby.
As she battled her condition further, gangrene attacked her left arm and it seemed almost certain that it would have to be amputated. “Before my brain and heart accepted it, my nose smelt the rot,” writes Shalini on her blog, Soul Survived Intact. She would go to the hospital and as the doctors removed parts of her rotting flesh, she would “bawl like a child.”
“The docs used to remove the dead cells to clean without any anaesthetic and she would cry in pain. That’s when they would realize these were living cells,” her husband Prashanth Chowdappa told Times of India.
Her left hand was amputated in 2013 and a few months later her right hand dropped off on its own. But her ordeal was far from over. Her legs fell prey to gangrene next. From deep within her, Shalini drew on courage that only a true fighter could access.
On the day her legs had to be amputated, she wore a bright shade of nail polish as she went to the hospital. “If my legs were going, they were going to go out in style!” she wrote on her blog www.soulsurvivedintact.blo
“How did I go through all this – I honestly don’t know. I lived each day at a time, made small achievable goals for myself, read every book I could lay my hands on and like my life depended on it, learnt classical music, looked forward to friends visiting – more than anything else hoped and believed that tomorrow will be better…I knew tomorrow will be beautiful because when you hit rock bottom, the only way for you is upwards.”
As Shalini prepares to take part in the TCS 10K Run this coming Sunday, she hopes to inspire other disabled people. Shalini will be using advanced prosthesis, carbon-fibre running blades that she has received on loan from Ottobock, a German company. The equipment is too expensive for her to buy outright, costing a whopping Rs. 10 lakh.
Her coach, Aiyappa, says he has never treated Shalini any differently from the other athletes. “I was never lenient with her because she was differently abled. Last Saturday , we did a 10k through the race route and I’m hoping she’ll finish the race on Sunday in around 90 minutes,” he told Times of India.
Shalini has now also resumed her career as Deputy General Manager with First Source Solutions. But it is the little things in life that she values and hopes to inspire others to appreciate as well:
“So walk in the rain, stick your tongue out and catch the raindrops, hold hands, feel the grass under your feet, smile at strangers, admire good looking men/women, fall in love, call someone you have been meaning to, give big tight hugs, kiss a boy or girl (if that’s your thing), flirt, dance till you drop, wear your red lipstick, join that class you have always wanted to, buy the shoes you want, write a book, sing aloud, learn to play an instrument, bungee jump, sky dive, travel to Antarctica for all I care – LIVE TODAY AND LIVE IN THE MOMENT – you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow!” says one of the most amazing women we have ever had the honour to write about.
Go cheer for her this weekend as she takes on another challenge in her life.