24-year-old Saurabh Rane finished a 10 km run in Mumbai in 57 mins. This was while he was taking medicines for extensively drug-resistant Tuberculosis – a condition that made his body resistant to about eight of 13 drugs meant to treat TB.
I used to work from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at the hospital during my internship at DY Patil Medical College, in the Department of Physiotherapy. This was followed by observership at a clinic in the evening and another one at night. I was giving my best and working over-time in hospitals, clinics and libraries, hoping to stand out and achieve my goals.
Amidst all this, I ensured that I was taking care of my health as well. I used to spend half of my lunch break in the gym nearby, for a quick workout session. I weighed 66 kg, had 15% body fat, and maintained my health well.
But due to exposure in certain wards, I fell sick and was later diagnosed with Tuberculosis. After losing 16 kg in less than a month, fighting fever and cough, and reaching a point where half my lung had restricted entry of air, I resumed working in two months. But I had a relapse after six months due to wrong diagnosis and treatment. This time, the other half of my lung was compromised. I was diagnosed as a border-line XDR TB patient. XDR stands for extensively drug-resistant, which meant that my body could respond to only four drugs. With many medical complications, my condition involved 24 months of extensive treatment. I was taking 20 tablets every day and had to go through six months of daily injections.
There were multiple occasions when I felt like ending it all, but I had immense support from my family, friends and doctors who gave me the courage to fight.
I used to wonder about people who do not have a similar support system or inspiration to fight this dreadful condition. And this was when I decided to do things that seemed impossible to others, to encourage and motivate others living like me. It started with my best friend Neha telling me to participate in a 10km run with her. It seemed impossible in the beginning. But with proper training and determination, I knew I would be able to do it. Periodization, rest and diet, with no hindrance in medication, was the key to pulling it off. I used a combination of strength training with cardio, and trained for over 40 days, with consecutive rest for a few days to avoid aggravating my condition.
I finally ran the race on January 3, 2016, in Mumbai, while I was on active medication. I finished it in 57 minutes, with no medical assistance required at any point.
All the pain had vanished when I reached the finish line. I simply stretched out and walked with the others who had finished before and with me. I was one of them and I felt normal. It was priceless to achieve something that I once considered impossible. Just before I began the training, I had recovered from partial blindness, caused as a side effect of heavy medication. There were several other complications that I had to face in the past years, but now I know that they only made me stronger.
I continued training and could finish the 10 km race in 45 minutes on February 20. I will attempt a difficult high altitude trek in August to inspire more and more people to fight this disease.
– Saurabh Rane