That time I almost lost my leg

Posted: August 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

I talked to my mum a month ago about the time I almost lost my leg and realized that surprisingly, I hadn’t talked to her about it before! She narrated to me the whole story and I thought it was a cool one to share around the water-cooler. And it was pretty unnerving to come face to face with the fact that I was extremely close to being in a wheelchair forever — makes you really reassess your life.

So once upon a time, I was 3 years old. My aunt was lightly holding my pudgy little hand in hers and we, and the rest of my cousins and such, were strolling down the lane towards my house. I remember the day in vivid clarity even though it was nineteen years ago. Sunny, warm, trees, family walking beside me, I was wearing a frock.

Suddenly my brother and cousin, both older than me, decided to run across the road. They were laughing and flailing, it looked like so much fun. According to my aunty, I looked up at her at this point and said rhetorically ‘Do you know how old I am?’ and she indulged me and asked me how old, and I said ‘Threeeee!’ with a wide grin that revealed my missing front tooth. Then I let go of her hand and ran across the road too for the fun of it, flailing like a little fool.

A motorbike was speeding down the lane at the time and it was probably my fault of way, but anyway it hit me, and I ricocheted off it and fell into a wide drain on the side of the road. I remember looking up from inside the drain and everything going black.

Obviously there was total bedlam. The drain is the one right next to the gate of my house. The man on the motorbike had fled the scene. Lots of screaming and panicking and I was carried into the house; there wasn’t much blood, but my mother completely broke down – when she looked at my right leg and realized it seemed to be hanging loose. It was broken at the thigh. Dad was at work and didn’t know yet. So she pulled herself together and with my aunts and uncles I was transported to the hospital.

While I was in surgery, the doctors told my parents that there was a very good chance I would never walk again. The hit-and-run motorbike guy apparently had his guilty conscience get the better of him and visited us at the hospital, and apologized to my dad, but everyone was too distraught to care and just asked him to leave (I wonder where he is right now and if the memory keeps him up some nights). Call it luck or whatever, the surgery was extremely successful and my fracture was made right. My leg was all wrapped up in cast and bandage and hanging from a sling as I lay in a hospital bed for some weeks. I was back to running around in three months. I don’t remember much about the recuperation period — my mum says I was oblivious, and would just sit up in bed and cheerfully sing songs for people who visited.

Hearing the story at this age made me shudder to imagine — wow, a life in a wheelchair. What if the surgeon was sleepy or pissed off that day and didn’t work as hard as he usually does, and as predicted by the odds I woke up from that bed not being able to feel my right leg? I wrote an article for a newspaper once about how our society is not wheelchair-friendly, or friendly towards physical disabilities in general. I mean you get the ramps at the entrance of the mall and at the supermarket – but what about someone who wants to go to the theater for a movie? Or wants to go to the top floor of Queen’s and play foosball? Or get on the bus for that matter? And I’m not even going to start about all the staring and gawking.

How many people in wheelchairs have you seen in restaurants? How many friends in wheelchairs do you have? I for one have seen barely three or four out in public, and when I think about it I’ve personally just seen most cooped up in certain ‘homes’ made for the elderly or the handicapped. This is stupid and backward, I think, and someone needs to put up some sort of program to make our public services and places more accessible and enjoyable for people in wheelchairs too. I mean to think with just a little bit of bad luck in the surgeon’s room, my entire life would have taken a totally irreversibly different course? All that’s left of my accident is a little scar on my right thigh. I look at it and wonder, if it had been on a leg that didn’t work, would I have still hopped on a plane to Delhi to study film and literature? Maybe. I guess we’ll never know.

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Comments
  1. When I saw the title, I thought to myself, “here comes another one of Shifafi’s exaggerated stories aimed at attracting sympathy”, but by the time I was a few paaragraphs into the story, I was clutching at my heart.

    Really glad you still have all your limbs, and kudos to the doctors who did a great job. It is so sad to think that not everyone is as fortunate as you are.

    I knew a girl who had a similar experience. When she was about 8 years old, her school van toppled and her hand got jammed under a seat. The doctors had suspected that her arm might need to be amputated. But a genius of a doctor (who happened to be a woman) had decided that there is a chance to save her. And it worked! She had to undergo a series of surgeries, and still wears a nasty scar. I think she mentioned something about needing to have still more surgeries.
    But here is the best part of the story- She’s an excellent thabla player. It’s heartbreaking to think that all that talent may have been lost if the doctors’ decision or the circumstances had been slightly different.

    Also, legend has it that I wasn’t breathing properly when I was born, and needed to be rushed away in an ambulance to another bigger hospital minutes after I popped out. I was kept in one of those glass aquariums for a week or two. My brother likes to believe that I suffered irreversible brain damage, which he says explains my slight eccentricities. But yeah.

    Forever thankful to the great docotrs who do great work =)

  2. Chavie says:

    Doesn’t a makuluwa have like, 8 legs? Surely you don’t mind losing one. 😛

    This was terrifying to read, btw.

  3. Frank Booth says:

    *shudder* Glad the surgery worked! Although not so dramatic, I almost cut my left thumb off when I was very little after playing with a knife. Gladly I’ve only managed to cut it in half and the thumb kinda grew in one piece.

  4. Azrael says:

    Yeah, we need to improve a lot in terms of accessibility for the disabled, especially since there are lot of people effected due to the war.

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