Meet Tarun Kumar from Jaipur who sends in his story on how acceptance helped him to begin following his dreams and interests. He is one of those who is trying to achieve – with a strong belief in himself
The article is in his own words.
Please do follow his YouTube Channel – Tarun On Wheels
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Tarun is also on Instagram – @tarunonwheels
My name is Tarun Kumar and I am a C5-C6 level quadriplegic who has sustained a spinal cord injured life for over 14 years and overcome all circumstances and challenges day by day to be at that point where I am now. Without having any finger movement, less trunk balance, and chest down body part paralysis, I am 90% independent in my daily living activities. Also, I am a Para Athletic Player, Wheelchair Marathon Runner, digital marketing expert by profession, and Peer Mentor in my state for Spinal cord injured person.
On 20 November 2006, a freak accident left me paralyzed from the chest down, I was not able to move any body part other than my head. I felt like my life was not worth if I am not able to walk again. I wasn’t willing to accept the situation of being in a wheelchair for a lifetime.
Acceptance is a major challenge for a person who was normal before and then in a wheelchair. It is a slow process and possible only while we see it differently.
For me, it took 10 years to completely accept the new life and to find real happiness in living this new life. I learned this through this lesson. “In life we face such kind of a difficult situation wherein it’s hard to move on. In that situation, we have two options, first is we have to put in a hard effort to change that situation. Second, if you can’t change the situation, then we have to accept it and move forward in life”.
This thought was a game-changer for me. And it was only after 10 years of my spinal cord injured life I completely accepted the situation. During this time, I have also learned that the only thing to rely on is the belief in God’s plan for your life.
THE TWO PHASES OF MY LIFE
I was born in 1991, but I guess my story really began on 20 November 2006.
10 JANUARY 1991 – 20 NOVEMBER 2006
In my family, I was the firstborn child and I got much love from everyone. As I was growing up and started my schooling, I was an average student. As days passed my focus on studies increased more and I was the topper in the school all through . In 2005 I got into my High school. That time along with studies, I enjoyed playing with friends, hanging out at the playground, playing cricket, badminton, and other local sports, and was just generally having fun.
During early childhood and while growing up, I faced troubling situations which I believe other kids also do. When I was a kid I got a burn from hot milk spilled on my leg. It took months to heal. After 2 years when I started walking as a child one needle got inside my foot, when my mother was stitching. Then at the age of 8, I had fractured my leg by a fall on the floor.
At the age of 10 I fell from 2nd-floor stairs and hit on my head and got 7 stitches. These incidents happened to me in life in the early part of my childhood. These remained as small memories, as the major incident was yet to happen.
The day that major one occurred, it changed my life completely and set my life on a different track.
20 NOVEMBER 2006 – 31 DECEMBER 2020
On 20 November 2006, while I was studying in 11th class , I was going for my science practical class, I met with an accident. I was driving my dad’s scooter to reach my classes when suddenly a reckless driver overtook my vehicle. I lost control and hit a camel cart that was on the roadside. I lost consciousness immediately. When my eyes opened, I realized I was lying on the road and there were people around me staring and asking if I was okay and if I was able to stand. I tried to sit or move my body, but I was unable to. I panicked and was in a shock. I didn’t know what had happened to me. By this time my school principal had come with two of my other friends, and they took me to the hospital. They had called my family members too. I was admitted at the emergency area and doctors examined me. My family members came and checked my body to see if any visible injuries were there on any part of the body, but there were no injuries or scratches. I and my family members thought after basic examination and treatment I will be okay.
But after an x-ray and other examinations doctors admitted me to ICU where they started my treatment. Doctors spoke to my family and told them my spinal cord was damaged and possibly I may not be able to walk again. My parents did not inform me about this as they did not want me to panic or start worrying. But in my mind, the thought was already running that something serious had happened to me.
The doctor put traction on my head by drilling my skull bone. It was very painful as I had to bear a weight of 1-2 kg with that traction inserted in my skull for one month. I prayed to God that I overcome the difficult times and I get the strength to endure.
After 3 months I was discharged from the hospital and started my physiotherapy at home. I was not able to take any proper rehabilitation because of lack of awareness. But I pushed my body harder to do every kind of exercise at home that could help me to get stronger. Two years of continuous effort made me able enough to sit in a wheelchair. I was very happy when the first time I sat in the wheelchair and move around in the house.
From that time till 2016 I focused on standing and walking again. I did not accept the current situation and everyday fought hoping that one-day things will be the same as before. But, when it was not happening I started to worry. During these struggling times, I faced more challenging situations. I got fractured in both my left leg joint and right leg joint. The Doctor suggested surgery, but me and my family were scared and waited to see if things get okay in a few days or get some other solution. But this wait made it worse and my bone came out from my skin and I had to be taken to hospital in an emergency for surgery. The Surgery happened and doctors put weight on my leg and told me to take complete bed rest for at least six months.
I was already under stress and this situation made it worse. I felt so broken and thoughts started coming to my mind about ending my life. Those were again dark moments of my life which I had to face. Somehow my inner strength pushed me on with a voice not to give up.
From where I got hope
After my leg surgery, when I come to bed again after 24 hours, I did not have any options. I spent my time just brooding or worrying. During this time I started watching YouTube videos. I found Nick Vujicic videos there, and listened to one of his motivational speeches. I had not listened to any motivational speech earlier, and probably this was the first speech I was listening .His words connected with me immediately. Nick is person who does not have arms or legs, but he spreads hope with just his voice. His words had a magical effect on me in my dark situation. I had not even overcome the situation I was going through, but I found a purpose in my life. I always remember and mention his one-line thoughtful phrase that for I live for now – “If you can’t get a miracle in your life then be a miracle for someone else”. I found my purpose and reason for living in that one sentence. Then I started to find ways to become independent first in my life.
I searched for more such videos and I came across another person “Gajendra Negi“ who was having a similar situation like mine. He shares videos on YouTube on activities of Living an independent life. I did a bit of research to know more about him, and I started finding the answers to my unanswered questions.
My first outdoor activity
In 2018 through social media I saw people in wheelchair participating in several activities like marathon and wheelchair sports. I developed an interest and was eager to start going out and also wanted to participate in various activities. But, for this to happen, the first challenge I faced was that I did not have a good Wheelchair. I kept practicing with the Wheelchair that was provided through the hospital. With that wheelchair I would hardly move 250m before developing a huge pain.Keeping in my mind that I have to change my Wheelchair I started saving money. I had started to earn through working online in a part-time job, and with this I was able to save a little. It took me months to have enough money, and finally at the end of 2018 I bought a Kosmocare Wheelchair.
For one month I practiced daily on my Wheelchair to cover some distance. My confidence level increased day by day. On 2nd February 2019 I participated in my first marathon in AU Bank Jaipur marathon.
This was one of the happiest moments of my life. With the sound of Starting Gun going off, I started moving my wheelchair along with the crowd. I noticed that everybody was clapping for me and a group of school kids were cheering me with smiles on their face. Later the School kids told me that they felt motivated seeing me taking part in the Marathon. I completed my first 6 km run and felt very happy. This was an unforgettable memory for me and I felt I had succeeded at overcoming a major block.
My sports journey
In February 2019 I saw some posts on social media regarding some Para sports which were to take place in my City – Jaipur City.I wanted to participate in this, but I did not know anything about the games. I kept checking with my friends and checked on the internet on which games are played in Para Sports. But I was not sure which game I could take part in.
I was confused but decided to go to the Stadium and enquire. On 3 March I went to the stadium and on checking I was told I can play Club Throw. I completed my registration and collected some details about this game. Back home I started checking on the internet about the game about and how this is played. I started practicing with a desire to win this competition. I did not have much time for practice, but the efforts I put helped me to perform well on the field. I won gold medal in my category f51. My sport journey started from that day as I got interested in that game. I qualified for national level, but that year no games were organised for National level para game championship. Now, I am practising and planning to play for National level and also participate in the International level and win a medal for our country.
I believe in myself now and I believe with practise I will succeed.
My work experience
I struggled for more than 4 years after my graduation to find a job. Being disabled I faced many difficulties in getting a proper placement. A friend of mine recommended me for a job as a social media manager in a company. Since my interest was in digital world I accepted this job. I worked for one year in that company and gained good experience and knowledge. I found out lot of possibilities in digital world through that job. I started learning more and focusing on enhancing my skills in digital world. I started working on social media marketing, content writing and various other freelance projects to increase my skills.
With my working experience and the knowledge I have gained, I do a lot of freelance projects, but barely manage my financial needs. I am waiting for a good opportunity where my skills can be utilized properly and I am able to meet my financial needs.
I faced many difficulties in my life mainly because of a lack of knowledge and awareness, and support systems. I thought it would be a good idea to share my knowledge and experience. I would like to reach out to other persons who are facing similar situations that I faced. I would like to convey to them that they are not alone and to never give up. Keeping this in mind, I started a YouTube channel to share my knowledge and experiences to persons with spinal cord injury and wheelchair users through the activities I do. On my channel I give information related to work, jobs, travel, entertainment, and sports. Persons with similar conditions like mine, usually have doubts related to disabilities, wheelchair games, travels and jobs etc. I address these topics in my Channel, and hope I can help change people’s lives and their perceptions towards Persons with Disabilities.
I have struggled in my life all alone. My family and some friends supported me, but the inner struggles and facing different challenging situations was on my own. As a wheelchair user, I felt that the society is still far from understanding Persons with Disabilities. I have seen most of the persons still believe that a person on a wheel chair or other persons with disabilities may not be capable of doing anything. Though I got a little support and guidance by a few from my circle, I sometimes felt that our precious times were being wasted. I realised that being alone would make things more difficult and connecting with others and working as a team would help in making things much better. With this thought, I connected with the Spinal Foundation and started working as a peer mentor in Rajasthan to guide, encourage and strengthen people who need support. Luckily ,as a team we have touched many Spinal Cord Injury person’s lives We are hopeful in future we will be able to more person across India.
- Participated in Jaipur Marathon 2019 and completed 6km run on a Wheelchair
- Won a gold medal in club throw game at state level para championship in March 2019
- Living a quadriplegic life, it’s tough to go for a long journey, but I undertook a 36-hour train journey from Jaipur to Chennai.
- Participated in Chennai Marathon and completed 10 km wheelchair run
My career Achievements
- Completed B.Com at the same time while I was facing spinal cord injury
- Completed Google certified Digital Marketing course
- Worked as a social media marketing assistant in a Singapore based company ShangyeGuwen
- Soft skills training through Ability Foundation, Youth 4 jobs foundation Banking-finance and insurance training program through team lease University
- As a working peer mentor in Rajasthan State, under guidance of Spinal Foundation Team touched 60+ people’s lives by guiding them on various challenges of a sci life.
- Active Wheelchair cricket team player
- Encourage people with disabilities to play sports as per their interest.
- Created a wheelchair rugby team in Rajasthan with my fellow wheelchair friends.