Inspiration. We’re constantly looking for it. In movies, in quotes, in books and in podcasts.
Looking up ‘inspiring music’ and ‘inspiring stories’ on the internet was almost an everyday ritual for me.
Until I stopped looking up and looked around.
I came across Sakshi Maheshwari, a charming fourth-year medical student at Kasturba Medical College, Manipal.
I only saw her as a budding runner, until Dr. Girish Menon mentioned that she had a foot drop and runs with the help of an ankle-foot orthoses. I wondered how that must have hurt, but little did I know that this was just the tip of the iceberg.
This is her story.
It was the 30th of December, 2016. The perfect day for every fifth-semester student at KMC. It was the last paper of the dreaded university exams and everyone was out there, rejoicing. She was on her way back on a motorbike when it had all come to a standstill.
A crash, that changed everything.
She was found a few hours later and was rushed to the hospital.
Survival seemed like a grim possibility. Every second was a battle between life and death.
An avid reader, a dancer, a volleyball player, a writer, and a painter. She was a winner at everything she aimed for.
It all came down crashing, in a matter of seconds.
Sixteen fractures, involving all four limbs, multiple nails insitu, a head injury, and over eight complicated surgeries later, Sakshi woke up, in a haze. She’d been cut off from everything around her for thirty-five days and was unaware of what had been happening to her.
It was a heartbreaking realization that she wasn’t able to move, let alone sit up, after a month since the accident.
Rock bottom teaches you lessons mountain tops never will.
And when the world had so little faith, this girl took her first step. After extensive physiotherapy, she was finally able to let her feet touch the ground.
And that’s when she confessed to her parents of her dream. She dreamed of running.
‘That one moment, everything was forgotten. Her dream was her only perspective.
That one precious moment felt a little parenthesis in eternity.’
And there began the real journey of a warrior.
There was just no turning back after that.
Fall down seven times, get back eight. And she kept trying, with all her might, every single time.
From a frozen hand to partial mobility, from no grip, to finally to holding a pen.
From writing little letters on a book to giving an entire set of four consecutive theory exams.
Her immense will to get back up accelerated her entire course of recovery.
She’d take baby steps and drag her dad out to the park every single day. Her biggest cheerleader, he’d ensure she went a little further every day.
And in front of his eyes, Mr. Maheshwari watched his daughter turn millimeters into kilometers, her baby steps were now strides.
One year six months after the incident, Sakshi is now an active member of the Manipal Runners’ Club.
She makes it a point, despite her busy schedule in her final year, to get regular physiotherapy and makes time for a run five days a week.
Ever bump into her and the first question she’d ask you would be about how you’d be doing, rather than talking about the pain she goes through or her studies.
She recently completed a 13 km with a beautiful pace and now trains for a half marathon in the near future.
Ask her how it all started, and she’d tell you.
It was a walk in the park.
This article is written by Dr. Harsha Akula, an active runner at Manipal Runners’ Club.