By Shreya Siddanagowder, Bilateral Hand Transplant recipient
9th August, 2020
The toughest thing in the world is to see yourself beyond what other people think about you; but if you are able to do it then it’s the most beautiful thing you will ever experience.
Four years ago, I was lying on a hospital bed with both my forearms amputated and my stumps, bandaged. My entire right leg was in a cast, my abdomen was filled with bruises and abrasions but my heart ached way more than my injured body. “People like Shreya are so scary to look at”, remarked a visitor unsparingly. That sentence stung me and for the first time, I felt inadequate.
It has been 3 years since my hand transplant and I don’t feel inadequate anymore. Losing hands was supposed to be a permanent loss, but it was not so in my case. I can even hold a 30 second plank. It feels amazing to see that my transplanted hands can take my body weight and I still have metal implants in my arms! I have even written my semester exams with my transplanted hand. This was an unexpected achievement by any hand transplant recipient. When I had decided to embark on this journey of hand transplant, I did not know to what extent my transplant would be successful. Hand transplants are relatively new, rare and the advancement is still being understood. As the level of transplantation (above elbow in my case) was higher, I needed longer period of rehabilitation, tremendous patience and commitment.
It has literally taken blood, sweat, tears, pain and countless hours of therapy for my transplant to become successful, but all that has been totally worth it. It is liberating to be independent again. Your body can tolerate almost anything; it’s your mind that you have to convince. People always focus on what is going on below the neck so much that they often forget what is above. It is always mind over body. This was possible because of my donor and his parents, who decided to donate their son’s organs during their grief. He is still alive through 7 people, including me. They have given me a second chance in life and I am going to live it the best I can, for as long as I can.
‘’He who has a why to live can bear almost any how” – Friedrich Nietzsche.
This quote has resonated with me and I would always say this to myself on the days when I felt dejected and demotivated. Today, without any doubt I can say that I love myself because, I am mentally stronger and tougher and no accident could take away my will power, grit and determination. However bad your current situation may be, life eventually gets better and trust me when I say that because this is coming from a girl who, a few years back, was lying on a hospital bed without forearms; but today she has hands and is independent again. The last three years did give me a little perspective and the courage to see myself beyond what people thought about me.
“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in” – Haruki Murakami