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Choosing between Paralysis of Body vs Death of Mind

Break what must be broken, once for all, that’s all, and take the suffering on oneself.  One who has suffered, only grows stronger.

Mr. Prateek Khandelwal personifies the zeal and will to fight for life. His story is sure to touch your hearts, inspire and make you feel grateful.  Prateek has been through a long period of body paralysis. Here is an edited script of the podcast.

The Changing Point in Life

Gaurav: Today where you are, it’s an inspiration. I’m sure something would have happened in your life that would have toned the trajectory of your life. What was that occasion? What was that chapter?

Prateek: The story goes back to 2014. On May 29 2014, I was a young entrepreneur doing professionally very well in his career. I had a lot of family support. I had a good social presence. Partying all over the town, earning good money, traveling all over the world, about to get married. And 24 hours later on May 30 2014. I was introduced to my new life. The life after a spinal cord injury. It was a life which came with no motor movement or complete paralysis below the waist. And because a spinal cord injury also brings nervous system damage.

You only have pity and sympathy with you. You have no friends to speak to. And basically you’re living a life where a lot of people would rather choose death, than going to any of this. Because spinal cord injury is the beginning of the end. It is just the beginning of the end, because day by day your health just goes down. You don’t know for how long this will continue because there is no recovery. That was the changing point of my life.

Meaning of Beginning of An End

Gaurav: What does beginning of an end mean? Tell me more about it.

Prateek: For me it meant a situation of no hope. Doctors gave no hope regarding it. There was nothing online, nothing around the world. So you’re not dying, but you have these conditions inside your body that you have to live with every day. With a spinal cord injury, your health only deteriorates from that point because there is no medical solution. Every day, you have to deal with so many things in your body that nobody can think of. Day by day it just goes down. It doesn’t get better and you don’t know what to do. That is why a lot of people who have spinal cord injuries go through suicidal tendencies, and they take their lives.

That was when things seemed going nowhere to me.

Learning Acceptance to Heal

Gaurav: Most of us would definitely be in a denial mode and would not be willing to accept what has happened. What was the impact of the emotional and psychological isolation from society and friends?

Prateek:  I would like to answer your question in two parts. Number one, was I living in denial? Yes. We should come to an end with the tense reality. I think what also helped me was—-during the first year I was so working hard on myself. After one year I accepted that this is going to be a longer process.

The recovery I saw in my body kind of paved my way with confidence for further recovery in my life. I understood that it’s going to be a long process, but at the same time, it is possible. It is possible if you continue working hard at it.

So recognize it, but then find out ways to continue moving forward. At the same time when it came about getting back to the community, I was very social and during my phases of this recovery, that still is a part of my life when I was fighting. I thought social rehabilitation was as important because we are humans. We are supposed to be a part of society. There was nobody who was talking to me. All my friends had left and all they had was sympathy. So I started to call my friends week after week to meet. I needed to be the same Prateek who was jovial and had a spunk.

Life is More about the Fight Within, Not the Fight Outside

Gaurav: I remember during our last conversation, you mentioned that most of life is about a fight within and not a fight outside. What does that mean? And why do you say so?

Prateek: If you see my life journey, I just said I was living the best life in my 20s. One incident, you’re gone physically, you’re gone socially, you’re gone mentally. The only way I could go out to the world and make a difference and be a part of the world was when I win this inner battle inside me. If you look at the deeper level of deep, why do people do meditation these days? Why do they go for yoga? Why do they go for the art of living?

We are trying to declutter our thought process to reach to our core. Find who we are and stick to a few points. That’s the end result of all of that we’re doing.

So that is the conscience that we are building inside. We are trying to be more aware of our conscience so that we can handle everything outside. What is outside is a response system of our conscience to the situation outside, isn’t it? I had to make sure that I did well physically. But that confidence I carried on due to my mental strength.

To listen to more of the above conversation listen to the podcast at xMonks Drive.

About the Speaker: Prateek Khandelwal

Prateek Khandelwal is the Founder & Managing Director of RampMyCity, IBTB. He is also a social entrepreneur and TEDx Speaker. After suffering a paraplegia due to a Spinal Cord Injury in 2014, not only have I made significant recovery, I have found 2 of India’s one of a kind start-ups to improve the quality of living of the physically challenged across the country so that they can participate and contribute fully in the social, cultural, recreational and economic life of India.

a) RampMyCity : An accessibility initiative providing inclusivity through ramps and adequate human training.

b) IBTB Pvt Ltd : A for-profit social enterprise providing end to end physical accessibility solutions, which are easy to implement yet highly impactful, for Persons with Disability in India in public and private sectors like corporates, big and small hotels, residential societies, educational institutions, events, cab aggregators, cinema halls and similar places of public usage.