Aug. 26, 2022 – Preethi Srinivasan was an 18-year-old with a vibrant future in sports activities and lecturers. A state-level medalist in swimming, she was additionally a proficient cricket participant and dreamed of representing her native India in cricket.

Her educational achievements had been equally stellar, and she was enrolled in a 5-year MBA course in Chennai, India. “My life was good, and the probabilities appeared infinite,” she says in an interview.

Srinivasan was on a university journey with buddies on the ocean. She was standing in thigh-deep water when the sand below her toes gave means and she stumbled. As a seasoned swimmer, when she realized she was falling, she dived into the water.

“As quickly as my face went underwater, I felt a shock-like sensation journey via my physique and instantaneously, I couldn’t transfer something” Srinivasan recounts. “I attempted to face, however nothing occurred.” From that second, she was paralyzed under the neck.

“My life as I knew it was over, however an entire new life was starting,” she says. “I simply didn’t know but what kind that may take.”

The Serenity to Accept

Annually, there are an estimated 17,730 new spinal cord injuries within the U.S. and 250,000 to 500,000 worldwide. The U.S. Senate has designated September as National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month.

People who’ve a spinal wire damage confront not solely sensible, medical, and monetary challenges, but in addition the sensation that their lives have been completely upended, in response to Rex Marco, MD, chief medical ambassador for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. This can result in a way of despair and lack of which means.

Marco himself had a spinal wire damage that paralyzed him when he was in his 50s. He had been a nationally famend spinal surgeon and musculoskeletal oncologist in addition to an energetic snowboarder, mountain biker, and yoga practitioner.

All of that modified when the tire of his mountain bike stalled in a dip alongside a path, catapulting him headfirst over the handlebars. He heard a crack however felt no ache. He knew that if the cracking sound got here from his neck, he could possibly be paralyzed.

“I had been doing respiration workouts to seek out calm for a number of years. In that second, I used them to calm myself,” he says.

When a pal touched his leg and hand and he couldn’t really feel the contact, he realized he had damaged his neck.

As he lay there, he considered the Serenity Prayer: “Grant me the serenity to simply accept the issues I can’t change.” He requested for the serenity to simply accept no matter bodily limits lay forward.

“I knew there was lower than 5% likelihood I’d ever stroll once more. I’ll by no means function once more, and I’ll by no means maintain my unborn baby.” Marco additionally knew he needed to get to a hospital as quickly as doable, so he helped coordinate his rescue and arrived on the hospital and then the working room inside lower than 3 hours, which he describes as “miraculous.”

He considers himself lucky that he by no means despaired as a result of he had already been utilizing practices that deepened his sense of which means and he drew upon them after his accident.

“I knew it was essential for me to do my greatest to dwell within the current second and not dwell on the previous or fear concerning the future; simply attempt to odor and style and pay attention and really feel. I did that all through the day and tried to be as current as doable.”

‘Why Not Me?’

After her accident, Srinivasan at first did fall into despair. “I didn’t cope effectively with what had occurred and tried to flee this new actuality any means that I may,” she says.

She felt an acute sense of loss. “For the primary 18 years of my life, I had effortlessly excelled in each space, and the longer term gave the impression to be brimming with infinite potential,” she says. “Then, in only a cut up second, it was throughout, and I discovered myself having to return to phrases with life in a wheelchair.”

What was particularly painful was how others handled her. “I had been appeared as much as all my life, seen as a task mannequin and hero, and now immediately individuals appeared down on me as if I ceased to exist. I couldn’t bear it. I felt invisible and invalidated and tried to close myself away for two years.”

She puzzled what she may have executed to deserve such a destiny. “I used to be shattered. Who was I? I didn’t know, and I didn’t wish to know. I simply wished to die.”

Her dad and mom’ unconditional love and knowledge slowly introduced her out and gave her a deeper understanding of life. Srinivasan’s father suggested her to not ask, “Why me? Why did this occur to me?” Instead, he suggested asking, “Why not me?”

He inspired Srinivasan to make use of her damage as a chance. “Your physique goes,” he informed her. “Everyone’s physique goes – if not right this moment, then 10 years from right this moment, and if not 10 years, then 50 years. Look inside and discover that inside you which may by no means be taken away, which may by no means go.”

It was the start of a profound interior journey. Srinivasan started expressing herself via mouth work. “Slowly, I began feeling obsessed with life once more,” she says. “My dad and mom gave me a lovely religious lineage, and via grace, I began therapeutic from inside.”

‘There Is a Plan for Me’

Several weeks earlier than the accident, Marco had began a apply of starting the day with itemizing three issues he’s grateful for, three issues he’s enthusiastic about, a day by day focus, a day by day affirmation, and a day by day train plan. He positioned this apply into his new actuality.

“I felt grateful for all times, grateful for my breath, and grateful for my restoration program,” he says. “I felt excited to see my household, my buddies, and my caregivers. My day by day affirmation was, ‘I’m sufficient,’ and my day by day train plan was to get off the bed and into the chair.” At evening, when he couldn’t sleep effectively, the nurses performed a guided meditation for him.

“These practices gave me which means and objective, and I knew there was and there’s a plan for me, though I wasn’t positive what the plan was,” he says.

Ultimately, Marco grew to become concerned with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. “Christopher Reeve was a childhood hero of mine, and I watched him play Superman,” Marco says. “I keep in mind the day he obtained injured, and I keep in mind his look on the Oscars when he was on a ventilator, which was so inspirational to me.”

Marco remembered that speech when he was within the intensive care unit. “I knew I wished to do one thing that he did, which was attempt to discover a remedy and increase cash for spinal wire damage analysis, which is a part of my function within the basis, in addition to growing psychological well being consciousness, and introducing extra individuals to mindfulness and mindfulness-based meditation.”

Founding Soulfree

When Srinivasan’s father was alive, he “took care of all the pieces,” permitting her and her mom to be in a “bubble of security, insulated and remoted.” But after his sudden loss of life of cardiac arrest in 2007, there was no supply of monetary help. Some years later, her mom had cardiac bypass surgical procedure.

“We started to marvel what would occur to me if my mom may not care for me, and we started to search for long-term care services in India that had been geared up to take care of an individual in my situation,” Srinivasan says.

She was “shocked” to seek out out that, all through all of India, there wasn’t a single long-term care facility the place an individual with a spinal wire damage (SCI) may dwell with dignity. “So if the dad and mom or household of a lady in my situation is unable to take care of her, there’s nowhere to go,” she says.

She began to listen to horrifying tales “Family members of girls with SCI usually consider a disabled daughter as shameful and refuse to feed or take care of her. Two households even supplied their daughters with poison and inspired them to kill themselves.”

The lack of help for individuals with spinal wire accidents led Srinivasan to discovered Soulfree, a company devoted to creating long-term care facilities round India which are geared up to take care of these with extreme disabilities completely and guarantee they are going to be educated for jobs and monetary safety, she says.

In addition to her work with Soulfree, Srinivasan is a motivational speaker, holds a grasp’s diploma in psychology, and is and a senior analysis fellow pursuing her PhD on the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras.

“I do know I’m being stored alive on this earth for some larger objective,” she says. “I’m content material in being absolutely alive on this second and attempting to unfold love, mild, and laughter on this world.”

Helpful Resources

Research shows that individuals who have supportive household, buddies, and group and a religious connection have a better time coping with the challenges of discovering new identification, which means, and objective after a spinal wire damage.

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation’s National Paralysis Resource Center gives free assets about dwelling with paralysis, together with a weblog by which individuals with spinal wire accidents describe how they discovered which means after their accident. Getting psychotherapy or turning into concerned with a help group (in-person or on-line) or peer counseling, equivalent to via the Foundation’s Peer and Family Support Program, may assist.

More assets and solutions will be discovered at:

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