Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hitesh’s Story: Turning Childhood Challenges into Motivation

Editor’s Note: Hitesh developed cerebral palsy after medical errors led to birth injuries. However, he hasn’t let his diagnosis slow him down! He approaches every challenge head-on to prove to himself and those around him that he can do anything he puts his mind to! Here is his story, in his own words.

By Hitesh Ramchandani

My Birth

On 20th January 1992 at 0144 hours I arrived on the planet called “Earth”. My mother and father were waiting for my arrival excitedly. I was their first child and unfortunately, they were not aware that their excitement was going to be changed into their biggest nightmare. The doctor made some mistakes during the delivery and as a result, I was born with cerebral palsy. I was labeled as disabled. My parents were taken aback, stunned and did not know how to react. Best part was, my mom did not even know what “cerebral palsy” was.

My Parents

My parents were strong and positive people. They knew deep down that God had given them such a child for a reason. They always treated me as a normal person. My father and mother had this strong belief that I would recover, never did they give up on me. The two of them always encouraged and motivated me to give my best in what ever I did. Doctors and teachers recommended to them to put me in a special school but they fought against it and made life for me as normal as any other child. They did not let the doctors’ opinion become their belief. They showered me with love. They spent a lot of time and money on my treatment. Due to that, I reached such a high level that whenever I looked down, I could not even measure how many levels and obstacles I have climbed! I love my parents – it  is such a blessing to have them.  My mom is the greatest woman – she used to take hours each day to make me drink a bottle of milk because she had to take caution that I did not choke due to my weak lungs.

My Childhood

Due to my problem, I had a tough childhood. People always made fun of me, imitated me. Some kids even thought I was an alien. This was due to the fact that during that time, the problem was bad. I could not even stand straight. My walking was like a drunken man walking. I had to use support; otherwise, I would lose balance. My speech was like an alien’s and people could not comprehend what I was saying. My muscles were extremely tight and tensed, especially muscles on my left, and I could not co-ordinate them. When people used to discourage me and make fun of the way I am, as a kid I would go home and cry. I still remember when I was 5 – I went to the park and no kid wanted to play with me because they thought I had a virus and if they touched me, they would be infected too! It makes me laugh when I remember that but during that moment I was so upset that I could not stop crying.  I thought God hated me and He was taking revenge – I was filled with anger and grief. Despite all the negativities, in my heart I always knew I was the best and I lived with a positive attitude. I knew that if I let the world break me, I would be finished before even beginning the race of life.
The positive things in my childhood were I had made amazing friends like Rahul Prem and Shiv Tulsiani. They are both my best buddies till today! They always encouraged me and lifted me up whenever I fell. I am also very lucky to have fantastic cousins like Vicky Vaswani and Karan Ramchandani; they are both like my elder brothers, backing me up whenever I need them. The best thing in my childhood was Natasha Ramchandani – the sweet little angel who entered my family when I was four. My mother gave birth to her on 1st June 1996. The first time I learnt how to walk was when Natasha was two and I was six – she started walking and I was surprised.  If she could walk, then why couldn’t I? Thus, I used that as a challenge and finally, I started walking.

Haig Boys’ Primary School

I entered Haig Boys’ Primary School at the age of 7. Every child is excited about the 1st day of school, but for me, it was the other way round. I was afraid that others would make fun of me and judge me. I was worried if I could cope with the schoolwork or not. I did not know if anyone would be my friend.
My classroom was on the 3rd floor and everybody used the stairs up to class but due to my disability, the school gave me the privilege to use a wheel-chair and a pass to use the lift. I was tempted to use those privileges, but I knew if I took advantage of them, I would never improve and remain where I was. Eventually, I decided to ditch the wheelchair and the lift pass and started to make my way up the stairs, just like everyone else – I did not need any “special” treatments.  The first time when everyone saw me climb up the stairs, despite the difficulty I faced each step, I became the school’s little hero. My principal was honoured to have me in the school and he believed I could be a symbol of inspiration to all the students. Despite my limitations, I always tried my best in my studies too and received passing marks most of the time, with some ‘A’ grades even.
There were times I failed, but my parents taught me that every failure is just another step closer to success. Most people fear failure but the most important thing they fail to understand is that failure brings one closer to success. Instead of regretting and lamenting on your mistakes and failure, learn from them and move on in life.
For example, if you have a gun in your hand and a bottle across from you, and your task is to shoot the bottle down, you just need to follow the steps.  Step one: you get ready, Step 2: you aim, Step 3: fire. If you miss, you won’t be crying right? You must repeat the three steps again and again until you get the bottle down. In fact, failing will just show you how inaccurate your aim was and the actions you need to take to make your next aim more accurate. So why can’t we apply the same concept in life?

Learning to Ride My Bicycle

My classmates would go cycling at the beach and I would be left out because I could not ride a bicycle. Thus, it became my motive to learn how to ride a bicycle. An average kid takes about 1-2 weeks to learn how to ride a cycle. It took me 3 months because of my condition – 91 days to be exact.
I used to practice cycling under my condominium everyday after school. Each day, I would come home with bruises on different parts of my body but still but I never gave up.  I was persistent.  I had to conquer this task!  One day I was practicing near the pool-side. I was so embarrassed that day because I ended up in the pool with my bike and so many people watching. I went home disappointed. I told myself, “never mind I will try harder tomorrow”. I was determined to learn this skill, despite the embarrassing failures that I encountered. On the 91st day, my body finally learned how to balance and I was riding a bicycle – IT  WAS BEAUTIFUL! The feeling was as good as flying.  I will never forget that day!
The moral is, don’t ever lose hope and give up. If I had given up on the 90th day, then I would have never seen the 91st day. Keep going and going, till you make it.

About the Author

Hitesh Ramchandani is now 20 years old and is pursuing his diploma in management studies at the Singapore Institute of Management. He is also taking a Neuro-linguistic programming course outside of school and is  a member of the Toast Master Club Singapore. His desire is to motivate everyone out there to never give up and to fight to the end. Most importantly, he wants to tell others, “don’t ever be discouraged by your problems because the bigger your problem, the bigger your destiny.”

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