How the power of positivity helped this banker bounce back to her feet
Ankita Kothari was one year into a promising career as a corporate banker in Hyderabad when a devastating road accident shattered her right leg, leaving her unable to walk.
Doctors told her she would need multiple surgeries. Determined to avoid another operation, the 24-year-old IIM-Raipur graduate decided to adopt a positive attitude and got back on her feet through sheer discipline and dedication.
Here, she shares her journey back to health.
What happened on the day of the accident?
On July 26, 2015, I was returning home on my two-wheeler from some personal work. The car on my left was honking, trying to overtake me, and the road had no divider. I moved slightly to my right and was hit by a car from the opposite direction. I was wearing a helmet, which protected my head, but the femur, tibia and fibia in my right leg were broken.
At the site of the accident there was one doctor. I asked her if I’d ever be able to walk again. She told me, “Ankita, you’ll not only walk, you’ll run.” That was the moment I decided no matter what, I’m not going to cry. I’m just going to find a solution.
What happened when you arrived at the hospital?
I underwent surgery the next day and two rods were inserted above and below my knee. The operation was on Monday and I was home by Friday.
When I met with the accident, a piece of bone came out so there was a gap at the breaking point of both the femur and tibia. The doctor told me I might require bone grafting and skin grafting surgeries, but I was stubborn and asked what I could do to escape this.
He said I would need lots of exercise and good food but it would be surprising if I avoided surgery.
But you’ve managed to avoid surgery and are walking on your own now. How did you do it?
The thing is I always focused on how to get better. I had to learn how to walk again. At first I couldn’t move my legs but I made an effort. I took some injections for bone growth, but since I had a lot of time to myself, I Googled what to eat and how to grow your bones.
Initially I had a physiotherapist for two months and that helped me a lot.
For three months I used to get up at 6 am and exercise for one and a half hours. In between I used to exercise for 20 minutes every 2 hours and in the evening again for another hour.
I ate something every single hour. My meals were rich in calcium, iron, Vitamin D, green veggies…I strongly believed I’m going to escape surgery.
When I started walking with the help of a walker, I realized I could walk on my own.
How close are you to returning to your pre-accident health?
I walk with a slight limp now but I can do a complete bend of the knees. I was lucky not to have joint issues, or else I might not have walked again. I can jog now but it looks funny (laughs). The more I exercise, the more normal I’ll become soon.
What about the financial aspect of your accident? How much time did you take off work?
My employer covered around 70% of my expenses, but the physio was not included. I took three months off of work but was paid during that time. I’m very grateful to my employer.
What would you have done had your employer not covered most of the costs?
I also have other insurance but getting the entire amount up front is difficult because nobody carries that much cash. I’m from a business family, so there is always a liquidity crunch as we keep the money invested and this would have been a difficult situation. I was at a private hospital and everything, even physio, surgery and hospitalization, cost around three lakh.
What are some of your hobbies you’re looking forward to enjoying again?
I was learning salsa before my accident and I will relearn it. I can dance lightly now, but I’m a little scared of wearing heels and dancing. I also used to play badminton, but after the accident I can’t make any sudden movements. I definitely want to play again.
How has your family responded to your recovery?
My family has been so supportive. All my relatives who could not take time out to visit before came to see me.
Also, before the accident, my family was not conscious of safety. Now they’re completely careful.
Why do you think there is so much impatience and aggression on Indians roads? What message do you have for drivers?
The biggest reason is people don’t think such a thing can happen to them. We feel we’ll escape, we’ll overtake and things will be okay.
Every time I see a person not wearing a helmet on the road or hurrying to reach somewhere, or whenever I hear a sudden loud and long honk, I meet with the same accident all over again. I wish I could tell each one of them that it is just a matter of a millisecond that suddenly everything changes in a way they would have never imagined.
Surprisingly, after I shared my story on Facebook many people called and said they were really inspired and they were going to wear a helmet from now on and take extra care. For some it did make a difference, but I don’t know how long it will last.
Will you drive a two-wheeler again?
One day, but I’m sure I won’t ride on main roads again. I’m really scared as of now. I hope my fear fades away with time. I take cabs but fight with the driver and tell him not to overtake others.
You’ve already overcome very difficult circumstances. What other future goals do you have?
Whatever I do I want to do it perfectly. I’m a corporate banker, I want to excel at it.