She Slays: A gruesome accident taught me how to prioritise my health above everything else

Meet Ritu, a 30-year-old marketing professional who met with a horrifying road accident while on a solo trip. This is her story of recovery and steely grit.
road accident
Ritu's recovery after her road accident hasn't been easy. Image courtesy: Ritu Taneja
Reader Submission Updated: 13 Jun 2023, 05:50 pm IST
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This is the second presentation in the seven-part feature series, She Slays

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My name is Ritu Taneja and I am a 30-year-old marketing professional from Sonepat, Haryana. In July 2018, I was traveling to Goa for a solo trip. I had planned the trip as a once-in-a-lifetime-experience and naturally was eagerly looking forward to it. What should have been a lasting memory, turned into a nightmare when I unexpectedly ended up being bedridden for a month.

But let’s begin at the beginning
I was at the peak of my career in the advertising industry–and I was married to my work. The year was 2017. I had just switched jobs and my hard work had landed a client named Google in my lap.

Naturally, my schedule was aggressive and I barely got any time for myself. Fast-forward to 2018. I wanted a break so I planned a 10-day trip to Goa with a friend. However, coincidentally she got engaged in the meantime and the trip became a solo affair for me.

road accident
Image courtesy: Ritu Taneja

The first day went fine–and I started to enjoy my own company. On the second day, I decided to head towards South Goa, an unexplored destination on a rented scooter. After around forty-five minutes of driving along the hilly side, I came across a narrow road from where I could see a bus coming towards me. It was raining and my attempt to halt or give way to the bus went in vain.

As a result, my scooter collided with the bus and I shut my eyes out of fear. When I finally opened them, I was lying on the road with a crooked leg that I could barely move. I could see passers-by glancing at me with pity. I was soon rushed to a nearby government hospital, which unfortunately lacked even a basic x-ray machine. On medical advice, my surgery was scheduled at a private hospital. This meant a month-long stay in Goa.

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In the meantime, my father and sister flew down to Goa and I can still recall how tears rolled down their cheeks the moment they saw me in the ICU. 

Instead of staying away from home for so long, we decided to take the next train to Delhi and have the surgery there instead. When we reached Delhi, the doctors told me that I’d have to go through a leg impact surgery. I still remember how my hands were shivering as I signed the consent form–I hadn’t trembled like that ever. Even though the surgery turned out to be a success, I was told that it would take a few months, before I got back on my feet. 

road accident
Image courtesy: Ritu Taneja

The road to recovery was tough
It’s sad that an accident taught me the value of good health. I had been a workaholic till now, who hardly got the time to focus on her health. I was also deficient in vitamin D and that meant I had weak bones. It was only because of this low-bone density that the impact of the accident was so severe for me.  

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It took three months after the surgery for me to put my foot down on the ground again. It was painful to say the least. The way my family dedicated themselves to my recovery was exceptional. Their support got me through the resulting depression–which was a direct result of my physical ordeal. I would constantly ask God, “Why me?”. There even times when I felt like it would have been better had I died that day.

Also, read: She Slays: My brother took his own life and I want to ensure this doesn’t happen to any sister ever again

Slowly and steadily I got the strength to heal–physically and emotionally
At my lowest, I decided to visit a Gurdwara. I don’t know what the universe had in mind, but just as I turned around after my prayers, I saw an old man with one leg and a stick, praying as devotedly as he could.

This sight changed my perception and led me to an epiphany: I am still much more privileged than a lot of people out there and still possess the ability to walk. This incident changed the way I was thinking and just like that I took a U-turn to a more positive attitude and outlook towards life and my experience. I began physiotherapy and started slowly strengthening my leg again. With proper time and commitment to my health, I  gained back my strength.

road accident
Image courtesy: Ritu Taneja

Everything that had happened also propelled me to put my mental health and physical health above my work or monetary gains. Today, I am associated with an organization that is focused on women empowerment.

During this phase, I learnt that it is very important to prioritize your health above everything else. I decided to take a break from my career and put myself ahead of everything else–a place where I didn’t have to worry about anyone or anything, except for the person I see in the mirror, every day. 

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