She danced when she could stand. And she continues to dance when she can’t. Meet Karishhma Lamba, a young and spirited woman who didn’t let an unprecedented spinal cord injury break her back!
Now on a mission to motivate many other youngsters who have landed themselves in unlikely medical situations, Karishhma goes by the social media moniker #GirlOnHotWheels. Her Instagram and Youtube posts are her little ways to light a ray of hope for others who may be struggling to come to terms with the trauma of a life-altering injury or accident.
Her own spinal cord injury happened about 5 years ago in Goa. She was a hotel’s balcony with four of her friends. The balcony broke and they had a fall. She hurt her spine, and lost sensation below the waist. Life changed forever for Karishhma, but little damage did it do to her zest for life.
Over the past half a decade, she has been empowering herself “mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually” to embrace the curveball that life threw at her.
Now a social media officer at the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre in New Delhi, she is a smiling example for young spinal cord injury survivors to stand strong in the face of adversity.
“Dancing is something I have always been fond of since my school and college days. After my injury, I heard about a spinal cord injury survivor who would dance (while being on a wheelchair) and suddenly his toes started to move. This rang a bell in my mind, and I thought this could be a great way to connect with my body again,” Karishhma shared in a candid interview with HealthShots.
“Slowly, I started connecting with my legs. I am happy when I dance, and those happy hormones generate some broken connections in the nerves,” explained Karishhma, who believes that dance is something that you first do from your heart, then you eyes and then your body.
She had already taken the first step.
It was in the pandemic year that Karishhma came up with this hashtag and personal social media identity. She wanted to go beyond her role at her workplace and do more.
“I wanted to encourage young boys and girls in similar situations, and tell them that life is still liveable, and that life can be beautiful. That you don’t always have to get up and do something. While sitting also, there’s so much you can do. It’s all in the mind, really,” Karishhma said.
Her videos on trending songs, are her way to say that one can still live a happy life while sitting.
What about the name? The story goes that one of her close friends would always call her wheelchair as her ‘hot wheels’, and she would find it funny. One fine day, #GirlOnHotWheels popped up in her mind and she decided to make videos because “you never know how we inspire or how we get inspired by whom”.
The accident was a close brush with a “life and death situation”, described Karishhma. It took her a few months to come to terms with the physical and mental trauma caused by her injury, not just to herself, but also her entire family.
“Physically, I felt the pain of what I went through, but mentally and emotionally, what my family and friends also went through was upsetting. Half of my body stopped functioning, and I was not able to move. Every time I had to move, I needed support,” Karishhma recounted.
The emotional aspect was a different struggle.
“Everybody was in the same jolt of what’s the future going to be like. There was so much fear and doubt about dealing with this situation. We were all asking, ‘How are we all going to function now?'”
At such times, having family support is crucial. “I consider myself one lucky person to get a lot of support from my family and friends. It makes your journey easier, and assures you that you’re not alone,” said the chirpy lady.
One fine day, right before her physiotherapy session, she burst out crying, letting her pent-up emotions flow. The question on her mind was “Why me?” But what her mother said to her changed her outlook.
“She told me, ‘Do not ask this question again. Every bad situation changes for the better. But it is up to us how we deal with it.’,” shared Karishhma, who then took life one day at a time, without brooding over the future.
“I stopped asking myself ‘Why me?’ That was a huge transformation for me in itself,” Karishhma said, tearing up a bit as she spoke about her “second life”.
Now she’s out to tell the world: “It depends on you how you want to deal with life’s situations – whether you want to easily say ‘mere saath kya ho gaya’ or you still see a ray of hope.”
Life had sort of just started, once again, for Karishhma after her fall and subsequent surgery.
“I was learning things like getting up from the bed, bathing and changing my clothes. Now I am at least sitting, but initially I was only lying down on the stretcher. Slowly I was made to sit, and I was taught to do basic things once again like a baby,” Karishhma said.
The second step was physiotherapy, which she deems extremely important for a spinal cord injury survivor.
“It helps your body and muscles to keep moving and stay in shape. Else, your body tends to lose the mass. Physiotherapy helps your leg movements and ensures that your upper body keeps functioning, and supports your lower body,” she said, adding that being active in sports in her younger days came in handy.
Sharing her experiences with others gives her the satisfaction of inspiring others to smile through their struggles.
“They are young people and have a lot of scope for recovery. They have so much energy in them, and they need to channelise it all the time. I encourage them to go back to their life. And even if it is while sitting, it’s perfectly alright!”
While Karishhma has become more spiritually inclined and often tunes into talks by motivational speakers, she finds nothing as satisfying as a self-talk session.
“I feel that motivational things can be heard, but till you don’t believe in them or feel self-motivated, you cannot make it work. Till you don’t connect from within, it won’t make a difference. Sometimes, I just go into my shell and give myself a pep talk. It really helps!”
All you ladies, isn’t Karishhma’s story truly inspiring?