“Living the Jugaad life as a Quadriplegic”

From snake charmers to Taj Mahal to M K Gandhi to SRK to chicken tikka masala (aka Butter Chicken, yumm) – there are several things that can be described as quintessential Indian. The latest term making waves across the world and has come to represent the Indian way of thinking and getting things done is Jugaad.

I have realized that whenever I go about living my new life as a quadriplegic, it is nothing less of a Jugaad life. This typical Indian attitude, of not giving up easily and finding a way around obstacles that pop up in your path, is essential for getting back on track after a life-changing incident such as a spinal-cord injury.

Also read: Demystifying spinal cord injury

The initial months after my spinal cord injury were filled with the feelings of gloom and doom. Inability to move my body meant the end of my independent lifestyle. I was dependent on someone else to drink water, dress up, eat and almost everything under the sun. But life does not stop because of a setback, it goes on. And I choose to go with the flow.

That’s where the magical world of Jugaad with Rehab and physiotherapists comes in. I got introduced to hacks for doing everyday tasks and trained to do regular things differently.

Not able to walk – doesn’t mean I will be glued to my bed => I use my powered and active (aka manual) wheelchair to go places. They have become an extension of me.

Not able to use hands to lift things => I use my wrist extension movement to hold things such as my phone, a basketball and even my toothbrush.

Not able to use fingers to pick up food => Initially I used to attach a universal splint to my palm that would hold a spoon. Now I have learned to fix (aka hold) a spoon between my fingers to eat.

Check out this VIDEO of how I started eating by myself 2 months after my spinal cord injury.

Not able to type on the laptop keyboard => I use a dictation software that transcribes everything I speak, including this blog 😉

Not able to control bowel and bladder => I have learned to train them using suppositories and bladder management techniques.

It is only because of all these and many more other Jugaads that I was able to get my confidence back, feel good about myself, be affirmative at my workplace and get on with life with full zest.