Inspiration from Chaitra
By Vishwanthar on General
April 30, 2022
Chaitra, my elder Brother, has been coming to the gym since the day I opened it. He had a herniated disc for a long time and the reason was unknown. The manipulative anxiety demanded him to go for a surgery. He had imagined that the surgery would quickly fix his troubled back. Unfortunately, he ended up being stiff for life after the surgery. The surgeon didn’t recommend physiotherapy after the surgery. However, I now strongly believe that after surgery, it is immensely important to rehabilitate the area that was operated on.
Instead of going to a sports physiotherapist he chose to come to the gym in order to rehabilitate his injured back. And indeed he gained significant strength. For example, he was deadlifting close to 100 pounds on the trap bar. However, a still more grievous injury awaited him. This happened at the gym while he was deadlifting. He was trying to lift heavy weights using an improper manner. (The surgery had resulted in unacceptable stiffness in his hamstrings.) Eventually that lead to his downfall. I remember warning him–but he went ahead and injured his back. It is a strong reminder to me. Whenever I see anyone lifting heavy weights I am very cautious about their form. If their technique is questionable, I don’t hesitate to tell them to stop and to decrease the weight. I insist that my gym clients never compare themselves with others and that they should not get carried away by what others are trying to achieve. Each one should write their own story rather than blindly imitating others.
I believe those were the darkest days of my brother’s life. He stopped coming to the gym and wouldn’t venture out of the house. After a few months I was very anxious and went to check on him. That moment was heartbreaking and shook me to the core. I saw a lifeless and clueless man sitting on a chair looking lost. I couldn’t hold back my tears, losing the pillar of my life scared me. I immediately took him to an orthopaedician who recommended an MRI. As expected, the herniation appeared again. A second surgery was never my brother’s option. He had to look at other ways to deal with it. He finally thought the sanest solution would be rehabilitation instructed by a sports physio. As expected, the physiotherapy tremendously helped him. However, I continually reminded that the recovery would happen at a snail’s pace and kept reminding him. Indeed the recovery was dead slow and there where days were he would be lost in utter negativity. Fortunately, he has now realized the psychosomatic nature of the ailment and tackles the situation practically.
On the flipside of being marred by a serious injury, he led a passionate life. Although he was employed by a software company as a system analyst, he was an ardent wildlife photographer. I was envious when I saw him venture into the forests of Bandipur. (I love visiting forests, and my brother frequented them every weekend. That irked me.) He has an exceptional ability in identifying birds, butterflies, snakes and mammals. Any doubts I have on identifying wildlife on my farm, he is my reference book. I am a curious bird watcher, and he helps me distinguish them. He has also contributed several articles in Sanctuary Asia magazine, which is a leading magazine on wildlife and conservation. He has also contributed photos in a book entitled Mammals of India. Above all, the two of us are impaired with the same degenerative genetic disorder— cerebellar ataxia that troubles our wellbeing. (Stop gaping at us in the gym if this is new information to you. We don’t like being watched.)
Now, when I see him attempt full range squats and try the deadlift with custom-made equipment, it is extremely reassuring. His undying pursuit to improve his back strength is commendable. His brave life story is an excellent reminder that we should never budge, no matter what. He has stood the test of time. I am proud of him for not having succumbed and for taking the challenges in stride.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going.