Life took an ugly turn for Abdul Karim Khan in the year 2005 when he lost his left leg to tetanus infection.Karim,40,a daily labourer by profession, didn’t knew that a minor
injury caused by a sharp object could result in his disability. “I was working in the field when a nail pierced my left foot; I just took it in casual manner and wrapped it with a cloth to heal.
It didn’t affect my work, however after one year, my leg started showing signs of weakness and decomposition, which made me worried and I approached the government hospital for medical consultation”. Doctors diagnosed it as a case of tetanus infection and amputated Karim’s leg.
However the leg infection persisted which led to further surgeries and resulted in an above knee amputation. “The recurrent surgeries had a serious impact on my health which was deteriorating day after day. I was not working which resulted that my eldest son Latif Ahmed, 12, started working at a minor age.
“ Karim went to many places for treatment of his amputated leg and used an artificial limb for 2 years provided to him by a Jaipur based rehabilitation centre. Karim said, “The artificial leg mainly served as an aesthetic aid as I felt discomfort using it. Because I had no other better option, I had to live with it till it gave away with time.”
Destiny had more misfortune in store for Karim when in 2010 his right leg was also amputated as the previous tetanus infection had affected his right leg also. I felt as if entire sky fell down on my shoulders when doctors told me about my right leg amputation. Somehow I had adjusted with my left leg disability, but losing my right leg was double blow for me and my family.
“I felt depressed as I was a burden on my family. I didn’t contribute to the family’s income and was usually spending time sitting idle at one place. I used to crawl while moving from one place to another which was of course painful and affected my self –esteem as well. I thought I would never be able to stand and walk for the rest of my life.”
In 2011, Karim’s neighbor a police constable working in Ganderbal district told him to visit the office of Hope Disability Centre(HDC) situated in Ganderbal which provides free of cost rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities.
Karim lives in the border district of Bandipora and his home is at a distance of around 100 kilometers from the office of HDC. In July 2011, Karim approached HDC where after initial assessment his leg measurement and casting was done and he was told to come to the centre again after 15 days. However, Karim didn’t come to the centre again as advised by the staff of HDC, besides he didn’t have a contact number.
“We had kept his artificial legs ready but he didn’t come to centre as advised. We waited for the entire month of August but he didn’t show up” said Parvez Bagdadi, Prosthetic & Orthotic (P&O) Officer at HDC. “It has rarely happened that a person with disability after coming to the centre has not availed our services; we arranged an alternate car for our staffer Wasim, P&O bench worker to go to Karim’s home and bring him along, as he had mentioned his address in greater detail during his visit to the centre”, said Parvez.
We made Karim and his son to stay at the residential care hostel for about two weeks and provided Karim the requisite gait (walking) training to adapt to the artificial legs. After successful gait training, Karim was discharged from the hostel. “Though the experts at HDC have advised me to use crutches till the time I attain stability, still I am excited that I can stand and move now. Earlier I felt there was no hope for me. Thanks HDC”.