All of this trouble from one game, says Yashoda N., eying her recumbent 18-year-old son. While her voice chokes as she tries to hold back her tears, he attempts to move his emaciated arms and fingers. Both efforts go in vain.
On December 16, three days after his 18th birthday, K.N. Chetan was, as he had done multiple times before, practising for the high jump event for the 50th anniversary celebration of his alma mater Koinadu Government School — on the border of Dakshina Kannada and Kodagu — when he lost balance and landed on his neck.
He was rushed to Yenepoya Hospital on the outskirts of the city, where X-rays showed a “burst fracture” on his C5-C6 cervical vertebrae with complete quadriplegia. An emergency operation was conducted where metal screws were inserted in his neck to stabilise the fracture. But the damage is evident: while his upper limbs struggle to show movement, his lower limbs lay limp without sensation. Complications arose when, after a month since the accident, he developed bed sores. Skin was grafted from his thighs to cover this.
The impact on the family is as sudden as the accident. The costs pile up, and the financials falls on Yashoda.
Her husband, Nagappa, lost an arm in an accident in the timber factory he was working in 12 years ago, and since then has only intermittently been employed.
With her two younger children still studying in Standard VIII and IX respectively, Yashoda is the sole breadwinner, and barely manages to make ends with her daily wage work.
“The entire cost comes up to Rs. 90,000. We have very little savings. Fellow villagers and local self-help groups have given us some amount as loan. I really do not know how we are going to recover from all this now,” she said.
The medical prognosis is not optimistic either. Shailesh Kumar M.N., Assistant Professor at the orthopaedics department of the hospital, said in cases like this, recovery cannot be assured.
However, Ms. Yashoda clings on to desperate hope, hoping that her son would be able to walk out of the hospital soon. “We cannot take him home. The doctors said he needs a water bed, wheelchair, and someone to look after him on a daily basis. We can’t afford all that. We have no choice but to keep him here till he can walk,” she said.
The family can be reached at 9449290138; and Yashoda’s account number is: Canara Bank, Kallungundi, 0643108014022.