Blade Runner Shalini Saraswathi (left) with Rio Olympics bronze  medal-winning wrestler Sakshi Malik during the ‘Rise To Your Potential’ award ceremony at Churchgate yesterday. Pic/Shadab KhanBlade Runner Shalini Saraswathi (left) with Rio Olympics bronze  medal-winning wrestler Sakshi Malik during the ‘Rise To Your Potential’ award ceremony at Churchgate yesterday. Pic/Shadab Khan

It's not everyday that you come across someone who inspires you to face life's uncertainties with a smile. Shalini Saraswathi, a quadruple amputee, is one such person.

Tragedy hit Saraswathi (38), a blade runner in parts. In 2012, she was down with fever and at the same time was expecting her first child. While the doctors thought it was dengue, Saraswathi's illness turned out to be rickettsial with morts, a rare bacterial infection. She was confined to the ICU for months and her family was told that chances of survival were glim.

To make matters worse, Saraswathi's left hand was amputated and a few months later, she lost her right hand as well. That was not all. Her legs fell prey to gangrene and she lost her baby in the process.

Fitness turns into passion
What started off as an activity to keep fit now turned into her passion. Saraswathi has run two 10k marathons. Her first marathon was the 2016 TCS 10k which she finished in two hours.

This year she covered the distance in one hour and 35 minutes. Talking about her journey, she said: "I was a positive and chirpy person even before the incident. But today, it has made me value smaller things in life and cherish each moment. It was not that I became positive at a click of a button. It was when I was bed-ridden for two years that I thought about it."

Saraswathi was conferred with the 'Rise To Your Potential' award by the Indian Merchants Chamber's Ladies' Wing at their Annual General Meeting in Churchgate yesterday. Rio Olympics bronze medal-winning wrestler Sakshi Malik was given the 'Woman of the Year' award.

Fight for survival
Recalling the most tragic day of his life in 2012, Saraswathi's husband, Prashanth Chowdappa said: "For me, the toughest day was April 1 when the doctor told me that she wouldn't survive. The next five days were emotionally stressful. She came back to her normal self on April 5, her birthday. After that, she was positive. Many a time she howled in pain and I had to console her. After that day I never used the words 'I understand' as it is something only the person in that situation can," said Chowdappa.

Saraswathi's illness also affected her emotionally, but running solved her issues. "When tragedy stuck, I used to cry for hours. I used to blame everything around me. After my condition stabilised, I first learnt how to walk and started running to get fit. I could think of running only. It was not a conscious decision, but I began to enjoy it," added Saraswathi, who works as the Deputy General Manager at a corporate firm in Bangalore.