23rd October 1999 was the RED LETTER day of my life.

This was the most unexpected, the most unimaginable thing (that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy)…

One drastic error of Judgement…from a subordinate and my whole life changed right before my eyes. For ever….

I was shot, whilst on duty…

This Gun Shot not only shattered my Spine, it also shattered my hopes, my future and my dreams altogether.

I was born in Dombagahawela in Monaragala District. I was the 7th child of a family of 8 children. I studied at Dombagahawela Central College from where I passed my Advanced Level Examination.

My childhood was spent very close to nature. We played among trees and bushes, chased after birds and butterflies, enjoyed the fragrance of blossoming flowers, swam across rivers and bathed in waterfalls.

I was talented in art since my childhood. I was known as an artist in school and had won in several art competitions. Those who knew me believed that I would be a professional artist in future.

But fate had other plans..........

In 1990, I felt as if I won an Olympic Gold Medal when I was selected for the Sub Inspector Training.

After the initial training, my first appointment was at Badulla Police Headquarters. Afterwards, I have had the pleasure of serving at various Police Stations such as Bandarawela, Uwa, Paranagama and Mahiyanganaya.

Having been able to serve in the Operational Areas such as Vauniya, Pesalai, Talai Mannar and Mannar; the Nothern part of the country for the next three and half years was indeed a very proud time in my life, to say the least.

In 1995, I was transferred onto Kandy Police Headquarters and served there for a just six months when I was transferred onto Jaffna Division. In war-torn Jaffna, I carried on my service in those Operational Areas once again, performing my duty in police stations such as Kankasanthurai, Illawali, Maadagal, Jaffna and Chavakachcheri.

I was the Officer-in-Charge at Maadagal. I was also the first Officer-in-Charge at Chavakachcheri, which was an area without a Police Station before!

The “Operation Rivirasa” which took place whilst I was stationed at Maadagal in 1996. This was the Operation launched by our Government to re Capture Jaffna Peninsula and I was glad to have held an active part of this operation as well as "Operation Lead Forward" and "Operation Red Eagle".

For taking an active part in the “Operation Rivirasa”, I was awarded with "Rivirasa" and “Poornabhoomi” medals in appreciation. It seems, when I look back, the best part of youth was spent in those Operational areas which makes me very proud of the service I have given to my Motherland.

In 1997, I came back to Colombo.

I was stationed at Sapugaskanda Police Station Officer-in-Charge of the Minor Offences Branch.

In 1998 that I took my appointment as the Acting Officer-in-Charge of the Crime Detection Bureau of Kotahena Police Station.

It was in 1999, (as the Acting Officer-In-Charge with the Crime Detection Bureau of Kotahena) that unforgettable.

RED LETTER DAY of 23rd October took place...

Kotahena Police station was the last place I serve under the Police Service.

By that time, I have given the best ten years of my life to the Service!.....

This storey will follow how I was shot whilst trying to apprehend a criminal.

Man accused was a suspect of a fraudulent Job Agency Runner. Four young men were cheated out of their life time savings by this man as he was pretending to send them overseas for employment.

We were at the final stage of our inquiries successfully against the suspect.

The journey was to be from Boralla to Kotahena and I had three Police Constables with me to make the said arrest.

Our Team arrived at the Borella Super Market where the accused was parked and was inside the vehicle with two other individuals. I got into the suspects vehicle from the front left, in order to take the keys of the vehicle from the driver. Right behind me was the Police Constable, who tried to open the side door of the suspect’s vehicle, whilst holding his revolver in one hand. His revolver suddenlyMisfired and I was shot from behind. The bullet entered from my lower back and came out from my chest....

The Red Letter Day.....

Suddenly all I felt was nothingness....

Everything seems to have stood still... No pain..No sound...Things happening in Slow.. Motion..

Everything standing still.. Total Nothingness...

Then came the most excruciating pain.... Most unbearable pain...... I couldn’t breathe....

I knew I was going to die......

My life just flashed before my eyes... All that’s important to me in life came flooding back to my memory Something in the back of my mind told me to hang-on.. For the sake of those loved ones.... Sake of those who mattered to me... Sake of those what mattered to me... I just kept breathing slowly.... Just a little short breaths... Little baby breaths..... Because I knew that is what I had to do at that very precise moment... And nothing else mattered..

It was much later I found out that I remained unconscious for nearly three days at the Intensive Care Unit of the Colombo General Hospital.

I came around...Only to discover...

That my whole world has come to a halt...

That my whole world has turned upside down..

That my whole life has been stolen right under my nose...

Unable to walk again..

Unable control your bodily functions Being dependant on the others for every little thing that you took for granted in the past..

It was my life no more..

I felt like a stranger looking in.. Didn’t know what was important and what wasn’t. Wasn’t sure what would be my next step....

There were times I wanted to remain unconscious...

But I knew that was not the answer.

I knew I had to make decisions.

I knew burying my head in the sand is not the answer. I had fallen big time..

I had to get up, shake the dust off and pick myself off that downward spiral because I had a long journey ahead of me.

It was a long journey and every long journey has begun with that very important first step...

So I took my first step.... Towards working on my way to recovery..

Towards rebuilding my shattered life... So I took my first step..

Without actually moving my feet.! Being paralyzed, being on a wheel chair due to my gunshot injury needless to say changed my whole life.

I was prepared to go to the ends of the earth to return to normalcy...to walk again.

I read up on volunteer programmes for certain spinal surgery experiments in foreign countries and wanted to do so.

It was whilst searching the Net; I discovered that Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore has a surgery to treat similar spinal injuries. By then it had been performed only on 1000 patients with a similar problem.

The name of the doctor who carried out the operation was Dr. Prem Pillay Consultant Neurosurgeon of Mt. Elizabeth and Gleneagles Medical Centers in Singapore . I managed to send my medical reports to him for his opinion. I was informed by Dr.Pillay that there is a very good possibility for my condition being treated by a surgery called OMENTUM TRANSFER. For the injury to be treatable by this operation, it had to be done within one year of the injury.

The cost was estimated as Rupees 2.7 million.

You can read up in “my paintings” how I was able to put the money together for this surgery. In June 2002, with the help of my “Adopted Family”, Mr & Mrs Wijesinghe and Praveen Wijesinghe I went to Singapore accompanied by my nephew Amila, for my surgery. (I shall always remember with gratitude, how their care and love and the support, gave me the strength right thru’ that period and even afterwards, in my life)

So, I was finally admitted to Mt. Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore in June 2002. The surgery took four and half hours.

The surgery was a success. There were significant improvements on my condition.

I was discharged on 13th June 2002. I returned to Sri-Lanka on the 3rd July 2002.

Although my condition improved immensely after the surgery, I however could not have a complete recovery. Prior to the surgery I was very much dependant on the others for my day to day activities but afterwards, I was able to attend to most of my activities on my own. I am for ever optimistic and still hoping for a complete recovery in One day in not so distance future….

The research for a possible cure for spinal injuries still goes on………..

Below are some useful links which offer more information on spinal injuries, relevant operations and research on them…..

http://www.stemcellspuhua.com/

http://www.xcell-center.com/

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn5088-spinal-cord-injury-treatment-raises-hope.html

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/spinal-cordinjury/DS00460/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs

http://www.proneuron.com/

http://www.guardian.co.uk

http://www.back-and-neck-pain-resources.com/?gclid=CJGcycHrr5QCFQpPQgodERSvtg

 

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