Tato Makharadze, 21, Batumi

“Amputation came as a shock to family, not me. I had been thinking about it and mentally preparing myself for it. My hand had been dysfunctional for 7 years and I was suffering from pain. Our financial condition was not favorable. We had to sell everything valuable we had and it troubled me because I’m not the only child in the family. I have two sisters and one brother. Still, all the money was spent on me. My doctor had known me since I was 13 and we were quite close. During one of the procedures I was the first to ask: “Have you considered amputation?” The doctor was confused, then said: “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before but I have actually thought about it many times. The doctor sat next to me and asked me how we were going to break the news to my father. I said I would take care of that.

On 23 February, I underwent amputation in Batumi.

I wanted this operation because I believed it would bring me relief, comfort and peace of mind but it proved awfully difficult. While in hospital, it seemed that I had already grown accustomed to my new body. Yet, on returning home, I instinctively looked towards the mirror that stands in the hall of our apartment. The initial feeling was that I would never want to look into that mirror. It was an extremely painful and decisive moment for me. Getting used to my amputated hand, forcing myself to look into the mirror and telling my friends and acquaintances about it was challenging enough, but in the time that followed I felt even worse. Due to a misunderstanding, the university discontinued my status as a student while I was under medical care. I was not even a student any longer. I was nobody.

One day, walking in the boulevard, I saw a bike that seemed right for me. My brother helped me mount it. I said “let me go”, but it turned out he already had and I was riding it myself. It was amazing – the feeling that I can do something again! When I took the bike to its owner, he told me he was very sorry for me and if I returned he could lend me the bike free of charge. It was so unpleasant to hear that I have never thought of going to him again. After two weeks I went to another bike rental service. I asked a young boy there if they had a bike fit for me. He found one and I tried it. I rented it on the first day as usual, but then I noticed that he kept the bike for me, did not rent it out to others. He even let me take the bike to the city and ride it in the streets, he moved the hand brake to the left and installed the leg brake too. This gesture was so nice and generous, I couldn’t believe it. Finally I met a person who did a kind deed without offending you and making you want to reject it. We became good friends.

We went back to the university and continued my studies.

I found the strength to return to the university because I don’t want other to be through what I have suffered. I don’t want my nieces and nephews to see, for example, how children are dying right beside them. I don’t want any medical condition to be fatal in Georgia.

So I decided to pursue my big passion – cooking – as a hobby and instead work on these problems!”