Growing up as an Indian with OI

Neeru Sharma
Neeru Sharma

The challenges of having OI and an Indian heritage.

Namaste (hello).  Growing up as a person with OI and as a person whose family comes from India has created for an interesting life experience.  I have enjoyed all of the perks of a multicultural childhood but have also had to struggle with the ignorance of the Indian community related to
disability issues.   This dichotomy has allowed me to educate those in the Indian community by simply living a full life.   In addition, I have also put together more than one fundraiser that has encouraged Indians to donate to the OI Foundation.   Though acceptance of people with disabilities is limited due to outdated prejudices in the Indian-American community, I do not feel ashamed or isolate myself.

Being from an Indian background has given me the opportunity to really understand my heritage in a way that has helped me in dealing with OI.  For example as a member of a close knit Indian family, I have the help needed to deal with the stress that comes with major medical concerns.   My parents and brother are pivotal in helping me cope both physically and emotionally with fractures and other maladies.   I also socialize with young people of my cultural background, so I can share my interest in Indian culture and movies with others who grew up in the same environment.  In the process they have a better understanding of me and how OI has
affected my life.    Finally, I also have adopted some eastern philosophies like using meditation, exercise and positive thinking to help overcome daily challenges that OI presents.

Overall the best thing a person with OI of any cultural or racial background can do is not let the disease hold you back in life.  I have been fortunate to have a earned an MBA and work full time for a major automotive company.  I also live in my own condo and can drive an adapted van.   All of this is possible by believing in yourself, being a part of your community, and remembering that everyone in life has challenges.


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