Humans of the Wheatbelt

Humans of the Wheatbelt is a disability project that celebrates inclusion within the community.

There is always someone in each story that has a disability whether it is the human, interviewer, photographer or writer.

Dr Ram - Part 3 of 3

A few years ago when he was in Year 11, my eldest son won the Heywire competition and got to go to Canberra. The topic was about inclusivity in country towns. My son’s always been worried about being included due to his large depression in his chest, which is pectus excavatum.

He never used to take his shirt off for fear of people staring and now the doctors are going to rebuild his whole chest. They made a short movie about him at the ABC and Bruce Rock featured, which was great.

The doctor who is going to perform the surgery was actually born in Bruce Rock too. It truly is a small world!

To me, we don’t live in the world of ‘why did this happen to me?’ We live in the world of ‘it is what it is.’ I reckon if I hadn’t gotten sick with MS and had to improve my health, I would probably have died of a heart attack by now.

My grandfather died and my uncles died in their fifties and dad’s had three heart attacks and two strokes. When my brother was hit by a car, he was unconscious for three months and we thought we’d have to sign his organs away. He finally came to but at first he could only blink his eyes.

Now he’s in an electric wheelchair and very limited. Mum ran a nursing home and had retired, but now she’s a full time carer 24/7 for dad and my brother. She’s built a quadriplegic ward for him and a dialysis ward for my dad, which he needs after his stroke. I don’t intend to add to her emotional burden. You could view life as unfair, but for me “it is, what it is”.

In terms of the best moments in my life, easily number one was meeting my wife. I told her on our first date we were getting married and we even named our first son. I proposed to her ten days later. When I decide something, I would never second guess myself. I’ve taught my kids not to let any opportunity pass them by. Although I’m not so sure I’d be happy if my daughter came home and told me she’s getting married after a couple weeks.

My worst moment was being told I had MS. My wife and I were on our way to Sydney for a weekend away and stopped to see Neurologist expecting news of long gone Stroke damage. It ended up being the worst weekend with lots of tears and crushed dreams.

As for politics, I grew up in a Labor household, but now I’m a Nationals man. Growing up, it didn’t matter what the Labor party did, my dad would always vote for them. Over time I became a Liberal person for that time, but ultimately I’m a swinging voter and I’ll vote for whichever policy is best. I’m not a fan of hard borders and think we are lucky due to our relative isolation and federal support with Jobkeeper. I think we will have to learn to live with Covid and need to get quarantining right, so we can reopen.

A friend of mine is a travel agent and his business has been completely destroyed. Its people like him I feel sorry and worried for. I just hope they get State support come April. I have really enjoyed meeting Mia Davies and watch her get things done.

I think living in Australia and especially Western Australia is fantastic, and I really love living in Bruce Rock. Coronavirus has really exemplified this because now we realise how lucky we are to live here. In terms of travel, I’m really boring because my number one place to travel to is Melbourne. For me it revolves around going to the football on Anzac Day and the dawn service. I’ve been many times, and the last post still chokes me up. The other place is New York, but that will have to wait many years before we hopefully revisit.

I used Coronavirus as a reason to reboot my business and I ended up bringing some new people on board. I only work and surround myself with people who are going to make my journey with MS and life more interesting.

I can teach anyone the skills but I can’t teach a soul, so my interviews revolve around how people get along with me. Usually my first question is ‘tell me a joke’ and I just wait and see what they do.

Before my marriage and in my fantasy world, I wanted to get a big tattoo on my arm that said ‘Love Eternal Amanda,’ not realising that it would be bloody and raw for the wedding. I didn’t end up doing it, but when I got MS I lost feeling in my left side and I decided to do it. I thought I might as well make the best of a bad situation.

Now my left side tattoos are all about family. Anywhere the MS has been worst I have a dragon (MS) tattoo, and I have tigers (me) fighting the dragons.

On the right side of my body, which is my good side, it’s all about my wife. My tattoos are about feeling again. When I get a tattoo and I can feel the needles it brings me joy because I can feeling something ....and she makes me feel.

I told my wife that when I think I’ve got MS beaten I’ll get a rib tattoo of a phoenix, because rib tattoos hurt the worst. Below it are the words “hope rises like a phoenix from the ashes of shattered dreams”. I have thirty-seven tattoos in total and I think that tattoo part of my journey is over...maybe?! The idea of being numb horrifies me. Everything I do, I do 100%.

In the end I am the most fortunate of men. Blessed with a great wife, family, friends and’s all about the 50% I have !

Part 1 -
Part 2 -

Human - Dr Ram Rajagopalan
Interviewer & Photographer - Anna Cornish
Writer - Guy Salvidge

Humans of the Wheatbelt is a Wheatbelt Health Network initiative celebrating diversity and inclusion across the Wheatbelt.

#wheatbelt #humansofthewheatbelt #inclusion

Bruce Rock, Western Australia Shire of Bruce Rock Bruce Rock Dental Bruce Rock Hotel Bruce Rock Engineering Bruce Rock District Club ABC Midwest and Wheatbelt Multiple Sclerosis Society of Western Australia Dental Members Australia Mia Davies MLA

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