Music the remedy for quad-amputee


A young North Shore man who lost both his hands and legs to meningococcal septicaemia is using music to find himself again.

Twenty-two-year-old quad amputee Ripu Bhatia is still learning to walk, but he's already found a way to play.

"Guitar was always a big part of my life," he explained.

"I always used to play and it was kind of my thing, you know -- and just being able to do that again helps me feel like myself again."

Struck down with meningococcal septicaemia, which cost him all of his limbs, he thought playing guitar would be impossible.

But adapting the tools made for him to use his phone, and adding a slider, he's found a different technique.

"It wasn't about playing incredibly well, it was just about seeing if I could make some noise and just do anything really."

Just a year ago he was studying journalism in Sydney.

One night, last July, he became unwell and ended up spending the next six months in hospital.

"My hands went black and became quite shrunken.  I guess they sort of died," he said.

"That was when I was told I probably wouldn't be able to keep them -- they'd probably have to get amputated, and the legs too."

His limbs hung lifelessly, and he was too weak to move.

"Your arms are essentially not working and you kind of want them off.  I mean that's literally how I felt going to the operation," he said.

"I was like, 'can you get rid of them' -- of course you wouldn't imagine saying something like that."

But his biggest challenge was losing his nose, leading to bouts of depression.

"I was more obsessed with that than anything else to be honest.

"I didn't really look at my reflection for a long time. Especially being at that age, a lot of your confidence comes from your appearance -- it's essentially your armour."

He worries he will be judged on his face and that it will impact on the friends he makes and the career he has.

But he's not thinking about his career right now, and his main goal is to learn to walk again on prosthetics.  He has four sessions a week and hopes to be walking by the end of the year.

"[It's] just to make things more accessible rather than just having to be pushed around in a wheelchair all the time -- just being able to walk around and be at the same height as everyone else," he said.

Until he can walk, he can play not just guitar, but piano too. The talent doesn't stop there, either -- when he's not playing music he's writing.

He's taking it a day at a time, focusing on what he can do, rather than what he can't.