Al Ain: The last memory Mansour Al Beloushi painfully remembers was when he was cycling down a calm road wearing an orange-neon hoodie as cars drove past him.
The next image he recalls was lying in a hospital bed paralysed and unable to comprehend what was going on around him.
In a moment, his life was changed forever.
The 24-year-old Emirati from Al Ain was on a daily routine exercise back in 2015 when a speeding car ploughed into him from behind, knocking him off his bicycle and leaving him unconscious on the ground.
“That particular day, I decided to go cycling in the afternoon instead of at night, and it was that day that my life took a new turn. But I’m still very positive about what is waiting for me ahead,” Al Beloushi, a paraplegic serviceman, told Gulf News.
Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
Mansour Al Beloushi says he is ready to get back on the road on a bicycle again if he regains his lower body strength.
The horrific road traffic accident close to Al Khalidiya in Al Ain left him with major fractures in his upper and middle back spine, with complete traumatic spinal injury, bleeding lungs and a minor injury to the head.
Al Beloushi said the driver that hit him was not paying full attention to the road.
“Drivers should not get distracted on the road whether with their phones, the radio, or with their kids in the back seat. The guy who hit me said his kids were fighting in the back and he was trying to calm them down, and as a result he didn’t see me.
“I hope this could be a lesson learnt for all drivers, including those who drive recklessly. There’s an Arabic expression that says, better to do things slowly, than to rush and then regret.”
However, Al Beloushi chose to fight back and walk out of the traumatic experience.
“Like every person with a hobby, mine was exercising on a daily basis. After a previous collarbone injury from playing soccer, I began gaining weight, and cycling was a good way to keep myself active every day. I believe it was my destiny, and I accept it.”
On that unfortunate day, the road was not busy, he recalled. “It was a three lane road and there were a few cars on the road. I was cycling close to the pavement and my bike had lights to keep me visible. The car hit me from behind while I was on cycling on a high speed. The driver said he didn’t see me,” said Al Beloushi.
After undergoing several surgeries in his spine, he began learning to cope with his new reality. Following a prolonged treatment, he is thankful for regaining his upper body strength and is still optimistic about fighting his way back to normality.
“Before the accident I was able to do everything independently, but now I’m used to getting support for doing simple tasks,” he said. “No one had told me that I became paraplegic until I found out myself, it was a big shock for the family, but I still believe there’s a chance, ” he said.
With his positive mental attitude, he inspires thousands of people on social media by showing them how he goes about his daily life with a huge smile on his face.
“It was a significant turn in my life, I don’t work anymore, I can’t walk but I can’t lock myself up and stay in despair. Though I travelled to Germany, China, and Czech Republic for treatment and had high hopes for full recovery, I realised there could be a chance I walk again and there could be a chance I don’t.”
Al Beloushi, the fourth out of six siblings, gets a lot of his support from his family and friends. He is ready to get back on the road on a bicycle again if he regains his lower body strength. Al Beloushi had already started driving again using disabled driving equipment after being treated at Emirates Rehab and Homecare Centre (EHRH), a first-of-its kind health care provider dedicated to long-term recovery, elderly care and health services in the UAE.
“My condition has improved after several treatments in the UAE and abroad, but I still have a long way to go with the treatment. I tell people, I’m ready to cycle again and in the same exact place of the accident,” he said. “I have faith in God.”
A combination of physiotherapy and occupational therapy has improved Al Beloushi’s condition, the centre said. He is now able to transfer himself between bed and wheelchair without support, sit from lying posture with minimal support and stand in parallel board with support.
“In times like these, you know that health cannot be bought with money and you figure out who is ready to stand by your side when you are weak. My friends carry me on their back at times, especially when we go to the movies.”
“My only ambition is to be normal again. Everyone has an ambition to get what they don’t have,” he said.