Measure of a Man: The Story of My Pain, Suffering and Torture: All for two more inches of height
Akash and Rahul Shukla
Llumina Press (2009)
Reviewed by Carole Hoyer, PhD, for Reader Views (1/09)
Akash Shukla, along with his father Rahul, provides readers with a heart-wrenching yet candid look at Akash’s search and surgery of limb-lengthening. No one can imagine the tears, joy and anger that a family goes through when they decide to have this surgery- yet the author does not ask for pity or sympathy; his goal is to show others what the surgery entails.
Akash lived a life most would love to have; he did well in school, his family loved him very much and life seemed to be going well. However, at the age of sixteen Akash learned that as he matured he would not grow any taller than four-feet, eleven-inches. Many readers will say, “So what’s the big deal?” Psychologically speaking it is a big deal to the individual involved. Society puts a lot of emphasis on those who fit in the “norm” and for males that means being taller. This emphasis not only attacks ones self-esteem but it can also cause depression and loneliness. Even though others may not see this inner-conflict outwardly, it slowly eats away at the individual.
Akash’s father did searches on the Internet for anything that would help his son. He kept coming up with dead ends until he read about a doctor who specialized in limb lengthening. He sent the necessary information and background to this doctor and an appointment was set up. Akash wanted to add at least three inches to his height and the doctor assured him it could be done. Having ruled out hormone treatments, the family began to prepare themselves for the surgery. Here is where most readers know what the family is going through when you find out that a professional has given you hope and taken it away by changing the possible prognosis. It’s here that we find doctors with no bedside manners. We’ve all been there.
Confused and hurt, the family continued to find the right doctor to do the surgery; they found one in the form of a kind, human, compassionate Dr. Rozbruch. Even though the doctor explained to the family all about the surgery, showed them pictures and discussed the pain and recovery period, everyone felt confident they could handle it.
Akash, a wonderful young man who used humor in times of nervousness, put on a brave front and had the surgery. His account, documented by pictures and a journal, shows every aspect of his surgery. Never once does he mince his words and make it sound like it was an easy surgery. He is very straightforward about the pain, the agony, the withdrawal from painkillers and having to have his dad wipe his bottom after using the bathroom. His detailed account of rotating the pins to pull his bones further apart each day will make you ill and, at the same time, sad that this had to happen this way. The author’s goal is to educate anyone who is considering this type of surgery, so they know exactly what will happen from someone who’s been there. I certainly applaud Akash and his family for all they went through. I thought as a burn victim I had pain, but never could I imagine, except through the eyes of Akash, the hell he went through. After reading this book of Akash’s personal account, you too will say, “My issues are so little compared to this young man.”
I could not put this book down- it made me angry at the runaround people get from the medical field; it made me cry and want to hug each family member. But most of all it gave me humility. It takes strength, love of your family and higher power, and endurance to undergo such an ordeal. Readers will love “Measure of a Man” by Akash and Rahul Shukla – it will make you take an evaluation of your life and the things you think are important, but most of all it will lift your hearts and your soul.