The Keswanis' 'Big Nik' on what led to his Vine career

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October 30, 2015 06:00 PM

To keep up with the adventures of the Keswani family, visit PEOPLE.com/keswanis.

With a personality as big as Nick "Big Nik" Keswani‘s, it’s easy to forget the Vine superstar deals with a rare form of dwarfism.

A few years ago, the 17-year-old star of PEOPLE.com’s new web series, The Keswanis, underwent surgery on his legs, hips and ankles – a procedure that dad Anil is just one of “over a dozen” surgeries Nik has had through the years.

“I worked in the intensive care unit, and I’ve cared for a ton of people when they’re sick or they’re dying, but I’ve never sat with my own child,” says Anil. “And you’re sitting there with your child, really helpless.”

One of Nik’s surgeries in particular required the eldest Keswani sibling to be face down.

“It was completely awful, I felt like I was in hell,” recalls Nik, who has also lost his vision in one eye due to retinal detachment, which is common for kids with his form of dwarfism.

While Nik began the recovery process, he found himself with nothing to do, eventually turning to social media.

“One day I just got really bored, I was sitting in my wheelchair and started making a video and two months later, it just blew up,” says Nik. “That’s how I started Vine.”

Now Nik boasts 2.7 million followers on his Vine account, where he comes up with hilarious 6-second videos on a regular basis.

“You don’t have to be big in height to be big, you just have to have a big personality,” he tells PEOPLE in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands Friday.

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