Thursday February 21, 2013
A welcome break for the disabled
By ANTHONY THANASAYAN
LAST week’s Chinese New Year break was a godsend for my good friend, Chong Tuck Meng, from Bentong, Pahang.
Although Chong dislikes snakes of all kinds, the Snake Year wriggled in with a rather timely and pleasant opportunity for him to spend some time focusing on a chief priority: resting in bed to cure a couple of pressure sores which he had developed recently.
“Pressure sores are the bane of wheelchair users; if not attended to, they can kill you,” said the 51-year-old who became paralysed from the neck down following a road accident in 1982.
Chong spent most of last week resting in bed. It is one of the best ways to relieve pressure on your buttocks if you have pressure sores there.
The disability activist’s latest project was managing wheelchair basketball and rugby players at the National Paralympic Sports event held in Kuantan, Pahang, last December.
“It wasn’t easy being responsible for two teams (of 12 players each) in wheelchairs,” said Chong. “One had to look for suitable trainers for them, sourced for funds, and made sure the venues were accessible by wheelchair.”
All that activity made Chong’s pressure sores worse, and he had them treated at Hospital Kuala Lumpur several times. Chong had to hire a taxi, and brought along two gentlemen as his caregivers. They had to carry him out of the taxi and into his wheelchair, at the hospital.
Once home, Chong had to lie sideways or prone on the bed to take the pressure off his sores which needed to be dressed twice a day.
Trying to be a good patient did not stop Chong from enjoying a couple of dinners out with his family during the celebrations.
“It was disappointing to find that the restaurants we went to were not accessible to wheelchair-users,” Chong lamented.
He hoped the Snake Year would bring positive changes for the handicapped. The festive break also enabled Chong to catch up with friends via Facebook, e-mail and chats.
C.K. from Klang, Selangor, has been pretty much alone since his parents passed away a few years ago, and his siblings moved to work elsewhere.
C.K., who is in his 50s, became a paraplegic following a construction site accident 25 years ago. Although he does his own cooking, it is heartwarming to know that he has neighbours who come around to help with the shopping. In the evenings, C.K. has karaoke sessions at home to liven up the neighbourhood.
Despite the festivities, it was work as usual for another paraplegic in his 50s in Ulu Langat, Selangor.
T.W., a lottery ticket seller, continued to make his rounds on his three-wheeled motorcycle even though his regular customers had returned to their hometowns for the holidays.
T.W. became disabled after he was involved in a motorcycle accident more than 40 years ago. Despite his handicap, his friends say he has never complained about his misfortune.
I didn’t get to find out which zodiac sign C.K. belongs to, but he could very well be born in the Year of the Snake, for Snakes are said to be a source of inspiration to others.