Monday September 10, 2012
Acceptance is the key
By S.S. YOGA
ONE can only marvel at the tremendous spirit shown by 33-year-old Danny Y (pseudonym) who always has a ready smile and a joke or two to share despite the disability he suffers from.
The Malaccan native was involved in a hit-and-run accident while riding his motorcycle in 1999. He was knocked unconscious, and when he came to, he was already at the General Hospital in Malacca.
“As far as I can remember, the doctor said I had a very badly dislocated knee, and then he did the operation and put my left leg in a cement cast,” says Danny.
Unfortunately, a week later, they noticed something wrong with the leg. Danny was sent to the Hospital Kuala Lumpur, where the doctors found that his leg had turned gangrenous. He spent two months at the hospital going in and out of the operation theatre as the doctors made numerous attempts to save his leg.
They cut away portions here and there, with the attempts lasting a month.
“Finally, they decided it had to be amputated. My father was angry and upset as we are a poor family and I was one of the breadwinners. Initially, he refused to allow the amputation and the doctors gave him a bit of time but told him not to wait too long as the infection had spread and I was having high fever.
“It hit me hard, of course, but within 24 hours, I had accepted the fact that my leg was gone,” he recalls.
Danny’s mum and siblings had a harder time dealing with the loss of his leg, which was amputated above the knee. Danny, however, was still joking around with the nurses before the operation. But his doctor advised that he be left alone for a day to deal with the loss after the procedure was done.
“The doctor said I was a very strong person. I just accepted it. There is no point to talk about life being unfair or what-not. Don’t dwell on it, just move on,” says Danny, who spent another month in KL to recuperate before being transferred back to the hospital in Malacca for another week.
Danny was told to go for rehabilitation. But he refused and spent a few weeks resting at home before deciding to go back to his old job. Before the accident, he was working as a DJ and bartender at a club. When he went back, he took on the position of cashier.
Danny says that at the time he was thinking about his future but he was hampered by the fact that he had not been fitted with a prosthesis as he couldn’t afford one. He had to use a pair of wooden crutches.
A manager at his previous company persuaded Danny to get a prosthesis. After about a year of working, he managed to save enough to buy one sometime in 2001.
“It took me about two months to adjust to using it. It was better after the stump had hardened, and I was able to move quite fast because I’m an active person. Sometimes I feel my leg instead of the prosthesis,” he jokes.
Danny even went back to riding his motorbike. His encountered difficulty in engaging the gears, initially.
“Nobody knew I was using a prosthesis unless I told them. But I’m not ashamed to reveal it. Lots of people realise it when I go swimming, and sure there are stares, but I don’t mind.”
Later on, Danny moved to Kuala Lumpur to further his career, taking up a job in pharmaceutical sales.
“I had no problems fitting in. I changed my prosthesis every five years or so. There is some maintenance needed in between, and you have to adjust the alignment. And change the black oil,” laughs Danny who got the rest of us joining in, too.
He is on his fourth prosthesis now, the cost of which was borne by his company. With the new prosthesis, Danny finds it even easier to do a lot of his day-to-day activities.
“I upgrade the leg just like you upgrade the car. It’s one of the best in the market. I can actually run with it and spend less energy using it. There are spring supports so I walk much better and faster.
“I can also add turbo, cooling system and a GPS if I want,” cracks Danny.
He even jokes about his love life (which he says is normal). Apparently, the quip he uses when meeting a new girl who enquires about his prosthesis is: “My mother asked me to marry real quick, and when I said no, she chopped off my leg.”
And when friends ask how he manages to cope with his life so successfully, he quips: “I tell them, you chop off yours first, then I can show you.”
Beneath all that banter is a strong and determined individual whose advice is: “Don’t consider yourself handicapped. Just believe in yourself that you can do it.”
Getting on with life despite losing limb