When I Walk Again

It is difficult to find the opportunity to chat with William. He usually logs into ICQ after midnight. I will usually be in bed and asleep at that hour. A few days ago, those rare times when I was still online after midnight, we had the opportunity to catch up again. We started to talk about my previous entry Cure for Spinal Cord Injury. He told me, โ€œHonestly until today I still believe one day you will stand up and walk.โ€

It is really nice that someone I have met only a handful of times telling me that he is still bearing the hope that I will walk again some day. What William knew about me was from the chats that we had many years ago and those few times that we had met, either in Kuala Lumpur or Penang. Although I have long given up the notion of ever walking again, what he said got me thinking.

What will it feel like to be able to walk again โ€“ without equipment, unsupported and under my own strength? The perspective certainly will be different. I have a metal frame that helps me stand and parallel bars that I use for my walking exercises. Whenever I stood up, everything looked unlike those from the viewpoint while sitting down. But that is different. I am confined by the length of the parallel bars and the stationary frame. To be able to stand up and walk around and see things from a different view will be a totally new experience. Things that used to be out of reach will no longer be so. I will be like a kid who has suddenly grown two feet. The sights will be so very fascinating from just two feet higher. Believe me. It will be like being in a new world altogether.

And I do not have to talk to groins and breasts. Two of my cervical vertebras were fused together to strengthen the fractured one. This has severely limited the rotation of my head. Ideally while talking to a person on a wheelchair, one should kneel beside him so that the conversation can be carried out at the eye-to-eye level but most do not. They just stand there and expect me to look up to their face. I have talked to tall men. I have talked to well-endowed women. It can be embarrassing when my eyes are always fixed onto those intimate parts while chatting with them. I did not mean to. I could not help it. The movement of my head is restricted. What am I supposed to do?

What will be the things that I will do when I can walk again? I will walk into the House of God and kneel down and pray and praise and thank Him for that miracle. And then I will pay my respects to Mum and Dad for giving me life and for giving me hope when all seemed lost. And then I will take Wuan to the beach and walk and walk and walk and watch the sun set and rise again together. And then walk some more. I will take her to all my favourite spots and hiking trails and be in communion with Nature, just the two of us. And then walk some more.

If I get back the use of my hands as well, I will get a guitar and serenade her with some of our favourite songs from Bee Gees to Eagles to Whitney Houston. Yes, we are from that era. And then I will cook for her with my own hands. And yes, I will do the cartwheel, just for her. The cartwheel thing is from an e-card that she had sent to me many years ago. I have long forgotten what the content of the card was but it had greatly encouraged and amused me at the same time. Yes, I will do many cartwheels, just for Wuan. And then I will go to Kuala Lumpur and paint the town red with William. It is good to have dreams like that to keep the hopes alive. Thank you, William, for igniting that aspiration in me again.

The photo above is one of those few taken my before my accident. My classmates and I were on the way back from Pantai Kerachut. We were caught in the rain. I am on the right. Pantai Kerachut is one of my favourite beaches. It used to be isolated and pristine. To reach the beach, one has to hike a 4km trail beginning from the Teluk Bahang fishing village.

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Slave to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. End-stage renal disease since 2017. Principal Facilitator at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. Former columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

15 thoughts on “When I Walk Again”

  1. Hi, Peter.

    I am so very happy to see that you have not lost hope. Like William, a lot of people believe that you will one day walk again. Just try to focus on it. Believe that you will.

    Two books I have read – “The Magic of Believing” by Claude M. Bristol and “Unsolved Miracles” by John van Diest should serve as a good inspirational tools. I like these very much.

    As we are normal mortals, sometimes the worst tends to get the better of us, and that’s when we feel really discouraged or starting to lose hope – in all that we do, or in life.

    But when we persevere or sit down and take deep breathes and try to realign our perspectives —we often manage to get out of that rut.

    Just imagine if we had not persevered — then we would have given in to whatever situation we were constrained to.

    I have persevered. And I am happy that I manage to get out of those difficult times. Although I tend to be hard-headed at times and do what I feel like doing, when it comes to issues like these, I lean friends who stood by me and who pulled me along instead of leaving me behind. But one can only be out of difficulties if he/she chose to be pulled along and not resisted when friends pulled.

    Before I pen off, let me say that I am really happy to see that you have not lost hope and if anyone would like to know more about the 2 books I mentioned, just look them up in any good bookstore or let me know if you cannot find them.

  2. Chee Wai,
    I do not expect to be cured of my spinal cord injury and walk again. Perhaps many years from now, they will discover the way to regenerate and wire all the nerves properly to return normal motor and sensory functions. I do not expect that to happen in my lifetime. I know the difference between dream and reality to not let facts like these affect me.

  3. Dear Peter,

    I found your blog from Marita, she speaks so highly of you and I thought I come by and check your blog out. I read this entry and I was moved by the things you have said. Losing the ability to walk is not something we like to think about and we all take it for granted. I also feel your frustration about how people treat you (even though there maybe nothing intentional) it is their general thoughtlessness that pisses me off.

    My mother had T.B of the spine when she was 10 and subsequently her spine is severly deformed. I hate it when people stare or forget that she may have some special needs that require accomodation. And even though she is not wheel chair bound, she is still very short in stature and reaching for things and doing somethings are hard for her.

    I guess some people are more thoughtful when it comes to these things while other people (should not be classified as people, due to their total lack of compassion) have this complete lack of feelings. I also find that people with disabilities in Malaysia are still view negatively (thorough lack of exposure and ignorance perhaps?) then with the proper respect and dignity they deserve.

    Oh well, I think I have said enough…… please feel free to visit my blog! Take care!

    Best wishes
    Little Dee

  4. Little Dee,
    Gosh, Marita is making me blush. It is true that the disabled or people with special needs are looked at differently. I used to be uncomfortable with stares but now I have learnt to stare back and asked them silently in my mind why they are so different and abnormal from me. Reverse psychology works! I have also met some very nice people who went out of their way to help me and make me comfortable. We do not ask for privileges more than what we rightfully deserve. What we need more are opportunities to be productive and to be able to contribute to society. Things are improving though. I will certainly visit your blog from time to time. You have some very nice photos there.

  5. quote from peter: “I do not expect to be cured of my spinal cord injury and walk again.”

    yes sometimes it is better to face reality than to look forward to some expectations, of which, if it does not materialise, one would be most disappointed. another thing is, when one expects something (like a miracle), one tends to be bitter in life as the days goes by, when one sees that each day what one expects might not happen.

    am i right, peter? (ahem. trying to be a philosophe eh) ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Lucia,
    You are absolutely right. Let’s be practical. I know the degree of my injury. I certainly do not expect a miracle. I count my blessings everytime I am able to do something that I could not do when I was initially paralysed. Lucia, you always have some thing smart and philosophical to say. They say wisdom comes with age eh! ;o)

  7. Hi Peter

    ๐Ÿ™‚ just wanted to send a smile your way

    hope to catch up later,Em told me i missed u online yesty wish u a nice day n cheers
    btw nice pic

  8. I don’t think anything I say will do justice to your beautiful entry. So I won’t say much. Except to say that don’t ever stop writing. The profundity of your words makes most others pale by comparison, mine especially.

  9. Marita,
    Thank you. You commend me too much. I do no think I am that good a writer yet but thank you for the vote of confidence anyway. You write beautifully too. If only you realise how interesting your entries are to me and those who have visited your blog.

  10. Hey Peter,

    I know it’s hard believing. But there’s something called visualising theraphy – kinda like seeing yourself walking again in your mind. (it’s supposed to command your subconscious mind to do as you wish)

    I don’t know if this will work, coz I am also currently trying the same technique for an ailment. But no harm trying, right?

  11. Mdmafia,
    I have done that many years ago. It works on some ailments but does nothing for others. I hope it works for you on whatever you are visualising for.

  12. Peter,

    I didn’t realise that the person is supposed to kneel down for a proper conversation. Thanks for the info. You now have another enlightened reader! =)

    Btw, with modern medical advancements, I’m sure that there’s a chance of finding a cure for it in the near future, well within your lifetime. And honestly, I also believe that miracles could happen. Peter, don’t ever lose hope!

  13. Andy,
    You dont have to kneel. It is not a rule. Just make yourself and the person in wheelchair comfortable by talking with him at eye-to-eye level.

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