Standing Tall

Photo by Wuan.

This is something that I am not doing enough of. Many years ago when I was undergoing intensive physiotherapy, my calf and thigh muscles, although atrophied, were well toned. That was achieved through a series of exercises designed by Jenny Tan, my physiotherapist. That was mostly the slow spastic steps on the parallel bars, first with knee braces and then later without. The day that I walked on the parallel bars without the braces was an achievement that I am still proud of.

Apart from that, there was also the work out with weights to build the strength of my arms, one daily routine that I seldom missed. Of all the exercises, I like standing against the wall frame best. Each time I stood up, I could feel my muscles being stretched. That was such a refreshing feeling in the limbs that I had little control of.

Standing for a tetraplegic has multiple benefits. It keeps the blood circulating smoothly. It keeps the muscles toned. It keeps the weight off the most vulnerable spots of the buttocks from getting pressure sores. It keeps osteoporosis at bay, one condition that wheelchair-bound people suffer. Simple it may seem, but I usually could not last more 30 minutes without getting worn out. That was many years ago. I have slackened since.

It felt good to be standing again. Seeing the room from a different angle invoked an undescribable emotion in me, always. Looking out the window produced an even more exhilarating view. Everything looked different from that perspective. I may never be able to see everything as I used to again. Nevertheless, I am thankful for those few minutes where everything seemed like they were before I broke my neck.

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.

26 thoughts on “Standing Tall”

  1. How awesome seeing you standing up ramrod straight! Thanks for the reminder to take time to savor these precious blessings in life.

  2. Seeing you stand makes this picture all the more powerful. =)

  3. standing tall and proud! way to go, peter! yeah try standing when you can, as you said it has many benefits.

    btw, don’t mind if i ask your height? you look very tall when you stand.

  4. Dear Peter, your post as such often makes me rethink about my life which I ought to take it more seriously. Admist all the obstacles, you shine through life and here I am complaining about the dirty laundry.

    ps: Wah! Tall and handsome leh!

  5. Do I hear girls screaming “Tse Yin”??
    Oh… my mistake, they were screaming Peter!! *wink*
    On a serious note, you are an inspiration to many. Through difficulties and advertsities, you seem to be able to triumph over them. Look forward to more “advices” from you, Master Po.

    ps: nice long hair.

  6. yingci,

    Yes, I looked so much different standing up huh.

    Likewise, I am thankful for the little things that I still can do.

    I will try. 😀

    I like the feeling I have when I am standing up. Power, maybe that is it – the power to do what I have lost.


    I think I am around 5’10” or thereabout.

    I do worry about the trivial too. But having gone through so much, I tend to see life differently now. I used to be tall and dark. Now I am just tall. I need a tan.

    Now tell me where the similarities are. I am so much thinner and my hair is longer. Master Po I am not. As I mentioned in your blog, I am a grasshopper still looking for the meaning of life.

    One step at a time is all I am doing now. Thank you.

  7. It’s good to see u standing tall…really waited a long time to see this..keep it up.

  8. You did it b4 man, you can always do it again! 🙂

    Besides, unexpectedly, there may be some new breakthrough hi-tech walking aid in a few years time that just requires just a little retained muscle tone. Hmmm… like walking via hand operated control at waist/belt level(?)

  9. wendy,
    It has been so long since I last stood. Yes, it felt great.

    Anybody want to buy real hair to make a wig?

    The lazy part is ever present but I will try to stand up more often. My bones and muscles need the exercise.

    I could stand for a long time already, not in the real sense. I need a frame like that shown in the photo. Like I told Jinny, I have been lazy.

    I will try. Thank you.

    Thanks. That is the first standing photo of me ever taken.

    I have not stood for a long while. That was the first in many months. I should do it more often. You too with your exercises. 😀

    Thanks, I will.

    That is what I got for not visiting the barber for 3 years.

    Thanks. You too.

    Lion King of the concrete jungle?

    Thanks. You take care too.

  10. i have been reading your blog from the first entry since two days ago. your blogs about your mother made me cry, and those about wuan made me feel all warm and fuzzy, but none of the blogs have made me feel the way i did when i looked at the photo of you standing. it’s like…as if you’re just up and about again. maybe someday you will. i’ll keep hoping. anyway, happy chap goh mei.

    Thank you. I think that is the wish of my peers too.

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