When I sustained spinal cord injury 27 years ago today, I had to learn anew everything about my body again. My limbs could no longer move the way they used to. My bladder had to be emptied with the aid of catheters. I needed suppositories to move my bowels. Even my diaphragm function was impaired which affected my breathing.
It has not been easy for me all these years, more so when the world is not built for people with impairments like mine. Moving around in a wheelchair is like traversing an obstacle course even in the most modern parts of Kuala Lumpur. I would love to be more active but the inconvenience of overcoming these barriers wore me down quickly most of the time.
So after 27 years, my body is worn out before its time from over-exertion and over-compensation for reduced muscular functions and in pushing the wheelchair. My fingers are bent. My wrists, shoulders and right knee aches. My kidneys are failing from urinary tract infections and vesicouretal refluxes. In essence, I am living in a body much older than my age.
But all is not that bad. I got to befriend some interesting people and see the world from a different perspective. I learnt to accept the limitations of my impairments and made the best of whatever was thrown at me. Most importantly, being a disabled person, I am conscientized by the issues faced by my peers. This led me to do what I am doing today – promoting disability equality – so that disabled people are accorded the rights we deserve in society.
Someone wise said fate chooses our relative, we choose our friends. I beg to differ. It is fate that chose my friends for me too whom I otherwise would not have the honour to be acquainted with had my life took a different turn. Here’s a toast to friends who have made my 27-year journey with spinal cord injury more meaningful. Thank you for making it less arduous than it could have been. Thank you for being there for me one time or another. I could not have asked for more.