Shoes For The Blogger In Me

Nike Tiempo Guri IC Ronaldinho 10R Red

Why does a man who has not walked for 24 years and probably never will walk again need a pair of sneakers? Actually four pair of shoes and one pair of sandals to be accurate. There is one pair of black slip-ons, one pair loafers with velcro straps, one pair of laced shoes and one pair of sneakers. As I do not walk, the soles do not wear out. None of the shoes I owned since my spinal cord injury had worn out soles. On the other hand, the linings usually give way after two to three years.

The pair of Hush Puppies sandals is the oldest of the lot. It has outlived its lifespan but I am still keeping it because it is the easiest to wear and most comfortable on the feet. The pair of black slip-ons was acquired for my trip to Tokyo to keep my feet warm and dry because it was right in the middle of winter. It is also beginning to show signs of wear and tear. I still wear it to official functions and sometimes for shopping. It is fully broken in and a joy on the feet. The next pair is Clarks suede loafers with velcro straps. I bought it to replace the sandals. I have not worn it much lately because it is a little tight at the broadest part of my feet.

When Metrojaya at Mid Valley Megamall had a sale earlier this year, I got a pair of laced suede that was being offered at a greatly discounted price. It is the on the feet and fitted nicely. I have been wearing this often. My hands are not functional enough to tie the laces. Wuan does that for me. That is my first pair of shoes with laces in a long while.

When Wuan and I were in Ipoh a couple of months back, I got a pair of maroon sneakers at the Nike shop at Kinta City Shopping Centre. The sneakers are called the Tiempo Guri IC. They sport Ronaldinho’s stamped signature on the sides and his Brazil jersey number 10 on the tongue. It was not so much the brand that piqued my interest. It was the design. That pair of sneakers just looked right. I had wanted to buy that same pair when we were in Penang just two days before that but the shop did not carry my size. This shop in Ipoh had my size and was even cheaper by RM10. I simply had to have it. Wuan paid for it as a present to me.

So, back to the question of why a wheelchair user like me needs to own a pair of sneakers? For the very same reasons why people wear shoes. They provide protection against accidental bumps to the feet. This happens very often especially when turning tight corners and opening doors. They prevent my delicate skin that has poor sensation from being nicked while I am transferring from the wheelchair into the car and vice versa. They keep my feet clean. They also to keep my ugly toes covered and away from prying eyes of curious onlookers who never fail to wonder why a man with a pair of legs is using a wheelchair instead of walking.

More importantly, I wear that pair of sneakers to make a fashion statement. Wheelchair users want to look presentable in public too. Wearing them makes me feel sporty and casual. They remind me of the time when I was active, sporty and fashionable. Even now, with them adorning my feet, I feel like I want to just go out there and live it all over again. In short, they make me feel good. Never mind that it is difficult to find clothes to match this shade of red. I love it anyway because its colour matches the theme colour of my blog. Yes, this pair of sneakers is to celebrate the hardcore blogger in me attempting to live life to the fullest. Viva la vida!

Blogs Of Courage: NST – Tech & U – April 7, 2008

Blogs of Courage - NST - Tech & U - Cover - April 8, 2008
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Blogs of Courage - NST - Tech & U - Cover - April 8, 2008
Click on image for larger version.

Blogs of Courage - NST - Tech & U - Cover - April 8, 2008
Click on image for larger version.

New Straits Times

When Daren Lee started to blog about his son’s epileptic condition in 2006, little did he realise the impact it would create. The blog inspired many, and gave new hope to others.


By Cindy Koh

IT all started out with curiosity. Daren Lee began fiddling with blogging sometime in September 2006, when he wanted to start a blog for his church’s youth service. He subsequently got hooked and went on to start to blog about his older son, Nathanael’s epileptic condition.

The blog,, serves as the main point of connection for friends and family members to get Nathanael’s updates and progress in his medical treatment. It contains details on how the four-year-old was diagnosed with infantile spasm after going through a series of tests at a local private hospital since he was a newborn, how he started treatment (medical and physical therapies) at a public hospital, and the family’s struggles, joys and courage.

It has been a stressful journey for this father of two and his wife Tiffany Tang, as they juggle Nathanael’s condition, work and other responsibilities which can deem the blogging routine challenging. But what kept him and Tiffany (she helps update the site as well) going was the people’s responses to the blog.

Darentiff.blogspot gets from 50 to 100 hits per day and this speaks volumes for Lee, as it is educating and creating awareness of epilepsy, which is often a misunderstood neurological disorder.

According to a World Health Organization report for the Southeast Asia region, at the global level, it is estimated that there are nearly 50 million persons suffering from epilepsy, of which three-fourths or 35 million are in developing countries. Many people who have family members with such disease are still reluctant to talk about it, as it is seen as a curse or an incurable evil disease.

“The responses have thus far been very encouraging and through the site, the respondents learned, rejoiced and were inspired or ministered to,” Lee says. The family has also made friends online that led to five families from different race and religion forming a support group of sorts. But most rewarding of all, Lee says, is that the family has grown closer through blogging and sharing of information.

The blog has also ignited interest from international viewers, one of whom is a Swedish professional who asked if he could get a video recording of a therapy – Snoezelen – that Nathanael is going through. (It is a room equipped with special lights and music to stimulate senses in the child.)

In addition to that, Lee was invited to write about fatherhood for a Singapore family magazine after the editor visited the blog.

Lee also found out that Malaysians are a compassionate lot. After putting up a posting on Nathanael’s need for a swing to be set up for his occupational therapy session at home, two good Samaritans offered to do it and they are from the Klang Valley. “What are the chances of knowing anyone who could set up a swing here? It’s amazing!” Lee exclaims.

Looking at the hope and inspiration the blog has given to those who visit, Lee sees himself still blogging in five years’ time, perhaps even further into the future. At Press time, he is setting up a domain,, to expand on family interests.


By Izwan Ismail

WHAT inspires someone to write a blog, that in turn, inspire others? For Peter Tan, he blogs to discuss the plight of the disabled people. Wheelchair-bound, the 42-year-old Penangite suffers from spinal cord injury and chronic renal failure.

About five years ago, Tan started The Digital Awakening (, which chronicles his life as a disabled, and shares his experience with others who may be interested.
Five years on, Tan says his life is now more enriched by the Internet experience.

“Through my blog, I can say that more people now have a better understanding about disabled people and the problems that they face every day,” he adds.

Tan has also managed to make more friends, to share and exchange views. “Most of them are bloggers and people who read my blog. In fact, I have made more friends over the last five years through the Internet than I had before.”

In 2005, Tan initiated a fund-raising campaign for the National Cancer Society of Malaysia, Penang Branch. The organisation had provided hospice services when his mother was seriously ill. To show his appreciation, he and four other bloggers shaved their head and raised more than RM5,000 for the society.

“I am forever grateful to the community of Malaysian bloggers who had chipped in and promoted the cause in their blogs. This shows that blogging can make the world a better place,” says Tan.

According to Tan, blogging has also inspired him to lead a life that is as normal as others. “The last five years have been the most interesting in my entire life. I have travelled long distance, visited foreign countries, drive a car, and even got married. I never thought that these were possible.”

To date, Tan has posted slightly more than 1,000 entries in the five years of his life as a blogger. That makes it an average of 200 entries per year.

On the fifth anniversary of his blogging journey recently, Tan wrote, “It is the archive of my struggle within, the things that I have done and places that I have been. Most of all, this blog is a gift to myself for that one day in the future when my memory is not that good anymore. This blog is about me, myself and I. It is about my journey through life. These are the stories that I want to tell myself when that one day comes.”

Another inspiring blogger is Maryani Abdullah. She has Cerebral Palsy, a medical condition caused by a permanent brain injury, which makes speech difficult and voice hardly audible.

Through her blog, Art of Body Expression (, Maryani expresses her personal views and concerns.
Her blog has also enabled her to connect with other talented disabled individuals to pursue a common interest – performing arts.

“I want to change public perception that we are an incapable lot. I hope to introduce a new type of innovative art performance, which will be accepted by all, and not just by the disabled community.”

In her blog, Mariani posts lots of pictures and slide shows of her performing arts activities and how the performers have developed physically, mentally and emotionally.

“Through blogging, I hope that my voice will be heard, and more will be done for the disabled,” she says.