Scalded Yet Again

As a kid, I used to scamper all over, fell down a lot and scraped my legs more often than I can remember. The keloid scars on my knees are vestiges of those times. As an adult now, I no longer scamper around on my feet anymore but I still get injuries on my legs every now and then. Just yesterday, I spilled a whole bowl of piping hot porridge on my lap.

The angry looking scald wound on my right thigh.
Photo taken with the Samsung Galaxy S III.

There is one very large and angry looking wound on my right thigh. My left thigh and foot also sustained second degree burns although not as serious as that large wound. Some of the blisters have broken. The good thing is that the wounds are not painful due to the reduced sensation from spinal cord injury.

My mind must have been somewhere else when I lifted the bowl of porridge after ladling it out from the cooker. It slipped, and before I knew it, the porridge was all over my lap, my left foot and on the floor.

This is one of the risks of handling hot liquid or food for wheelchair users, especially when one is not careful. Past experiences with such wounds have taught me to keep them clean and dry, and they will heal in no time.


During my intensive rehabilitation in the 1980s, I sustained a couple of chronic injuries. Over exertion during my standing and walking exercises resulted in a bad knee and an aching back. The pain in the knee is more pronounced. It has been bothering me constantly for the past 25 years, more so just before rain.

The backache comes on and off. My bad posture, mostly from being on an ill-fitting wheelchair for too long without a break, exacerbates it. There was never a need for treatment. However, this ache that has been nagging me for the past three weeks necessitated the use of medicated plasters every other night just before bed.

It is not the wheelchair this time but an extended period on it. My buttock aches and I tend to sit with a hunch to alleviate the pain. That is the cause. Looks like I need some bed time for every four or five hours on the chair. So many things to do, so little time.

Risking Life And Limb At Gurney Drive

Peter Tan at Gurney Drive
Wheelchair user forced to use the road at Gurney Drive.
Photo by Wuan.

Wuan and I were in Penang last week. That was not the first time we played tourists at Gurney Drive. The previous times we were there, we liked to stroll along the Casuarina-lined promenade early in the morning and evening to soak in the beautiful seascape and then adjourn to one of the numerous kopitiams for some local hawker fare afterwards.

Peter Tan at Gurney Drive
The Toyota Unser sped by just mere inches away from a wheelchair user at Gurney Drive.
Photo by Wuan.

We did the same this trip except we realised that kerb ramps to get to the promenade are far and few in between. I had to go on the road for quite a distance from the Gurney Resort Hotel and Residences, where we were staying, before we arrived at the first kerb ramp opposite Evergreen Laurel Hotel. In between that, I had to brave oncoming traffic on the road, hoping and praying that I won’t get hit by a car or a motorcycle speeding by us before I got to the kerb ramp.

Peter Tan at Gurney Drive
Wheelchair user fighting for space on the road at Gurney Drive.
Photo by Wuan.

Gurney Drive is a rather long stretch of road, about 1.9km from end to end. Likewise the seafront promenade, which is a continuous stretch of uninterrupted walkway. There are simply too few kerb ramps for wheelchair users to get onto the promenade or get off to go to the kopitiams across the road. As a popular tourist destination, the lack of accessibility makes it difficult for disabled people to fully enjoy our time there. Most importantly, our safety is severely compromised each time we are forced to use the road with other vehicles while trying to locate a kerb ramp.

Peter Tan at Gurney Drive
Blind pedestrian crossing sign and kerb ramps on both sides of the road at Gurney Drive.
Photo by Wuan.

The Penang state government, the Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang (MPPP) and the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia should make a serious effort in improving the accessible facilities at Gurney Drive in line with the government’s effort to promote tourism in the country as well as to fulfil the obligations as required under the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008, namely the rights of equal access to public facilities, and to recreation and leisure activities.