Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bloggers Unite - Empowering....



As we moved into the month of July 2010, the next event at Bloggers Unite is Empowering People with Disabilities. We were invited to write about stories and people we know, or our self who are handicapped. ‘Handicapped’ is something we all have, it is not just physical but mentally too. This season, I want to share a story of a colleague.

Teck is a Mechanical Engineer. He moved to the position of Project Manager and he took his job very seriously. He had a pleasant personality and was very helpful to other Project Managers when they were in need of manpower.

One faithful May morning, he fell from a container. He was off duty but went back to check on work progress because of the dateline. This fall was critical because he hit his back against a steel pipe when falling. This injured his spine.

When he woke up at intensive, we were all very happy for him. However, we all knew the grievance consequent but we were in no position to tell him. As he moved to normal ward, he was still cheerful but he soon came to sense that he had no feeling on his legs or hip downwards. As Doctor explained that he had to go through therapy and that he needs to moved on wheelchair, we saw the pain on his face. He was angry, he rejected the facts, he threw temper at his wife, he refused to see any of his colleagues except for the few of us. He struggled to come to terms.

“Teck, you are handicapped hip downwards but you are not totally unable to move. You can still work with your hands. You are a mechanical engineer, you can still do projects from home. You can attend to Tenders, do calculations, do drafting, attend meetings and you don’t need to be at site to climb high and low supervising. You have supervisors and other engineers and staff”, I tried to make him see that he was not hopeless. The company bore all his medical expenses and promised to give him a job as I said. They maintained his salary, all his benefits and was very humane over the whole matter.

Teck tried. We sent works to him, pushed him to sites so that he can see the progress of work. We sent him for meetings and supervisors worked with him from home. We all did our best to help him to adapt to a new life style. We knew that it was not easy for him, from an able man to a handicapped. Other than work, there are many social issues and emotional issues he needs to adjust and faced. He started to reject his wife who has been supportive and patience. He felt that he has widowed her and by keeping her was cruel. He asked for a divorced. When none of us were around, emotions got better of him. He became bad-temper and at time violent. His wife had no choice but accepted the divorce. She did not leave him as she continued to stay in the house, taking care of his daily meals and needs. Teck was also a sportsman and not able to tennis, run and kick football was depriving him of his life as well. Computer games, movies and all indoor activities were not good enough for him. He started to be impatient with his supervisors, his staff, his brothers and sisters. As we saw him roller coasters with emotion, some time high, many times low…we went through the process with him. It became so bad that he needed a Psychiatrist treatment.

From an able man to a handicapped was a really painful and depriving process. If you had not known freedom of limbs, not known physical needs…and you have never experience life as a wholesome person…you will not know what Teck was going through. He felt that he failed his parents, his wife, his company, his friends and the society. Teck and Sue planned to have kids but now all hope was gone. We went through his treatment with him. From Doctor, to Psychiatrist, Chinese Sensei and Religious healing. I realized the struggle to heal oneself is the only medicine available and a super hard self willed challenge.

Teck decided to leave Singapore. He decided to go back to his hometown in Penang. He decided that he will go back and be with his parents and help out in a little provision shop. He decided to leave all his colleagues whom he felt he had burdened. He was retreating into a self-pity shell.

Therefore, when I saw this Bloggers Unite event of Empowering the Disabled, I fully support the good course because I saw how a friend went through all these to make himself useful again.

I learnt that Teck broke away from all those that know him. He started afresh where no one knows that he was a wholesome person before. He learnt how to go around in his mechanical wheelchair. He took on part time assignments. He lived alone, cooked and since he loves to read, people saw him at public libraries. His wife still visits him. She is a good woman and she did not marry but remarry to Teck again. Talking about true love…this is the LOVE that went through trials and pain. She lives in Singapore as she is an architect. She had adjusted to a new life, keep her dream, do the thing she likes and goes back to Teck when she needs his love.

KUDOS! to all the disabled. Life does not just stop there. You have to find your footing and adjust yourself back to society. Society is not so bad after all … Singapore is a kind country and we care about our fellow citizens…wholesome or handicapped.

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