Saturday, August 22, 2009


THE past couple of weeks have been an incredibly busy one for me.

Last week was my follow up appointments with a couple of specialists at the Pantai Medical Centre Kuala Lumpur following my three-day admission there for an annoying infection.

I must say that I was most impressed with the bedside manner of my doctors who did a wonderful job of keeping me positive throughout my treatment.

However, the same unfortunately cannot be said about some of the other issues I encountered at the private hospital despite its 30-year history of caring for its patients.

There was no disabled-friendly car park at the entrance of the private medical centre.

The wheelchairs they offered were only the standard, old-fashioned types.

Modern wheelchairs nowadays come with armrest and footrests and other integral parts that can be dismantled for greater convenience.

Such features are vital for paralysed persons when it comes to shifting one’s position from the wheelchair to a car, bed or toilet-seat.

I was also surprised to note that the attached bathroom in the private room that I was in was not properly designed for wheelchairs.

The water closet was not located at the right place, there were insufficient grab bars and the mirror was not at the right height for wheelchair users.

My biggest disappointment was to get the kitchen services to provide my gluten-free (wheat-free) diet.

Despite providing them with all the details of what I could NOT eat, I was constantly served with my “poison-list” during my hospitalisation.

I had to rely on food my friends brought me during their visits to the hospital in the end.

Had I eaten the hospital food, I would have non-stop diarrhoea which would not only have made it very unpleasant for me but I’m sure also for all the nurses and staff at the hospital too.

On a much more pleasant note, I was finally sworn in as a MBPJ Councillor last week.

First, at the office of MBPJ Mayor Datuk Roslan Sakiman last Wednesday. And then, the next day in front of Selangor Chief Minister Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.

The second incident took place at the Dewan Jubilee Perak in Shah Alam where the rest of all the Selangor councillors were also sworn in.

There were frankly a couple of issues with the Selangor building too.

There is a step leading to the wheelchair ramp which should be flattened. Whoever designed this was obviously not thinking right. It’s most frustrating to ask people to help you up the step just to get to the wheelchair ramp.

Attention should also be given to the restroom to make it disabled-friendly.

Finally, I had a terrific time last Sunday at Universiti Putra Malaysia at their 13th dog-event called Dogathon.

I was thrilled to bits to be invited as the VVIP for the event by UPM’s Students Society of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine called Veternak and Zoologico Club.

It is rare that people with disabilities are given such opportunities, which speaks a lot about how we as Malaysians are slowly starting to change our perceptions positively about people with handicaps.

I was invited as MBPJ’s Chairperson for the Canine Advisory Team committee and as President of Petpositive, a national society for animal-assisted therapy for the disabled and elderly in Malaysia.

The UPM students were simply marvellous. They visited me twice in my home to sort out the preparations especially for the disabled guests before the actual day.

On Sunday morning several car parks were reserved for handicapped drivers in an area nearest to where all the action was taking place.

A portable handicapped toilet was also provided nearby. Thick cardboards were placed on certain uneven grounds to help for better wheelchair access.

Breakfast and lunch – including free coupons – was provided for the more than dozen handicapped guests who turned up. Each of them was also assigned a UPM student volunteer to take them around.

I was asked to give them all a quick briefing of how to handle wheelchairs before they set off.

The next thing I knew, all the handicapped guests disappeared into the crowd of more than 3000 people and almost 1000 dogs that day.

They had great fun visiting all the pet-oriented booths and shows.

The canines present practically took over from there. I saw many of the handicapped taking pictures with the many pedigree dogs much to the delight of their owners.

Some of the disabled guests were so excited that they even asked for the dogs to be placed on their laps for a picture. The canines in return offered a paw or a hearty woof in appreciation.

Thanks to those amazing special canine companions that day and the hard working UPM students, it was a great day for everyone to forget everything and have a terrific time.

Pictures courtesy by Petpositive Member Mr Sivaraman Kannan.

The End

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