KUALA LUMPUR: Eleven years ago S. Jayaraj’s life changed completely.
From an able-bodied person, he became wheelchair-bound.
This was after an eight-tonne metal object fell onto him while he was working on a heavy-duty vehicle.
The life-changing accident took place in 2006, when he was working as a mechanical technician at a heavy equipment company in Singapore.
“I was working on a piece of machinery when the metal fell on top of me. My friends pulled me out of it.
“At the hospital’s emergency department, I was in excruciating pain.
The only thing I remember was that the doctor told me after undergoing surgery, the chances for me to live like a normal able bodied person stood at 5 per cent.
“I was paralysed from below my neck following the operation. I knew the paralysis was real and that I was going to be wheelchair bound,” he told NSTonline, recently.
Despite being confined to a wheelchair, the 39-year-old Ipoh native has not let the disability impede him.
After returning to Malaysia following his treatment, he promptly joined non-governmental organisations (NGO) and associations to find peer support with people with spinal cord injury (SCI).
To continue remaining independent and self-sustaining, he also resorted to selling pens at numerous locations in the Klang Valley.
Jayaraj also penned a book entitled, “Guidance for Wheelchair Bound” to inspire people with disability to take control of their own life.
He said the book is a practical guide on “how-to’s” for wheelchair bound people and includes problem solving on daily challenges faced by wheelchair bound persons.
He addresses issues such as accessible toilet at home, preventing bed sores, personal care, navigating through physical and emotional obstacles, choosing a right wheelchair, getting up after a fall, and other related matters.
“While I was in undergoing treatment at the rehabilitation centre in Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Singapore for four months, with other SCI patients, we discussed with occupational therapists in a weekly sharing session about our future plans to sustain ourselves and be independent.
“Readers do not need to follow everything shared in this book as it is just a guide. They can choose information relevant to them,” he said.
While he peddling at banks and restaurants in Petaling Jaya, Cheras, Kepong, and Kota Kemuning, he found his calling which was to motivate and share what he had learnt and experienced at Singapore’s hospital to SCI patients and wheelchair bound people.
“I realised that people with disability is living in a world that is not built for us in mind. Whenever I approach people to sell pen, most of them gave me money because they thought disabled beg for a living.
“Many SCI patients here remain at home after being discharged from hospital, because the rehabilitation programmes here are not as conducive and comprehensive compare to those in Singapore.
“Rehab centres here provide motivation and encouragement to the patients but not providing practical methods such as financial planning and how to live a sustainable live as a disabled person,” he said.
Jeyaraj is also a father of a 4-year-old and got married a year after his life changing accident.
He is a also speaker at university events on SCI issues and shares his experience with new SCI and shares his experience with new SCI patients at University of Malaya Medical Centre.
“I hope more people with disabilities come forward to tell their stories,” he said.
Jayaraj is taking up another challenge this year. He will climb the 274 steps at Batu Cave steps later this year as a challenge of The Malaysia Book of Record.
His book is available at RM35 at selected MPH bookstores at Klang Valley, the Northern and Southern Regions of Peninsula and Sabah as well as www.mphonline.com.
The book in English and Bahasa versions is also available in National library and obtainable directly from Jeyara.