Li Kangyu has hardly ever left his home in the past 30 years. Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, he has been paralysed and bedridden since he was 7.
But his life took an unexpected turn for the better when he met a Malaysian woman, Gan Suh Eng, through the QQ instant messaging service three years ago.
Despite being physically miles apart, they were drawn to each other.
"She has opened the windows of my soul," Li, 39, said.
A year ago, they exchanged wedding vows and began their life together at Li's hometown, a village in Tangshan, Hebei province.
Li described their love story, which has attracted widespread media attention, as a fairy tale.
To him, Gan is an angel sent from heaven. Her presence in his life has opened many doors.
Lying on a customised wheelchair donated by a good Samaritan, he can now enjoy the sunshine outside his home with Gan by his side.
Together they have travelled to Shanghai, Suzhou and other cities, where Li has been invited to give motivational talks.
"A Shanghai enterprise has shown interest in training me to become a motivational speaker," he said."A book on my life story is in the pipeline."
On Aug 2 they exchanged gifts to mark Chinese Valentine's Day. Li gave Gan a novelty ring that had a hidden clock face, while she surprised him with a blue striped tie.
Li wore a pink top he bought online specially for the occasion, and was delighted to learn that the pattern on the shirt featured Malaysia's national flower, the hibiscus.
"It was a happy coincidence," he said.
As Li spoke about their first year together as husband and wife, Gan sat next to him, stroking his head affectionately.
"In the blink of an eye a year has passed," he said. "We are both tolerant of and accommodating to each other's shortcomings. Our love has grown deeper."
Married life has also improved Li's health.
"I am about 5 kilograms heavier now and I have gained more muscle on my thigh," he said.