Yasmin was a 29 year old lawyer who was leading a pretty active life. She had a pretty wide social circle that she went out with regularly. She also led a very healthy lifestyle, taking care of what she ate and exercising regularly, and rarely experienced health problems of any kind.
But things took a quick and unexpected turn. It was March of the year 2008 when, after waking up from the end of a weekend trip with friends, she experienced terrible lower back pain. The pain subsided substantially so Yasmin went to work out in the gym. It was when she was having dinner with her parents that the pain returned with excruciating intensity. A little hot water bottle subsided the pain but unfortunately that wasn’t the end of it. When she went to sleep that night, she woke up soon after with an urgent need to void her bladder but was incapable of doing so. She got up four to five times to relieve herself but couldn’t. Her legs grew weaker each time she got up until she finally found herself confined to her bed unable to move her legs at all.
Luckily she had her phone at her bedside so she called her parents up who rang up an ambulance for her. The paramedics arrived and carried her downstairs and rushed her to the hospital where she underwent dozens of tests and scans which did not reveal anything. Yasmin became dangerously ill with pneumonia after her first week in the hospital. Her lung collapsed and had to be on 98% oxygen in the intensive care unit. Her health improved overtime but her legs remained paralyzed. Doctors debate to this day what caused the paralysis, but the exact cause still hasn’t been determined.
Weeks of physiotherapy showed no progress and with time all hope was fading away. It was hard for Yasmin to come to terms with her new way of life. She had to learn how to use a wheelchair and her old life of social appeasement had come to an abrupt stop. She had to move in with her parents and was completely dependent on them. She psychologically falling apart but her parents helped piece herself back together.
She soon met her future husband Luke Hamill and that turned her life around. Luke is a fellow wheelchair user and is a trustee of a charity named Aspire. Being with Luke pushed her to live her life more fully and soon enough she was looking forward to the next day with hope and excitement. She quit her job as a lawyer in 2015 and is now a disability consultant, public speaker and coach. She also got a few small roles in television and also represents disabled artists.
'I’ve always grappled with my identity in a wheelchair, but although I’ve found out things the hard way, I’ve been pushed in a different direction’ says Yasmin. ‘I like who I am. This is my new normal.’