Having a disability is usually something that can totally derail your life if you aren’t prepared to handle the adjustment to your life. When Yasmin Swift from Kent, England starting feeling weaker day after day and losing weight dramatically, she realized that there was definitely something wrong with her health. After visiting the hospital time after time, she was repeatedly told nothing was wrong. Finally, she got a diagnosis. However, despite knowing what was wrong, she still got an angry note on her windshield one night about her use of a handicapped spot. It brought her to tears, but what she did next was inspiring.
A Night Out
Like most youngsters, Yasmin Swift enjoys going out with her friends. This night was not unlike any other that she would spend on the town with her friends and they were having a lovely time.
After a few hours at a nearby pub, Yasmin and her friend left to head home. They were laughing about how Yasmin was struggling to walk because she wasn’t used to her shoes yet, when they noticed on something on her windshield…
An Angry Note
As Yasmin read the note, her eyes started to well up. Yasmin had parked in a disabled parking space and someone had obviously seen her exit her car, looking totally fine.
Yasmin was used to seeing people stare at her for doing this, but no one had ever confronted her about it. So as she read the letter over again, she became more and more emotional. The note read: “You are parked illegally. You are not disabled. I will inform the authorities accordingly.”
Yasmin, who was born in Kent, England, had been considered healthy for most of her life. She had never had any serious illnesses and wasn’t physically challenged in any way.
She had just recently graduated from high school and was working as a hairdresser. However, one day, she started feeling ill. She initially thought it was just a cold or allergies and tried treating the illness with antihistamines. However, none of the medication seemed to work and Yasmin and her mother were left wondering what to do.
As Yasmin tried to figure out what was wrong with her, her health continued to decline. Every day she would get thinner and thinner regardless of how much she ate and her appetite was slowly disappearing as well.
She realized that she wasn’t suffering from any sort of viral infection or a common cold, but didn’t know how to deal with what was happening, because she had no idea what was happening to her. Her mother decided it was time to take this seriously.
A Mystery Illness
Because her mother was getting worried about the state of her health, she decided to take Yasmin to the nearby hospital. However, after running a few tests on her first visit, the doctors said there was nothing conclusive to report and that she seemed to be in otherwise good health.
However, as time went on, it became apparent that this wasn’t the case and she kept bringing Yasmin back to the hospital. However, doctors were stumped as they couldn’t determine what the mystery illness actually was.
Just A Hypochondirac
The doctors were perplexed by Yasmin’s condition and decided to submit her to a volley of different tests. She had been in and out of Tenterden Hospital so many times that the staff and doctors there knew her, her mother, and friends’ names by heart already.
Every time they would test her for something, the results would come back negative. However, because her health hadn’t improved much, doctors began to speculate that she might just have been a hypochondriac – a complicated word for “overreacting.”
Finally A Diagnoses
Both Yasmin and her mother were becoming worried and frustrated. Regardless of what the doctors’ tests were saying, her mother was literally watching her daughter wither away slowly.
It was getting to be too much for her – but then miraculously, they were presented with a diagnosis. Apparently, Yasmin had been born with a rare disorder known as Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension, which affected her lungs and ability to breath. She finally knew what she was dealing with – but that was only half the battle…
Learning About The Illness
Having finally found out what she was dealing with, Yasmin was both nervous and relieved at the same time. As she started doing more research about the disease, she began to realize how lucky she was to be alive.
On average, most infants born with IPAH struggle to live past the age of 17. This meant that Yasmin was actually doing above average for someone affected by the disease. However, she would need to live the rest of her life carefully from then on.
Life After The Diagnoses
Knowing what you’re dealing with when it comes to a medical problem is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, Yasmin now knew what it was that was affecting her and how to treat it or live with it, but also had to accept that her life would be a little different from that point on.
She would have to take special medication every day for the rest of her life through a pump to continue living a normal life.
Dealing With The Costs
Due to the fact that her disease was such a rare one, the medication, specialized equipment, and routine visits to the hospital would amount to a lot of money.
Not having come from a particularly wealthy family, and only earning a modest salary, Yasmin knew she would struggle to meet the high costs of her daily treatment. She realized that missing even a day of her medication was not an option, so she devised a plan to raise some cash for her treatment…
Launching A Crowdfunding Campaign
Yasmin decided to reach out to the internet with her story. She had never tried crowdfunding before, let alone raising money for anything, but decided to just dive right in and see what would happen.
She took to the internet and wrote about her story. She had worked out a basic ball-park figure for her treatment process and set her goal at just over £1,000, or about $1,300. She wasn’t sure whether the campaign would work or not, but she was willing to take the chance.
More Than Successful
After launching her crowdfunding campaign, Yasmin nervously sat around wondering whether she would be able to raise the funds. She knew that she would be able to just barely afford her treatment, but it would cost most of her paycheck otherwise.
The money would allow her to buy medication in bulk and the pump she needed for the treatment. To her surprise, when she checked in on her campaign, she realized that not only had she reached the target, but exceeded it by 221%!
An Invisible Disability
Despite her outwardly healthy appearance, Yasmin had been legally classified as being disabled because the illness affected her ability to walk long distances or do strenuous work.
After receiving her disability card and the badge that she would have to use to reserve disabled parking spaces for herself in future, she started using disabled parking spaces. However, this also meant that she had to deal with the stigma of having an invisible disability. Which takes us back to that note…
Living Life To The Fullest
Knowing that every day was that much more of a thing to be grateful for, Yasmin decided that she wouldn’t let her disability dictate her life or change the way she wanted to live when she was healthier.
Having always been an outgoing and active child, Yasmin figured that enjoying life was the best way to conquer her illness and prove to herself that she was strong. She attended shows, parties, and went on adventures like most girls her age, regardless of her affliction.
Back To The Angry Note
Flashback to the present and Yasmin was still dealing with the anger and sadness that she felt regarding that letter on her windshield. It was like she was being blamed for something she had no power over – after all, she didn’t ask to be born with the illness in the first place.
Dealing with a disability that isn’t as obvious as most physical disabilities was really challenging because to her it felt like people were largely ignorant about the nature of a disability.
A Public Statement
Yasmin was angry and hurt and felt that the best thing she could do at that point was to explain herself, her situation, and the way she felt about receiving the letter in the first place.
She took to Facebook and decided to write a short and sweet post detailing her issue and how it feels to be judged simply because her disability isn’t what most people would consider a conventional form of disability. She addressed the author of the note directly and voiced her feelings.
A Huge Response
While Yasmin had written the post largely for herself, she realized that there may have been plenty of other people in a similar situation as her, struggling to make sense of other people’s opinions about them in their society.
She decided that she couldn’t only make this issue about herself, but decided to point out that not everyone’s disabilities are the same. The response from the internet was huge and pretty soon her post had received over 4,000 likes and tons of shares!
Yasmin couldn’t have been happier with the kind of response she had received from the internet. It was as though in some way, her prayers had been answered and she realized that what she was talking about clearly mattered to a lot of people.
At this point, she realized that she couldn’t afford to make this all about herself and urged people to share the post as much as possible so that anyone else who suffered from an invisible disability would know that they’re not alone.
Yasmin had already decided that she was going to live her life to the fullest – regardless of what the world thought about her or what her disability prevented her from doing.
She continued to hang out with her friends, frequent her favorite restaurants, and do all the other things most 19-year-olds would do in her town. She even went on a few dates and eventually found a lasting relationship with her now long-time boyfriend Tyler Norris. Yasmin found support in him and her sister.
Time For An Adventure
She found strength and encouragement from Tyler and often felt as though he was like a rock for her, holding her steady when she felt weakest or scared.
The two had started to form a bond that they both enjoyed and she felt like not only could she trust him, but that he’d be there for her when she needed him most. The two even decided to travel together, visiting the Zoomarine Algarve marine theme park in Portugal to swim with dolphins!
Challenging Outdated Ideas
After having received the kind of knock that she had when she first found out about her illness, Yasmin had managed to pull herself out of a slump and had become healthier over the course of her treatment.
While she still suffered from the rare lung disorder, she realized that the world was still largely out of touch with what it meant to be disabled and what was technically classified as a disability. She set out to challenge outdated ideas, and seemed to be succeeding.
Yasmin had decided that her new philosophy in life was to live well. An English poet named George Herbert once said that “Living well is the best revenge” and that’s precisely what Yasmin planned to do.
She would live her life as though she had no disability so that she could try to pick up her life from where it was before she was diagnosed with a rare illness. Perhaps her story will go on to inspire many other people out there in a similar situation.
An Everyday Hero
Yasmin may feel as though raising awareness about her situation and the kind of stigma she has to deal with was just something that she had to do, and her story has already resonated with thousands of people who are in a similar situation to hers.
To some, she’s just another young hairdresser, but to countless others, she’s an example of an everyday hero because she stood up for herself, challenged an outdated conception, and helped to raise awareness for a serious issue.