Awesome - A Life-Changing Journey Triggered by a Note Left on a Car's Windshield



We all choose to live in our own little comfort zone, whether that is a conscious decision or not. Routines keep us safe. The predictability of a 9 to 5 life, however humdrum that could get, gives us all a sense of security that nothing could pop that bubble sheltering us from the dangers of the outside world. Then one seemingly ordinary day, something ruins it all – turning that bouncy safety bubble into fragile glass shattering around you.











Most of us settle on first impressions about someone. And this is simply because it takes up so much time and effort to stop and scrutinize someone at a deeper level. We think that the way one smiles or frowns or even their tone or accent when speaking can tell us a whole lot of things about their being. But making these assumptions is flat out wrong. In fact, it can have a huge consequence to the other person.









A Regular Night Out with an Odd Plot Twist


Yasmin Swift, a 19-year old hairdresser from Kent in England, went out with her friend at a local pub one evening. She had such a great time, she went to sleep feeling that everything was all right in the world.











The next morning was a totally different story for Yasmin. As she walked to her car, she noticed a small paper on her windshield. Thinking it was a parking ticket, she felt a bit of confusion because she was not parked illegally. But when she read the paper’s contents, it was much worse than what she originally had in mind.








An Unexpected Attack


The message on the note, merely three sentences all in all, was curt: “You are parked illegally. You are not disabled. I will inform authorities accordingly.”





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Her disbelief at this attack turned to rage. While she was, indeed, parked on a handicapped parking spot, she had quite a good reason for doing so. And because she wasn’t nervous at getting ‘caught’, Yasmin was not going to let this go without a fight.




Voicing Out Her Truth



Facebook is a pretty good place to vent. And so Yasmin wrote a scathing status update about her experience, even adding “People are ignorant and it’s a cowardly thing to do.”











It would have been better had the complainant approached her and maybe asked for a justification from her instead of leaving an unsigned note. Yasmin was ready to explain why she parked in that area, adding “Maybe if they could’ve seen what I’ve been going through over the last few months, they’d think differently.




The Ending to Her ‘Normal’ Life


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The truth was, Yasmin had a very good reason for parking in that spot despite her seeming ‘normal’.











Her life was pretty much smooth sailing since she was young. She lived most of her life in a town called Tenderten, graduating from Homewood School and then taking up a job at a local salon. Everything was fine until an unwelcome plot twist in her story occurred. One day, her legs, stomach, and back just got swollen. It was the begining of a bad period in her life.




Just A Simple Case of Allergies


Allergies are often the culprit when these symptoms are observed. But despite several doses of antihistamines and pain medications, there was no change in her health status. At one point, she was in excruciating pain that she had to leave work in the middle of the day.












In her fear and as her mom suggested, Yasmin finally visited a doctor. He diagnosed her condition to be caused by mere exhaustion and advised that she stay at home to get enough rest. But despite all those efforts, her condition only got worse.




The Continuous Deterioration


Yasmin’s condition continued to get worse in the following days.











Unlike her very active lifestyle in the past, Yasmin now lacked the energy for simple exertions. Crossing a room would leave her gasping for air. The supposedly involuntary task of breathing became a challenge. She added that “My health was just getting worse and worse,” and had to find out what really is causing her condition because it is not just a regular allergic reaction or case of fatigue.




‘My Mum Was Scared She Would Lose Me’


Finding it difficult to do everyday tasks, Yasmin had lost appetite for life in general. She stopped working out, ate very little and often looked weak and pale. Even her emotional and mental being was completely out of sorts.


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This situation was much worse for Yasmin’s mother. She, too, suffered as she saw her daughter get weaker and sicker every single day. There was very little she could do to help. Yasmin confided, “My mum was scared she would lose me”. For both of them, it seemed like that is precisely what was going to happen.




A Regular in the ER


Yasmin had to be rushed to the emergency room so often that the doctors and nurses at Tenterden’s Hospital knew her, her family and even her friends by name.











Numerous kinds of diagnostic tests were done. Oddly, all those came back ‘normal’. Even to the trained medical eye, Yasmin was healthy. But she was not. She continuously wasted away. At one point, she even wondered if she was a hypochondriac; that she was just imagining everything and conjuring up various symptoms.




The Final Diagnosis


The whole process of finding out what Yasmin’s condition was took a year; she didn’t even know how many procedures there were. But after that long, arduous process, the diagnosis finally came in. She had a rare lung disorder called Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension, the cause of which is unknown.





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It is a life-limiting illness that causes shortness of breath and extreme fatigue. Others who have this condition even pass out at times. The worst part of it is that it had no known cure. At this point, Yasmin had to accept the fact that she was tremendously sick.




Understanding the Disease


Because this illness is now a part of her, Yasmin tried to learn everything about it. Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension basically causes an increase in blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries. It being ‘idiopathic’ means that no medical expert can surely pinpoint its root cause.


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The disease is life-threatening because the increased blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries puts too much strain on her heart. And because the heart’s activities greatly affect the lungs, it also causes respiratory problems such as difficulty in breathing, fatigue and sudden loss of consciousness.




Knowing a Little Gives a Little Sense of Bliss


Knowing and understanding some things about her condition gave some comfort to Yasmin. At the very least, she wasn’t just a hypochondriac imagining symptoms. But that, she found out, was just a short sigh of relief.











Aside from the challenging symptoms that she had to live with every single minute of every day, Yasmin had to brave the treatment procedure for her condition. And this, she soon found out, was not merely taking pills in the morning.





The Life-Long Treatment


For one, the main treatment mode for Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension was a permanent intravenous drip which will be attached to the patient’s chest.











The IV drip is connected to a pump that will introduce and circulate the medication in her body. The meds are symptomatic, used to merely relieve the symptoms associated with the condition. Aside from learning to live with this for the rest of her life, she had to do so with courage and composure.




Shorter Life Expectancy


Based on medical historical reports, those suffering from Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension live only up to 17 years old. At 19, Yasmin has surprised her doctors as she bested the disease.










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Succumbing to the disease was not in Yasmin’s plans. In spite of everything she has been through – the unexpected challenge, the depressing diagnosis and the taxing treatment – she tried to live her life in the best possible way, finding normalcy in harsh times. And then the note on her windshield came along.




When Judgment From Others is Harder


Yasmin’s new life is difficult. Judgment from other people was something she didn’t need at all.












Because she tried to seem normal and healthy, a lot of people raise their eyebrows when she parks her car at a handicapped spot. “You can tell people are staring when you get out of the car,” she said, adding that she feels like she has to walk out of the car limping so that she won’t be judged. The note, however, convinced her that enough is enough.




The Tell All


The callous note pushed her over the edge. For her, it was worse than the judgmental stares she almost got used to. Yasmin decided that calling out that anonymous person on Facebook was the best thing she can do.











“To the person who write this lovely message on my car last night,” she started off, “Just because I look well doesn’t mean I am well. Yasmin then continued berating the person for concluding that she’s merely an uncaring person parking at the wrong spot when she had to devote every single iota of strength she had to wake up in the morning and deal with her condition.




Setting the Record Straight


“If you’d like to give me your heart and lungs, I would happily go back to my old life!” She ends her post with: “Not all disability is visible!”





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Yasmin was weary of having to provide evidence of her being handicapped. Her Facebook post was to let people know how she really felt, that ‘appearing normal’ was something she had to work for. Voicing out her thoughts, she really didn’t care about how people thought of her.




But A Lot of People Cared…


The status update was posted a month ago. In that duration, it has acquire nearly 4,600 likes, over a thousand comments and almost 4,000 shares. Many felt her frustration. Many understood her journey.











One commented: “Well done for speaking up for yourself and others in the same situation.” Another person gave a good counsel: “Keep your chin up. Ignore those who lead sad little lives.” The deluge of support made Yasmin think that everything which happened to her was nearly worth it.




Reaching the Authorities


It could be because of Yasmin’s ordeal – and the agreement of so many others with her condition – that the British government started to fix the Blue Badge System. This change in the disabled parking scheme is considered to be the most significant in four decades.











The new system allows 44,000 people to get the parking IDs in the first year. Another 177,700 will be distributed in the next 10 years. The British Transport Minister says that the new scheme will allow people with hidden disabilities to “enjoy the freedoms many of us take for granted”.





Overwhelmed with Support


“A lot of people are commenting and I can’t even look properly”, Yasmin said in an interview, truly awed and dazed with the support she has seen from so many people. “I’m just scrolling through and taking it all in.”











Yasmin could only hope that, with her Facebook post, more people would stop and think before judging people so carelessly. She kind of got used to this thing but there are others who might get too hurt by it. For her, speaking out in behalf of those who can’t was of great importance.


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Concealed Disabilities


Based on statistics, one in two Americans is diagnosed with chronic conditions, the symptoms of which are unseen. In fact, 96% of that particular population are asymptomatic. Because of this, they are not considered disabled.





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It’s even worse when one has Yasmin’s condition or something rare like it. About 10% of all Americans have what is called ‘invisible disabilities’. They seem perfectly healthy on the outside but are really struggling to live as they are in a constant battle with their bodies. And it’s harder for them to have tougher battles with people who discriminate against them.





Making Every Moment Count


It is terribly hard to wake up every morning knowing that your day is going to be hard because your body just won’t cooperate. This is probably why Individuals suffering from invisible disabilities tend to live life to the fullest, making every single moment of every day count.











Usually, young people take things for granted. But young people like Yasmin know better. They know that every waking minute should be spent well – like enjoying the outdoors or just being active – because they aren’t sure when they’ll get another chance to do so without exerting too much effort or experiencing agonizing pain.




Finding Someone to Lean On


Fortunately for Yasmin, she doesn’t have to brave all these things on her own. Aside from her supportive family particularly her mom and sister, she knows that her friends got her back at all times.











These are the people who make life so much better for Yasmin. Naturally, she is humbled by their constancy and appreciative of all their efforts. And she is always surprised at the lengths they’d go to just to be of assistance to her.



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The Crowdfunding Campaign


Most people with life-threatening conditions need constant medical care – and these cost a lot. Yasmin’s older sister, Nicole, knew that her sister needed more than just emotional support. Yasmin will definitely need financial help too.











Nicole then decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign on ‘JustGiving’. She planned to raise about £800 (a little over $1000) for her sister. Nicole didn’t have to wait long to reach that amount.




Getting More Than the Goal


Nicole’s crowdfunding campaign made such an impact that they were able to raise more than £800. Two months after it was launched, Nicole got £1,770 (almost $2,300) for her sister. That is way more than what Yasmin needed so they decided to share some of it to others.





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Yasmin and Nicole knew it was all about giving back. Half of the funds did go to Yasmin’s medical costs (trips to the hospital, medications, etc.) The other half went to a British charity which specializes in Idiopathic Primary Pulmonary Hypertension.




The Constant Companion


As mentioned, support for Yasmin poured from all over. Aside from her mom and sister, her boyfriend was another person she can truly rely on.












Tyler Samuel Norris is the perfect boyfriend. His unwavering care and constant encouragement for Yasmin is something that she will never disregard. To show her gratitude and love, she posted a photo of her with Tyler and captioned it “boyfriend appreciation post”.




Unforgettable Getaways


Yasmin has always loved doing fun activities and Tyler is a ready companion for whatever she has in mind. Once, the couple went swimming with dolphins at Zoomarine Algarve, a Portuguese theme park.


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Having the time of their lives, Yasmin posted another photo online, captioning it with: “So glad I got to do this with you!” Tyler had the sweetest reply: “So lucky I was the one who got to do it with you. Trip of a lifetime!”




Live Life, Love Life


Yasmin’s Instagram feed will show anyone that she is, indeed, living and loving life. It is packed with photos that show fun moments in beautiful locations, mostly with loved ones.












One can get a bit envious of her posts, of the places she has been to here and abroad. But it’s better to hold your tongue (or take your finger of the keypad) before commenting. If you look a little closer at the photos, you will see what lies beneath.




Scratching the Surface


During Yasmin and Tyler’s vacation in Portugal, she was photographed wearing a nice little bikini on the beach, smiling at the camera, looking very happy.











But her caption for that particular photo should give one a clue of the real deal: “I know where I would much rather be today!” One of the comments came from Nicole, Yasmin’s sister. She asked if Yasmin was OK and received a distressing reply. Yasmin’s shoulder was so sore that minor movements hurt her.




Learning Important Lessons


For Yasmin, raising awareness and encouraging understanding for her disease and all kinds of invisible disability is vital. This is one thing that could alleviate the physical pain caused by the condition and heartaches she has had over the years – particularly from the note.










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It wasn’t fame or money that she was after. What she really wanted was for people to stop and think for a second before immediately jumping to judgmental conclusions. Frankly, this is a lesson that every single one of us ought to put in mind.





An Expert Opinion


Nikita Chopra, a self-love experts, knows what Yasmin went through and totally sympathizes with her. Nikita was also 19 when doctors told her she had Psoriatic Arthritis.











She knew how difficult everyday life was for people with her condition. When she moved to New York City, commuting via the subway was a challenge. “I held back countless tears from the feeling that no one understood what I was going through,” she confides as she narrated the time when no one would let her sit down on the train despite being in pain from her own chronic disease.




Living Well


Yasmin won’t let anything browbeat her to depression. Despite all the challenges she has faced and the more which will probably come, her outlook in life will always be positive.











Who knows what fate has in store for her? The condition she now has may just cut her life short. This is why Yasmin decided not to waste time and effort thinking negatively or dwelling on the negativity of others. Her life motto is English poet George Herbert’s genius: “Living well is the best revenge.” And she plans to live it that way.

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