Woman in horror escalator accident on the move again
Woman who lost use of legs in escalator accident is determined to remain sporty and independent
This National Day, we celebrate with 16 stories of people who overcame adversity to give back to society.
She used to love swimming in the sea and feel the waves beat against her legs as she stood in it.
"Now I can't even wheel myself on the sand to dip my toes in the water," she said, holding back tears.
Employment support specialist Azlin Amran, 31, fell into a gap on the third step of a descending escalator undergoing maintenance at Tanah Merah MRT station more than three years ago, and she is now wheelchair-bound.
She was rushing to meet friends at Paya Lebar on Jan 28, 2013, when she fell and was unable to move or breathe.
"One of my lungs was punctured, and my face was torn open. I was bleeding badly and I thought, 'This is it. I am going to die.'" she said, describing the incident that changed her life.
Ms Azlin shouted for help - or thought she did - for over 30 minutes. Fortunately, a passer-by heard her soft cries and called the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).
The rescue operation was difficult and took 25 minutes.
"I continued to tell them that I could not breathe when they loaded me into the ambulance and also at the (Accident and Emergency department)," said Ms Azlin, adding that she lost consciousness after giving her mother's contact details to a doctor.
The fall had fractured her pelvis and severed the nerves in her spinal cord.
"When I came to after the operation, I was in the intensive care unit, and I could not feel my legs," she said.
She cried every day in the ward when she realised she would not walk again.
"The painful part was not the accident but realising that I had lost my independence," she said.
But her stubborn streak kept her going.
"The physical pain was nothing compared to the emotional and spiritual pain. I refused to let them defeat me, so I worked at regaining my independence.
"I wanted my independence back. I wanted to return to work," she said.
Ms Azlin worked hard at physiotherapy and became more observant.
"I had to get over my fear of escalators and taking the train. The first time after the accident, when I saw the escalator step treads, I thought I was going to faint. I had to force myself to get over the fear.
"Also, I realised the gaps between the platform and the train were huge, and without proper training on the wheelchair, I wouldn't be able to travel alone," she said.
Now, Ms Azlin leaves for her workplace at Tiong Bahru at 6.45am fromSengkang MRT station, and returns to her home in Sengkang at 6.45pm - on her own.
The once sporty woman who used to trek overseas and play badminton now has to "redefine what is adventure".
"Going on an adventure now is getting myself to the park where I can enjoy the natural surroundings or sitting by the sea and watching the waves against the sand."
Her condition has not stopped her from travelling. Last year, she went on a camper van trip in New Zealand with her mother, a cousin and a friend.
"It was my first trip after the accident. It was different but exhilarating. It's all about taking baby steps, improvising and living."
Ms Azlin is also playing badminton again and was good enough to be sent to Taiwan by the Singapore Disability Sports Council for training.
She will also be getting married this month.
Asked about her fiance, a 30-year-old designer, she would only say: "He swept me off my feet."
TNP SPIRIT OF 16 GIVINGBACK
The beneficiary is Society for the Physically Disabled