Of course, my lifestyle has changed.  But that's because I'm older now, not because of the chair, and that would have happened anyway.  Friends have settled down to have kids, and the clubs just don't have the same appeal they had when I was a party girl in my 20s.  We all still go our, though, and I still like a drink, it's just that now we have the wine with food!  Not everywhere is accessible, but many restaurants, bars and theatres are and on the whole it's pretty good.

Before my injury I hadn't driven for years.  I've got no sense of direction and I get very nervous; just reverse parking brings me out in a sweat!  But I've got no fear when it comes to public transport.  I guess I'm lucky that I live in London where things are a bit more accessible, though things are far from perfect and problems do happen - a simple journey to a friend's birthday party the other day ended up taking me five hours.

I've had to leave that it's OK to ask for help.

But when it works, it's great.  I've learnt that you need to be organised and properly plan your journey.  When it comes to using trains, you're meant to give 24 hours notice so that they can make sure someone is around with the ramps.  But life isn't like that, is it?  I hate being tied to a fixed schedule and I resent someone controlling how I should live my life.  And when a friend asks if I want to go for a drink after work, I want to be able to go along without worrying how I'll get home again.  So I've learnt when you can break those rules; if you know your way, you know there will be people around, then it's probably OK just to turn up.  But you have to be sensible, and if you are travelling to a station you don't know or it's late at night, then there's a danger you'll end up not being able to get off the train at your stop.

Yasmin in her wheelchair on the London Underground

So much of the underground still isn't accessible.  But I'll use the escalators in my chair, as long as I can get two people to stand either side of me.  Some platform staff try to stop you, thinking there's a health and safety risk, but I just wait until they're not looking.  I'm independent and want to do things for myself so I've had to learn that it's OK to ask for help.  I've realised that as long as I'm assertive and that help is given on my terms, I'm still the one in control.  After all, asking for help when I need it isn't going to kill me.  Of course, I select my potential helpers carefully - if you're going to talk to people on the tube, they might as well be good looking!

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