SINGAPORE - Since her multiple amputations last August, former national shooter Aishah Samad has re-learnt how to do the basic things in life that most people take for granted, like brushing her teeth and drinking from a glass.
Earlier this month, she met the man who inspired her to make the most of what she has - Serbian-Australian motivational speaker Nick Vujicic, who was born without limbs.
"I was very emotional because it's not every day that you get to meet someone like him, who has inspired so many people around the world," she said.
When she was in the hospital after her amputations, Ms Aishah, 41, asked her sister: "Is there anyone else like me?"
Her sister, Ms Selina, showed her a YouTube video of Mr Vujicic, 30, surfing.
That piqued Ms Aishah's curiosity and she started watching his other videos on YouTube.
"I saw how he was living life to the fullest and I learnt to take things positively," she said.
Ms Aishah had her limbs amputated following a severe bacterial infection.
She thought life was over for her.
"I was so depressed because I couldn't even drink from a glass on my own," she added.
"I thought of jumping off a building but I couldn't even get off the bed on my own then.
"I thought of drinking poison but I couldn't even lift a cup. So I contemplated suffocating myself with a pillow, but realised it wouldn't be fair to my family and friends who stood by me."
Docs amputated limbs to save life
Docs amputated limbs to save life
It started with a pain in her stomach.
That was in July last year, when Ms Aishah Samad was on an overnight train ride to Xian, China.
She shrugged it off, thinking it was gastric pain or menstrual cramps.
But the pain got worse and it prompted her sister, Ms Selina, to take her to the medical centre at the airport, where Ms Aishah was given a morphine jab.
They flew back to Singapore and Ms Aishah was rushed to Changi General Hospital.
Even then, doctors could not diagnose what she was suffering from, as her lungs, kidneys and liver started failing.
She was put on 14 kinds of antibiotics over two weeks while doctors worked on finding a cure.
By then, Ms Aishah's limbs had become infected with gangrene.
When doctors said that the only way to save her sister's life was to amputate her limbs, Ms Selina gave the green light.
The operation was successful and Ms Aishah started her recovery.
She is thankful that she did not act on her suicidal thoughts, but her progress has not come without struggle.
"It took me a while to re-learn how to eat, shower and even go to the toilet on my own," she said.
"There were times when I got so frustrated because I couldn't do the simplest things on my own that I wanted to burst into tears.
"But I held back those tears because my family was always there to support me."
She found it hard to have to constantly rely on others, so she learnt to work things out on her own.
Today, she is able to brush her teeth on her own.
She's also comfortable with going for walks outside of her three-room HDB flat at Bedok and meeting her friends.
The divorcee lives with her two sons - aged 19 and 21 - and her taxi driver father, who is in his late 60s.
Ms Selina, who lives in the US with her husband and son, said she tries to visit her sister every three months.
Ms Aishah, who won a bronze medal at the 2003 SEA Games, has new targets in life, including representing Singapore again in shooting.
She also hopes to become a motivational speaker and inspire others with similar disabilities.
She has given seven talks at children's homes and corporate events.
Ms Aishah is planning to resume shooting as soon as she gets her bionic arms fitted next month.
"I'm already looking forward to training again, and hope to represent Singapore soon," she said.
It is a dream shared with navy serviceman Jason Chee, 30, who lost both legs and left arm in a ship accident last year. He plans to represent the Republic at the ASEAN Para Games.
The pair met in February and again over the weekend.
Ms Aishah said she understood Mr Chee's pain and loss, and it made her more inspired to share her story with others.
"I'm fortunate to have been born with arms and legs as I know what's it like to lose them. Now it's time for me to go help others," she said.
Motivational speaker almost gave up on life
He phoned 52 schools and got rejected every single time.
But Mr Nick Vujicic, then 19, never gave up and was determined to prove himself as a motivational speaker.
On his 53rd try, he was hired to speak to a group of students.
While it did not go exactly as planned - he earned $50, which he gave to his brother for driving him on the five-hour journey - it was the start of Mr Vujicic's career.
Today, the Serbian-Australian, who was born without limbs and is now 30, has inspired thousands around the world with his videos and live talks on how to focus on what you have.
He has given motivational talks in 49 countries on his experiences overcoming his disability.
His YouTube videos have millions of views. So it was no surprise that tickets to his talk, No Limits With Nick Vujicic, last Saturday, were sold out and he was greeted with a full 5,000-strong audience at the Star Theatre @ The Star Performing Arts Centre.
In the hour-long talk, Mr Vujicic, who arrived in Singapore for the seventh time on Thursday, captivated the crowd with his journey from a boy who attempted to commit suicide to a well-known motivational speaker.
He shared how he was bullied in school and how he had been close to giving up on life.
At 10, he attempted to drown himself in his bathtub, but said the thought of his parents crying at his grave stopped him.
"I learnt to accept myself for who I am, not what I could not do," he said.
Singapore was the last stop of his World Outreach Asia Part II tour, which began in Indonesia on Aug 23 and went on to Thailand and Malaysia.
The new father is looking forward to returning home to California to be with his wife and their six-month-old son.
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