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Telling it straight - Nadia's incredible journey

A young Birmingham woman who receives support and treatment at West Midlands Rehabilitation Centre has written a book describing her journey since a childhood illness left her with long-term disability.

My Journey is Nadia Khan’s personal account of challenging perceptions and breaking down barriers created by her life-changing condition.

At the age of seven, Nadia contracted encephalitis, a rare condition that causes the brain to swell. Cause of encephalitis is difficult to determine, but it usually results from either a viral infection or an immune system issue.

“I completely lost my ability to speak and control my movements,” said Nadia, now 27.

“I remember primary school friends and teachers visiting me in hospital and how badly it hurt to be unable to talk or express my feelings. I had a lot of anger and was a bit of an ogre at times!”

Nadia’s communication improved slowly thanks to long speech and language therapy sessions and she resumed her education at Wilson Stuart School in Erdington, which caters for children and young people with physical disability or a complex medical condition.

Intensive physiotherapy helped Nadia progress from a wheelchair to walking, first with a frame and then, by the end of Year 7, unaided.

Forging strong friendships and flourishing academically, Nadia passed six GCSEs before progressing to further education and gaining an A-level equivalent National Extended Diploma with distinction in IT.

“I was very headstrong because I just didn’t want people to know I was disabled,” she recalls.

“I’d go to the Bullring arm-in-arm with my friends holding me up on each side. I just wanted to do the same as everyone else but I was taking risks with my safety, if I’m honest.”

Nadia’s academic success earned her a place at university to study business information systems but, sadly, the practicalities of catering for her additional needs were too much to manage and the offer was reluctantly declined.

Instead, she resolved to pour her energies into capturing her recollections and reflections in an honest and deeply personal account of her journey, full of characteristic humour and spirit and paying detailed tribute to her family – dad Tariq; mum Shami; sisters Sanam and Zara; and brother Tamour – and friends who have shared all or part of her journey.

Nadia continues to visit West Midlands Rehabilitation Centre in Selly Oak every couple of months for review by the specialist orthotics team, who provide her with advice and supply bespoke foot supports to help her balance, posture and gait.

She has previously benefited from the expertise of physiotherapists and specialist gait analysts at the multidisciplinary facility.

Nadia Khan, author of My Journey

“We will always be grateful to everyone who has supported Nadia, particularly the team at Wilson Stuart School and the very many NHS professionals she has seen,” said Tariq.

BCHC Charity has funded the purchase of a number of copies of My Journey for members of the public to read in waiting areas or borrow from the library at Moseley Hall Hospital. The book is available to buy exclusively from Amazon.

Nadia’s lead orthotist Qureish Shirazy said: “Nadia’s book is a very honest account of her feelings at both the high and low points of her journey and a very accurate reflection of her inquisitive and determined personality.”