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I’m capable but differently capable

Azeem’s spinal cord was almost completely severed at birth. His doctors indicated that he would not live beyond a few days and if he survived he was expected to be a “complete vegetable”, unable to walk or talk. He spent his first year and eleven days at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada.

Azeem’s medical condition is known as “Ondine’s Curse” and is an extremely rare neurological disorder. Azeem wears a tracheostomy (a tube inserted into his trachea) for his survival.

Azeem’s birth injury left him mentally challenged and with some distinct physical disabilities. Despite undergoing several remedial surgeries, he still depends on life support systems for his survival.

Due to “the around the clock” medical care, this condition demands, Azeem’s parents were asked to place him in an institution. They refused.

His primary doctor at the hospital notes:

“There are times in a medical career when it is gratifying to be proven wrong! My first few conversations with the family of this young man were not easy for them to hear. Those conversations were sprinkled with discouraging phrases; “severely damaged…,” “can’t breathe on his own…,” “these children do not live very long.” And later when he was two and a half years old, “he is not doing well–he may be ‘brain dead.’”

Azeem has not only survived but speaks about his experiences to a wide cross section of people, who are touched by his difficult life and inspired by his remarkable determination and success.

He has also demonstrated his true mettle by sharing these experiences in his compelling and poignant autobiography – Wrestling with the Goddess – A Personal Odyssey.

Dr. Edmonds stated in the introduction of Azeem’s book:

“Reading this account of Azeem’s “life story” is sometimes difficult. He and his family have been severely tested by the challenges thrown at them. He is sometimes angry–who wouldn’t be! But by reading this account we may be able to share a small part of the difficulties faced by those who are disabled. We may not be able to walk a mile in his shoes, but we can share a few steps, share his experiences, and share the support and love he has received from his family.

The quiet courage shown by Azeem and his family outweighs the anger, and will be the strength that he requires to go on. This account shows that he now has his own opinions, his own aspirations, and the determination to overcome future challenges.

He has already fulfilled one of his first ambitions. He is an inspiration to others with disabilities, and I believe that he is also an inspiration to the non-disabled segment of society. This account of his life, from his perspective, will enlighten us all and perhaps cause us to be more sensitive to the challenges that the disabled encounter on a daily basis.”

Dr. John Edmonds M.D., B.S., F.R.C.P.C

Azeem writes candidly in his introductory comments of his autobiography - Wrestling with the Goddess – A Personal Odyssey - “There are times when I forget I am disabled. It is those normal people who remind me that I have disabilities.”

Azeem believes that we are all capable but differently capable. His life and achievements reflect this belief. After completing elementary and high school, Azeem continued to defy the odds by graduating from College with Honours in Radio Broadcasting. He is currently studying for his degree in Communications.

His message of faith, hope, courage and perseverance revolves around the notion that if:

“ I achieve so much with so many inherent limitations then anyone can”.




Azeem's message is simple
"Reach for the stars. They may seem far. Persevere and you will get there because anything is possible with the right attitude."


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