Title: In A Single Bound: Losing My Leg, Finding Myself And Training For Life
Author: Sarah Reinertsen with Alan Goldsher
Publisher: Lyons Press
Price: $18.95 CAN / $16.95 US
“It is a waste of time to be angry about my disability. One has to get on with life and I haven’t done badly. People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.” ~ Stephen Hawking
VICKY: What would you do if you were born with a physical disability? I like to think that I’m a positive person and that I wouldn’t be that different than who I am now. Having said that, it’s much easier for me to say that because I’ve never had to deal and live with that kind of life event.
GRANT: I’m not sure either how I would cope with that kind of loss but I suppose it may be easier for a person to be born with a disability than to lose a limb later in life when you’ve had the benefit of using it. To me, that would be worse.
VICKY: I think in any case, it’s all about perspective and attitude. The inspiring Stephen Hawking has this to say about learning of his disability at the age of 21:
“The realisation that I had an incurable disease, that was likely to kill me in a few years, was a bit of a shock. How could something like that happen to me? Why should I be cut off like this? However, while I had been in hospital, I had seen a boy I vaguely knew die of leukaemia, in the bed opposite me. It had not been a pretty sight. Clearly there were people who were worse off than me. At least my condition didn’t make me feel sick. Whenever I feel inclined to be sorry for myself I remember that boy.”
GRANT: When you read Sarah’s book, did you get a sense she had that same attitude about being born with proximal femoral focal deficiency?
VICKY: Well, I think when you are born with a disability, your parents play a huge role in how you view yourself and the world around you. Here’s an excerpt from page 8 of her book where she talks about her mother to illustrate this:
“She’d tell me, ‘You can’t do anything about it. It’s not something that can be fixed with cough syrup. Go out and play, and have fun, and don’t worry about it.’ She also compared my leg to my dad’s glasses. ‘Your father needs his glasses to see, just like you need your brace to walk. It’s no big deal.”
GRANT: That’s amazing because I’m sure it’s difficult for the parent too.
VICKY: Yes, also at p. 8 she talked about how other parents would:
“…put them in long dresses in order to hide the handicap, almost instilling in them shame about their missing leg.”
GRANT: Times were different in the mid-seventies. Thank gawd parents have access to so much information and resources nowadays.
VICKY: Exactly. They are far less isolated than in the past. Of course this is also thanks to individuals like Sarah who have paved the way and shown the world they are just like everyone else and quite capable of completing an Ironman for example.
GRANT: Let’s talk about that. How did she even get the idea of doing a triathlon?
VICKY: Ah, I’m keeping that for the next post! Stay tuned…