I was born a healthy, vivacious, robust baby. Barely seven months later, the polio virus invaded my little body and changed my life forever. Or did it not...?
Now, as time has gone by, I receive some looks full with pity from people who the only thing they get to see is a -maybe beautiful- woman riding a red scooter-wheelchair.
For instance, when I have to give my marital status and I say that I am divorced, that announcement is immediately followed by me volunteering that "oh, I wanted it!" and a smile, to reassure my interlocutors that I am not the poor crippled girl abandoned by her husband(s), because I was married twice, and to two wonderful men. Alas, both marriages did not work, but it was due to life developments and to the fact that men and women have once and for all to accept that marriage is a mission that requires two to succeed.
In all, I see polio like the most inherent part of me, a part that though I sometimes have hated because it made me different than so many beautiful-legged women, most recently I have come to learn to love and be grateful for.
For, what, who, would I have been without the polio.
Maybe a superficial beauty, spoiled by an adoring and boring husband and some kids, or maybe one of those spoiled-rotten young women in Manhattan, born to adoring parents who would rush at their baby's least call.... but most likely without the strength of character, the indomitable passion that I feel for life and for the world.
Yes, polio became my impediment for so many aspects in life.
Rather than complain about it, I prefer to think of all the good things that came out of it. Because having to wake up every morning to the sunshine of life, it is a special -not to say a hard- task to get out of bed and walk around... but, that's what it's all about, despite the challenge still get to enjoy the warmth of the sun, of life; still enjoy each pleasure that life gives us.
I wonder what many people may think when they see me on my little red scooter. Obviously she cannot run or jump or even walk like all of us.... so she may not be that much fun.... Yes, probably all that goes through their heads and, who knows, even more daring thoughts -or not. Like, does she even make love, and if so, does she even enjoy it....
Well, that's all very amusing to me, because far from being an ice queen, the reality is totally the opposite.
Yes, what G-d took away from my legs, did give me back in my overgrown very analytical mind. What G-d took away from my legs, my arms, gave me in an exceeding passion for life in all forms, including my communication skills that are so critical in this age of connections and internet but most of all of intense personal interaction.
The magic of polio will continue to influence my life till the end, and I will never regret it, because I am who I am also thanks to that devastating polio.
My friend Eric Haseltine, who is one of the American leading brain scientists, has told me that there are so many scientific progress done lately, that there may be a way to implant a chip on my brain to make work some of the debilitated muscles of my legs or my left arm. That's so wonderful. Yet, the only reaction possible was to tell Eric that nobody will touch my brain to implant that chip, I am very well as I am, thank you very much.
The curious thing is that, sometimes, I forget I have this impediment, that I cannot walk 'normally', like you or the others.
The other day, I had forgotten my blackberry which I had placed on a lower bench, so I turned around to pick it up, but it so happened that I had forgotten that I could not walk well!!! And, I almost fell. I just smiled, because this proved me something else that I will address in another piece where I will try to explain it from another angle.
Meanwhile, let me just say that my mind sometimes actually 'forgets' my physical impediment, and I find that fascinating.