Sara's story, Italy

02_08_spina_bifida.jpgMy name is Sara, I am 22 years old and I live in Villa d'Adda, a little town near Bergamo, located in the north of Italy.
In my opinion, to describe my life until now is like a series of events that happened one after the other, does not  truly reflect the progress of my years.
I believe that the best metaphor that would represent my experiences is an incomplete watercolour painting.
PINK, as a blow hung on a door to celebrate the birth of a little girl.
I was born on March 30, 1984 in the ‘Riuniti Hospital' of Bergamo and after seven days, when I just started breathing the air of the earth for the first time, I was operated for Myelomeningocele.
Myelomeningocele: it's a word; it's an operation, an unknown malformation, for me as well as for my parents.  I can imagine them, twenty-two years ago, with their young faces that I saw sometimes on the old family's photos. They were a young couple just married, shocked by an unpredicted event... Spina Bifida.

GREY, I could see in my mind's eye their fears, their tears, their desire to escape, their uncertainties, but I can also easily imagine the strength shown during every day. A positive strength, a superior strength, strength greater than themselves.
In every day a little success was hidden: to recuperate from the operation, the physiotherapy and the corset that helps me getting a good posture, my first words. But the most important conquests were to be able to walk and to achieve great results at school.

GREEN, the colour of a leaf bud.
Growing hand in hand with my parents, I enjoyed the first important meetings of my life.
The little children in the nursery school called me "little robot" or "tartar", as I wore the corset. They were nicknames that came out from the TV programs popular at that moment.
I always replied promptly, my words were suitable for the occasion, thanks to the suggestions given before by my mother.
"...on those occasions, confronted with such words, I had to reply in this way..."
They are concrete, well-defined, true suggestions and they were the first answers to my handicap, which I was looking forward to, since I was a child... I needed these words expressed in that way: concrete, well-defined, true.

When I think about meeting with other people, certainly I recall some important figures of the medical staff like physiotherapists and doctors. They are represented by the WHITE colour.
Medicine isn't only an employment, it's a talent, because it does not only have to solve problems mechanically, but it has to be creative in taking care of precarious situations. As we can read in a French adage of the XV century: "To treat sometime, to mitigate very often, to support always".
Therefore the concept of health-illness or health-handicap doesn't only refer to the medical-scientific evaluation (the two words "Spina Bifida"), but it refers to the complete person, to the values in which he or she believes, to the daily routine, to one's own preferences and interests.
And my thoughts go directly to my paediatrician, who often asked me about what I would do in my future. My best capabilities were being expressed in school; therefore my great dream consisted in following her example and becoming like her...

With the serenity that distinguished children, I discovered in gym my limits through various types of training, impossible abdominal exercises (until today, too!) and uncoordinated movements.
Those limits weren't so serenely accepted during the adolescence years! They were unacceptable! BLACK.
I discovered the desire to be like other girls, the need to be alone and accepted in a large group of friends at the same time, the desire to say "No" to all the proposals suggested to me. I felt unattractive, different. Because I didn't wear Levis jeans, or because I felt constricted to dress in large t-shirts in order to hide my corset.

But little by little I've softened these disappointments
I've reached the RED colour, my favourite one.
I've learnt gradually that every person is different from the others and becoming unique in the world. This peculiarity hides inside his real beauty.
My friends were important treasures all my live: with all my friends starting a confrontation between our similarities and our own peculiarities. We look at each other, realizing that everyone was born with different abilities in order to do the different activities of life. Thanks to this consideration the desire arises to stay together, in order to help each other when it is necessary, or to keep silent when being together and near.
This interior beauty deriving to be unique in the world was shown clearly when a boy decided to stay with me, instead of another girl, simply because he liked my way of being unique.
Simply because he was looking for Sara, with my "strange way of walking", as Baglioni, (an Italian singer) says in his song.

Coming back to my initial metaphor with its range of colours, I can see the PINK, the GREY, the GREEN, the WHITE, the BLACK and the RED drawn and delicately superimposed over a painting. The bright colours become darker, and the gloomiest ones receive light; as in my life hopes, fears, dreams and limits happen.
Today my 22 years of life could be represented by the ORANGE-RED colour of a rising sun. I'm going to start the third academic year of the Medical-Surgery Faculty at the ‘Milano-Bicocca' University, I love my boyfriend, I believe in God who has always watched over me and I'm constantly accompanied by my parents and my friends, which share with me this piece of life.

I would like to read a part of this Book in order to finish my talk:

There is a time for everything,
       and a season for every activity under heaven:
 2 a time to be born and a time to die,
       a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
       a time to tear down and a time to build,
 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
       a time to mourn and a time to dance,
 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
       a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
 6 a time to search and a time to give up,
       a time to keep and a time to throw away,
 7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
       a time to be silent and a time to speak,
 8 a time to love and a time to hate,
       a time for war and a time for peace.

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