Book Review

The Novel Approach to Sexuality and Disability

by Georgie Maxfield.


  During my career, I've written a lot of book reviews. Because my pre-retirement profession was higher education purchasing and materialsmanagement, I wrote reviews for boring technical publications like TheInternational Journal of Purchasing and Materials Management. Most ofthe books I was asked to review were about negotiating, value analysis, orelectronic data interchange. Frankly, I usually didn't find them terriblyexciting. Also, I usually didn't read each book in its entirety before I feltqualified to evaluate it. But Georgie's book was different! I found it veryexciting and I did read every word!

  Georgie Maxfield - a woman I've had the good fortune to know and workwith in the Amputee Coalition of America - is the driving force behind theNorthern Nevada Amputee Support Group. She lost a leg above the kneein a motorcycle accident ten years ago. Her recovery was complicated by anumber of other orthopedic injuries, so serious she was initially notexpected to live. But the same good humor, intelligence, and motivationthat show so well in her writing and in her professional work enabled herto recover and lead a life that has been an inspiration for hundreds ofothers who have also sustained limb loss.

  When I first received a copy of Georgie's book, I assumed that novelapproach meant different approach. After reading it, I realized that,although it is a different approach, novel means that it's written like anovel. Therein lies much of the book's considerable charm.

  Although the subject may be considered daunting, the conversationaland informal writing style makes this a book that's easy to read and hardto put down. There's even some hard core information about such thingsas below-the-waist anatomy, impotence, hormones, and "mechanical"solutions, but it's buried in the story and quite easy to take.

  The "plot" is that Georgie (her book name is Glory) and a female friendwith a respiratory disability, after attending an unsatisfying seminar onsexuality and disability, decide to do their own research on the subject.They end up interviewing 125 people with disabilities (all Georgie's wereamputees) and this book contains some of their stories.*   There's Fred, an "invisible" amputee who left the city to have hissurgery and didn't return until he was rehabilitated prosthetically. Noone, not coworkers or friends, knows he's an amputee - and that's justthe way Fred wants it!
*   There's Tiny, a six-foot-four Paiute Indian, who has a fifteen year-old,worn out, worthless wooden leg. He has to use crutches and "no womancomes to me." Tiny drinks beer and throws rocks at trains.*   There's Walt and Frances, married 54 years. Frances recently lost a legafter being bitten by a brown recluse spider. Walt and Frances don'tconfuse love with sex.
*   There's Rita, who lost both legs and parts of a hand due to a rare blooddisease. She used to be five-foot-nine and "all legs." Now she's five-foot-seven and, remembering "who I was," doesn't like it a bit. Rita'smany suitors "disappeared into the woodwork" about the same time shehad her surgery.

  These are really interesting characters and stories - and there are more.All of them have a point to make about sexuality and recovery fromamputation. And the points are made with good humor and style.

  Georgie writes a lot about her husband, Don (his book name is Dan) -with whom she is obviously deeply in love - and even about a few of herown emotional coping problems and formulae for recovery. An example:She and Dan have developed their own "Cardinal Rules" over the years.One is, "The least you can do is try to act normal." Others are:

With an ability to see life like she does, it's no wonder Georgie's so healthy!

For a copy of The Novel Approach to Sexuality and Disability, send $7.95 toThe Northern Nevada Amputee Support Group, 710 Marian Way, Sparks,NV 89431



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