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ss triple helix - spring 2014,  So many Everests

So many Everests


From Cerebral Palsy to Casualty Consultant
Diana and Victoria Webster
Lion Books, 2012, £8.05 240pp
Pb ISBN 9780745955957
Reviewed by Jean Maxwell, retired consultant in Palliative Medicine

This is the story of Spratty, real name Victoria, who was born in 1965 with cerebral palsy and a generous helping of determination. The book is set mostly in Finland and told first by her mother Diana, and then by Victoria herself.

Although eager to keep reading, I felt confused by a health system that I could not identify with, and frustrated for the family by the obstacles they faced. The unexpected death of her father, the problems at school, her struggles to improve a speech impairment and the prejudice she faced by others painted a picture I hope would not be seen today – but maybe it would, and maybe that is the reason to read this book.

As I read the determined accounts of being accepted for medical training, I remained confused that her suitability then continued to be questioned. I found the decision making through her training a little tedious, but felt endless admiration for her achievements, and particularly how she introduces herself to patients. 'Hello, I'm Victoria Webster. I'm your doctor. I have a speech handicap, but I hope it doesn't bother you'. And it didn't seem to, which is as it should be. She finally reached the top of the mountain – and is the first Casualty Consultant in Scandinavia.

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