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Janet Buck: "Accept, Adapt, and Excel"
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Now she has the audacity to call that limb "the purple eggplant of despair," or "a hung bomb in the bomb bay of a tent skirt," tenderizing all our grief for "trouble's soggy carrot bones."

At the health club where she works out 6 days a week, her presence is taken almost for granted.

The first few times, everyone there was nervous when she sat down and started removing her leg prior to getting into the pool. Solicitations of offers to help are met with a grin and a comforting sigh of "I got it."

Once she's in the water, she goes. Up to a half-mile per session. She's been lap swimming for 26 years now. When Janet is done, she gets dressed and heads for the gym where she works out on the exercise machines.

On weekends, she and her husband ride their tandem bike every chance they get.

Janet is more than just an active amputee. Born with a plethora of congenital issues including missing bones in her left leg, a club left foot, PFFD on her right leg (which was finally amputated AK at age 7), she had a hip made for her right leg at 19, and it's been replaced twice since then.

Her shoulder's been replaced, her left hip has been replaced, and she's endured a near-death bout with a bleeding ulcer. And then there are the minor issues of fingers that won't straighten and missing ribs.

As a child, disability was a forbidden word in her home. She was granted no special favors. Expected to "carry on," to "walk straight," to be normal. She learned these lessons well.

Despite her congenital deformities, she excelled. In high school, she learned to ride a bike, played tennis and even went to the State Championship level in doubles. She hiked 27 miles through the Columbia River Gorge with her high school class.

Her academic achievements include a B.A., M.A., and a Ph.D. Buck taught writing and literature at the college level for fifteen years and very rarely spoke of her disability

Finally, about 4 years ago, the dam broke. Janet began writing. At first, it was two poems for a friend who was having back-to-back hip replacements eleven weeks apart.


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