Reading: #117: Accept, Adapt, Innovate (Linda Olson)

#117: Accept, Adapt, Innovate (Linda Olson)

December 18 2020

At age 29, Linda Olson was strapped inside a van that stalled on a railroad track. A train hit the van and she went on to live her very full life as a mother, radiologist, and triple amputee. At 71, she has published her first book, a memoir called GONE, and is newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. After the train accident, she says, “I had a choice to make: Do I want to be happy or not?” There were people standing at the end of her hospital bed unable to look her in the eye when she decided “I want to make them happy and so I focused on their mental attitudes. It worked. They put me in a wheelchair, I went out to the garden and started making lists of what I am going to do when I got back home.” Growing up, Linda’s mother would post a list of her daily required activities on her door, and the focus — both then and after the accident — helped her get through each day feeling accomplished. “I still have the lists [I made that day],” she says. “They got me back into rehab and after four months I walked a mile with my prosthetic legs.” Today she is still pushing the boundaries of her physical abilities. “After 41 years there are new things I have to figure out,” she says, “— like filing my nails with one hand.” Her husband used to do it for her, but just the other day, Linda says she designed a way to do it herself. “It’s about accepting, adapting, innovating. Make a game of it, “ she says.