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Denise Salmon - Not defined by what she doesn't have

Published:Saturday | March 30, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Denise Salmon - Contributed

Valerie Dixon, Gleaner Writer

MANDEVILLE, Manchester:

DENISE SALMON is not giving in to self-pity as she is moving past the devastation that would have shaken the faith of many persons. She does not remember the accident because she was unconscious during the ordeal.

It started out just like any other morning when she left her home in Portmore and travelled to the north coast to do her sales work. She had just finished and was making her way home when the accident occurred. Based on what she was told, an Autogago Hino bus ploughed into her little van in a head-on collision and pushed it back into the vehicles behind her.

She woke up one month later in the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH), and, based on her condition, she was not expected to live. She suffered severe head injuries and had many broken bones. The news media reported that she had died in the crash.

When she described the trauma she went through, it brought into sharp focus how so many of us 'stress-out' ourselves over trivial matters that we are sure would make us 'happy' and 'successful'.

Denise spent six months at the KPH and two months at the St Joseph's Hospital in New Jersey, United States of America. Her right foot was badly damaged. The ankle was crushed and the skin was completely peeled off. Her left leg was damaged beyond repair and had to be amputated, and she had to learn to walk again when a prosthesis was fitted.


She does not remember mourning the loss of her leg because while in hospital, she saw many persons who were not as badly injured as she was succumb to their injuries.

Denise had a burning desire to live. In her words, "I needed to live to be able to take care of my son."

Her son, Darren, is now a final-year student at the University of the West Indies. He was eight years old at the time of the accident.

Denise said the bus driver has never reached out to her to offer any compensation or assistance towards the massive medical bills that were incurred. However, kind-hearted persons have done a lot to help her and she gives thanks to God every day for the help she has received. "I just want to be independent, and I really don't want to beg," she said.

Denise keeps busy doing all the things that she can find to do to make a living. One of the things she is now doing is writing books for children, especially Jamaican children.

When she returned to Jamaica, she wrote an article for Challenge Magazine. It was well received, and this encouraged her. She pursued a course at the Philip Sherlock Centre, University of the West Indies, and became part of an online writing community. She saw the need for more Jamaican children's books, so she began to write children's stories.

Encouraging appreciation

Her books try to encourage adults and children to love and appreciate their country. Her first book is entitled Fun in Jamaica - Ocho Rios. Her other titles are Stronger Love and Jamaica mi Paradise. She has a book on Marcus Garvey and the Tainos in the pipeline, but is having a hard time as funds for creative Jamaicans are hard to find and access. She laments that she has not made a better living from the sale of her books, but she remains hopeful. One of her books is being reviewed by the Ministry of Education, and, if approved, will be used in schools.

Denise Salmon has proven that her missing leg does not define her. The accident has not affected her brain and she uses it to help herself. Her ambition is to become a bestselling author of children's books. She has shown that pain and disappointment can force us to locate and find our strengths and embrace them in ways that allow us to excel and get beyond our limitations. Denise can be contacted at