The Woman with Half a Body
Rosemarie (Rose) Siggins - Extraordinary People
Rose grew up, with her mentally handicapped brother, in Pueblo, Colorado. Rose believes her parents made the right choice as she cannot imagine being confined to a wheelchair. She describes her physical condition in her own way "If you take a Barbie doll and remove it's legs, the region you are left with is what I have. I have all the female working organs, the only reason I sit shorter or more compact, as people say, is because I'm missing four sections of my spinal column".
Rose's great passion in life is cars. All things automotive, cars, trucks and V-8 engines have been a big part of her life since she started playing with her father's toolbox at the age of 3. When she was sixteen, her parents bought her a car. A used car which Rose and her father adapted with hand controls so that Rose was able to drive herself around. She is rebuilding a 1968 Mustang which she plans to race.
For years, the administrators at the local school forced Rose to wear artificial legs, they wanted her to look like everybody else. When she was in eighth grade she rebelled and refused to wear her prosthetic limbs, turning up for school on her skateboard. She wanted to be normal, and her normal is Rose who walks on her hands and has no legs. After meeting with her parents who were being very supportive, and realising that Rose was very stubborn, the school relented and allowed her to return, without her prosthetics.
Two years into their relationship, Rose discovered that she was pregnant. Rose's pregnancy was extraordinary and ground-breaking, no-one with Sacral Agenesis had ever given birth. The only doctor who didn't advise Rose to have an abortion was Dr. Wilson who says "This couple have committed themselves to a pregnancy and she is, basically, laying her life on the line because nobody knows what this means, no-one has lived this experience before. With the first counselling with Rose and David I was very specific and told them that they have to know that if they move forward with this that she could die." The main concerns were with her lungs being compressed, as the baby was likely to grow up the way because of her short stature. The other concern was how she would tolerate a caesarean delivery, because the baby was lying transversely she would have to be opened across the top, a true 19th century caesarean delivery. Rose told her mum that if there were any complications and there was a choice between her life and the baby's, she should choose the baby.
Having given birth to a miracle baby, Rose was about to experience a terrible tragedy. Luke had just celebrated his second birthday when Rose's mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She held the family together, provided an emotional pillar, and organised the vital day-to-day running of the house. Her death had a disastrous effect on everyone around her. Rose's father had already had the onset of Alzheimer's and dementia so he, like her brother, didn't understand what was happening. It became apparent that Rose was next in line to run the family and do everything her mother had done. As well as looking after her son and husband, Rose now cares for her dad and brother. Rose's dad, James, has smoked all his life and now has to rely on a constant supply of oxygen. He is also suffering from schizophrenia and the onset of Alzheimer's.
Rose has great moral strength and a remarkable attitude she says "A lot of people with disabilities feel that life owes them something, and I was raised in a way that no, no-one owes you a dime. The world doesn't owe you anything, this is what you have and you use your resources and you get through life. My personal opinion is, get up and go for it, just do it."
Rose's story as a woman who has overcome bewildering obstacles and succeeded despite seemingly impossible odds is a real life example of the American dream. However, away from the limelight and behind a determined self-assurance there's another side to Rose. With the usual day-to-day problems and the added stress of Jimmy's erratic behaviour Rose is feeling the strain.
She takes refuge in the garage where she can oversee the installation of a new V-8 engine in her Mustang. At last after weeks of hard work Rose feels the Mustang is ready to hit the race track, which will be another life-long ambition achieved.
Incredibly, despite the risks involved, Rose has had a second baby.
Note: The condition Sacral Agenesis may sound like or be incorrectly spelt as sacrillo genesis or sacralla genesis.