|"My message as an artist is to show the world that there is a creative soul in everyone with or without a handicap." - Dergin Tokmak|
What captured my interest when I did more research on Dergin was not so much his dancing but his amazing ability to do it considering his history with Polio. Poliomyelitis is a viral disease that can affect nerves and lead to partial or full paralysis. Dergin contracted this virus when he was a child and since then lost complete use of his left leg and most control of his right. He survived by learning to walk on his hands and to
Dergin’s story hit close to home for me since my father was also afflicted with Polio when he was younger. He lost the use of muscles in his left leg and some all up his left side including the arm. With his weakened arm, I highly doubt that my father would have been able to dance on crutches but like Dergin, he did not let his condition overshadow him.
Growing up, society tried to make me believe that having a cripple for a father was an embarrassment but I never understood that attitude. My father faced many battles (including discrimination) and I am very proud that he managed to get through them the best he could. This also makes me incredibly proud of Dergin and it truly touches my heart when I read about him being a role model for others who may have been discouraged by a handicap or disability.
I've had some correspondence with Dergin but the language barrier was a bit of an issue. (I should have paid more attention to my dad when he was trying to teach me German.) However I did manage to express to him how he had given me a fresh look at my own situation, having gone through my share of health complexities at the time. He reminded me to focus on the strengths that I had begun to neglect and to build on those in order to become a true survivor.
With each seizure attack I have, I too stand the risk of losing nerve function but that no longer worries me now. People like my father and Dergin have the willpower to make it through certain difficulties that life had thrown them, and I am assured that I would also be able to deal with the worst that could happen.
Dergin dancing in wheelchair and on crutches on remake of James Brown video, Sex Machine