Saskatoon's Nicole Bear shares story of hiding cerebral palsy

Nicole Bear's book "Is Your Arm Broken?" tells the story of how she used to hide her cerebral palsy, often coming up with outlandish stories to to explain away her physical differences.

As a teenager she made up fanciful tales to explain away her disability

Nicole Bear used to cover up her disability by making up stories. (Rosalie Woloski/CBC)

At some point, it's pretty common for a teenager to feel the need to fit in. But in high school, Saskatoon's Nicole Bear went to greater lengths than most. She has cerebral palsy, but made up stories to conceal it from her classmates.

"In general [cerebral palsy] has to do with your limbs ... for me, I'm very mild ... it looks like I have a broken arm and I have a little bit of a limp," she explained during an interview on CBC's Saskatoon Morning.  

Bear usually came up with the stories on the fly, and as a result they were often inconsistent. One person would hear how she'd fallen down a flight of stairs while she'd tell another she'd hurt herself while skiing.

"I'd never been skiing before," said Bear. "The most elaborate [story] was that I'd been shot and I of course said it to a guy that I was very attracted to."

Bear continued to hide her cerebral palsy into her late 20's, although her tales grew much less tall.  "My bosses didn't even know I had it, I would just say I was [double jointed]," she said.

When it was time to start a family, Bear decided she needed to make a change. "I didn't want my kid to say 'Well my mom hides things. I'm going to hide [things] too.' that was a big turning point for me," said Bear.

Bear details her experience in "Is Your Arm Broken?" a book she'll be speaking about and signing at McNally Robinson in Saskatoon, Tuesday, July 27.



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