Interview in English

(released in September, 2014)

Kateřina Antošová says that she isn´t exceptional. She is a mother of three sons, a programmer and auditor. It’s excessive modesty, however – she‘s a person who despite adversity has maintained an unshakeable will to live and a tireless enthusiasm for sports. She’s a woman who knows how to take on life in a wheelchair. We were delighted to chat with her about her new life.

What actually happened to you two years ago?

I was picking pears and fell out of the tree. A broken vertebra severed my spinal cord, and I couldn’t move the lower half of my body. It was hard to get used to, but I have a strong sporting spirit which was a blessing in disguise. I still had so much: family, friends, work and a healthy head and hands. The only thing I was missing was movement. So immediately after I got out of the hospital, I bought a handbike – a bike for wheelchair users that you lie on and “pedal” with your hands. I looked forward to accompanying my husband when he ran marathons. Without a bike I could never keep up with him. After a few months, my husband was accompanying ME more and more at races and had to buy a road bike – a mountain bike wasn‘t enough.

How did your life change after the accident?

Not much. I still go to work, I still exercise… But I still can’t get used to the fact that everything takes me so long. After the accident I was like a small child – dependent on others, and I had to relearn how to do so many things. It was a completely different world. It didn’t matter what you were good at in your past life, only how to manage getting into the shower in the evening. I met lots of great people. I wanted to share the experience of the “other world”. So I wrote a blog. Based on the positive comments I received, I turned my blog into a book called “ParaDiary, or How I Fell Out of a Pear Tree“. With humor and light exaggeration, I wrote about the first nine months of my new life.

And how’s the book doing?

Out of the whole process from writing down my experiences to people buying and reading the book, the most difficult thing is to find just the right reader – i.e., someone who will buy a book by a completely unknown author who writes, of all things, about life in a wheelchair. That‘s why I chose the crowdfunding route, where future readers decide the fate of the book and whether it gets printed. Either you find enough of them and the book comes out, or the project fails and the money is returned to them. Fortunately, we managed to capture the interest of quite a few people. The book was released in March and we’re currently getting ready for a reprint, because the first five hundred copies have all been distributed.

And what are your future plans?

Now I’m coming up to the end of a tough handbike racing season. This year I took part in fourteen races, seven abroad. I finished fourth in the World Cup race and sixth in the World Championship in Paracycling, which was in the end of August in South Carolina.

Excerpt from the book ParaDiary

February 1, 2013In the morning I go for a swim because they won’t bring my computer to work until about 10. I‘m looking forward to getting fit again. They don‘t have any problems with me at Brumlovka. There’s a well-equipped fitness center there with a 25 m pool. It seems that in Prague, there are only two pools with movable seats. It’s mounted by the stairs to the pool and works on the principle of water buoyancy in a cylinder. It’s operated by a lever and goes up and down by itself. I struggled with it a bit at the beginning, but I reassured the lifeguard that after the third time, I could handle it myself.

On the way home from my work in the centre of Prague, this monologue keeps going through in my head: ”I see nothing, just parked cars. Yeah good, he‘s letting me go. But watch out, I still have one on my ass. Now avoid the hole in the middle of the street… Let‘s go… oh…well, I‘m on the sidewalk. For God‘s sake people, don‘t stop… I‘m going. It only has a parking brake. Watch out on the left, I‘m passing. Sadly, a bell was not mandatory equipment… I‘m going over the crosswalk to the places where the cobblestones are easier to drive on. I know, boy, that you‘re waiting for me to disappear. It won’t be that fast. You don’t have to back up, I can squeeze in there somehow… Stupid hill. Stupid cobblestones. My front wheel gets stuck between the cobblestones. I‘m seriously sick of this. Where is everybody?““Yeah, that’s nice of you to help me.”“How are you? I‘m fine.““Ein elektrischen Rohlstuhl ist zu teuer.“ “Što ty ljubiš čitať?““Spasibo. Vielen Dank. Thank you very much. Dĕkuji.“