Nadalette La Fonta Six

The Bending Reed, the Story of a Marvelous Operation

In a powerful work published on November 9th, Nadalette La Fonta Six tells the story of a botched surgery that left her paraplegic. While presenting an edifying look at the world of medicine and hospitals, her story is also one of redemption – of the way a woman decides to retake control of her life….
In over 180 pages, without compromise and with scalpel-like incisiveness, she recounts her terrible ordeal, while at the same time offering a meditation on freedom, femininity, the bonds of kinship, and much more. It is a plunge into life’s darkest depths, and in the end, a story of redemption – of how a woman stood back up thanks to her willpower, to the love within her, and, of course, to her writing. Because her book is both a way of sharing and a way of healing.

From an article by Anne-Marie Rocco in the magazine Challenges.

Illustrations by Sophie Renard

Is it necessary
to suffer before daring to write?

For nearly forty years, Nadalette La Fonta Six buried her dream of being a writer.

Nadalette was always on the go. A woman with a forceful character, committed, passionate, she enjoyed one success after another in her career, holding coveted positions in the worlds of communication, marketing, and human resources management. A wife and mother of three daughters, she also had a busy personal life, organizing the everyday activities, vacations, parties at home… sitting and doing nothing was not Nadelette’s style.

And yet…

For nearly forty years, Nadalette had also hidden her nightmare: she suffered from severe scoliosis.
The condition grew worse, the pain more frequent and intense. Nadalette could no longer wait. She could not keep putting it off. She would have to undergo surgery. Nadalette finally gave in. But after a nine-hour operation and the insertion of two titanium rods in her spine, she learned on awakening that her spinal cord had been injured. She was paraplegic.

Her life fell to pieces, the familiar landmarks were shattered.

How could she accept the unacceptable? How could she still find meaning in life? How could she cope with the anger and pain?

Nevertheless, for Nadalette, the nightmare contained some “blessings in disguise”… among them, the chance to confront her true self and dare to realize her dream: TO WRITE.

Portrait of an accomplished businesswoman and a bending reed,
whose resilience turned her into a writer.

Until our final day, and perhaps even after, nothing happens to us that we cannot change and transform.

Before…
Nadalette La Fonta Six enjoyed both a brilliant professional career and a full social and personal life.

For many years, she was a manager leading teams in a diversity of projects in complex, multicultural environments. Her work required a capacity to advise senior management and to take part in international missions, particularly in communications roles, at several major companies (Renault, Apple Computer, McDonnell Douglas, and Thomson CSF). In 1996, she joined IBM Europe, where she held positions in communication and marketing before heading up a special talent management unit for France and international operations.

As I was keenly interested in the management of talent, Coach CorporateCoachU, Gestalt and PNL, I focused on gaining a better understanding of change processes and ways to support individuals and international teams in my functions, coaching and mentoring many women within the company as well as in multi-company initiatives – particularly between Danone and IBM – and also working as a volunteer.

Nadalette La Fonta SixWRITER

As she cares greatly about diversity and inclusion, this accomplished businesswoman was always ready to do more personally, joining IBM’s Corporate Service Corps program
https://www.ibm.com/ibm/responsibility/corporateservicecorps/ to facilitate the activities of volunteer teams, and then heading off to India herself to work with NGOs.

As a board member and vice president of the Professional Women’s Network Paris (PWN Paris), she has actively supported the creation and development of women’s networks and mentoring programs. In 2013, she participated with the PWN and the Club du XXIème Siècle in the creation of the first mentoring program for women from diverse multicultural backgrounds, who must contend with a double glass ceiling.

I threw myself into my work. I made a lot of trips abroad. I wasn’t aware of it then, but I realize today that during all those years, I was ignoring the scoliosis that was eating away at me little by little. And I completely buried the dream I had inside.

Nadalette La Fonta SixWriter

2014 :
1 operation, 9 hours, and Nadalette enters a new world…

For a year, I was a complete vegetable. I couldn’t even read… which meant I had ample time to do some soul-searching and to let certain things ripen. I faced up to how tough I had always been on myself to succeed professionally and socially.

Nadalette La Fonta SixÉcrivaine

In 2014, the world of Nadalette La Fonta Six collapsed. During the operation to treat her scoliosis, her spinal cord was injured.

In the space of a few hours, Nadalette went from a world where she was active and independent, in control of every situation and her life, to a world where she was bound to a hospital bed and then to a wheelchair, dependent on others to make the slightest movement.

The hospital milieu that turns patients into children, the rehabilitation room where the brain relearns to keep the body upright, the numb limbs, the ketamine-fueled “trips” to “relieve the neuropathic pains,” the suffering of loved ones… Nadalette did not give in for an instant. Day after day she fought to regain control of her life, to find meaning in her life, and to give her new life meaning.

The awakening of a writer…
and of a new life

When I left the hospital in Garches, I was very angry. My husband advised me to start writing.

The truth emerged. Since the age of twenty, Nadalette had always dreamed of writing. Dipping her pen in the well of her pain and anger, but also her positive spirit and humor, she now began doing it.

Three years after her operation and an intense rehabilitation program, Nadalette got out of her wheelchair and began walking with a cane. She left her businesswoman’s attire in the closet and published her first book, Le roseau penchant, histoire d’une merveilleuse operation (The Bending Reed, the Story of a Marvelous Operation) with Editions Fauves. She has also taken part in RED for Executive Women, a photographic project that highlights women who have succeeded and gained recognition owing to their skills, hard work, and perseverance.

Painful experiences should lead us to ask ourselves some basic questions: What do I do with my pain? What can I take from it to give meaning to my life.

Nadalette La Fonta SixWriter

While it was pain that spurred her to write her first book, Nadalette La Fonta Six is now advancing step by step on her own, her body still hesitant, but sure of the path she intends to follow – the path of a writer.

Nadalette
A writer, a speaker and a mentor.

A writer, a speaker and a mentor. For many years, Nadalette was a manager leading teams in complex,multicultural projects, advising senior management in international missions, particularly in communications , Marketing and Talent management roles (Renault, Apple,  Thomson,  IBM Europe).

Caring greatly about diversity,  she did more personally, joining IBM’s Corporate Service Corps to facilitate the activities of volunteer teams, and then heading off to India herself to work with NGOs. Board VP member PWNParis (2005), she has actively supported the development of women’s networks and mentoring programs. In 2013, she participated with PWN/ Club du XXIème Siècle in the creation of the first mentoring program for women from multicultural backgrounds.

©Gaël Dupret, France, Paris le
17-01-2018 : RED for Executive Women
Photo : Nadalette LA FONTA SIX, auteur.
Nadalette LA FONTA SIX, author.

She is part of Cercle Interelles. 2014: Her world collapsed. During a surgery, her spinal cord was injured. She went from a world where she was active to a world where she was bound to a wheelchair. It was also the awakening of a writer… and of a new life. Dipping her pen in the well of her pain and anger, but also her positive spirit and humor, she left her businesswoman’s attire in the closet and published her first book, Le roseau penchant (The Bending Reed, the Story of a Marvelous Operation) Editions Fauves. She is a motivational speaker at many conferences – Connecting Women, Jump, Women’s Forum Paris, TEDXWomen, etc.