The Running Dream
Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She's not comforted by the news that she'll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run?
As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels oddly both in the spotlight and invisible. People who don't know what to say, act like she's not there. Which she could handle better if she weren't now keenly aware that she'd done the same thing herself to a girl with CP named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she's missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her.
With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that's not enough for her now. She doesn't just want to cross finish lines herself—she wants to take Rosa with her.
My life is over.
Behind the morphine dreams is the nightmare of reality.
A reality I can't face.
I cry myself back to sleep wishing, pleading, praying that I'll wake up from this, but the same nightmare always awaits me.
"Shhh," my mother whispers. "It'll be okay." But her eyes are swollen and red, and I know she doesn't believe what she's saying.
My father--now that's a different story. He doesn't even try to lie to me. What's the use? He knows what this means.
My hopes, my dreams, my life . . . it's over.
The only one who seems unfazed is Dr. Wells. "Hello there, Jessica!" he says. I don't know if it's day or night. The second day or the first. "How are you feeling?"
I just stare at him. What am I supposed to say, "Fine"?
He inspects my chart. "So let's have a look, shall we?"
He pulls the covers off my lap, and I find myself face to face with the truth.
My right leg has no foot.
It's just my thigh, my knee, and a stump wrapped in a mountain of gauze.
My eyes flood with tears as Dr. Wells removes the bandages and inspects his handiwork. I turn away, only to see my mother fighting back tears of her own. "It'll be okay," she tells me, holding tight to my hand. "We'll get through this."
Dr. Wells is maddeningly cheerful. "This looks excellent, Jessica. Nice vascular flow, good color . . . you're already healing beautifully."
I glance at the monstrosity below my knee.
It's red and bulging at the end. Fat staples run around my stump like a big ugly zipper, and the skin is stained dirty yellow.
"How's the pain?" he asks. "Are you managing okay?"
I wipe away my tears and nod, because the pain in my leg is nothing compared to the one in my heart.
None of their meds will make that one go away.
He goes on, cheerfully. "I'll order a shrinker sock to control the swelling. Your residual limb will be very tender for a while, and applying the shrinker sock may be uncomfortable at first, but it's important to get you into one. Reducing the swelling and shaping your limb is the first step in your rehabilitation." A nurse appears to re-bandage me as he makes notes in my chart and says, "A prosthetist will be in later today to apply it."
Tears continue to run down my face.
I don't seem to have the strength to hold them back.
Dr. Wells softens. "The surgery went beautifully, Jessica." He says this like he's trying to soothe away reality. "And considering everything, you're actually very lucky. You're alive, and you still have your knee, which makes a huge difference in your future mobility. BK amputees have it much easier than AK amputees."
"BK? AK?" my mom asks.
"I'm sorry," he says, turning to my mother. "Below knee. Above knee. In the world of prosthetic legs it's a critical difference." He prepares to leave. "There will obviously be an adjustment period, but Jessica is young and fit, and I have full confidence that she will return to a completely normal life."
My mother nods, but she seems dazed. Like she's wishing my father was there to help her absorb what's being said.
Dr. Wells flashes a final smile at me. "Focus on the positive, Jessica. We'll have you up and walking again in short order."
This from the man who sawed off my leg.
He whooshes from the room leaving a dark, heavy cloud of the unspoken behind.
My mother smiles and coos reassuringly, but she knows what I'm thinking.
What does it matter?
|Author||Wendelin Van Draanen|
|Number of Pages||332|
|Book Dimensions||8.25 x 5.5 in.|
|Shipping Weight||.60 lbs|