Finished: (working title)
“Seriously, though. I think there’s…. life.”
“You know better than to get your hopes up,” came the reply.
The following silence was heavy, like too many blankets piled on a bed. A clock ticked in the background.
“I know…” I started, pausing briefly, trying to stitch together my thoughts, gathering the frayed bits of a ravaged tapestry. “I know, not to.. do that… But I felt something…”
“Recovery is minimal at this point.” The statement was sharp. Pointed. It threatened to tear apart the stitches I’d been working so hard to repair.
A small muscle in my jaw twitched, and I took a few moments to breathe in and out through my nose. I released my mouth, letting my lips part open and wide, working out the kinks of tension in my jaw as deep breaths filled my lungs.
“I know the science,” I stated quietly.
The woman in front of me folded her hands politely on her lap and gave me a practiced smile. “Look,” she said rather firmly. “I’m not trying to discourage you...”
My eyes must have rolled, because she pursed her lips instead of continuing. Another thick moment hung in the air, cloyingly oppressive.
She cleared her throat before continuing, “I’m not, Kristina, trying to discourage you. I know how hard that must be for you to believe. You’ve been through so much. But I need you to be realistic. I need you to understand the limitations of your current situation.”
My head had dropped down and my eyes looked up at her now from a lowered position, the intensity of my feelings framed by the arch of my brow. I knew she felt the pressure of that expression.
“All I’m trying to say,” she said, “is that you have to recognize that you just can’t do what you used to be able to do.” She finished off rather confidently, as if that statement finished the subject.
My finger tapped impatiently against the wrist of my other arm. I don’t think she gets it, I heard my voice in my mind, What is she trying to say? That it’s impossible?
I remained silent as my thoughts played out. For a full minute only our breaths and the ticking of the clock made any sound in the room. Like a showdown between cowboys, our hands were poised above our pistols, waiting to fire the lethal shot that would win.
“No,” I said.
The shot was fired.
I heard her sigh. I had lowered my eyes again and could only hear the faint rustle of fabric as she shifted her position in her seat.
“No,” I said more forcefully, “do you even know what you’re saying?” my voice started to take on a more passionate tone. “Do you know what you’re suggesting?”
“Kristina,” she began, “Let’s stay calm here. I’m on your side.”
“No!” I called out, feeling the break of shattered glass as I finally pulled back from the condemnation she felt determined to place me with.
“No.” I said firmly. “I’ve been seeing you for months now, trying to sort out the remains of myself after my accident, trying to accept my…” I couldn’t help but hesitate here, and swallowed deeply, “of my disability.” The word stung on my tongue, like I’d chewed on lemon, skin and all.
“Right, and I’m only trying to --” her voice felt like it had a weed climbing up it.
“NO.” I said quietly, but with such finality the resulting silence tore the room in two.
She stared at me with a resigned defeat; though pity tinged the edges of her eyes, as if she knew something I didn’t. “Okay,” she said quietly.
I let the moment marinate for a moment. In truth I hadn’t felt this sort of conviction in myself for a long time. It had been 7 years since the accident that had broken my neck and left me with a disability that, seemingly invisible, completely controlled my life. I could walk, sure, but with far more symptoms than any passerby could see. Pain, spasticity, fatigue, it all plagued me. And the broken record that echoed through my recovery was: “You’ll get the most recovery within the first two years, after that… that’s all you really get. After that, it’s who you are.”
But, amazingly, I had started to feel that was wrong. I started to recognize the self-preservation that had stained those statements from my various therapists. In their effort to either avoid a lawsuit, or perhaps to save what was left of my fractured self-image, they were in fact binding me, restricting my true potential.
I nodded slowly to myself as my confidence blossomed. I raised my head and looked at my therapist straight in the eye.
“I am able to jump now,” I said simply. “Not only with both legs, but even my left leg - and you know that my left side is weaker - can jump, however slightly, on its own. This… after seven years.”
I think I could have heard the sound of her blinking, it was so quiet in the room. I smiled now, and she knew what my words would be next. I like to imagine that she fully understood my meaning, and that this would in turn help future clients with similar issues, but I suppose I will never really know.
The clocked ticked quietly.
“We’re done.” I stated.
“Okay,” she said, “Okay.” A flicker of a smile tugged up the corner of her lips.