Here is part two of Chapter One. Don’t forget to read Part One, or this won’t really make any sense. Okay? Cool.
I dreamed a thousand mosquitoes were biting me. I dreamt of a Dalmatian, my favourite animal. It felt like I was only asleep for five minutes, but it had really been hours. I woke up disoriented and groggy.
“Where am I?” I asked the nurse, a different nurse. She was shorter and rounder than the last, but she wore the same green scrubs.
“You’re in the recovery room,” she answered. She was checking my blood pressure.
“Where are my parents?” I croaked, my throat dry and itchy, the band around my arm tightening unpleasantly.
“They are on their way up,” She reassured me, removing the blood pressure band from my arm finally. “Now can you tell me how much it hurts on a scale of one to ten?” she asked just as the grogginess faded a little and a wave of pain like which I had never felt before came over me.
“A lot, ten!” I cried. I was unable to keep consciousness and I faded out into a dream. I awoke several minutes later to my mother gently stroking my hair and my father smiling down at me, his blue eyes twinkling.
“You did great, Jessie,” they said. I couldn’t talk. It felt like my leg was hurting even more than it had the last time. The nurse came back with her pain chart. I managed to tell her 11, then she showed me how to work the morphine pain pump. I was able to press it once, weakly, before I passed out again.
Even though they were having trouble managing my pain, which worsened every time I was conscious, they moved me to my own room. I remember crying as they wheeled the bed over bumps, and accidentally dinged it off the walls. I remember wailing in agony when they lifted me into the hospital bed. Then I remember only bits and pieces. I awoke only long enough to cry out and hit the button to dose morphine.
I remember the doctor coming in and checking my leg. He said something about cutting it off and I started to cry. I told myself it was a dream, but when I woke up next, a man was standing at the end of my bed holding a saw over my leg. I screamed out as it came down on the pink cast, cutting it open. I remember feeling the pressure lessen a little. It wasn’t so tight with the cast off, but I was still in agony. I didn’t even awaken at all when they rolled me into the O.R. for an emergency surgery that night.
It turns out that I had an unknown bleeding disorder, and it appeared as if I was bleeding from my bones. I was in so much pain because my leg was filling up with blood. The second surgery reopened my surgery sites so that my blood could drain out. They to cut my leg all the way open on the one side. I was barely conscious over the next day. When I did wake up, I was disoriented and in so much pain that I didn’t want to be awake, so I slept a lot. I had a third surgery a few days later to stitch my legs back up. After that surgery, they were able to get my pain under control, and I was able to stay awake for longer periods of time.
Then I met my physiotherapist. She came into the room one day, and introduced herself as Leanne. I thought she looked a bit like that country singer my mom was always listening to, Leanne Rimes, and they even shared the same name. I remember telling her that. I liked her; she was nice. For the first few days, she’d get me sitting up in my bed. Then she’d help me in a wheelchair and we’d go for a walk.
I hated putting my leg down. I hated the sensation of my stitches tugging against my skin and the feeling of the blood rushing to my small foot. I only tolerated sitting up, because Leanne would take me to the playroom in the wheelchair. But a few days later, Leanne and my mom took me to the physiotherapy room instead.
“What are we doing here?” I asked staring at the mats on the floor, the makeshift stairs, and the bar along the walls. I shrunk back into the wheelchair, cowering.
“You want to go home soon, right?” Leanne asked gently. “You can’t stay here forever. It’s almost Christmas!” She was putting the leg rest down and holding my leg. The blood started to rush down to my toes and my stitches started to pull. I cried. I didn’t want to do it. I just wanted the pain to go away. I felt dizzy and disorientated.
“One step, Jessie, that’s all you need to do, then we can go back to your room.”
“I don’t want to!” I cried out as Leanne gently lowered my foot to the ground after strapping the walking boot on. I hated that boot, it looked like a fat square ugly sandal.
“Just one step,” Leanne urged gently helping me up. I grasped her arms with my tiny shaking hands.
“No!” I yelled, crying as the pain increased, as even more blood flooded downwards and as my stitches tugged against my skin. Leanne gently urged me forward a half step with me crying and shaking. I felt as if I was going to faint.
“Stop!” I screamed “Stop it!” I remember my mom’s face, twisted in her own agony as she watched mine. Leanne urged me forward another half step saying encouraging things that I couldn’t hear. “Stop!” I cried again. “I hate you!” I screamed.
“Jessica, that isn’t very nice.” My mom scolded, her hazel eyes watery, as Leanne helped me back into the wheelchair.
“It’s not nice to make me do that.” I said, my small chest shaking with each gasping breath I took.
Still, I felt bad for saying it to Leanne. She was only trying to get me home. I had been in the hospital long enough and I wanted to go home. It was almost Christmas and I’d already missed my older sister’s birthday. I told myself I’d learn how to use the crutches so I could go home. The next day I did. It still hurt a lot. I still hated the blood rushing feeling and the stitch tugging feeling, but I took five whole steps on the crutches, my face set with determination.
Shortly thereafter, when Leanne felt I knew how to use the crutches, I got to go home. For the duration of my recovery, I had to sleep on the couch in the living room. The bedroom I shared with my two sisters was all the way up a set of steep stairs, and I wasn’t able to tackle those yet. I was in pain, grumpy and not practising standing and walking every day like Leanne said. Shannon tried to encourage me with the promise of opening my Christmas gift from her.
“It’s super cool,” she promised, helping me sit up. But I was scared and depressed. I didn’t want to. I remember being so miserable to everyone that my dad finally had enough, he picked me up to carry me up to my bedroom for a time-out.
As he was carrying me, he accidentally knocked my cast against the narrow wall and I screamed out in pain and burst into tears. The guilt he felt as he carried me back downstairs to the couch was evident in the look in his eyes and in how he kept apologizing, over and over again.
The day my cast finally came off, I was scared of the saw. I remember the fresh bandages and I had to relearn how to walk with the crutches again. My ankle felt weak and sore. It felt like forever, that recovery, but eventually, I didn’t need the crutches. I felt very insecure about my new scars. They were angry and red against my pale skin. The other kids in my class didn’t have scars. I told my mom that and she reached out to my second grade teacher, Mrs. Zahn.
“Why don’t you show them your scars for show and tell and tell them about your bumpy bones?” Mrs. Zahn suggested.
I remember doing that and feeling so exposed. The tears blurred my vision. I was choking on my words and wasn’t able to get them out. Mrs. Zahn glanced at me and noticed that I was having trouble, so she did the talking for me and explained that I had had a surgery to remove one of my “extra” bones. My classmates thought my scars were “cool” and that I was brave.
And thus ends the first chapter of my memoir. There are more, of course, but I likely won’t be posting them…not yet anyway.