Unit 27 The Freak Accident………………………………485
Dr. Kaye, Marty’s neurologist, called it a “freak(意外的)” accident because the chance of it happening to a 10-year-old girl was almost nil(零). “The fact is, ” Dr. Kaye droned(低沉地说出), “spinal cord(脊髓) injuries occur most often among men ages 18--24. Paraplegia(下肢麻痹) is generally the result of motor vehicle accidents. Medical science is still in search of a cure,”she had noted with authority.
Marty had heard those words five years ago. At the time Dr. Kaye had given her the bad news, about not walking again, Marty was not listening. She was thinking about the freak accident.
It all happened on a Thanksgiving Day, when she was just 8 years old. Marty and her older sister, Eleanor, had gone to their backyard to pick apples for their mom. When Marty reached the top of the ladder, the rotten wood gave way. She tumbled noiselessly to the ground. There hadn’t been pain.
But then, she noticed her legs didn’t move.
The last words Marty remembered saying were, “Eleanor, get room, something is wrong. ”The next thing she remembered was lying in bed in the Children’s Hospital. The surgical ward was active and fun. Respiratory therapists came every day to Marty’s bedside. They taught her to blow the harmonica(口琴) so that she could strengthen her lungs.
Occupational therapists taught her to make birdhouses and belts. Her favorite therapist, Laura, was a physical therapist (理疗师). She taught Marry to use a wheelchair and to wheel down steps.
After just 3 months, Marry had gone home. Her mom had the house refitted, and a ramp(斜坡) had replaced the front steps.
Marty played chess, swam, went to school, and even rode horse. She was the same girl she always was; it was the people who had changed.
They said things like, “why not get an electric wheelchair, dear”, to which Marty always wantted to say, “what’s wrong with wheeling my own chair?” And they always tried to push her chair,even when she didn’t need help. Couldn’t they see she managed just fine?
Then there were the other questions like. “what happened to your legs”, to which Marty usually answered, “I thought I still had them, aren’t they still there?” Then adults would ask her,“how do you go to the bathroom?” And Marty would reply,“I wheel there.”The one question Marty relished(喜欢) was, “how do you sleep?” Without missing a beat, Marty would shoot back,“like a baby, just fine, thanks.”
At first she would answer seriously, “I have a spinal cord injury”, and patiently explain, “I use a sliding board to get into bed, then I lie down.” But after 5 years, she was tired of the questions. So she just made up(捏造) answers.
“People are just curious, Marty”, her mother would explain. “It wouldn’t hurt to be nice and give a real explanation.”
“Mom, I don’t want to ask a lot of questions to people who walk, why do they all ask me questions?”
“Just try to be nice Marty, after all you are a role model for others in wheelchairs,” was her mom’s usual reply.
“I just want to roll my wheelchair in peace, I don’t want to be a role model.” Marty would shoot back.
Even though she resented the questions, Marty did want people to comprehend what life was like in a wheelchair. She didn’t want pity;she just wanted people to feel comfortable around her.She hated feeling like some alien in a metal spaceship who was visiting from another planet.
“Well, I’ve tried to explain, and that gets nowhere”, Marty grumbled to her best friend,Sasha, who had a sister also in a wheelchair. “People still look at me like I’m sick or weird(怪异的).”
Sasha thought for a minute about what her friend had said. She had a sudden inspiration.“Hey, I know, why not make a video about what it’s like to be in a wheelchair? I have a video camera, and we could write a script(剧本), you and me. What do you say?” Sasha enthused(对…表示热心).
Marty adopted Sasha’s proposal,“Sasha, you are a genius. We could make a video about your sister and me, and give it to the public library. They could show it to people so they could see what people in wheelchairs can do.”
By the next weekend, the girls had finished their script. Dr. Laura had even drawn a diagram of the spinal cord. It showed how messages went from the brain down the nerves along the spinal cord. The messages ended where Marty’s spinal cord was broken. That was why when her brain told her legs to move, they couldn’t. That message never got to the legs. It got as far as the break in her spine.
The video also showed how Marty could get into cars, and into her bed. There was even a part where Marty got on her horse, and took her dog for a walk, and weeded her vegetable garden, and fixed a lamp bracket for the family. The girls decided to leave out the stuff(镜头资料) that showed how she went to the bathroom.
Marty and Sasha went to the Children’s Hospital’s ward and filmed the children who were undergoing treatment. They wanted others to see what it was like to lift weights and play cricket, and learn to dress yourself.
The preview was held in the community center events room. All of Marty and Sasha’s classmates, their parents, the teachers, and the school principal came. The kids from the children’s ward and the doctors and therapists came, too.
Marty had a lot of fun acting as Master of Ceremonies(仪式主持人). She even had an auction(拍卖) of artwork done by the children in the spinal cord ward. In all the proceeds was $1 000 that she donated to the spinal cord research.
That night, Marty thought about the “freak” accident. She thought how being in a wheelchair made her different, but it also had forced her to make her life special. She had been elected to represent other disabled people and educate them about disabled people. The freak accident had given her the chance to change the world. It had also made her into a pretty good film maker(制片人).
Her video won the children’s video award, and she got another $1 000 which she donated the children’s ward.
The apple tree is in bloom again. Sometimes Marty wheels to her backyard and looks up. She does not feel sad;she just tries to figure out how she can pick apples from the highest branch. If anyone can climb up that tree, it’s Marty.