My Bravest Year

SNAP! At first, it did not even register. The world suddenly tilts, like looking through a camera while it drops, your vision spinning with it. Then, you are blindly wondering why you are on the ground, just like the camera. You are met with silence, but you hear a low ringing, almost like an alarm, but your mind is not fully comprehending. It is only when you try to stand do you find yourself shaking violently, your body swaying precariously as if standing on a mountain of jelly. Only, what was really jelly, was your leg, on the verge of collapsing under your weight. The thumping in your heart accelerates when your leg twists and your knees buckle, and as gravity takes hold, you find yourself vulnerable on the hard floor. There was no way you could stand up, let alone walk, on your own. Finally, you receive twin crutches that act as your third leg to support you, as you move through the hallways towards the exit of the school. As you wait for a ride to the medical clinic, you feel the added pressure from standing that sends a wildfire searing down your leg.

You arrive at the doctor's office and make your way inside. A feeling of anxiety suddenly hits you and your heart pounds as you anticipate what the doctor's diagnosis will be. What was just butterflies in your stomach has now turned into a whirlwind of bats, as you await your name to be called. Twenty minutes have passed and you are finally asked to enter another room to wait again for the doctor. After another ten minutes, the doctor enters, asks questions and examines your tender spots. You find yourself holding your breath as the doctor says that you tore your ACL, which needs immediate surgical repair. The doctor suggests receiving physiotherapy while you wait for your surgery. As you wrap your mind around the thought of surgery and waking up to the pain that comes afterwards, the whole thing is hard to process in the moment.

Physiotherapy exercises prevented your leg from becoming stiff, but never seemed to ease the pain. As time goes by, you become less reliant on crutches. You still walk slowly with an obvious limp, but you are already feeling better about the progress so far. Maybe you do not need surgery after all. You even begin playing sports again, cautiously at first, but you easily gain confidence once you put more pressure on your leg without pain. But confidence overshadows you and with caution blown out the wind, your leg fails and harshly twists. The camera dropped again, only this time it was beyond use. You miserably continue with your physiotherapy sessions. You felt more numb when the snow and frost blanketed the twinkling streets. You always stayed indoors doing your exercises while rain poured down in heavy sheets or when the sun smiled down while flowers bloomed. When it was time to wear tank tops and shorts, you found yourself content playing indoor games.

Crisp, bright leaves were beginning to fall. What seemed to be an endless amount of time before the surgery suddenly turned into just days of apprehension and non-stop worrying. Mornings were always the brightest part of your day, but this particular morning casted an unsettling chill. Although shaken awake before the sun rose, you are injected with a nervous energy, as though you drank a sports drink. The haunting streetlights colour your path in a sunset orange while you walk by, casting deep shadows that seem to embrace your footsteps as you near the entrance. The prickling scent of antiseptic floods your senses the moment you drag yourself through the doors. The nurse gives you a tag that labels you as ‘Patient #082018’ felt more like biting handcuffs that would leave your wrists raw and you drop yourself into a chair. A boulder drops into your stomach, and the gooseflesh that crawls up your arms felt like scurrying ants. You feel too nervous to sit still. Your foot taps the slick floor and you grip the armrests till your hands turn white, leaving nail prints on the armrests. Unable to sit any longer, you jump up and barge out the doors of the hospital to pace outside. Fat drops of water plummet from the sky and you splash your shoes in a huge puddle. As the water stills, you are taken aback at the reflection in the puddle. What used to be a healthy, flushed colour on your youthful face has drained away, and instead, you stare at your ghastly reflection. Tearing your gaze away, you turn to focus out on the rain. You inhale the fresh morning air and exhale out a warm, fuzzy cloud. Your breath begins to slow each time you breathe in and out. The rain slowly clears your mind and you resolve to bravely walk back inside and leave your sanctuary behind to face your fear.

You slide on a sky blue gown that covers your knees and your exposed arms prickle from the cold. Soon, a nurse comes by and your attention is on the sharp, metal instrument she holds in her hands and she sits next to you. You watch her intently as she ties a rubber band tightly to your arm and prepares the needle. The sharp end shines in the light before sliding in smoothly. She attaches an IV line and she guides you to the operating room. Blue, masked surgeons greet you and lead you up onto a gleaming silver table. You shift uncomfortably onto the table and lie down, the lights glaring brightly into your eyes. The surgeon straps on a mask and your breath rapidly fogs up the mask. Eyes squeezed shut, you fall into an oblivion.

A soft light flits through the curtains, peeking through your heavy eyes. The cogs in your head slowly start to turn and you begin to register quiet chatter. What used to be a table was now a bed, and your body sinks further into it, enveloping you like your mom does at home. The curtain draws back, and the light seems to explode in your dimmed eyes. The nurse places a cup of water on the table next to you and you quickly grab it to quench your thirst. She hooks you onto a blood pressure machine and clasps a heart rate monitor to your finger. As she leaves, you pick up a new scent that fills the air. You notice the flowers behind you perched on the windowsill and you breathe in its fresh, sweet smell. You hear a set of footsteps and your family walks up to your bedside. A pair of small feet runs to your bedside. With twinkling eyes that beam brighter than any light and a dimpled smile that widens your own smile, you wrap your arms tightly around his small body. Your father approaches and comes to hug you. He props himself down in a chair as your mother makes her way to your side. You share a smile of relief with her and she leans down and kisses your forehead. Your mark of bravery.