Two weeks later, and I was looking out the window in my room at the front lawn, and the cars going by. My aunt had wheeled me back in here after breakfast, changed my diaper, as my parents were due to arrive any minute, and she wanted to talk to them in private for a few minutes, before meeting me.
I loved my new wheelchair, because it was using fewer straps to make me immobile. Instead, the head-rest was shaped in such a way I had little or no chance of moving my head from side to side, if I didn’t bend my head more or less straight down, and that position was just too uncomfortable to maintain for any length of time. However, the straps around my wrists, ankles and waist, and in my bed were still there, albeit made from a softer material, but just as sturdy. I suspected they’d be there for the foreseeable future. Another great thing was I got to choose the colour, so now it was pink, my favourite colour; well, the cushions and strap-covers were anyway, whereas on the one my aunt had borrowed they were a dark blue.
I also hadn’t used my voice in all that time, and had almost forgotten what it sounded like. Imagine that; Jonna, the schools’ chatterbox; the one they accused of having ants in her pants, because she wouldn’t sit still for more than two minutes, not having moved or said one word in two weeks! There ought to be a place in the Guinness book of World-records for that, or something! I smiled inside, when I thought that.
The door opened, and I heard them come in the room.
“Well, there she is,” Aunt Francis said. “She’s agreed not to speak, but only move her eyes to answer questions. As I’ve told you, she looks up for ‘yes’ and to her right for ‘no’. She is unable to answer any other kind of question, please remember that. This also means you have to have eye-contact with her at all times when speaking to her.”
The conversation went slowly at first, but picked up speed as they got the hang of it. When they were satisfied this really was what I wanted, they started planning how to take care of me, when I got home.
“I suppose I’ll have to install an elevator so you can get to your bedroom on the first floor, and widen all the doors and remove all the thresholds back home, before you can come home; won’t I? Well, I guess I know what I’ll be doing the rest of summer, then,” my father said at the end of our conversation, and I looked up. He put his hand on my head and lovingly tousled my hair to show he wasn’t mad at me, and my mother gave me a hug and patted my cheek, before taking me around the house, so they could see for themselves what changes needed to be done in ours.
After the tour, Francis showed mother how to work the lift so she could put me on the bed to change my diaper and how to sponge-bathe me in the mornings and change my clothes, and how to fasten my wrists and ankles comfortably in the cuffs, both on the bed and on the chair. My parents ate dinner with us, so they would have an opportunity to practice feeding me.
When they left that evening, my father said: “I’ll call you as soon as all the changes have been made. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of weeks, I think.”
“Don’t rush things,” Francis said. “It’s more important things are done properly, than fast. Jonna is such a sweet girl, and is always welcome, however long she stays.” The door closed, and they were gone.
A couple of weeks later, my father called to say I could come home, and my aunt packed all my things and loaded them into the van. Lastly she wheeled me inside, and anchored me to the floor.
After a two hour drive, we parked outside my home, and I was wheeled inside. I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t nervous, partly because I was leaving the person who had taken such good care of me for the best part of a month, and who now was handing me over to my parents, who had no experience; and partly because I now had to meet all my friends, who had never seen me in a wheelchair. I almost asked my aunt to release me from my promise, but then I remembered all the good things I still was able to enjoy, and how much I loved this life.
“Jonna; we’re so glad to see you!” The cry made me come back to the present, and panic welled up inside me. My father who saw the panic in my eyes said:
“Don’t worry, hunny. We’ve told all your friends you’ve been in an accident, but are all right, physically; it’s just that the shock has paralyzed you and made you unable to speak, a condition which may last for the rest of your life. They know how to communicate with you.”
At that moment Carina and Lucy, my two best friends from early childhood, came and stood in front of me.
“Hi; you look terrific as usual,” Lucy said. “Wanna go for a walk? We’ve got a ton of things to tell you!” Carina chimed. “Mrs. H” she continued, “is it all right with you, if we take Jonna out for a walk?”
“Sure,” Mother said, “but have you asked her, if she even wants to? After all, she’s just returned home to her family.”
Not wanting to lose out on any (juicy) gossip, I was already looking up, when they turned around to ask.
“Looks like it!” Carina noted with a smile.
“Right; if you girls will excuse us for a minute, I will help my daughter to the bathroom!” my mother said.
She put me on my bed, which had been equipped with a motorized lift, so it could be elevated to a comfortable height, and took my pants off and changed my diaper. She put me back in the chair, making real sure all the straps were snug, before unhooking me from the lift. She wheeled me out and handed me over to my friends. She hung a bag on the back-rest, in which she put some straws.
“Now remember; she is no longer able to eat anything solid that is larger than half a stamp in size, or really soaked in liquid. If you buy her an ice-cream, be sure to ask for a spoon to go with it and one of you will have to feed it to her.”
No, Mrs H, I promise we won’t forget!” Carina said, before wheeling me out the door, saying “Good Bye Mr. H,” to my father on the way.
They took me to a local park and placed me beside the pond, but some distance away, so I wouldn’t get splashed on by the kids, playing in it.
Lucy went and bought some cans of soda, which we drank, while they entertained me with their gossip. It was almost like old times, and I was able to participate quite well, even though I only signalled ‘yes’ or ‘no’; which was no real big change from before. As Lucy and Carina’ always had loved the sound of their own voices, I had always had difficulties getting a word in edgeways, anyway.
“I hope you come back to school this autumn.” Carina said. “It would be an emptier place without you.”
“Meh,” Lucy sighed.”Neither Jonna nor I are going anywhere anytime soon, so you’re stuck with us, whether you like it or not.”
“You can’t be sure of that!” Carina protested. “Jonnas’ mum might decide she needs to go to a special school or something, now that she’s handicapped and everything.”
“I suppose you’re right about that;” Lucy admitted, “but if she does start to consider it, we’ll just have to show her we can take as good care of her daughter, as any institution; in school and, if need be, at home. And who knows; being around friends might be just the thing she needs to get over her trauma.”
“Yea, probably; I just hope our teachers see it the same way you do.”
“’Cause they will! Are you always this pessimistic nowadays?”
“Yea, it comes with advancing age, you know!”
“Advancing age, my foot!” Lucy snorted.