Thursday, July 27, 2006

New Therapy

“Good job!” Sandy told her daughter with a wide smile and strained enthusiasm. “That was a good ride, huh?” Sandy cheered on her daughter and stepped toward the horse.

“Yeah, I guess,” the thirteen-year-old girl said from atop an old brown mare. “Can you get me down now?” she sighed.

Sandy looked up at her daughter with bright eyes and a grin, but this façade was starting to show a few cracks. “Sure, honey.” With the help of the side-walker, the adolescent strained to swing one leg over the horse’s back and slid down the other side into her mother’s arms. Sandy handed the girl her cane, an ugly bare-metal crook with a four-pronged bottom. As the girl tried to hobble away, her mother yanked on the girl’s cumbersome back brace, trying to readjust it into its proper position. The daughter scolded her mother in embarrassment and struggled to get away. Sandy released her grip. The skinny girl wobbled, still unsteady on two legs and a cane. Despite her back brace, she still seemed to slouch, and her shoulders hunched over.

“That was a good job, Miranda,” said a man standing by the gate to the arena. To Miranda, he sounded just as insincere as her mother had.

“Dr. Kammerich, what are you doing here?” asked Sandy.

The doctor smiled and looked into the perpetually uncertain face of the young girl. “I need to talk to you about something. Something that might turn out to be very good news,” he addressed them both.

Miranda was tired of adults pretending to be happy around her. “Are you going to give me robot legs?” The two adults ignored her with more fake smiles and laughs. As she galloped like a snail beside them, they exchanged small talk about her progress with her equine therapy. Her mother told an embarrassing story about her first ride when she had nearly fallen off. Miranda rolled her eyes. The three reached the car and stopped. Dr. Kammerich laughed lightly. “Well, what I’ve got to tell you may change that. I’d like to start Miranda on a new therapy.”

“A new one?" Sandy was nervous. She knew how much stress these therapies were on her daughter. She hoped her already frustrated child wouldn't become even more upset. "This therapeutic riding seems to really be working, right Miranda?” Sandy said, gently tugging on her daughter’s ponytail.

“It’s better than the water therapy,” the girl said dryly. “I almost drowned, like, a thousand times.” Miranda laughed and snorted. Her mother smiled.

“Well, this therapy isn’t like that. It’s more medicinal.”

“We’re already doing the steroids once a week. And the supplements…” Sandy trailed off.

“It’s a new therapy that would preclude all the other ones.” He looked to Miranda. “You wouldn’t have to swim or ride horses or get steroids anymore.”

“That’d be cool,” Miranda said unconvinced.

“What kind of therapy is it? Why didn’t you tell us about it before?” asked Sandy. She was becoming suspicious.

“It’s a new therapy. It’s,” Dr. Kammerich hesitated, “experimental.” He knew he’d chosen the wrong word as soon as he said it.

“How experimental?”

The doctor looked from mother to child. “Miranda would be the first.”

Sandy looked down at her daughter, a thin frame leaning up against the family station wagon. Her overenthusiastic veneer fell from her face. She took Dr. Kammerich by the arm and pulled him off to the side. “I don’t want Miranda to be some guinea pig, having scientists and doctors poking and prodding her more than they already do. I don’t want her to be any more unhappy than she already is.”

“I understand your concern;” Dr. Kammerich continued, choosing his words carefully, “however, this might not just be a therapy. It could be a cure.”

“There is no cure for muscular dystrophy,” Sandy said.

Dr. Kammerich smiled. “Not yet.”

1 comment:

  1. I really like this story so far. Keep going...



Circa Now