Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future
Starting Anew

(Authors note: Not connected to any other Max Headroom stories I've written in the past. Also, this story contains disturbing content related to automobile accidents.)

-Chapter Three: Mrs. Reynolds-

It was about four in the morning when Bryce finally awakened. He could feel the weight of the new hand and arm that had been surgically attached the day before. They had no feeling in them at the present moment. He wondered if the surgery had not been as successful as the doctors had hoped. Were these new limbs just for show? It seemed a waste of time.

He tried to get back to sleep, but could not bring himself to do so. The new limbs were useless. Probably would be useless for the rest of his life. The only consolation they brought now was that he no longer looked like the helpless invalid that he knew he now was.

"You've been up for a while," the day nurse observed as she walked in at around seven and saw the dour look on his face."

"Three hours," Bryce replied, darkly.

"And in three hours that's the best face you could find?" the nurse scolded, cheerfully. "It doesn't suit your age."

"Oh, really?" Bryce asked, raising an eyebrow in a quizzically sarcastic manner.

"That's much better," the nurse smiled as she placed a thermometer strip on his forehead and changed the wrappings that protected the stitches where his new limbs and the connection for his prosthetic leg were.

"Where's my new leg?" Bryce asked, mildly alarmed that it wasn't attached.

"It's not to be worn in bed," the nurse told him. "It would make it tricky to get up because of the weight. The physical therapist will explain more when she comes in later this morning."

"Physical therapist?" Bryce asked.

"Yes," the nurse replied, removing the thermometer strip and looking at his temperature. "Ninety-eight point eight. Very good. I'll be back in a couple of hours. They'll be bringing you breakfast in a few minutes."

"Feeding me like a baby," Bryce complained.

"Better than starvation," the nurse declared. "Besides, it's only temporary. Until you have better sensation in your new hand and arm."

That sounded promising, and Bryce allowed himself the ghost of a smile. He was so relieved at the idea that the new limbs were not just for show that he did not complain for the rest of the morning.

The physical therapist arrived a few minutes later, introducing herself as Mrs. Linda Reynolds. She explained to him that as the mother of five sons, she was quite comfortable with helping a male patient with bathing and other activities that would involve at least partial nudity.

"You haven't got anything that either my kids or my husband doesn't," she told him with a cheeky grin. "So there's nothing you have to be embarrassed or ashamed of."

"Just a prosthetic leg," Bryce remarked.

"Nope," Mrs. Reynolds corrected him. "My oldest son has one of those. Went under a bus with his skateboard. Really lucky he didn't get killed. I thank God every time I watch him put that leg on that he's alive to do so. I was originally just a standard nurse. I upgraded to physical therapist so I could help treat my son. I wanted to be a part of his recovery. I was there when he learned to walk the first time, and I wanted to be there when he learned it again."

After learning that, Bryce took it pretty much in stride when she assisted him in the bathroom, and afterward in the walk-in bath, showing him how to place the protective cover on his leg-stump. It was mildly embarrassing, but the truth was that he was relieved to know that these were things he would eventually be doing by himself again in the future. That knowledge was so gratifying, it made the embarrassment no worse than the type he might have felt as a child if he felt while learning to ride a bike.

After Bryce was finished in the bath, Mrs. Reynolds helped him out of the tub.

"In time, your limbs will be strong enough for you to use the crutches you will need in the bathroom."

"At least until someone invents a submersible prosthetic leg." Bryce said, regretting it afterward as his jaw was still healing.

"Maybe we should get you a talk-pad to communicate with until your jaw finishes healing," the physical therapist suggested, writing it down in her notes.

After Bryce had been dried off, Mrs. Reynolds showed him how to attach his prosthetic leg.

"Of course, until your arms have full sensation, you'll need to be in a wheel chair. But the doctor wants you to wear your new leg a few hours each day in order for your nerve endings to adjust to the impulses they'll need to send out to the new leg in order to make it function."

Bryce gave her a look that conveyed his understanding of the situation.

"Now, we'll need to work out your short and long term goals as well as discuss what we'll need to add to your home as far as assistive equipment goes. Your goals should include strengthening exercises for your muscles, plus working with improving your level of comfort with your new limbs. Short term goals will probably include learning to adjust to the numbness you're likely to feel for the first few weeks even after movement returns to your fingers and arm. It may take some time before you can grip objects firmly enough to avoid dropping them. But you will in time."

Bryce nodded, and gave a yawn.

"Take a nap," Mrs. Reynolds smiled. "You've done a lot this morning. I'll come back after lunch."

Bryce let her position him on the bed, remove the prosthetic leg, and cover him with the sheet.

"Rest well," she wished him, as she left the room.

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