Tatiana Naborowski


Listen to the audio version.

I sit in a four-legged wooden chair with pink pads,
Watching therapists adjust the Ironman suit.
A metal cage frames my body. Black Velcro straps
Keep me harnessed in. The robot walks for me,
I can't resist.

It hugs my toes, shins, thighs, waist, tight.
The battery control panel fastened to my back
is heavy. My legs scream
under the load I elected to carry. The white walls spin and the robot
strains my quadriceps, femurs, sartorius, iliopsoas,
flexes and extends my knee, extends my tight hamstrings, my gluteus maximus,
shifts my weight over my hips, doesn't lock my knees.

"Think through the steps," the therapist says. "Don't fight the robot."
Heel toe, knee extension, erect back, strained posture under all those pounds.
My muscles burn. It's too hot.
Sweat gathers at my eyes, nose twitchy, itchy,
metal coiling and colliding with bone.

"Would you like to stop and rest a minute?" the therapist asks.
I taste my dry tongue,
fatigue rippling like mountain streams
running according to the laws of gravity.
"No. Let's keep going."

Now, under the load I and the robot carry. The white walls spin and we
Strain our quadriceps, femurs, sartorius, iliopsoas,
flex and extend our knees, extend our tight hamstrings, and our gluteus maximus,
we shift our weight over our hips, and our knees don't lock.


Tatiana Naborowski, 23, from Oak Brook, Illinois, is a survivor of West Nile Virus Encephalitis, contracted from a mosquito bite at age seven. Enduring three separate cardiac arrests and a 15-day coma, the virus stole all of her abilities, except her hearing. She has been intensely rehabbing for fifteen years. A recent graduate of Loras College, she is currently working as a Neurofeedback technician. This is her first publishing.