M*A*S*H meets Scrubs in a sharply observant, darkly funny, and totally unique debut memoir from physical therapist Adele Levine.
In her six years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Adele Levine rehabilitated soldiers admitted in worse and worse shape. As body armor and advanced trauma care helped save the lives—if not the limbs—of American soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, Walter Reed quickly became the world leader in amputee rehabilitation. But no matter the injury, physical therapy began the moment the soldiers emerged from surgery.
Days at Walter Reed were intense, chaotic, consuming, and heartbreaking, but they were also filled with camaraderie and humor. Working in a glassed-in fishbowl gymnasium, Levine, her colleagues, and their combat-injured patients were on display at every moment to tour groups, politicians, and celebrities. Some would shudder openly at the sight—but inside the glass and out of earshot, the PTs and the patients cracked jokes, played pranks, and compared stumps.
With dazzling storytelling, Run, Don’t Walk introduces a motley array of oddball characters including: Jim, a retired lieutenant-colonel who stays up late at night baking cake after cake, and the militant dietitian who is always after him; a surgeon who only speaks in farm analogies; a therapy dog gone rogue; —and Levine’s toughest patient, the wild, defiant Cosmo, who comes in with one leg amputated and his other leg shattered.
Entertaining, engrossing, and ultimately inspiring, Run, Don’t Walk is a fascinating look into a hidden world.
"Adele Levine's new memoir on her years as a PT at Walter Reed transports you into her world of wartime amputees and their medical team as they work relentlessly together to restore whatever functionality possible to their patients' severely maimed bodies and spirits. With a mordant perception and uniquely stubborn will oddly suited to her line of work, Levine's outrageously memorable characters and situations in the PT "fishbowl" propel her (and the reader) along with her colleagues and patients through a labyrinth of life post-911 post-trauma rehab up through the closure of Walter Reed.
At times, even just reading about it all can feel like some kind of hyped-up video-game or extreme sport. There's no luxury of time to sit back and process it all, as this is life lived on its most adrenalized edge, replete with gallows humor to keep going in the face of inconceivable absurdities and challenges. But processing isn't the point... the often intense demand of the moment is. In less deft hands, this could have been a maudlin eulogy for the famed army hospital or a hagiography of the physical therapist's profession, but instead we have a glimpse into the very human complexities of lives we may flinch from and avoid taking in out in the actual world. Little wonder, then, that when I went to seek out a library copy after giving my copy to a nurse friend, I was told they keep it on a shelf with books that cannot be renewed, they're in such demand.
You may want to write this down: Run, Don't Walk, because it may be your best way of thanking a PT for helping you through a rough patch or you may want to share it with a veteran or health-care provider with - or in need of - nerves of steel."