Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on 2013-05-16
Most sixteen year-old kids joyride in Daddy's pickup. Not Brian Thomas. Instead, you find him out buzzing the football team in Daddy's airplane. Flying is his life-it's in his blood. Both of his parents are pilots. His older brother is in the Air Force. And he can't imagine himself as anything but an aviator. That is, until the bleeding disorder he's battled since he was two years old sidelines him. After several failed chemotherapy treatments, Brian opts for a potentially disease-curing, but risky spleen removal. After more chemotherapy, he regains his flight status, but now he's left with an altered immune system. In April of 2009, Brian leaves his job at Duncan Aviation, where he is an aviation mechanic, to go home with what he thinks is the flu. Four hours later, he is comatose and on life-support. His hands, feet, and face develop gangrene. Ten days later when he wakes up, he must face the prospect of becoming a quadruple amputee. Surgeons save his left hand, but he faces a long road to recovery, and regaining his life.
Several years ago I met Lisa Kovanda at a NaNoWriMo event in Lincoln Nebraska. I have since been back in Colorado, but kept in touch with her via Facebook, so I was fortunate enough to follow along with her progress of Modified Flight Plan. I purchased the book as soon as it released, but for some reason kept putting off reading it. (And now? I’m not sure why, because this book was fantastic!) Every so often I would make a post on facebook about my daughter (born without a left hand) and Lisa would mention Brian and the amazing things he has accomplished.
When I finally sat down to read Modified Flight Plan, I was immediately sucked in! Brian’s passion for flying was refreshing, but immediately we were thrown into the reality of his ITP (Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura) – a blood disease that is described as similar to hemophilia (although quite different once you look into the disease itself.) A life of ups and downs, one moment he is flying high (literally) and the next stuck in the hospital to get another episode under control.
I adored every page of this book. I struggle sometimes to separate the actual book from the excitement of the familiarity. (Much of the book takes place in my hometown – Lincoln Nebraska. Brian went to the same college as my cousin in Watertown, SD. My daughter has to overcome struggles to do daily things, but also to pursue her passions, like hockey – although ‘just missing one hand’ is nowhere near the comparisons to what Brian had to face! Etc, etc, etc.) But when it comes down to it? This is an excellent book.
Lisa Kovanda is an excellent storyteller, her writing is strong and sucks you in immediately. Often times I find non-fiction to be full of little facts you don’t really need – but this isn’t the case at all. If I had one complaint, and it’s a minor one, it’s that Brian’s story post-amputation moved so quickly. But I’m one of those people who never wants her books to end, so I would be happy to just read forever!