“Sure no problem. Dr. June already explained some stuff if you came out of the coma. I’ll be just down the hall in the waiting room. Come on Wayne.” Nathan said assuredly.
“I love you.”
“I love you too, bro.” Nathan said and the next thing I knew was him putting his arms around me, hugging my chest and then kissed my lips, which I returned.
Wayne said, somewhat subdued, “I love you too, Joey. I’ll be with Nathan. We’ll talk later, okay?”
“Yup. Hey… where’s your hug?” I asked seriously.
I heard his footsteps come closer and then our lips met briefly. I cupped his cheeks, kissed him again and said, “Thanks Wayne. I’d like to have some time alone with you sometime today.”
“I’d like that too, Joey. Your doctor is looking at me impatiently. See ya in a bit.” Wayne replied seriously.
I kissed him one more time then he left the room. I heard him and Nathan talking quietly and then their voices faded away.
Dr. Mauer said, “There is one more visitor here who wants to say hi. Millie.”
“Chile you wakes up yo white assed ass or I’m fixin to whoop it but good wit ma belt. Yes, I will, so hep ma Lord.”
Millie knows how to get to me every time. I couldn’t help but to chuckle.
Millie took my wrist in her arm and said, “You’ins thinkin I bees kiddin ya but I tells ya im’s serious, boy. You done given ma heart spasms, ya did. Lardy. Lardy. Praise Jesus, yessah.”
I knew it would happen sooner or later. I felt Millie’s presence. The bed heaved to the right under her weight and girth. I raised my arms to accept what I knew was coming… yes, it came: her arms enveloped my shoulders and then she pulled me in between her ample boobs.
She began shaking in her skin which transferred into my body. Her face was wet. I reached up my arm, touched each cheek with my fingers. The muscles of her face were taut – she was grimacing.
With a broken voice Millie groaned, “We’s get thru dis chile. Yes we will. I bees prayin fo da stringth from da Savior Jesus Christ, boy. I bees prayin fo you’s and Nathan… oh Lawd haves mercy on dees chilens.”
“Millie, please leave the room right now. I have to examine my patient.” Dr. Mauer said with ice cold in her voice, enough to live comfortably in Antarctica.
The sound of her voice scared me. I mean it was so ice cold that I was sure her vocal cords rattled.
“Dr. Mauer, what’s wrong? What did Millie do? Millie, tell me what’s going on.” I said frightened so much that I went back to the warehouse, where it was quiet, dark, dank, dreary, drizzly, damp and desolate.
*-* Two weeks and 1 day later *-*
“Joey, are you awake?” A voice said from within the darkness. I immediately recognized that it belonged to Nathan. He was lying sideways on my chest with his face nestled into my cheek and a hand cupping my other cheek.
I rose up my arm and placed my hand on his other cheek, turned my head and brought our lips together. I said something unintelligent because I was not thinking coherently… everything was a mumbo jumbo mess of spaghetti and confetti.
“Joey, I’m supposed to get the nurse when you wake up. Are you awake?”
“I think so… why’s all this water on me?” I asked suddenly aware of being drenching wet. “What time is it? I’m supposed to meet the guys…”
“Joey, I’m going to get the nurse. I’ll be right back in a second. Stay awake Joey. Don’t go to sleep.”
Nathan disentangled himself and scooted off the bed. I looked up… and saw a fuzzy outline… though the vision consisted of all dark gray and black hues. I pulled his hands into mine… the vision moved but slightly.
“Do you see me?” Nathan asked in wonderment.
“I don’t know. Move your head again.”
“I gotta go Joey. I’ll be right back, I promise.”
“Okay… is your hair shaggy?”
He left my room in a hurry.
I turned my head in its full range of motion, looking, trying to find something other than deep dark gray. I felt a surge… a surge of what… hope or a gleam of less hopelessness. I was freezing cold like someone doused me with a gallon bucket of ice water. I stripped off the gown – it wasn’t tied and easily fell away. The air in the room was warm yet I was lying on cold wet sheets.
Becky Ann’s voice said, “Well hello there naked young man… I heard from your watch dog brother than you’re awake. It’s good to see you again. Let’s get you covered up before you catch cold.”
I felt hands both above and below me, pulling, tugging… and then she added, “Oh my honey, your sheets are soaking wet. Let me get you changed. Nathan’s going to help me… he’s been my little helper… he’s a good brother to you… you should be proud of him.”
“Why did I sweat like a pig?” I asked casually.
“Well honey, your body is experiencing through some things. It’s not all that unusual. Dr. Mauer’s on her way in to talk to you. Now don’t you go disappearing again, sweet heart.”
With that said they proceeded to change my bedding and put me into a clean hospital gown but didn’t tie the tie things in the back.
When they were finished Becky Ann said, “Honey, we’ve got to get you out of this bed. Do you remember me telling you about those red marks on your back and cute butt?”
“Yeah.” I replied remembering all too well her comments about my butt.
“They’re getting redder by the day. We’re going to put you on a flotation mattress later on tonight unless we can get you out of bed… you’ll have to help us by using your arms. I’ll show you how after Dr. Mauer finishes her examination and talking to you and Nathan.” She said then I heard the squeak squeak of her tennis shoes leaving the room.
“I’ll be right back bro… gotta shit like a goose.” Nathan said quickly with his voice fading away, and then the door closed.
“Well there you are young man. I’m glad you could join us again. Becky says you soaked your bed.” Dr. Mauer’s voice said very close to me… I hadn’t heard her shoes enter the room.
“Yes ma’am. I was soaked. Am I getting sick or something? I don’t feel bad… you know I don’t feel like I’m getting a cold or anything like that.”
The bathroom door opened. Nathan was explaining to himself, and probably to me too about his ‘fucking goose shits’ (his words, not mine) experience, not knowing that Dr. Mauer was in the room until he pulled the curtains aside, “Oh shoot… I’m sorry… I didn’t mean… oh crap… sheesh… sorry Dr. Mauer.”
I couldn’t help but to giggle at his uncomfortable predicament but stopped when Dr. Mauer said to Nathan, “Diarrhea again?”
“Oh yes ma’am. It’s just like it was before…”
“Have you been taking the medicine I gave you?”
“Uhm… I stopped a couple of days ago. I was okay, you know…”
“What’s wrong with you Nathan?” I asked defensively.
Dr. Mauer replied, “He’s got an irritable bowel syndrome… he’s been pretty upset the past few months. It’s affected his digestive system. It’s not really dangerous… it’s more of a pain in the butt…”
I giggled… “Yeah, he’s a pain in the butt okay. What do you mean by ‘months’?”
Nathan said, “You dork. You’ve been in a coma for…”
Dr. Mauer said, “Nathan, we’ll talk about that in a little while. Joey, I want to talk to you and your brother. Before we talk I want to check you over. Nathan, could you step out for a little while. Why don’t you go get yourself a 7-Up and some cheese crackers? Those ought to help a little bit.”
I heard Nathan’s tennis shoes squeak his way out of the room and down a hallway.
She performed the examination. I could see, way off in the distance, slivers of light break through that dark gray almost black veil of fog when she shined a penlight directly into my eyes. She said it was a good sign of things to come, was hopeful that my eyesight would return in full however she was quick to point out that residual visual problems were possible if not somewhat expected.
Do you remember me saying that I wasn’t ticklish?
My feet are ticklish especially that area between the ball of my foot and the heel bone.
She tickled that area.
My leg jumped… not much but I felt the muscles twitch. She jumped too. We were hopeful. Dr. Mauer wrote an order to get me into physical therapy as soon as possible. The therapy would include nerve stimulation … I wasn’t all that crazy to know that a therapist would ‘electrocute’ (my interpretation mind you) nerves but whatever – my goal was to walk out of that damn hospital.
I told her about Becky Ann’s comments about the red pressure areas on my back.
‘Yes, I want to check them out. Since you’re awake I want you to turn onto your side so that I can see if they’ve grown in size and depth. I also want to check your bottom to see if muscle tone is returning. We can’t feed you solid food for obvious reasons.”
“Well, go ahead turn me over.”
“I’m waiting for you to roll yourself over. Use your arms. You can do it.” She said.
I fumbled for the side rail. She giggled lightly and then clankity clanked the metal bar up and in place. I grabbed hold, got myself mostly onto my right side. She helped the rest of the way until my face was almost buried into the pillow.
Before I knew it she told me to resume lying on my back. I was able to push away using those bars and was mostly over when she helped some.
“Good, very good. Those areas of pressure are concerning. I’m going to write orders to have you sat up in a chair several times a day. You have some sphincter tone so maybe I’ll let you eat some soft foods.”
“Dr. Mauer.” I said after hearing the keyboard stop making typing clicks then continued, “Where’s my Ma? She should be here. I mean, well, I owe her an apology for being an asshole. We were fixing things between us. Things were getting better.”
“She’s been unable to get here. I was going to talk to both you and Nathan at the same time so that we’re all on the same page at the same time.” She said quietly.
I didn’t know why but a chill ran up and down my back but I didn’t say anything.
Very quietly, I asked, “Dr. Mauer, how long have I been here? How long have I been in a coma?”
“That’s a fair question. Is the answer very important to you? You will be very surprised.” Dr. Mauer said very softly, concernedly.
I nodded, “Please. A couple of days, maybe?”
“Joey, you’ve been in a coma for the best part of coming on 3 months.”
“Three months. Oh my God, why? What happened?”
“Yes, you’ve had quite a little rest. You’re going to find that any little thing tires you out so be easy on yourself but work hard on keeping strong in your head. As you make progress, each little step will be like a new awakening. I’m going to talk to both you and Nathan in a little while but first I want to do a couple of things to further check your vision, okay?”
“Like what? All I see is really dark gray.”
“Okay, here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to turn the lights up to full brightness. I want you to tell me if your eyes hurt and if you can see anything.”
“What? The lights are off?”
“Yes they are. There are a couple of small incandescent lights in the corners of your room so that personnel can see what they’re doing. First though you need to sit up so that you have a full range of sight available. The remote is by your left hand.”
I found the remote however I heard Nathan’s footsteps then several other pairs coming closer, and then they entered the room.
Dr. Mauer turned away and said, “Would you please wait outside? I’m performing an examination.”
A chorus of “I’m sorry” rang from voices and the door closing.
“You’ve got a whole lot of people rooting and cheering for you Joey. Even Dave and Derrick have come to see you. Shall we move forward?”
“Yeah, let’s do it.”
She said my central vision nerves were intact based on how my eyes reacted to being covered and uncovered. She was hopeful, very hopeful that my full vision would return but that it could be quite some time before we knew for sure. Just like Becky Ann had told me Dr. Mauer said that Rome wasn’t built in a single day. I needed to stay positive no matter what.
With that said she opened the door thus permitting me visitors.
Wayne was the first to arrive. He said, “Kewl. Hey Joey. What’s happening dude?”
“Things are looking up.” I said hopefully.
I felt Wayne’s breath on my nose. Automatically I puckered up and our lips met. Our kiss was quick, meaningful.
Millie said excitedly, “It bees about time chile. Lardy Lardy praise Jesus. Yous gonna bees squealin before ya knows it!” <Giggling>.
“Ah Millie puhleeze…!”
“Ya will boy. Now don’ts sass me none ya heah?” Millie said giggling.
I let it go. I did however feel my face heat up. Wayne giggled. Nathan groaned and said, “What?”
I replied, “Never mind Nathan. You’re too young to understand.”
“Right… NOT. I love you dufus.” Nathan said then kissed my lips quickly.
“Hey Joey… it’s Derrick. Dad and I came to see ya.” I then felt a wet pair of lips touch my forehead and a pat on my shoulder.
“Good morning Joey. It’s Dave. Are you okay this morning? We’ve been worried about you.”
“Well… if I could see and move around better then I’d be okay, right?” I said with a trace of sarcasm intentionally put in my voice.
“Right. Anyway, we’re glad you’re awake this morning.”
“I’m sorry … anyway, I’m sorry.” I said sincerely.
“I know this is hard for you. Joey, it’s really good seeing you awake for a change… we thought you were never going to get up Mr. Lazy Bones.” Dave said. Then I felt a strong set of arms wrap around me and squeeze. I found that odd but returned the gesture and found myself holding on for a little longer than normal… whatever normal means.
Nathan crawled into my bed, scooted up, laid his hand on my chest, and then kissed my cheek tenderly. He then laid his head on my chest. He was trembling within his skin.
“Nathan, what’s wrong? Why are you shaking?” I asked softly.
Nathan choked back a sob. He grabbed hold of my chest and began wheezing.
“Nathan, where’s mom? She’s coming up, right?” I asked.
“Dr. Mauer, Nathan’s wheezing. He’s not had asthma since he was like 11 years old.” I said concernedly.
I then concentrated really really hard to see Nathan. The more I concentrated the more the view of his head became clear, although it was still gray the hue was lighter. I pulled him up and into my arms while Dr. Mauer lifted his shirt and listened to his chest with her stethoscope.
She said, “He’s not having an asthma attack. Joey, I think things are catching up with him. The best medicine is exactly what you are already giving him.”
Movement caught my attention. I saw figures moving. I looked up and saw the outline of a woman standing close to my bed.
“I see the outlines of people… Nathan’s head… Nathan, why are you crying? What’s going on here?” I asked suddenly very concerned.
Those figures came closer. Wayne sat down on the bed. Millie said, “Honey chile, Mama Millie bees here right beside you… oh Lardy Lardy gives us stringth.”
Derrick sat down on my other side. He said, “We’re all here Joey. Be strong…”
“What the fuck’s going on here? Nathan… what the fuck dude… why are you crying? Where’s Ma? Why isn’t she here?”
Nathan, with a hug shudder wailed from the depths of his guts, “Ma’s dead. He killed her!!!!!!!!!”
“No… No…. little brother…. Ma ain’t dead, you’re lying… oh God… who did it? I’ll kill them! Why?” I said angrily.
Nathan was inconsolable.
“I’ve got to see my brother, and let me up from this damn prison.” I half screamed; half gurgled; half wheezed; half asphyxiated, all the while trying to maintain awareness as pain racked the lower half of my body. I felt my muscles twitching violently as I sat up and tried to get out of bed… anger took hold of my body. Rage was close by. I started rocking forward and backward.
The spasms were killing me. Nathan’s grip was paralyzing me from moving. I then felt several pairs of hands touching me. I felt Wayne lie at my side, opposite Nathan. He was whispering something though I didn’t understand what because he too was sobbing.
My chest began seizing as stifled racks of pain shot from the tips of my toes into it.
“Becky Ann, get me 10 milligrams of Valium IV STAT. I’ll administer it myself. Joey, try to relax. You’re muscles are having waves of spasms. I’m going to give you some medicine…”
“NO! Don’t put me out… oh God, what’s happening… what happened?” I wailed sudden racks of pain coming up from within me.
“You’se bes settles down boy. They be ready with a hypo to calm you down, iffin you don’t do its yo’self, Good Lord hep us, show yous mercy, oh Lawd, bless dees chil’rens, days beens through so much Lawd, grant ‘em peace, please.” Millie wailed. I’d never heard her in such pain before.
“I need to ask everyone to please leave right now.” Dr. Mauer said authoritatively.
“No… Stay here.” I said as the spasms in my chest turned from pain to strangulation.
As if we could get any closer I pulled Nathan into my chest, squeezing him hard as I felt myself sinking down into quicksand. I felt my arms relax their hold on my baby brother. For a brief moment I saw him move. He wailed, “Don’t go Joey. Please don’t go!”
With every ounce of strength in my body I fought the sensations of quicksand enveloping and zapping away my life.
Unable to hold in that pain any longer I felt tears streaming freely from my eyes, over my cheeks and onto Nathan and Wayne’s arms that were holding me tight, as if they knew my journey, as if they were pulling me up from that waterlogged sand.
I then felt a small sting on the surface of my arm. Dr. Mauer said, “Joey, I’m giving you a little bit of a muscle relaxer. Not very much. Are you with me? There, all done.”
I felt no different although the racking and shooting pains in my legs got just a little bit less.
Dave said with a very calm and reassuring voice, “I’m sorry Joey. I’m sorry Nathan. I’m sorry that this has happened. Go ahead. Feel the pain. Don’t hold it back.”
With that said I felt arms, strong arms wrap around me and Nathan. Not much, but a little comfort washed through me.
I don’t know for how long, because time had no meaning, those arms stayed around us, just hanging on as if our lives depended on the touch… perhaps their strength did indeed save our lives.
Wayne would occasionally kiss my forehead; rub my face and neck and upper chest. Millie was close by. She was quietly sobbing.
The quiet settled in. I was no longer sobbing. Nathan’s tremors were getting lighter then I heard his deep rhythmical breathing.
Previously blinded by tears and emotional upheaval I opened my eyes. The light was brighter. For a brief moment the grayness lifted until I could see everything though everything was still gray, without color.
I found Millie’s face. I honed in on her features and then dark gray hues started to return.
“Joey, are you seeing us, just a little bit?” Dr. Mauer asked.
I turned my gaze away from Millie and turned my head toward the voice. I worked hard to see the person speaking to me, Dr. Mauer’s voice I would recognize anywhere at any time. Nathan released his death grip from my chest. Although the gray hues were prevalent I could and did clearly see his facial features down to the tear streaks traveling from his eyes to his chin. I replied looking back to Dr. Mauer’s voice, “Yes. Everything’s gray though. But why… why can’t I see? Why won’t my damn legs work?”
Dr. Mauer replied, “Okay, everybody out. Joey, I need to explain but we need to do this in privacy. Do you remember me telling you that too much stimulation could actually be harmful? You have a lot to process. I have some answers that will explain what’s happening to you.”
“No, I need them here.” I said upon deaf ears. In the silence, broken only by footsteps leading out of the room, my heart began pounding; my temples were pulsing; I broke out in a cold sweat; my eyes began leaking water seemingly of their own volition, and I felt very lightheaded, and almost nauseated yet I had no urge to purge.
Wayne got up but said nothing. Dave’s arms left. Nathan squeezed me tight and said, “I’ll be outside. If you need me just call.” He then kissed my lips. I heard his tennis shoes squeak indicating his exit. Quickly I turned toward him and saw him walk from the room.
Millie got up from her perch at the foot of the bed and said, “Honey chile, I bees right outside da door ya heah mah?”
“Thanks Millie. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
“You rests now ya heah? Dr. Mower, she’s goin to ‘splain some things to ya boy.”
I looked up to Dr. Mauer. Becky Ann said, “I’ll be right outside Joey. Be strong and listen carefully. Dr. Mauer will explain what’s going on with your body.”
I saw Becky Ann’s very, very light gray figure leave the room.
After the door closed Dr. Mauer sat down on the edge of my bed and said, “Here’s a Kleenex. Wipe the tears from your eyes and blow your nose. I need you to talk with me. I think I’ll be able to help answer some of your questions.”
Slowly, I nodded. Dread began filling my consciousness. I wanted to know what was wrong with me yet I didn’t want to know … all at the same time. After blowing my nose and wiping my eyes dry she said, “Joey, you are experiencing what we call psychogenic blindness and partial paralysis. You’ve probably noticed a catheter in your penis. It empties your bladder.”
“Yeah, I don’t feel my thing, my penis… it’s like it doesn’t exist.”
“That’s to be expected…”
“Uhm, will it ever work again?”
“It all depends. I’m sorry I don’t have a better answer. Right now your penis is the least of my concerns. My main concern is your legs. But at the same time I’m hopeful and encouraged because you see your legs were moving which means there is nothing wrong with your spine or your brain. What I mean is that there are no tumors other things that prevent motor skills from working.”
I shrugged my shoulders,
“What does psycho… psychog…”
“Psychogenic. It’s difficult to answer because there are so many factors involved. Generally speaking, psychogenic blindness and paralysis occurs after someone has seen and experienced something horrific. Whatever happened is too much for the human mind to take so it goes into shut-down mode in an effort to self-preserve itself. These things are usually temporary but sometimes they become permanent or recovery is partial. Most times when the trauma is accepted by the patient, their symptoms improve and they go on and have a normal life in every way. This is a process though…”
“Rome wasn’t made in a day…” I deadpanned.
She patted my shoulder then I asked softly, “Do you mean that I could end up like this for the rest of my life?”
“Yes. But let’s not think of it in those terms. You have to remain positive. You have to want to recover more than anything else in the world, and I mean everything else. It has to be your top priority, period. It will take a lot of work but I know you can do it.”
The words just tumbled out of my mouth, and I meant each and every one of them with all of my heart, “If I stay this way then I want to die. It’s not worth it.”
“That attitude will get you nowhere, young man. You’ve got to fight to come back. But then if you want to sit on your butt and feel sorry for yourself then we’ll just discharge you from the hospital so you can go out of this world a loser. A loser is someone who doesn’t even try. Is that how you want to be remembered?”
“Do you really think I want to live like this? This ain’t living. If this is the way it’s going to be then I’ll just die. What’s going to happen to me if I live like this, like if I can’t die? I ain’t gonna be no charity case … no way!”
“Then do something about it. Joey, you have the best of medical care in the entire world here but if you don’t do something to help yourself then we are of absolutely no use to you. Neither are the people out there in the hallway who love and care for you. Joey, I care.”
“I want to get out of bed. I can’t lay here and just do nothing.” I acquiesced after realizing that I needed to be able to care for Nathan, and make money to support his needs.
“Okay, we’ll get you out of bed. But all the exercise and everything won’t cure your problem. What counts is right up here.” She said and then placed her cool hand on my forehead.
“What do you mean?”
“Joey, I am going to be totally frank and honest with you. I’ve been told I am quite blunt at times but I believe it does my patients better to know the truth so I tell the truth. If you do not want to hear the blunt truth, then say so now.”
I took a deep breath and then nodded.
“No, Joey, a nod isn’t good enough. Say what’s on your mind. Be frank with me.”
“Be honest with me. I’ll be honest with you.” I said as tears escaped from my blind eyes and rolled down my cheeks and then landed in a puddle on my chest. I didn’t even bother to wipe them away.
“Turn those tears into determination, Joey. I see a tough guy in you on the outside but then I see a very frightened child on the inside. You’ll need to pull them both together. When you do that then you’ll be strong, and you’ll be able to do anything you put your mind to. Do you hear what I’m saying?”
“I’ve always had to be strong. I don’t know what being a boy is.” I said emphatically. It was true – I didn’t know what a boy was supposed to be… I’d lost all sense of being a kid when dad and Jerrod died.
“Bullshit. I saw how you care for your little brother. There’s a boy inside of you who needs to come out and play. There’s also a tough person inside. You need to learn how to bring them together. As far as the bad ass kid, put him aside, you don’t need him now; you’ll never need him again.”
“I can’t do that. Nathan needs me.” I said determinedly then angrily and then added, “That dumbass worthless scum sucking piece of shit Christopher even needs me – they need the money I make to survive on. But then you’d never understand that shit. Derrick does not understand that shit. There’s no way to understand unless you lived it.”
“So tell me about it Joey. What makes Joey tick?”
“Sex, drugs, acid rock. Feed me enough of each and I’m just fine and can function and do what needs to be done to survive and thrive.” I said with all certainty.
“Joey, I’m afraid that sex is out of the question for you entirely, at least for right now. You’ll just piss yourself without having a catheter in your bladder. You’ll not achieve orgasm even if the catheter were out. I doubt you’ll even get a hard on. You have very little control of your bowels so I’ll not even go there. Geezus, Joey, what good is a 13 year old without a hard dick, eh?”
Continuing, “As far as acid rock goes, we can arrange it. That way you won’t have to think for yourself because you won’t be capable. I’ve listened to some of it, and well, quite frankly, I used it to escape because I didn’t have to think … and I can’t think when it’s on loud enough… is that the way you are?”
“They don’t pay me to think. They pay me to do them. They don’t give a good god damn about me. Nobody gives a damn so why should I?”
“Okay… if you want to take that tack then go right ahead. You’re strong. I’m sure you’ll survive the streets … for about 5 minutes. Since you’re blind you’ll probably get hit by a car. Do you want Nathan to see that? Hasn’t he seen enough in one lifetime? Do you think this is easy for him? Joey, I’m really concerned about Nathan. Today is the first time I’ve really seen any emotion from him. He really needs his big brother, Joey. You need him too. I just think you’re afraid to admit it… am I pretty close to hitting the target?”
I rolled onto my side facing her with her help because the side rails were down. “I’m so scared.” I said then buried my head in her lap and began weeping without regard for my self imposed tough guy in all situations and circumstances.
Dr. Mauer began rubbing her hand up and down my bare back using little circular motions that brought me to the brink of totally losing all composure. She then rubbed my neck and kept saying for me to let it all out, to not hold back, and to just roll with the flow because I needed to release all the pain, worry, concern and my tough guy image. She reminded me that I was still a boy, and that it was okay to be a boy, and that it was okay to cry because my mom had died, because my big brother Jerrod had died, and because my dad had died, and just because.
I would recover a little bit and then would return to the baby-like place that I’d not been in for so many years.
I told her about the day that led up to Ma’s death. I told her how mom had bathed and dressed me like a little boy. Dr. Mauer suggested that what mom had done was her attempt to get me back from the clutches of death, and maybe even to apologize for not being the best mother she could have been. She suggested that I not blame mom for all that had happened.
Dr. Mauer, June, kept rubbing my neck and then when the muscle spasms in my legs took hold she changed tactics. She got some body lotion from the sink, rolled me onto my back and then began rubbing my legs from my toes to my pubes because I had spasms everywhere… over time my legs relaxed enough to where the pain wasn’t all that bad.
“Joey, I’m going to give you another hypo… not very much but just enough so that your muscles will relax.”
I felt another slight sting on my arm. Almost immediately I felt warm. Together with her massaging and the medicine I relaxed. My eyes closed, I put my arms around her waist, hoisted my head into her lap and then fell into a peaceful sleep.
Just as I was dropping off I heard Dave’s voice say, “I think we have our decision made.”
June said, “Yes.”
*-* A few days later *-*
Nathan usually stopped in by the hospital with Wayne or Derrick to visit. They usually stayed until after I ate because they needed to return home to eat. Nathan was staying at Millie and Wayne’s home until we could figure something else out.
For two nights and after lights out I was beginning to get woken up in the middle of the night with strange, disconcerting and even violent nightmares. Dr. Mauer had upped the dosage and added a medication so that I could sleep the night through without having the dreams. Although the dreams were coming on less frequently they were beginning to become even more violent.
Things kinda sorta came to a head one morning. The dream began not too long after going to sleep. I woke up completely terrorized but was able to go back to sleep. And then the dream returned right where it had left off. That continuing dream made absolutely no sense to me.
The last of the series that night put me into Christopher’s room back when Vito and I had had a ‘conversation’ with my brother about his treatment toward mom and Nathan. In the final scene mom was tying the string of yarn around his dick and pulling it tight.
After that dream I worked my way out of bed and into the wheelchair. I took myself down to the cafeteria after receiving permission to leave the floor for reasons I would not tell the nurse. She only saw that I was highly upset. She didn’t know that my world was crashing in all around me. Dr. Mauer had told me the day before that if those dreams didn’t stop then she was going to order consultations with a psychologist and psychiatrist. I recalled mom’s words so I didn’t argue.
Anyway I went to the hospital cafeteria that was open all day and night. I ordered a large cup of warm milk. The person behind the counter, because the place was empty of customers, told me that he’d bring the beverage to me when it was sufficiently heated. I showed him my ID bracelet which enabled him to charge it to my floor as a miscellaneous expense since I had no money and he didn’t appear to be the kind of guy who I could or would trick. More importantly I was positive that if even if he were willing then who in the fuck would want to mess around with a kid in a wheelchair, legs propped up on those leg rests, not to forget to mention that I’d be a rag doll with a catheter that detracts from appearances and abilities to actively participate.
I stayed there for many an hour or so then I returned to my room, worked myself back into bed and tried to fall asleep yet as soon as I closed my eyes an unsettled feeling washed over and through my mind and body. I turned on the TV hoping the distraction would ease the discombobulated thoughts and feelings. It worked. I fell back to sleep, and continued to sleep until the lights went on for breakfast.
I was pretty much doing the bed bath thing for myself although a nurse or aide would wash and massage my back and legs. All previous concerns for skin breakdown quickly dissipated because I was out of bed more and more, and continued massages.
The urology department had come to my room and taught me how to change the catheter using sterile technique so that I wouldn’t get a urinary tract infection.
The nurse left me with a catheter in a sterile package so I deflated the little balloon thing with a syringe and then pulled it out after pressing on my belly to make sure all the pee was out so that I didn’t leak and lay in the stuff.
Each time I’d change the thing I’d massage, roll around and attempt to get it ‘interested’ in some play time. It was weird to be horny and unable to do anything about it all at the same time. The only reaction my penis had to the continued stimulation would be a slight puffiness. It didn’t even feel good but it didn’t hurt either. Performing the ministrations on it felt like my cock was not even mine. I stole some courage one morning and talked to one of the male therapists about my ‘little’ dilemma. He reassured me that usually the penis was the first parts of the male anatomy that came back when the nerves and stuff began regrowing… but he wasn’t all that sure as to its workings for a patient with my diagnosis. He said to be patient.
Dr. Mauer arrived at about 11am with an entourage of interns and resident physicians in various phases of their education to become doctors. She apologized for being so late in the morning but that her tardiness was because she’d had a long first case in the operating room. I wondered why they called an operation of a human being a ‘case’.