Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Palms and Pockets Chapter 8: Happy Summer

Palms and Pockets

by Paul Diaz

Chapter 8: Happy Summer

The door opened and Colleen saw John leaning against the wall. “You can come in now” she told him. The young man entered the hospital private room and Anne smiled at him as she did a quick pose with her operation gown on. “Well how do I look?” she asked.

“Pretty as usual” John replied. “Hmmm why do I sense sadness in your eyes?” Anne asked. The young man took a seat and exhaled. “I am just worried” he said. “You are more worried than my parents” Anne said as she laughed. Bob entered the room wearing his scrubs, “Are you ready?” he asked.

“Not yet” John replied. “I was talking to Anne son” his father said and again Anne laughed. “Yes I am but I think you too should sedate John” the young woman replied as she got on the bed. “Nurse prep her up” Bob instructed and John stood up and took a deep breath.

“How long is the operation?” he asked. “Two at least but she has to stay at the ICU for another two hours for observation” Bob replied. “John I will be fine, what if you go unwind first then you can come back after four hours” Anne said. A few more nurses entered the room and positioned themselves around the bed.

Colleen held her daughter’s hand and kissed her forehead. “I will just go to the office for a while and file my leave of absence. I will be right back” she whispered. John stood beside Anne mother and looked at his friend. “See you after four hours” he said. “John, come closer” Anne said.

Colleen moved away so the young man can move closer. Anne signaled him to move closer so she could whisper on his ear. “What is it Anne?” he asked. “I changed my mind. Don’t go anywhere. Could you just here in my room?” she whispered. “Sure I will stay here” John replied. “Stay here and don’t go anywhere else okay?” she added. “I promise to be nearby” the young man told her. “No John, just stay here. So I know where you are” Anne said.

John nodded his head as the nurses moved the bed out of the room. Anne smiled at him but she never saw him smile back. “Dad make her walk straight” John said as he sat down. “I can only fix her leg. You are the one who will make her walk straight” Bob said as he patted his son’s shoulder.

For four hours John remained in the room as he promised. He was calm as he waited for the return of Anne. Ten minutes passed and he became wary and started to pace the room. Colleen entered and saw John walking around, “They have not brought her back here yet?” she asked.

“Dad said it would be four hours only but it has gone beyond” John said as he sat down for a second and then stood up to walk around again. “Have you eaten lunch?” Anne’s mother asked. “I promised Anne that I would stay here” John said.

The sound of Bob’s voice was heard along the hallway so John immediately ran towards the door. “She’s here!” he yelled so Colleen approached John and escorted him away from the door. “Come on dear let them pass” she said.

The nurses brought Anne inside the room, the young woman was still unconscious so John looked at his father. “The operation went well and all her vital signs are okay. She will wake up any moment now” he told them.

They heard Anne moan so everyone looked at her. The young woman slowly opened her eyes and Colleen was quick to hold her daughter’s hand. John looked at his father and embraced him and exhaled deeply. “Thanks dad” he whispered.

“John” Anne murmured and the young man quickly came closer. “I am here Anne, I never left the room” he said as he looked at her left leg which was wrapped up with a brace. Anne was slowly raising her hand so John held it. “Are you in pain?” he asked her. The young woman shook her head but gripped his hand tighter. “What is it then?” John asked and Anne just smiled.

Colleen wasn’t allowed to take a leave so during day time it was John who watched over Anne. In the afternoon Gerard and his wife would arrive to take over for a few hours so they could let John sleep. At night the young man returns to Anne’s side and watches over her as she sleeps.

One week later John arrived at the hospital after having a full day sleep at home because Anne’s parent took a day off. He was surprised to find no one inside the room so he started to panic. John quickly phoned his dad but learned that Anne was just having some sunshine at the hospital grounds.

The young man immediately ran outside and saw Anne on a wheelchair being pushed by her parents. “John!!!” she shouted and waived at him. Anne tried to stand up but John ran to her and stopped her. “What are you trying to do?” he asked.

“Its okay dear, she already can stand” Colleen said. “She can? Does it hurt when you do? Can you walk now?” John asked as she helped Anne stand up. “Yes it hurts but your dad said I should get used to it. And I cant take steps just yet. I can only stand and sit” she replied.

“When are they going to take off the brace? When is rehab going to start?” John inquired. “Well she took it off by herself this morning but your dad returned it and said they will only remove it when she will start taking steps” Gerard said. “Why did you remove it Anne?” John asked. “Well it was getting itchy and it was too warm. Dad you should not have told him. Look he is now mad at me” Anne said.

Colleen yawned and leaned on her husband, Anne looked at them and smiled. “Mom and dad you two should go home. I will be fine since John is already here and he said he was going to sleep over” Anne said. Her parents looked at John who was surprised and they laughed. “We can go and take a nap and come back in the afternoon. Let John enjoy his summer vacation dear” Colleen said.

“Oh yeah I forgot” Anne murmured. “No its okay. I can sleep over tonight” John said and Anne grinned at her parents. “John are you sure? You might have other things planned. We were just kidding when we said we are taking your summer away too” Gerard said. “I have nothing planned sir, go ahead and get some rest. I will take care of Anne for you” the young man told them.

Anne’s parent bade their daughter goodbye and the young woman sat back down on the wheel chair. After an hour going around the yard the two were back in Anne’s room. Linda dropped by to bring some food for the young lady didn’t like the food that was served in the hospital.

John inclined the bed to Anne could sit up and stood beside the bed so he could feed her. Anne started giggling and looked at John. “I can move my hands you know” she told him. “I know, I told your parents I would take care of you so that includes spoon feeding you” he explained and Anne laughed.

Instead of resting, Anne spent the whole day laughing at John’s made up jokes. The young man went to his father’s office and returned wearing a doctor’s white coat which made the young woman laugh even louder. John took her chart and pretended to make a diagnosis.

A nurse entered the room to check on Anne’s vitals, John avoided looking at the woman so he would not be recognized. “Are all vital signs okay?” he asked at a low voice. “Yes doctor” the nurse replied. “Prep her up for surgery” John said and the nurse was surprised.

“What surgery?” she asked and Anne burst in laughter. John showed his face and the nurse laughed for she was fooled by the doctor’s son. After dinner that evening the young woman was sleepy. “Go ahead and take a rest. Don’t worry I wont go anywhere” John told her.

“John, mom was right. You should be enjoying summer” Anne murmured as her eyes were slowly closing. “I am enjoying summer” the young man replied. “Liar. How do you call this enjoying summer? You should go do what you want to do” Anne said.

“I am doing what I want” he told her but Anne already fell asleep. “Being with you. Making you laugh and seeing your smile. That’s all I want. You tell me I must go and enjoy my summer. I am just going to come back here and be with you” John whispered as he caressed Anne’s hand and fixed her blanket.

The following morning therapy started. The leg brace was taken off temporarily so the doctor could exercise Anne’s leg. Bob supervised the procedure as John was beside Anne holding her hand as she grimaced in pain. After an hour Bob brought in a walker and the young woman was surprised to see it.

“Am I going to walk?” she asked. The doctor doing her rehab nodded his head as he returned the leg brace. “The pain you feel are just muscle pains. You can start to walk already” he told her. Anne was excited as they helped her off bed.

With two hands on the walker, Anne started trembling so the two doctors stood by her side. “You carry the walker and plant it. Then take a step with your right leg and close with your left leg. Don’t use the left leg to lead” Bob explained. With the two doctors guiding her, Anne lifted the walker and planted it too far. “No no no! Mover it back” John said and the two doctors laughed. “You should listen to him” Bob said.

Anne pulled back the walker and stepped her right leg forward and started to giggle. “Here we go” she said as she slowly stepped her left leg. John and Anne were rejoicing for her first successful step, the two doctors looked at each other joined the fun. “Come on you can do better than that” John egged her on.

Anne was able to walk out of the room using only a walker and she was really happy. “Now time to turn around slowly. Take baby steps” Bob ordered. Anne did as instructed and managed to turn around. “This walker sucks. I have a better one” she said and moved the walker aside and looked at John.

The young man stood in front of her and extended his two hands. Anne held on to John’s arms and the more she enjoyed taking steps. The two doctors looked at each other and shook their heads, “This is better because each step I take I wont be scared because you are here to catch me. And I would want to keep on walking because we are going hiking soon” Anne said which made the doctors smile.

Two weeks after her operation Anne was finally home. The cast on her left leg had been changed to a lighter one but she could already walk straight with the help of a cane. The living room was transformed into her temporary shelter for she was still hard up walking up stairs.

Instead of going back to the hospital each day for therapy, Anne relied on John for this. The young man learned everything that was needed for Anne’s legs rehabilitation, he even wrote it down in a notebook where he monitored his friend’s daily progress.

When Anne’s parents were at work, John was always there with her. It was this time when John taught Anne how to play console games and he regretted it because she got a little bit addicted. With John’s help and daily walks around the neighborhood, Anne’s leg healed faster than expected.

A month after surgery Anne was already walking normally but John saw to it that she didn’t exert herself. The young man was stricter than her parents but Anne was not complaining for she was the same way when it comes to John. Anne was already happy but she was going to take her happiness to the next level.

A second operation, this time for her scar made her excited. They were back at the hospital and Anne noticed her friend acting weird. “John there is nothing to be worried about. This is just a minor operation” she told him. “Yeah I know. Everything will change after your operation” he said.

“What do you mean? I wont be ashamed of my face anymore. Arent you happy for me?” she asked. “I am happy for you of course. You wont have any more problems” John said. “That is right. I wont have to bow my head anymore” she told him.

The skin surgeon arrived so Anne had to be taken to the operating room already. “You stay here okay?” she told John. “Of course” he replied. Alone in the room John pondered on the future. He knew everything would start to change and there was nothing he could do anymore to stop it.

He stood in front of the window and opened it to let inside a cold breeze. He heard the door close but didn’t bother to turn around. “They already took Anne to the operating room” he said. A tap on his shoulder made him turn around, he was surprised to see Anne.

“What are you still doing here?” he asked but the young woman placed her hand on his lips. “You were the only one who stared at my face that I saw who didn’t feel pity in his eyes. John, I really want this to happen but if you tell me now that I don’t need to then I wont go through with it” Anne told him.

John looked at Anne and he took a deep breath. “All I want is for you to be happy. I know this operation will so that’s all that matters. If you are happy then so am I” he told her. Anne’s hand slid from John’s mouth towards his neck. She moved her face closer to his and their lips touched for the first time.

With lips locked and arms around each other, the two enjoyed their first kiss. After a few second Anne stepped back and the two smiled at each other. “Wait for me” she said. “I will always be here” he replied.

The tides of changes have arrived and John was caught in the middle.

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