“We’re going to let you get out of here tomorrow.”
This is the best news I’ve heard since waking a week ago.
“The progress you’re making with your therapy is moving at a nice pace. We’re going to kick it up a bit. You did say your sister has agreed to get you back here every day for therapy, correct?”
“Yes, that should be no problem. Between her and my kids everyone has agreed to help.” It’s true, everyone has volunteered to help in any way they can, which makes me feel guilty to steal their time, but I don’t want the doctor to know how this is all making me feel mentally. I want to get out of here.
“In that case, as long as no other complications pop up, I think tomorrow it is then. I will want you in for a follow-up appointment in two weeks.”
“Here, or in your clinic?”
“My clinic, Mountainview Neurology center. I will make sure the nurse gets you all of the information. I expect that Dr. Hoover, your orthopedic Doctor, along with your regular M.D. will also want to see you.”
I glance down at my leg—free of the cast—but blazing with a large scar. The first time I had seen my leg, I wanted to gag. It looked viciously red and mutilated. Now I’m getting used to it. I guess it could have been worse—it could be gone. The metal from the side panel had bent and tore into my leg while the pressure snapped both my Tibia and Fibula. I remember Dr. Hoover explaining to me how they had to remove me from the car with the metal imbedded into my right leg … almost to the point of severing my leg. I’m slowly—day by day—figuring out bits and pieces of that night.
“You’re on the way up, but you still have a big mountain ahead.” Doctor Mitchell says.
I know exactly what he means by that … last night was the first night I hadn’t cried from the pain and frustration after therapy, I guess that’s progress in itself, after seven days I finally stopped crying. “I can wiggle my fingers and toes a little now.” I add weakly.
“That’s great, Nikki. Now, we can be sure that your brain is starting to heal.” I guess he’s right some movement is better than none. “Just remember the Grand Canyon wasn’t carved out in a day. These things take time, and don’t get too frustrated with yourself if the pace is slower than you would like.
Getting out of the hospital is liberating … but strange. I have racked my brain trying to remember the last two and a half months, but I come up empty. It feels like I’ve been lost in a Twilight Zone show that is continuing to run. The last thing I remember is the snow pelting down and now it looks like spring outside of my car window. This gives me new meaning to “Stop and smell the roses,” if you’re not careful—time will disappear in an instant.
“How are you doing sweetie?”
“I’m fine, thank you Heather. I swear this won’t be permanent.” I can’t believe I’m being taken to my sister’s house to live with her. I’ve had to deal with a lot of humiliating situations recently, but I don’t know if I feel more humbled.
“Don’t worry about it. Remember when we were young and always said, we would get a place together? Well … I guess now it’s finally happening.
I laugh, “yeah, but I think we hadn’t planned on kids and husbands to be there as well.”
“Awe heck, Joe doesn’t mind and Rachel and Alex are too busy to come and hang out with Mom anymore.”
“Well sis … hate to break it to you, but you’re not cool anymore.” I poke fun at her but in truth my kids are starting their own lives too. Mathew stopped by twice to see me, but he seemed distant. I wish I could have squeezed all of his unknown worries right out of him. Then there’s Lexie, she just turned eighteen on the day I woke up, and she’s graduating from high school and entering art school this fall. And Ben … he’s already looking at graduate schools to be a doctor. Where does this all leave me? My husband is gone and my kids are moving on. As if my sister knew what I was thinking, she reaches over and squeezes my good hand.
Pulling up to her house, I’m astonished to see the newly built wheelchair ramp leading up to their front door. Now I know what she meant by her comment, about her house being more accommodating.
Joe, my brother-in-law, is a fairly stout guy. He works for the local fire department and it takes him little to no effort to help me into my chair. “Thank god you’re coming to stay. I think your sister has been trying to kill me with her cooking.”
“At least I feed you.” She throws a water bottle at him and he ducks out of the way just in time.
“I’m just saying … having a chef in the house … might be nice.” He stammers.
“Id love to help in the kitchen. It’s the least I can do for you guys taking me in. I might need a prep cook though. I haven’t quite gotten used to this one-handed thing.”
“Weird, all I need is one hand,” Joe teases.
“Oh my god, don’t be gross.” My sister looks mortified, but I can’t help myself and I laugh.
“He does have a point.”
“Having you two around each other is going to be worse than I thought. The kids aren’t even this bad.” I stick my tongue out at my sister and Joe laughs spinning me around and pushing me up the ramp to their two-story home.
They have lived here for about ten years and I recognize all the same décor; the brown plush sofa set in the living room, the dark wood end tables and matching coffee table, a collection of family photos over the fireplace and the same artwork on the wall. However, familiar as it is, I still don’t feel like I’m home. The imposter. The stray dog they’re dragging home.
“I brought over some of your things and set up the guest room for you. Everything is on this level so it should be easy for you.” Heather leads the way down the hall to my “temporary” living quarters. At least it’s not a tiny box. The room is spacious with plenty of room on both sides of the queen size bed for me to maneuver this damn chair around it. Not that I can actually move it well with only one arm fully functioning.
“There’s a dresser here for your stuff, and in here,” she walks into another adjoining room, “is the bathroom.” She turns around to look at me and her consoling eyes make me want to cry. I feel pitiful. I can’t even go to the bathroom with out help. “I got us some walkie talkies. Joe and I tried them out. I’ll keep one clipped to me, so if you need anything—just push the button.” I take the hand held walkie talkie and set it in my lap.
“That must have been fun testing their range.” Joe and Heather look at each other and smile, “yes it was,” Joe piped.
“So, that’s pretty much everything,” Heather quickly changes the subject. “Are you hungry?”
“Actually, I’m feeling wiped. I think I might just lay down for a bit.”
“Oh sure, of course.” After Heather helps me up onto the bed, which is a lot softer than the hospital bed. Their voices grow fainter as I edge closer to darkness.