Friday, February 14, 2014

No Strings Attached Chapter 21

As Jason is still sick and recovering Britt makes a big decision.

Darryl waited outside the ICU and just sat quietly when Jason’s phone announced a text message. He looked at the phone display and tapped on the message alert; it was from Britt, “Jason, how are you? Are you at the ER?”
Darryl saw the name and number and thought about texting back but then decided to just call Britt and let her know what was going on with Jason.
She answered right away, “Hey Jason!”
“This is actually Darryl, I am Jason’s dad.”
“Oh, Hi…”
“You’re Britt?”
“Yes!”
“Britt, Hi, I saw the message and I wanted to call you and let you know that they admitted Jason and he is not doing very well, he is actually in the ICU now.”
“Oh no, what is going on with him?”
Darryl told her about Jason’s condition and Britt was surprised, “I am so sorry. He must have been very sick already.”
“Yeah, apparently he had not been feeling well for a couple of weeks. He has done that before, drawing it out for as long as possible just to avoid hospitalization, didn’t tell me and then it was bad. It seems to be the same again but this time we are dealing with an UTI and also a very concerning pneumonia.”
“That is not good. I really hope he will be o.k. I am so sorry to hear that.”
“Thanks, they are prepping him right now for intubation and he will be in the ICU.”
Britt was sincerely concerned about Jason and she felt her heart beat fast and her hands tremble hearing Darryl tell her about what was going on, “Could you somehow keep me updated on Jason? I would love to see him if it is possible.”
Darryl promised Britt to keep her updated about Jason’s progress and eventually hung up after he gave Britt his phone number so she could stay in touch. Britt was very concerned now.  As soon as she had hung up with Darryl she informed her sister Chelsea about the situation. Britt cared for Jason and even though she tried very hard to not let her feelings get too deep for him she did think about him often. She knew Ariana was out there and she started thinking about her and wondered if Ariana had any idea about Jason’s condition. She didn’t know what to do about that or if she would do anything about it at all.
 
After he had finished with Britt on the phone Darryl called Jason’s boss Gary and let him know about Jason being sick. Gary wasn’t too happy to hear about it and said with a serious tone, “Darryl, Jason has been sick quite often in the last year. I know he is a good dispatcher when he is here but I don’t know if I can keep him on with being sick so much. If this is going to be a lengthier thing again I have to hire someone to cover Jason and I don’t know how all that will play out.”
Darryl pleaded, “Gary, please don’t let him go. He needs this job. What else should he do?”
Gary sighed, “I know and I have always cut him slack in the almost two years he has been working for me, but he is out a lot.”
“Please, I beg you, give him another shot!”
“O.K. I will and I wish him well. I hope he will be all right. Keep me updated on how he is doing. Tell him Hi from us.”
“Thanks Gary, I will keep you informed.”
“Thanks Darryl.”  
It was about an hour later when Dr. Shumar came walking up. Darryl jumped up and asked right away, “How is he?”
Dr. Shumar nodded and replied with a strong Indian accent, “Well, we got him on the ventilator, he is sedated right now. I am going to run some more tests on the UTI and hopefully the kidneys are not infected. I can let you know more tomorrow Mr. Flanagan. If you want to go see him right now, it’s perfectly fine.”
Darryl sighed, “I wish I would have known he was getting sick. I feel bad that I let it get so far.”
Dr. Shumar said calmly, “None of it is your fault Mr. Flanagan.”
Darryl cut in, “Please call me Darryl!”
“O.K., Darryl….it is not your fault that Jason is sick right now, it just happened. He is a young man and maybe just a bit irresponsible listening to the signs of his body. We will get him well again and then hopefully he won’t let it get too far again.”
Darryl nodded and Dr. Shumar added, “I will know more tomorrow and we can talk some more. I will be here any time from 9 in the morning until about 6 in the afternoon. When you get here tomorrow you can let the nurses know and they can send you to my office.”
Darryl nodded again, “O.k. thank you doctor.”
After Dr. Shumar left Darryl pushed the buzzer by the ICU entrance and after a moment he heard a voice, “Yes?”
“Hi, I am Darryl Flanagan, I am Jason’s father. Can I see him?”
“Yes, come on in!”
The door buzzed and Darryl pushed against it and walked into the ICU. The ICU was dimly lit and he heard beeping and buzzing sounds emerging from the rooms. Some had the curtains drawn, he couldn’t see anything beyond it. Into some rooms he caught a glimpse of a patient all hooked up to various tubings and IV’s.
Darryl approached the nurse’s station and was intercepted by Nurse Becky, “Hi, Jason’s dad?”
“Yes, I am Darryl.”
Becky was an older nurse with a friendly smile, “Hi Darryl, I am Becky, I am Jason’s nurse for today.”
She reached out to Darryl and they shook hands. Becky started walking with Darryl, “So Jason is sleeping right now but we have him intubated, he is on the ventilator, his blood pressure has adjusted somewhat, we are bringing it down with medication and the ventilator helps him breathe easier and hopefully we will get his lungs strong again soon. He is back here.” As she walked off Darryl followed right behind her.
They reached a room toward the end of the ICU and Darryl caught a glimpse of Jason in the room. Becky asked friendly, “So before you go in, could you use the hand sanitizer right here and it is probably best not to touch him right now.”  She pointed to the hand sanitizer dispenser right next to the door of Jason’s room.
After both of them used hand sanitizer they walked into the room. Darryl felt his body tremble as he saw Jason and once again felt bad about not having had a clue that Jason had been sick. Becky stepped on the left side of the bed and checked the IV’s. She then stood opposite facing Darryl and she saw his face filled with sorrow. Trying to assure Darryl she said, “He will be o.k.”
Darryl replied lowly looking at Jason, “I should have realized he wasn’t doing well lately.”
Becky smiled, “Sometimes people are really good at hiding how they are feeling. It is not your fault.”
Darryl nodded and Becky added, “I will give you some time with him. He probably can’t really hear you Darryl, he is heavily sedated right now. We will see how he is tomorrow and we can maybe decrease the sedatives. Right now you can just spend some time with him. You can visit anytime between 9 in the morning until 9 in the evening. I will have you on the family member list and you can come at any time. If you have any questions for me you are welcome to ask.”
“Thank you Becky. I think I am o.k. right now.”
Becky nodded and walked out.
 
Darryl just stood next to the bed looking at Jason. The ventilator tubing was in his mouth and white medical tape was holding all of it in place along with a strap around the back of his head. His eyes were closed and on his right arm he had two IV lines running, one on the back of his hand and one in the elbow crease. He saw at least three bags hanging on the IV portable, the tubing running various liquids into Jason’s veins. The ventilator was attached to the Oxygen tank and made low buzzing sounds. From under the blanket Darryl saw the catheter tubing appear which was attached to a bag collecting the urine into it at the foot end of the bed. Jason was lying there bare chested and Darryl saw some sticky pads attached to his skin with little cables running from them into the jungle of tubing on the side of the bed, monitoring his heartbeat. From right around his hip bones the sheets covered his lower body.
 
He didn’t really know what to do, Jason apparently wouldn’t hear him and so he just stood there and watched him silently. He couldn’t help when his vision became blurry and he felt tears develop in his eyes. He had never cried in front of Jason but so many times in the last two years he had felt overwhelmed with everything that had happened. He never would have let Jason know that sometimes he almost didn’t have enough strength left to be there for Jason, help him with his physical and psychological health issues. It had not been easy, just when his cancer had went into remission Jason had been in the accident and with that there was another challenge for Darryl to overcome.  He kept going though, tried to be strong for Jason who almost broke under the circumstances on many occasions, times when Jason didn’t want to live anymore, when he hated everything about his life, when he felt bad for himself trying to drown his emotions with alcohol or being mad at just about anyone and anything.
Darryl lightly stroked Jason’s arm and said softly, “We will make it through this once again Jay. You have to be strong for me son.”
Darryl stayed until they informed him that visiting hours were over and the nightshift nurse Jill escorted him to the exit and wished him a good night and told him not to worry too much, to try to get some rest and come back refreshed the next day.
When Darryl came to see Jason the next day, Dr. Shumar wanted to see him and they buzzed him into the ICU where Dr. Shumar intercepted Darryl, “Good Morning Darryl.”
“Good Morning Dr.”
“Let’s go to my office over here.” They walked down the hallway of the ICU and Dr. Shumar gestured into a small office, “Have a seat please!”
Dr. Shumar offered Darryl some coffee which he accepted, the Dr. then getting busy pouring a cup for Darryl.
The doctor started, “Well, Darryl, we ran some more tests on Jason. There are some good news, he does not have a kidney infection, which is a good thing. We are concerned though about the pneumonia and we also found traces of mild sepsis in his blood. Apparently most likely the bacteria that caused the pneumonia has spread into his blood stream. We are getting his breathing stabilized and somewhat getting his blood pressure under control. He is on strong IV antibiotics for all the infections and hopefully they will help him. Since we dodged an actual kidney infection our main concern right now are his lungs and the pneumonia and clearing the sepsis out of his body. Jason being on the ventilator will help his lungs recover and not having to struggle too much with the breathing. The sepsis is of concern and we will monitor him very closely for that. In the future when all this is over Jason needs to keep the closest eyes on any kind of cough or UTI developing. Actually I believe he should have regular checkups to avoid any serious infections. We really want to prevent any further health concerns for Jason.”  
Darryl shook his head in disbelief, “I am….I don’t know what to say.”
“We really have to keep a close eye on him right now.”
Darryl nodded, “Yes, of course. Is there anything I can do?”
“You can see Jason every day in the ICU and hopefully it won’t be too long for him in ICU. Just be patient and trust us that we are doing everything to make Jason better.”
 
When Darryl arrived in Jason’s room he found him still sleeping under constant sedation. With a chair pulled close Darryl sat at Jason’s bedside and just watched his son hooked up to all different devices. Jason had not seriously been sick like this. In the past he had suffered from UTI’s and usually just common colds. This time he had let his health deteriorate to a serious point and in a way as worried as Darryl was, he also felt angry at Jason’s irresponsibility. Darryl understood that Jason had not wanted to mess things up with Ariana but now she was not in his life anymore and Jason was seriously ill.
 
The next few days showed slow signs of improvement in Jason’s condition, the sepsis slowly cleared from his body. No visitors except for Darryl were allowed. Darryl had kept Britt and some of Jason’s other friends updated on his condition. He felt somehow Britt was possibly more than a friend now to Jason but he wondered what had happened to Ariana and he didn’t know if he should call her or let her know somehow what was going on with Jason at the moment. He decided against it because the last thing he had heard from Jason was that it was over between them so he didn’t want to do anything without Jason knowing. Once Jason would wake up he could decide if he wanted to let Ariana know or not.
 
Britt felt bad about the situation with Jason. She would have loved to visit him but wasn’t allowed. She could not stop thinking about him but she also thought about Ariana and tried to keep herself from feeling too much for Jason. No matter what though, she cared for him and she wanted to at least be his friend if she couldn’t be more but it was difficult for her. They had just had such a good time at her house a few weeks earlier and now Jason was lying in the ICU fighting for his life. She cried a little but kept her composure and stayed positive nevertheless. She had told Chelsea and Micah everything about Jason and they were concerned too. Micah definitely was concerned about his new fellow paraplegic friend, thinking a lot about the medical issues and how Jason had let it come to that.
 
It was almost two weeks into Jason’s hospitalization when Britt sat at her computer one evening and ended on Jason’s Facebook profile, looking at some of his pictures once again and came across the tag from Ariana. They looked very happy together and Britt kept looking at the pictures and feeling the tears come up in her eyes. She remembered the first time she had met Jason at the gas station and how upset he had been about the situation with Ariana. Just from the short time she knew him and how he talked about Ariana she knew that deep inside he felt a whole lot for her and it had hurt him so much to let Ariana go. She didn’t know Ariana’s side of the story and as she was looking at her in the pictures she felt that Ariana should know about Jason’s health and how he was doing.
 
She clicked on Ariana’s profile and saw only some information accessible to the public. Britt was able to look at some of Ariana’s photos and quickly came across pictures of Jason by himself and some of them both. One photo with Jason in his wheelchair, smiling at the camera had a caption under it “He is my dream come true”. A picture with them both held a caption, “I think I am falling in love”.
 
After a moment of looking at that specific picture Britt went on the message option to Ariana and started typing slowly, her hands trembling,  “Hi Ariana! You don’t know me but I am a friend of Jason. I am not sure if you know but I want to inform you that Jason is very sick and in the hospital. I thought you may want to know. He is dealing with pneumonia and an UTI. His body was septic as well. He is in the ICU and is slowly getting better. He is on a ventilator and they are keeping him in a semi coma, he is drifting in and out of sleep. Jason’s dad has been keeping me updated. If you have any more questions or just want to chat, please feel free to contact me. My phone number is 567-8544 if you want to text, call or here on Facebook is fine too. Thanks! Britt”
 
After Britt had typed and sent the message she took a deep breath but tried to remind herself that Ariana probably should know about Jason’s condition and that it was the right thing to do to let her know. Everything would work itself out somehow; Ariana could now decide for herself how important Jason was to her. Britt looked over her profile for a moment still, she was definitely an attractive young woman and she looked very nice. She saw that Ariana was also from Northern California just like Jason. With a heavy heart she clicked Ariana’s profile off and then turned her computer off.
 
In the two weeks Darryl had tried to come as often as possible but usually on the days of his Chemo treatment and one day after he was tired and weak and didn’t always make it to the hospital. He would just rest at home. Jason would need time to recover and he would have to take extra care of himself after he was through with this. It was questionable if he would be able to go back to work at night and Darryl was preparing for the worst of Jason maybe losing his job. Jason was being monitored very closely on any reaction in his body. With the sedation he was mostly sleeping, his body recovering from the ordeal. The sedatives also kept the spasms at bay. He was slowly getting better, breathing stronger and had slowly been decreased on the Oxygen flow to eventually wean him off the ventilator. The sepsis had almost cleared from his body and his urine had become clear again, signs of the UTI also leaving his body.  
 
It was the day after Britt had texted Ariana on Facebook about Jason. She was at work at the gas station and her phone announced a call. When she looked at the display she didn’t recognize the number right away but decided to answer, “Hello!”
A young female voice was on the other end, “Hi is this Britt?”
“Yes it is.”
“Hi Britt, my name is Ariana, you sent me a message about Jason on Facebook.”
“Yes, Hi Ariana.”
Ariana sounded nervous and insecure, “Britt, firstly I want to thank you so much about writing to me, I appreciate it so very much. I don’t know how to make this up to you but I am glad you wrote to me about Jason. I was so shocked when I read your message but I am so tremendously glad you wrote to me about everything. I am very worried about him and I really want to see him and also meet you. I….Jason and I….we….”
Ariana stopped and Britt heard the nervousness in Ariana’s voice and felt she needed to say something, “I know about you and Jason.”
Ariana sighed, “You do?”
“Well, I know sort of I guess. I just thought you needed to know about him. I think he would want you to know. He seems to care a lot about you.”
Ariana sounded sad, “He talked to you about me?”
“Yes, he did.”
Ariana added with a trembling voice, “I care a whole lot about him. Britt, you don’t know how much this means to me that you contacted me. I really want to see him as soon as possible. Where is he at? Which hospital?”
“He is at Providence in the ICU.”
“Can he have visitors?”
“No, only his dad is allowed. He is kept in a semi coma, he is sedated and on a ventilator. His dad goes to see him whenever he can. Maybe you can contact him and see if he can give you an update on Jason.”
“I will definitely do that. When can I meet you, Britt? I would love to meet you soon.”
Britt explained to her how she worked every day and went to school on a few nights a week. They decided to meet for a drink on Saturday night.
As soon as Ariana had hung up with Britt she couldn’t control herself anymore and broke out into tears. She didn’t know Britt but she was so thankful to this woman. She also felt that it had been a big deal for Britt to inform her about Jason and all the sudden Ariana knew that she needed Jason so much and that she wanted him in her life and she wanted to be with him no matter what it would take. She had to make it up to him and she needed to let him know that she loved him.
 
Whoever Britt was Ariana had no idea but she also knew she couldn’t let anyone else have Jason but she was in Britt’s debt. She started looking at all the pictures of her and Jason on her phone and she cried, thinking about what to do next. Tears were rolling down her cheeks and she pulled out one tissue after another from the box on her night table. She had thought of Jason every day since they parted from the Venetian and she couldn’t stop wishing that she had met Jason at a different time in her life. Now with her job as an escort everything was complicated and she longed to find a way to change things

6 comments:

  1. Fantastic chapter. I am so glad you posted tonight!

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  2. Such a heartbreaking chapter.
    Thank you!

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  3. Interesting return of Ariana. But what a complicated situation. Now there are 2 women in Jason's life and he doesn't even know what's going on. Eager to see him recover and really curious about how things will be handle.

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  4. I'm so glad Britt told Ariana and Jason is getting better. I utterly and completely enjoy this story! Thanks for posting early.

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  5. I am really interested to see where the story will go from here, thanks so much for sharing Jason and his life with us!

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  6. I can't wait to read the next chapter this story is so interesting.

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