The next morning Dr. Shumar came by again and was pleased to see Jason doing well even without the oxygen mask for short periods of time. The doctor ordered for the sedatives to be stopped completely. Jason was already off the antibiotics. He was now only on IV fluids constantly flowing into his veins.Jason had fully recovered from the UTI, the antibiotics had been effective and a kidney infection had been dodged successfully. The sepsis had completely cleared out of Jason’s body and his lungs were working actively again.
Jason sat somewhat upright in his bed and he listened to the doctor telling him how everything looked good on all his lab work and that they would get him off the feeding tube the next day.
He wanted to hear that he was all the way healthy again and with a few quick breaths he asked Dr. Shumar, “When can I….go home?”Dr. Shumar thought for a moment and then answered, “I really don’t know Jason. We will see how things will go this week. If there are no set-backs and all goes well, maybe by the end of next week.”
Jason didn’t like hearing this time frame at all and he was disappointed.
Dr. Shumar sensed his emotion and added in a serious tone, “Jason, we almost lost you and your body needs time to recover and get strong again. I understand that you want to get out of here soon but I won’t let you go until I feel you are ready. I want to make sure there will be no relapse and I can’t let you leave here with a good conscience if I am not certain you are all the way well.”
Jason was quiet, he didn’t like hearing about having to stay in the hospital much longer but he knew there was no way he could go home right now. He reminded himself to be realistic and strive to get all the way healthy and strong again. His dad was on his mind though and he felt he needed to be at home with him but there was really nothing he could do and it frustrated him. He also wanted to finally be with Ariana again outside of the hospital.
Contrary to the morning starting pleasant, Jason began experiencing spasms a little while later. His legs were twitching under the blanket and he saw how his hips jumped up slightly and his belly vibrated as he laid his hand on it. He was going to just wait it out and not worry about it too much but the spasms came more constant and more severe. His right leg actually fell to the side, hanging out from under the blanket over the side of the bed. On his hands he slowly tried to push himself up to reach for his leg and pull it back on the bed but realized quickly he was not strong enough at all. His arms were trembling as he tried to push himself forward some and reach down to his leg. He hissed over his lips as he fell back on the pillow, “Shit!”
His arms felt like pudding, trembling of weakness and his hands were shaking when he looked at them. Just lying there he watched as his body developed its own life again, twitching and trembling all the way into his back. His leg was still dangling over the side of the bed, he thought about calling the nurse but then didn’t. When his blood pressure monitor went off it didn’t take long and Cara, the day time nurse came in, “Hey Jason, what’s up?”She glanced at his leg dangling over the side of the bed and realized the spastic activity when she positioned his leg back on the bed under the blanket, “Spasms are bugging you?”
Jason nodded weakly and thanked Cara for her assistance with his leg.
Cara asked, “Do you want me to get some meds for you? We can do the Baclofen morning dose.” Jason nodded.
Cara walked out and a moment later came back with two Baclofen tablets in a little plastic cup and handed it over to Jason, “Here you go.”
She helped Jason get the Oxygen mask off and reached for the cup of water on the bedside table and held it up, “Here is some water with it.”
Jason let the two tablets drop into his mouth and Cara helped him with the water. As she straightened up Jason’s blanket, his legs still twitching under there, she said, “Well, hopefully the meds will kick in in a moment. Do you need anything else right now, Jason?”
He shook his head, Cara helped him put the Oxygen mask back on and eventually walked out, “I will be right outside. Push your call button if you need anything.”
Jason was battling his body all morning. The medication had only given him some relief. Darryl showed up around noon and when he walked into the room saw right away that Jason was not really feeling well at all, he had quite a set back with the spasms taking over his body.
Darryl was glad to see Jason off the ventilator though and as he walked up to the bed he smiled at Jason, “Hey son, how are you? It’s good to see you.”Jason was happy to finally see his dad after a few days of not having him visit. He still had slight problems with breathing but replied, “Hey dad, it’s good to see you…it doesn’t matter…how I am. How are…you? Are you…feeling o.k.?”
“I am doing better again. Jason, it does matter how you are…to me it does. I am glad to see you off the ventilator, that’s a good thing. So how are you son?”
Jason shook his head slightly and took a deep breath, “Today….actually kind of….shitty again.”
His legs kept trembling under the sheet and he couldn’t help his spine curving up. He was trying to breathe through the spasm but was unsuccessful to gain control over his body. All he could think of was that he didn’t want Ariana to see him like that and he was hoping she wouldn’t show up just at that time.With another spasm he hissed through his teeth, “Fuck!”
Darryl sat next to the bed, ”You are dealing with some strong spasms today son. Did you get medication already?”
Jason mumbled, “Yes, I did…It is not helping…too good.”
Darryl had seen Jason spastic many times, sometimes the spasms made it impossible for him to get up out of his bed and there was not much to do but take medication or just ride out the muscle cramps. It was like his body was mad because the messages from the brain didn’t come through anymore to the far corners of the body. Jason was maxed out on the Baclofen dosage but before his admittance to the hospital he seemingly had developed a tolerance to the Baclofen and when he did take the medication it didn’t give him full relief like it used to in the beginning and first year of his disability.
Darryl tried to get Jason’s mind off the spasticity but it was almost impossible to hold a normal conversation without Jason cramping up severely every couple of minutes.Jason eventually used a quiet moment to catch his breath and he turned to his dad, “Dad, I don’t want….Ariana…to see…me like this. Don’t let her…come in here. Can you call her and tell….her not to come?”
He was barely able to finish the sentence and his dad nodded, “O.k. if that is what you want. I will have to go outside the ICU though.”
Jason only managed a nod. Darryl understood Jason’s concern and he walked out of the ICU so he could make the call to Ariana.Ariana answered after a few rings, “Hey Darryl!”
“Hi Ariana! How is it going?”
“It is going o.k. I am almost at the hospital to see Jason.”
Darryl pressed his lips together at his being too late to catch her at home, and he said, “So you are on your way?”
“Yes, Why? Is something wrong with Jason?”
“Listen! I am actually here today and Jason is not doing so good. He is very spastic, cramping up constantly and not really able to do much at all. He wanted me to call you and tell you not to come.”
Ariana shifted in her seat, “I still want to see him. I am almost there. I don’t care about his spasms.”
Darryl knew she wouldn’t change her mind, “He feels embarrassed about his situation right now.”
“He doesn’t have to be. I am coming to see him no matter what. Please tell him I want to see him and not to worry!”
“O.k. I will tell him. Don’t know how he will take it but I know you want to see him.”
They finished their conversation and Darryl was worried about how Jason would feel about Ariana coming to see him anyways. When he got back to the room, the nurse was just leaning over Jason and checking his blood pressure in between spasms. It was somewhat elevated and she talked calmly to him about checking with the doc what they could do for him concerning the spasms because he didn’t seem to have an effective reaction to the Baclofen.
Darryl came back into the room and Jason looked at his dad questioning.Darryl informed him, “She is almost here and she won’t let me or you stop her. She is coming to see you no matter what.”
Jason looked up at the ceiling and a low curse came over his lips right before another spasm hit him.
Ariana arrived at the hospital about 20 minutes later and Jason was almost unresponsive between spasms because they took all his strength.
She greeted Darryl lowly and right away looked over to Jason, who slowly opened his eyes, “Why did you come?” His voice was muffled under the Oxygen mask.Ariana leaned over and said sternly, “Thanks for the warm welcome, I love you too!”
Jason pulled the Oxygen mask off his face again and took a deep breath. He was trying to keep his frustration in check, “Ariana, I am….not good…today.”
“I don’t care, even more so a reason for me to come and be here with you.”
Jason had a tough time breathing in between the spasms and with his eyes on her he said, “You don’t have…to do this.”
Ariana replied, “I don’t have to do a lot of things, but I want to do this. There is no other place I should be when you are feeling bad like this. Now, shut up and let me just be here.”
Darryl couldn’t help a smile brush over his face at Ariana’s demanding tone. Jason didn’t object anymore, he just didn’t have the strength. After the initial shock seeing his body act that way, his legs quivering under the blanket, his trunk twisting oddly at times and Jason’s dark eyes questioning and doubting her, she stood next to his bed and watched him dealing with the spasms for a moment, trying to figure out how she could help. His left leg then slid out from under the blanket and hung over the side this time.
Darryl got up from his chair, “Should I get the nurse or do you want me to get it, Jay?”Jason looked wearily down to his leg, “Shit.”
Ariana didn’t give him a chance to call the nurse, “I got it.”
Just as she was going to lift Jason’s skinny lifeless leg back up on the bed, he stopped her, “Ariana, no…don’t!”
She stopped in the process, somewhat surprised, “I can put your leg back.”
He shook his head, “No, just leave it alone, o.k.”
He was breathing somewhat quickly and Ariana heard an angry tone in his voice. She stood back and watched the leg twitch like it had a life on its own, she saw Jason’s atrophied calf muscle shift to the side of his tibia bone, it looked painful but he didn’t feel a thing.
Another attempt to touch his leg was stopped by Jason again, “Ariana, leave…it…alone.” She realized he was serious with his demand and stepped back, shrugging her shoulders and feeling sad about Jason not letting her help him.
Darryl had watched for a moment and took control of the situation. He threw Jason a disapproving look as he walked over to the bed, grabbed Jason’s leg and just pushed it back under the blanket. Jason didn’t have a chance to object and also didn’t want to say anything to his dad.
He barely had strength to think about his situation and Ariana being there. He still felt embarrassed and thought about how Ariana had told him what seemed like a lifetime ago how sexy he was. There was nothing sexy about this, a grown man being tortured by his own body, looking like he needed an exorcism to rid him off some ancient demon.
Ariana looked over at him. She wasn’t sure what to do after Jason’s interference when she only wanted to help and she felt a little insecure now. As she looked at Jason he met her eyes and he saw her confusion. He held his hand out to her, “Come here!”She slowly walked over to him and he took her hand in his, squeezing it. Another spasm shot up into his trunk and Ariana glanced down his body as Jason said lowly, “You shouldn’t have come today.”
Ariana said softly, “I wanted to see you, no matter what. I want to help if I can.”
Darryl had walked out quietly realizing the two having a moment together. He knew Jason had acted out of embarrassment not letting Ariana help him and he knew they needed to sort these things out.
As Jason held Ariana’s hand he apologized, “I am sorry…about a…moment ago.” She just nodded, trying to understand. She didn’t say anything else and Jason was breathing through another spastic episode. All she could do then is speak motivating words.Carefully she asked him, “So, can you take medication for this?”
Jason sighed, “I already got some…the spasms are kind…of strong today…I think I…have developed…a tolerance to it…I have been on this med….for two years…now.”
Ariana nodded, “Oh o.k.” She did realize that she really didn’t know much at all about what Jason was apparently dealing with on a regular basis. She didn’t say anything else.
Jason kept his eyes on her and he saw her glance down his body and to his legs shaking under the blanket.He tried to think of something to say to her to get her attention off his spasms. He squeezed her hand and as she looked over at him he said with a smile, “I am glad you…came anyways.”
She smiled and looked down shyly. As excited as she had been with seeing Jason again and wanting to be there for him, now she felt somewhat overwhelmed with the situation and at the same time useless, having to watch him deal with the spams, him not letting her help with his leg.It was still on her mind and she asked lowly, “Why did you not let me help you with your leg a while ago?”
Jason moved his eyes from her and looked up to the ceiling, thinking for a moment. He turned his eyes back toward her replying softly, “Ariana…not yet…I am…just not…ready yet. Please…understand.”
His breaths still came in gasps. Ariana had to just accept his answer to her question.
It knocked on the door frame and Darryl appeared again, “Is it o.k. for me to come back in?”Jason and Ariana had not even realized that Darryl had just disappeared and Ariana moved to the side a bit, letting Darryl get to his chair, “Of course.”
Jason asked, “Where did…you go?”
Darryl smiled, “I thought you two needed a moment.”
The rest of the day Ariana sat by Jason’s bedside, Darryl also stayed and they talked while Jason fell asleep in between spasms. The spasms weakened during the course of the afternoon but by evening Jason was drained of energy that he fell asleep and barely woke up anymore to tell his dad and Ariana Good Bye. Darryl and Ariana left the hospital together at around 7:30; there was nothing left to do for Jason anymore. They gave him back over to the nurses.
Outside Darryl offered Ariana a ride in his pick-up truck and this time Ariana accepted. While they were on their way to her apartment Darryl started, “Ariana, I want to thank you for being there for him today even though he didn’t want you there at first. It is difficult for him to be like this sometimes but it does happen frequently, Jason has always been very spastic and I know he is ashamed that you would see him like this. You stood your ground and that is what he needs sometimes. I also know that he was glad to have you there, even though he felt bad all day. All of this is part of Jason’s life, he has spastic episodes on just any regular day and they can keep him in bed for days. I guess I just want you to know that lots of issues come with the paraplegia and even though right now of course his whole system is compromised and even weaker than usual but he has times like this quite often.”
Ariana sighed, “If you are trying to find out if I am o.k. with it or if I can handle it….yes, I can handle it. I love him and I want to be there for him and support him on his good days and during his bad days.”Darryl asked lowly, “You used to think different about this though, right?”
Ariana looked down on her hands in her lap, then back up again, “I didn’t think I cared about those things when I first met Jason but everything is different now. I love him and want to be there for him no matter what happens.”
Darryl nodded and said lowly, “My treatments have not shown a significant change in the metastasis.”
Ariana looked over at Darryl, “So you are not doing so good?”
Darryl shook his head, “No, unfortunately not. Dr. says we will keep going for another three months and see if anything improves, if not it is going to be up to me if I want to continue with treatments or just let the cancer go its course.”
Ariana felt her hands get sweaty, “I am so sorry.”
Darryl smiled, “It is all right. We will see what happens and I am not ready to give up yet but I just want to give you heads up I guess. I will tell Jason when he is home again. Right now he is too weak and I don’t want to worry him more. I don’t want him to know yet, so maybe we can keep this between us.”
Ariana nodded, “Yes, of course.”
The rest of the way home they were quiet and at Ariana’s apartment complex Darryl turned to her, “Ariana, thank you so much for being there for Jason. It makes me very happy and keeps my worries away somewhat. I can see he really cares about you.
Ariana nodded with a smile, “I really love Jason.”
Darryl nodded, “Good!”
They hugged and Ariana jumped out of the truck, waved once more at Darryl and hopped up the stairs to her place.
The day had been exhausting for her too and she couldn’t believe how deep she was in with Jason now. Seeing him like that at the hospital for the past few days made her realize so much more what he was dealing with. It made her want to be there for him even more but she also thought about the kind of relationship she would possibly have with him after all this was over. He would still need time to recover from this for sure and he had lost his job. His dad was sick and not getting better and the outlook of their relationship was all but rosy and she was scared when thinking about the challenges they had to look forward to.
That night as she sat in the living room on the couch hanging out with her roommate Melody she said, “I think I will have to move out soon Melody.”Melody was surprised, “What are you talking about?”
“Well, once Jason is out of the hospital he will be at home of course. He lives out in Junction 8 with his dad and he could never come up here into my apartment and all and I think I may move in with them or something. I don’t know but maybe if you want to get another roommate you can start looking around, I can help you find another girl.”
Melody looked at her in disbelief, “Ariana, you are not seriously considering dating that guy, are you?”
Ariana was surprised at Melody’s assumption that what she had been doing with Jason wasn’t anything serious, “Actually it is going to be very serious. What do you think I have been doing at the hospital?”
Melody shrugged her shoulders, “Well, I thought you liked him and all but really Ariana…do you realize what you are getting yourself into with this guy. I mean all the health issues and stuff.”
Ariana looked at her seriously, “Yeah, I know and it is what I want. I love him!”
Melody smiled, “I think you are overreacting. I remember you wanting him for fun and stuff. You are probably just feeling sorry for him.”
“No, I don’t just feel sorry for him, I feel so much more for him.”
Melody said in a desperate tone, “Ariana, you could have your pick of handsome and wealthy guys. I can think of like 5 clients that would take you away from here in a heartbeat. Why do you want to put yourself in a situation like this with this guy?”
“This guy’s name is Jason, Melody and he happens to be my boyfriend now.”
“Ariana, think about this….so what is your boyfriend Jason going to think about you being an escort and having sex with strange men? Can he even have sex…I mean have you actually slept with him?”
Ariana kept reminding herself to not let Melody’s words get to her and that she loved Jason and it was Jason who she wanted and things would work out somehow, “I won’t do overnights anymore; Jason will have to accept it because I will be bringing home the money since he does not have a job anymore.”Melody threw her hands up and said loudly, “Ariana, Jesus….he doesn’t have a job? How bad can it get? Why are you doing this to yourself?”
Ariana was frustrated now and jumped up a little mad, “Well, I gave you heads up for finding a new roommate…so when I move out we will hopefully have another girl.”
She walked out of the living room and Melody called after her, “I just worry about you. You are one of my best friends!”
Ariana stopped in her steps and turned around again, walking back to Melody and held her arms out to her for a hug.
Melody got up and fell into Ariana’s arms and muffled, “I just want you to be happy and it just seems like you are getting yourself into a not so happy situation.”
Ariana held Melody away from her and said, “I really love Jason. I thought I could dodge it but I can’t ignore my feelings for him anymore. I want nothing else but to be with him now and I think he loves me too and he needs me. I hope all my friends can be supportive.”
Melody nodded, “Of course I will be supportive but I would hate to see you move out. I understand though and you can help me find a roommate. So Jason,” Melody sighed heavily, “there is no way he can come up here into our apartment?”
“No Melody, he is paraplegic, he can’t walk and has no feelings from about right here. He will never walk.”
She showed the spot on her chest where Jason’s paraplegia started. Melody shook her head, “Gosh Ariana, I don’t know!”
“Have you seen my FB pics with me and him?”
Melody shook her head and with that Ariana got her phone from the table and brought up the pics with her and Jason at the bar and at the Venetian showing them to Melody.
Melody smiled, “Gosh, he is hot really, but there are so many things you can’t do if he can’t walk and stuff.”
“There are also a lot of things we can do. It is no big deal for me Melody. I actually find him very attractive in his wheelchair and it is very hot to me. Please give me your blessing!”
Melody nodded with a smile, “Of course. Let me know if you need anything.”
After that Melody asked how Jason was actually doing and Ariana told her in short about his condition and what the plans were. The two women ended up with a glass of wine on the couch again and Ariana was relieved that Melody was o.k. with her and Jason.