Saturday, January 30, 2016

For The Love Of Not Walking Chapter 3


Chapter 3          

It was at 11:30 p.m.when Kieran became sleepy and turned off the TV, then pushed himself down in the bed and adjusting his legs he found a somewhat comfortable position. He laid there staring into the darkness and he remembered the old man who had observed him so peculiar the day before. Maybe he had been wrong to have gone off on him. Maybe the old man was a veteran himself and Kieran had made a big mistake by getting angry.

Kieran was just about to fall asleep when out of nowhere a very intense spasm shot through his leg up into his hips. The impulse startled him and when another strong spasm followed he pushed himself up on his elbows. He had taken his Baclofen tablet before he had laid down and the powerful spasticity surprised him. When he looked over at the clock on the bedside table it showed 12:48 a.m. and he pulled himself all the way up on the headboard when the sudden feeling of a thousand tiny needles poking him in his legs made him press his lips together as he realized it was pain he felt. It wasn’t a spasm, it was actual pain in his legs and it travelled all the way into his back.
He moved the blanket over to get a view of his legs and hissed lowly, “What the fuck?”

When he looked at his legs they twitched frantically and when he touched his hand to his legs he felt the skin under his hand. He felt the sheets under his legs, he felt the pillow behind his lower back and he wiggled his toes when he looked at them. The impulse to move his legs overcame him and in awe he watched as he was able to pull his leg up to his body without the help of his hands.
He stared at his legs and shaking his head in disbelief he hissed again, “What the hell is going on?”

Again he contemplated calling out for Fiona but he stopped himself. It was a dream for sure. Most likely he was probably sleeping deeply and having taken his meds he was delirious and nightmarish illusions had overcome him. He touched his leg and felt his hand on his thigh. He moved his hand over to his crotch and was stunned when he even felt his hand on the briefs covering his privates.
He whispered, “Why is this happening?”

With full force he pinched the skin on his thigh causing himself a strong pain but he didn’t stop. He couldn’t believe that he actually felt the pain. It was almost like a rush for him as he squeezed the skin between his fingertips until it bruised. He did this in several spots and in every spot it hurt intensely and he left bruises on his thighs and constantly muttered to himself, not understanding what was happening. Sensation was back in his legs from his T-4 vertebrae on down but the illusion only lasted 11 minutes. As his body went back into total stillness and all the spasticity was gone just as quick as it had appeared, he glanced over at the clock again, it was now showing 12:59 a.m.

Tears were streaming over his face as he witnessed the sensation disappear into nothing and he didn’t know what to think. He stared down at his legs in front of him but now felt again like they were not even there. He touched his manhood and he didn’t feel anything but he saw the bruises he had left on his thighs and he knew the pinches and the pain had been real. He couldn’t explain it and he didn’t know what had happened.
Sadness crept up in him and he muttered to himself, “I have to go see my doctor.”

His body was paralyzed again. He pushed himself down onto the bed, adjusted his twisted legs with his hands once again and tears were dripping onto the sheets as he tried to make sense of this situation. He thought of all possibilities of paraplegia showing in strange ways but he couldn’t come up with anything similar to what he had felt. For 11 minutes sensations had come back into his body and had made him believe he would somehow go back to the way he used to be.

The new week started with Fiona and Tyler having to work, and leaving Kieran and the kids at home. One and a half more weeks of summer break and then the kids would be back in school and it would become quiet again for Kieran in the house.

He woke up to his alarm clock at 10 o’clock that morning. Even though he still believed it couldn’t have been real that he actually had recovered some sensation for just a few moments, seeing the bruises on his thighs and remembering the pain he had inflicted on himself during the strange episode, he still couldn’t wrap his head around the situation.
Slowly he ran his fingers over the bruises and mumbled, “What the hell is going on with me?”

He just sat there for a little while staring at his legs almost like he was trying to relive the experience of the previous two nights. Nothing happened. His legs lay still and motionless, not even a slight spasm giving them any life at the moment, just two limbs with no use attached to his body.

Kieran wheeled into the kitchen where Dominic was eating cereal with the small TV mounted on the wall above the breakfast bar showing a cartoon, “Good Morning Nickie.”
Dominic didn’t move his eyes from the cartoon, “Hi Uncle Kieran.”

Kieran prepped the Keurig coffee machine and let his cup of coffee drip while he opened the refrigerator and pulled out the gallon of milk, then wheeled over to the dining table and got the other items needed for his cereal.
"Is your sister still sleeping?” 
“Yes.”
Kieran eventually had his coffee mug and a bowl of cereal in front of him.
He looked over to Dominic again, “Do you want to go to the Y with me today?”
“Maybe.”
“I am going to leave after breakfast.”
Kieran tried to work out at least three times a week and being a disabled combat veteran he had a free membership at the local YMCA. The rest of the family had a regular family membership. Dominic made the decision to accompany his uncle and with his swim shorts and towel in a bag they were on their way to the Y about an hour later. With his wheelchair on the passenger side and Dominic in the backseat of the Mustang they made their way through the traffic. Dominic loved riding in Kieran’s car.

In the empty Yoga room Kieran let himself down from his wheelchair onto a mat. Dominic stood by and watched his uncle, still sometimes wondering how a person could just not walk anymore and why this had happened to his uncle. Kieran had explained to him before about the Spinal Cord Injury and even had shown Dominic information on the Internet but Dominic felt that even though his uncle pretended like he was okay, he really wasn’t all the way okay with having lost the use of his legs like that. Dominic hadn’t really asked Kieran much anymore about the SCI and mostly kept the concerns about his uncle to himself.
Kieran met his nephew’s eyes and managed a smile while he positioned himself on the mat and leaning with his back on the wall, “Are you going to help me stretch a little Nickie?”
Dominic nodded shyly and got down on his knees next to Kieran. He had helped his uncle many times before with all his range of motion exercises. Even at home Kieran did his stretches every day in his bed when he went to sleep or woke up in the morning.

Kieran hadn’t missed that sometimes Dominic seemed slightly intimidated by his disability but he tried to make his nephew feel comfortable around him and now he instructed Dominic on what he could help him with at this time. Dominic assisted Kieran with the different stretches for about 30 minutes. The young boy was focused and helping Kieran did make him feel somewhat at ease with his uncle’s situation. Kieran praised him for his excellent job helping him, trying his best to make Dominic feel okay. When they were done Kieran pushed his Quickie against the wall and then pulling himself up into his chair with some difficulties Dominic watched quietly, thinking about the struggles his uncle had to go through just to make it up into his wheelchair again.

Breathing somewhat heavy Kieran finally situated himself in his wheelchair and looked at Dominic with a smile, “There - all done. You want to go swimming now?”
“Yes.”

While Dominic headed toward the locker rooms to get into his swim shorts Kieran made his way to the weight room, had a sip from the water fountain and then with a YMCA towel around his neck he wheeled up to the first weight machine. Since he didn’t want anyone to see all his bruises he wore sweat pants today and a muscle shirt. For most of the machines he had to transfer onto the seats and he usually had some issues with his balance until he was buckled up and adjusted his position where he could then easily do his exercises, usually three sets of fifteen for his biceps, triceps, shoulders and pectorals, adjusting the weight accordingly. He knew it was important for him to at least keep his upper body strong enough to make the transfers easier and altogether simplify his life as a paraplegic. Working out kept his mind occupied and he pushed himself to as much as his body could take.

He was used to the usual glances from people when he wheeled into the weight room and when he transferred from his chair onto the seats of the machines. He also worked out from his wheelchair, using the rubber bands attached to the wall. He kept to himself and his eyes in front of him and tried to not cause too much attention. People still looked, mostly out of curiosity, sometimes maybe pity but he tried his best to ignore them. Sweating and huffing he pushed himself with the weights and felt the pain run through his muscles. In between switching machines he wheeled over to the water fountain to stay hydrated. Lost in thoughts with his workout he remembered the previous night and the whole situation replayed in his mind and he still couldn’t grasp what had happened or if it was even real what he had been going through for two nights in a row.

One of the YMCA’s personal trainers walked into the weight room and since Kieran had been a regular at the center he was well known by the employees and volunteers.

Justin walked up to Kieran, “Hey Kieran, how is it going?”
Kieran stopped the bicep curls and resting for a moment he replied, “I am all right.”
“You want to lift some on the bench? I don’t have any clients right now and was going to lift some myself.”
“Yeah, sure.”

In the free weights lifting area with the bench press Justin could help Kieran. Eventually Kieran laid flat with his back on the bench. He adjusted his back and shoulders to find his balance on the wide bench. Justin fastened a belt over Kieran’s chest and a Velcro strap over his thighs while Kieran slipped the fingerless gloves on his hands. Justin stacked the bar with a 60 pound weight on each side. Kieran grabbed the bar, adjusting his hands for a few seconds to get a good grip and eventually slowly pushed up and let the bar come down hovering over his upper chest, then back up. Justin stood behind Kieran’s head, looking down on Kieran and holding his hands under the bar. He closely watched Kieran lift the weight, motivating him with words and praise. Kieran pressed his lips together and lifted the bar over and over again, taking quick deep breaths through his nose. Except for his thighs his legs dangled on both sides of the weight bench, not really moving, just some slight spasms working his legs out on their own. Eventually Justin lifted the bar over Kieran’s head and rested it back on its frame, Kieran breathing quickly but staying down, shaking his arms some. His arms hurt, his muscles burned but he indulged in the sensations of feeling the pain in his upper body every time. He had slowly been building up to the 120 pounds over the last couple of months. He did two more sets until he knew he was done for that day.

Justin helped him sit up and pulled the Quickie closer again, “You did good man.”
“Thanks.”
The two men clasped their hands and pulled each other in for a quick side hug.
Justin remarked, “Your upper body strength is well defined Kieran. It’s good you keep working out like you do.”
Kieran was in the process of wiping his face with the towel and nodded, “I have to man. If I don’t keep my upper body strong, I am fucked.”

It had been over an hour in the weight room when Kieran made his way to the men’s bathroom to catheterize. He ran some cold water over his arms and splashed some in his face, then ran his wet hands through his hair before he wheeled through the men’s locker rooms into the pool area where he looked for Dominic. Dominic was playing with another kid in the shallow end of the large pool and when he spotted Kieran wheel into the pool area he waved at him. Kieran wheeled around to the side Dominic was on and pulled up close to the pool. 
Dominic swam over to the edge of the pool toward Kieran, “Hey uncle Kieran!”
“Are you having fun?”
 “Yeah, I met my friend Jayden. He goes to my school.”
“Oh cool.”
Hanging on to the edge of the pool next to Dominic, Jayden eyed Kieran curiously and Kieran waved at him, making the little boy look away.
Dominic then said, “Uncle Kieran, watch me jump in!”
 “Yeah sure.”
 “I am doing it at the deep end.”
Dominic was a good swimmer and quickly made his way to the other end of the pool, Kieran wheeling along the side of the pool and then finding a good spot to watch Dominic as he climbed out of the pool and finding his uncle’s eyes, he jumped several times, headers and straight jumps. Kieran gave him thumbs up every time Dominic came up to the surface and it brought a proud smile over Dominic’s face.

On their way home they stopped for ice cream at a Baskin Robbins and sitting in the ice cream parlor, Dominic happily licked from his ice cream cone and Kieran had a chocolate shake. Dominic then started lowly, “Jayden said it is weird that you can’t walk.”
Kieran stopped sucking from the straw in his shake and looked at Dominic, “Did you explain to him why?”
Dominic licked from his ice cream again and then replied, “I told him that a bad guy shot you in the back.”
Kieran nodded quietly and waited if Dominic had anything else to say.
Dominic kept licking his ice cream so Kieran asked carefully, “Was your friend okay with that explanation?”
"I told him that you were a soldier and you had to kill bad guys and then Jayden thought that you were cool, because you got to kill people.”

Kieran swallowed at the naïve thought process of the kid and tried to think of what else to say to his nephew. Dominic knew his story but he also knew that his uncle didn’t really talk about his time in Afghanistan and Iraq and the kids never really asked him about it, which was perfectly okay for him. He was still trying to process everything himself and was dealing with his demons on a daily basis, only the medications helping him to keep it all under control. He sat there and sucked from his milk shake and looked at Dominic lost in thoughts, watching his nephew innocently lick from his ice cream.

Almost like Dominic could read his mind, he looked up and said lowly, “I know you didn’t like killing people, even if they were bad guys.”
Kieran nodded, “You are right. It wasn’t fun and I am not cool because of it.”
Dominic nodded now and added, “I am glad you are not a soldier anymore.”
Kieran took a deep breath and replied, “Me too.” 

This wasn’t all the way the truth. For many years the Military had been Kieran’s life and ever since he got discharged he had been feeling lost and was constantly trying to find his path again, now being paraplegic and far away from the man he used to be, a fearless warrior many times and following orders and commands, trying his best to defend his country for the longest time until a bullet in his spine stopped all of it in a moment’s time.

With that he held his arms out and nodded at Dominic, “Bring it in Nickie.”
Dominic didn’t hesitate and moved over to give Kieran a hug. It felt good to get the hug and without the hugs he had been given by his family over the last year he wouldn’t have made it that far. He still needed his sister and her family.

At home Kieran got into the shower and then spent the rest of the day with the kids at the house while Fiona and Tyler were at work. 
When Kieran sat in the living room watching TV he got a text message from Erin, “Hey Kieran, how was your day?”
He was happy to get a text from her and replied, starting a light conversation with her back and forth for about an hour. At around 10:00 o’clock that night he felt tired and made his way to his room. He got undressed, finished up in the bathroom and transferred into his bed but not wanting to watch TV anymore instead he fell asleep fairly quickly that night.

2 comments:

  1. A very enjoyable chapter! It was nice to see Kieran process things a bit through his interactions with his nephew. Especially when his nephew had to handle his classmate's reaction to Kieran. I can't wait for the next chapter!

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  2. Very well done! Can't wait for more.

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