Saturday, January 12, 2019

Chapter 3 - Forever First Love

Chapter 3



When Mr and Mrs Hopkins returned it was my turn. I slowly walked down the hall and froze outside the ICU door. Carly grabbed hold of my hand and gave it a little squeeze. Quietly and slowly I pushed the heavy grey door open, and before me lay Matt, hooked up to that many machines it was hard to make him out. I pulled up beside him and carefully picked up his hand and brought it towards my lips. “Don’t you worry about this. I need you to rest now because when you wake up we have a hell of a fight on our hands,” I sobbed whilst kissing his hand. “It’s going to be hard work, but I’m with you every step of the way. We’ll beat this, just you wait and see.” After a couple more minutes the doctor told us we needed to leave because Matt needed rest.

For the next 5 days, I spent nearly every waking hour sat beside Matt. On 2 occasions the nurses tried to bring him around but he became too agitated and his blood pressure rocketed so he needed to be sedated again. This afternoon they were going to try again and both myself and Mrs Hopkins were by his side. Unfortunately, Mr Hopkins had to go back to work but he would be back in 2 days with the twins in co.

At around 3pm the doctors started to bring Matt around
, but yet again he became agitated. All the previous times I had stood back and allowed the doctors to do their job but this time I headed to the top of the bed. I gently rubbed his check with the back of my fingers and spoke very quietly in his ear to try and calm him down. “Matt, it’s me. You need to concentrate on your breathing otherwise you are going to make yourself ill. Me and your mum are here right beside you,” I explained. I continued to reassure him and his heart rate and blood pressure began to return to the normal rates.

Matt was only awake for a minute or 2 before he then fell to sleep on his own accord. The nurses told us he was doing really well but would continue to monitor him closely.

Over the next few hours Matt drifted in and out of sleep, each time staying awake a little bit longer. Both Mrs Hopkins and myself must have fallen asleep because I was woken up by a low call of my name. I looked up and saw Matt was awake, I gave him the biggest smile and felt all warm inside when he gave me a little one back. “I’m so happy to see you awake and talking. You scared me, I thought we were going to lose you,” I explained.
At that moment Mrs Hopkins woke up and took Matt by the hand. “Morning honey, how are you feeling?”
Matts facial expression changed and I saw the panic set in on his face. “Mum why can’t I feel your hand? What’s wrong with me?” Asked Matt in a state of panic.
“I’ll go get the doctors honey and get them to explain,” stated Mrs Hopkins.
! Tell me now. I need to know,” Matt pleaded looking into my eyes. “Please Chloe, please tell me, I can handle it.”

I didn’t know where to start but I knew Matt needed the truth and there was no way of sugar coating the facts. “You fractured a vertebrae in your neck in a tackle which has left you paralysed,” I calmly told Matt trying my hardest to make it not sound as bad as it was. “You have some damage to the spinal cord at C6/7, you are going to have to learn to use your arms again
, but I know you will do it.”
“What about my legs and the rest of my body?” Questioned Matt.
Wiping a tear away from my eye I replied, “
Sorry, no. The doctor doesn’t think you will get any feeling or movement back there.” I sat at the front of the bed and stroked Ben’s cheeks whilst looking into his eyes. “We’ll get through this. I know we will. Whatever challenges we have in front of us we’ll meet them head on and will still do everything we planned for the future. I don’t want you thinking any other way. You hear me?”
Matt silently nodded and then tears streamed from his eyes.


How could this be happening? I’d had all my life mapped out in front of me, a good career, wife and children
, but now what? Nothing would ever be the same. What kind of life would I have now?

Chloe’s words kept going around in my head and I felt sick. I’d never walk again and would be lucky to gain my arms back. How was I going to cope?

At that moment, a nurse appeared inside the door way. “I’m glad you are awake Matt, we are going to try and take out your breathing tube. You have coped well the last few days when the machine has been turned off so we think you are ready to breath on your own,” the nurse explained. “When I pull the tube out you might feel like you can’t breathe for the first minute but don’t panic and try and take some slow deep breaths.” The nurse removed some of the equipment from around me and then placed on a pair of sterile gloves. She placed one hand around the tube and with the other she slowly pulled the tube out. Immediately, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. The nurse sensed my panic and tried to calm me down. “Ok Matthew nice slow breaths. You will feel like you can’t breathe because the hole in your neck is open but I’m going to close the hole now.”

I could feel the skin around where the tracheotomy had been pulled tightly together. Once it was tight I no longer felt like I couldn’t breathe. “That’s it Matthew nice steady breaths,” the nurse stated. “Ok
, that’s me all done. We will monitor you frequently over the next few hours but if you have an issues at all please tell one of the ladies here. Are you 2 ok to press the buzzer if needed?”
“Yes no worries,” Chloe replied.

The nurse left the room and everything became eerily silent. “How are you feeling?” Chloe Asked. “Does your throat hurt?”
I tried to speak and realised my throat felt like it had been slit with razor blades. Eventually I managed to say, “It kills.”

The next few days seemed to pass in a blur, I was high on pain killers and spent most of the time asleep. The times I do remember being awake Chloe or my mum would be sat beside me.

Today was Saturday, so I was told
, and later on this afternoon my dad and twin sisters were arriving to visit me. I felt a little apprehensive about how my sisters were going to react to the new me.

I didn’t have long to wait because just then the door swung open with such a force that it hit the wall and gave us all a startle. I looked up in time to see Emma walk through the door followed by Sarah and my dad. “Could you be any louder?” my mum asked.
“You know me mum, I always like to make an entrance,” laughed Emma. She walked up to my bed wrapped her arms around my shoulders and gave me kiss on the cheek. “Matthew if you wanted to see us all you could have just phoned you know. This is taking things a step too far. Surprisingly
, you look better than I expected.”
“Always the attention seeker,” Sarah chipped in and also gave me a kiss. “He probably just wanted a new set of wheels. You know he’s always been a sucker for a decent set of wheels.”
“Right you
, shut up and out of the way,” my Dad said. “How are you feeling son? You had us really worried for a while back then.”
I thought for a minute and replied, “much better than I did this morning.” I realised it wasn’t a lie either. Just having my family around me acting normal made me feel 100 times better.


Within days Matt had begun making progress. He hadn’t gotten into a wheelchair yet but he was spending longer periods of time sitting up and had begun regaining some of the movement in his left arm.

Between the family members and Matts best friend Zack we had begun a rota for spending time with Matt so he wasn’t alone during the day. Today I was going to be the last person with him before he went to sleep. A few minutes before I was about to leave I noticed Matt lift up his left arm and bring it towards his face. Each time his arm wouldn’t quite make it and would fall back down to his side. “What you trying to do?” I asked. “Tell me and I’ll do it for you.”

At that moment Matt started to hysterically cry. Tears streamed down his cheeks and he gasped for breaths in between sobs. “Hey, hey what’s up?” I asked whilst moving onto the bed to get closer to him. I caressed his cheek with one hand whilst dabbing his eyes with a tissue with the other.

“I had an itch, a fucking itch on my nose and I couldn’t even reach it,” Matt sobbed. “I’m so scared Chloe, so scared that this is it. What kind of life am I going to have if I can’t even deal with an itch! I don’t want to live like this. I can’t deal with it, I’m not strong enough.” Matt continued to sob and his pain was palpable as his body trembled.
“You are the strongest person I know and we’ll get through this together,” I explained. “I am with you every step of the way and things are going to get a lot better than it is now. Yes, it’s going to be a long and hard journey but we’ll get through it together. Look at how much progress you have made all ready.”
“Chloe this is too much to ask you to deal with. I’ll understand if you want to end things,” Matt said with a concerned look on his face.
“Matthew James Hopkins don’t you ever say anything like that again. Of course I want to be with you. You are my one true love and always will be. I’m not going anywhere. Do you understand?” I replied in a stern tone. Matt nodded as he finally got his tears under control.


A week later and I’d gained some more movement in my left arm and had begun to gain some in my right. I’d had my first ride in a wheelchair for a couple of minutes and I was now finally back in my bed when Zack walked through the door. “Mate how’s things today?” he questioned.
“I got a ride on my new wheels today and I had to come straight to bed like a baby because it wore me out that much,” I explained. “What a catch I am! I even had to be strapped into the chair.”
Zack ignored my sarcastic comment and continued, “so when do you get your own wheels then? Do you get to choose your own design?”
“I ordered it yesterday but it won’t be ready for at least a month,” I stated. “At this rate I’m going to be needed to be pushed everywhere and fed like a bloody baby.”
“Things will get better mate. Think back to 3 weeks ago, your progress has been amazing. Wheels will only add to your sex appeal with the other sex,” Zack joked. “Not that you need any bloody help in that department.”
“Fat chance I’ll ever get a girl to look at me in that way again.” I moaned.
“Well luckily it wouldn’t matter if that was true because you’ve got Chloe.” Reminded Zack. “She will be at your beck and call for life. Your very own personal nurse for the rest of your life.”

What Zack said about Chloe left me thinking. I loved her so much but what he said was true. I was going to need help for a lot of things every day. Could I allow her to be burdened with me for the rest of her life? She was so young and deserved so much more than what I was going to be able to offer her. I then realised I had a very difficult decision to make.


  1. Oh nooo poor Chloe is going to be heartbroken if he pushes her away.

  2. I'm loving this story, thank you!

  3. Well done, and such an enjoyable story! Thanks.