Friday, April 5, 2019

What It Was - Chapter 26


Chapter 26

Charlie unzipped his back pack and pulled out a flash light. He held it in his hand but didn’t turn it on yet. We entered the park on a gravel path. I hadn’t brought my crutches or my scooter and my foot hurt.

I couldn’t really walk too good and when Charlie realized my limping, he came next to me, “Are you okay walking?”
I nodded and mumbled, “Yes.”

The park was only sparsely lit with lanterns in even distances positioned along the path. There was no other person in sight. The gravel grinded under our feet as we walked along. I heard low rustling noises in the bare trees and soft squeaking here and there. It was cold and our breaths were visible in front of our faces as we walked along.

I tried to distract myself, “So what happened with your daughter and her mom? Were you married?”
Charlie laughed softly, “No, I wasn’t married. She was a counselor actually, her mom. Her name was Karen, and my daughter’s name is Abilena. I was in therapy with Karen and we became more than patient and counselor. We had a one-night fling of passion and she got pregnant. We decided to stay together and she quit her job where she had met me and started working for another organization so we could start fresh.”

Charlie paused and looked over at me as I was struggling to walk, “You’re in pain Shay!”
I nodded and gasped, “Kind of, but I’ll make it. How much further?”
“Almost there.”





I took a deep breath, “So what happened to Karen and Abilena?”
Charlie continued calm and factual, “Well, Karen and I were happy for a while. I was clean and I started school while she worked and was pregnant with Abi. Abi was born and she was beautiful and I loved her so much. Karen went back to work after about three months and I was going to stay home with Abi. I did and it was the best time of my entire life.”

He stopped again but without my asking he then continued and his story took on a sad note, “But I started using again and it got bad over a time of about four years. Karen tried for a long time and I was good for a bit, then I did stuff again and it went like that for about six years. Karen left me when Abi was ten. She broke off all contact and she didn’t let me see Abi. It was all very bad for a long time. I lost my grip on life again and the rest is history. This was about twenty years ago.”

I limped next to Charlie, “I’m so sorry Charlie.”
He waved his hand, “Ah well, that’s life, right.”

I was sad for him and how he had apparently given up on ever connecting with his daughter again.

We reached a fork in the path and he said, “Let’s go left.”
We walked for another couple of minutes when Charlie got off the path onto a dirt trail, “This way.”

He now switched on the flash light and held it in front of us. I followed right behind him, because the trail was not wide enough for two people to walk side by side. I was getting nervous and I was scared. It was cold, my hands were freezing, and the jacket I wore was not near warm enough for being out in the middle of a November night.

We reached a clearing among the thick brush and trees and I made out a few tents barely visible. Charlie gestured with his hand behind him for me to stop.

I stopped and he whispered, “Just stay right here.”

I hoped he wouldn’t go too far. I saw the beam of the flash light moving on the ground.

I watched as he slowly approached the tents and hushed into the darkness, “Anyone here?”
Nothing happened and he walked a bit further and asked again, “Anyone here? Tricera? Flick? Jordy?”

I assumed the other two were names or nick names of people who were possibly inhabiting this camp.
There was some motion in one of the tents and the entrance flap was zipped open.

Someone asked, “Who’s this? I got a fucking gun so stop right there.”
Charlie replied, “It’s cross eyes Charlie, man. Put your gun away. I’m looking for the wheelie kid. Is he here?”
The voice answered, “Over there.”

The person’s head disappeared again in the tent and Charlie went further to the back by the edge of the brush. I heard him say Jordan’s name and without waiting for his command I hurried over there. I didn’t even watch where I was going but this area was just as trashed as the camp where Jordan usually stayed.

I arrived where Charlie was and I found him squatting down. There on the ground was a bundle of a person wrapped up in what looked like a sleeping bag. Not far from there I noticed obviously Jordan’s banged up Quickie wheelchair laying on its side.  

Charlie sounded tense, “Jordy, hey kid!”

I squatted down next to him. I was still hoping that this was not actually Jordan.

My heart was racing and my hands were trembling as I watched Charlie move the bundle of person. “Jordan…hey…wake up, talk to me kid!”

I saw in the sparse light Jordan’s back pack over on the side.

Charlie unraveled the sleeping bag, “Jordan, hey…it’s Charlie. Wake the fuck up!”

When Charlie held up the flash light, I now recognized Jordan’s face and dark hair. Charlie moved Jordan and shook him some. 
I wanted to say something but an enormous fear had paralyzed my voice. I watched as Charlie rolled Jordan over and the sleeping bag came undone. Jordan was wearing his hoodie still.

As Charlie was taking quick breaths, his voice had taken on a panicky tone, “Jordan, my friend…wake up!”

Charlie leaned over Jordan’s face and was shaking him harder now.

He hissed through his teeth, “Shit, what the fuck…Jordan!”
He now yelled, “Jordan wake up!”
A male voice called from one of the tents, “Shut up Charlie! You’re waking up the whole fucking neighborhood.”
Charlie didn’t care, “Fuck you Flick, what the fuck is going on with Jordy? Get your asses out here and help me!”
Another person peeked out of the tent and mumbled annoyed, “Shut the fuck up man!”

I was scared like I had never been scared in my life. While Charlie argued with the guy in the tent, I moved closer to Jordan.

I touched him and I said his name, “Jordan…it’s Shay. Jordan wake up!”

I shook his body but he didn’t budge. I leaned down and by his face I realized he was barely breathing. I noticed foam running from the corner of his mouth.

In sheer terror, I screamed, “Jordan, wake up! It’s Shay…Jordan!”

I shook his body wildly and Charlie moved me out of the way and tore the sleeping bag from Jordan all the way.

I watched as he positioned Jordan on his back and started doing CPR right there and while he was pushing down on Jordan’s chest over and over again, he shouted at me, “Call 911!”
When I didn’t react right away, Charlie yelled at me again while he was repeatedly pushing onto Jordan’s chest, “Call fucking 911 Shay! Snap out of it! Come on!”

I pulled my phone out and with trembling fingers I pushed the Emergency call button.

It didn’t take long and a dispatcher answered, “911, what’s your emergency?”

I had to try to pull it together to answer but I felt like I was going to pass out right there.  

I stammered, “Someone is…my boyfriend is not breathing.”
Charlie screamed at me, “Tell ‘em, it’s an overdose!”
When I heard this, I almost broke down but I managed to tell the dispatcher, “I think my boyfriend overdosed on Heroin.”
The 911 dispatcher was a female, “Where are you at? Is someone administering CPR?”
I tried very hard to keep it together, “Yes, we’re at…”

For a moment I didn’t even know where we were and Charlie yelled, “Kinnear Park.”
I quickly explained, “We’re at Kinnear Park, the back entrance. It’s a homeless camp in the park.”
“How long has he been unconscious?”
I cried, “I don’t know.”
“Do you have access to any Narcan; does anyone in the camp have Narcan available?”

I remembered the conversation I had with Jordan about the Naloxone which was also called Narcan. I knew he had some in his back pack.

I replied, “I think he may have some.”
“Can you please check right away as quick as you can? An ambulance is on the way! I’ll stay on the line!”

I put my cell phone down. As fast as I could, I grabbed Jordan’s backpack and pulled everything out in sheer panic, crying and gasping, talking the whole time. I was in complete panic mode but threw everything from Jordan’s back pack out on the ground and all the sudden a small box dropped out.

Charlie had watched me and screamed, “That’s it, that’s the stuff! Open it! Quick!”

My hands were shaking so badly I couldn’t even hold the box.

Charlie stopped pushing Jordan’s chest and he grabbed the box from me, “Here, I got it! Give him chest compressions!”

Charlie quickly opened the package while I was crying and trying to position myself to keep giving Jordan chest compressions.

I screamed at him, “Jordan, wake up, please wake up!”

I wept and screamed and saw as Charlie pulled out the Narcan in a prefilled syringe. He quickly assembled the cartridge and needle and without saying anything else he pulled Jordan’s sleeve from his hoodie down, positioning the Narcan syringe, and pushing the needle right through the hoodie sleeve into Jordan’s upper arm.

I heard the ambulance sirens in the distance. Charlie jumped up and ordered me to stay with Jordan and to keep shaking him and keep talking to him.

In running away, he said, “I’m going to find the ambulance.”

I couldn’t speak and Charlie ran away. One of the guys from the tent had come out and stood there watching me.

I pulled the phone back to my ear, “We gave him the medication.”
The dispatcher replied, “The Narcan?”
“Yes.”
“Is he moving and breathing?”
I looked at Jordan, “He’s still laying there.”
“Is he breathing?”
“I think so.”
“I want you to check please. Get to his face and check for breathing.”

I dropped the phone again and leaned over Jordan’s face. He was breathing weakly.

The guy standing by then said bluntly, “I think he shot up some bad shit.”

I didn’t respond but talked into the phone again, “He’s breathing, not strong though.”
The dispatcher’s voice was calm but demanding, “I need you to keep administering CPR until the EMT’s get there. Do not stop chest compressions!”

I did what Charlie had done, chest compressions over and over and tears ran down my face and dripped onto Jordan.
I kept saying his name and kept telling him to wake up and to keep breathing. I wept so much, took gasping breaths and I was so scared and felt so alone. 

It seemed like an eternity until light came through the brush and I heard voices and Charlie appeared, followed by three EMT’s with a gurney and back packs.

They came rushing over and all three got down next to Jordan and one of them looked at me, “Okay, you can stop. We take it from here.”

I crawled over to the side, pressing my hands in front of my mouth, and watching as they all three worked on Jordan and did things to him, talking and using words I didn’t know the meaning of and saying numbers I didn’t understand. I cried bitterly. 

Charlie was standing over me and said softly, “Shay, hey. Can you get up?”

He helped me get up but I couldn’t stop crying uncontrollably at watching all of this. Charlie put his arm around me and we stood there and watched as the EMT’s were trying to save Jordan’s life. It was almost unbearable for me to watch; my heart was racing in my chest. I could barely breathe and I felt like I was about to hyperventilate and pass out.

Charlie realized and looked at me, “Shay, are you all right?”

I shook my head and one of the EMT’s had heard us and looked over at me, “I want you to also take good breaths right now. What’s your name?”
I barely managed, “Shay! What’s happening to my boyfriend?”

The EMT seemed slightly surprised at my mention of Jordan being my boyfriend but replied, “Right now we’re just trying to stabilize him. He’s not doing well.”

That was all he said and then turned to his colleagues and Jordan again.

I asked with a trembling voice, “Is he going to make it?”

No one answered my question. Charlie pulled me closer, I pressed my cold fist against my mouth, trying to control my body and my emotions. I was unsuccessful.

It was probably about twenty minutes later when Jordan was on the gurney. They had rushed him to the ambulance and pushed him inside. The ambulance had come all the way into the park on the gravel path and was parked right outside where we had turned off into the brush to get to this tent camp. I stood there and watched them push him in. Charlie had brought the wheelchair to the ambulance and told the EMT’s to stash it in with Jordan. The look on the EMT’s face scared me so much. It was a look of neutrality like Jordan wouldn’t need his wheelchair really. They still grabbed the wheelchair from Charlie and put it in the ambulance with Jordan.

I had no words left in me, but surprisingly Charlie was thinking very clear and asked them, “Where are you taking him?”
“Harborview.”

I couldn’t speak and they shut the doors and took off with flashing blue lights. I broke down and Charlie squatted down and held me as I cried.

He stayed there with me for a few minutes until he said, “Let’s get his stuff.”
We went back inside the bushes and where Jordan’s back pack was we put everything back in it and Charlie shouldered it, “Shit, this thing is heavy.”

He then turned to the guy from the tent, who was smoking weed right there.

Charlie asked tensely, “Do you know what the fuck happened with him?”

The guy blew out the smoke and it filled the area with the smell of weed.
He stammered lowly, “I don’t know. He came out here tonight. He had bought some shit from a dude outside the park and came here. I haven’t seen him here in a while. I was surprised. We smoked some weed and eventually he did a hit. I thought he passed out because he was high. I don’t know. Maybe it was some bad dope, I don’t fucking know.”

Charlie nodded, “You didn’t give him bad shit, did you?”
“Fuck no, man, why would I do that?”

Charlie shrugged his shoulders and then as he started to walk away, he said in an annoyed and angry tone, “Well, you better clear out your fucking shit here because this dump is done. EMT’s are going to snitch on you and tell the cops. You motherfuckers won’t be allowed to stay here anymore.”

The guy sounded annoyed too and mumbled, “Yeah, well, fuck you. You should’ve just left him the fuck alone and not made a big deal out of it calling an ambulance and shit. It’s your fucking fault and wheelie kid’s fault. Fucking idiot shooting up bad shit or overdosing in here, man. Fuck this!”
Charlie yelled, “Fuck you!”

Charlie then stomped away and I trudged behind him, still limping and barely keeping it together. I felt like I was in some other reality. My head was foggy from the weed back there and I couldn’t really believe what all had happened. It felt surreal and like I was in some bad dream.

We got out to the gravel path and without any words, Charlie just made his way back toward the parking lot and I cried silently. At the car, I unlocked the doors.

Charlie grabbed the back pack and looked at me, “I’m assuming you want his stuff.”

I nodded under tears. Charlie threw the back pack into the back seat.

Charlie didn’t make a move to get into the car and I asked him, “Are you not getting in?”
He shook his head, “I can’t. I’ll walk home.”
I shook my head in disbelief, “Charlie, I’m going to the hospital. I need you to come with me. You can’t just leave!”
He looked back up at me and his eyes were sad, “I can’t go to the hospital, Shay.”
I was confused, “Why not?”

Charlie took a deep breath and then said looking at me from the other side over the car, “Shay, you realize that he may not make it, right?”
My body trembled and my chin quivered as I tried to keep my composure, “What do you mean?”
Charlie’s voice trembled, “Jordan may die.”
At that I walked around to Charlie and looked at him, tears trailing over my cheeks, “And you’re just going to let him die alone and leave me hanging with all of this right now?”

My tears were streaming over my face, I hadn’t cried as much in my whole life as I cried that night.
Charlie now lowered his eyes and I saw some tears drip from his face onto the dirt of the parking lot.

He then looked up at me and shook his head and his crossed eyes were filled with tears, “If I wouldn’t have made you drive all over the city just so I could get my fucking dope and weed, we would’ve not found him that way. It was my fucking fault because I wasted your time instead of getting you to your boyfriend - Shay, because of me, Jordan may die tonight.”
I shed more tears and took some quick breaths, “But he may not die…please Charlie, don’t leave me alone right now!”

Charlie now basically yelled at himself, “But he may die because I needed to find fucking dope for myself instead of helping you find Jordan. I used you with your car to drive around because I was looking for my fucking dealer, because I was a selfish motherfucker…because of that, Jordan may not see another day. If Jordan dies tonight, I will end it for myself…I really will…”

Charlie cried in anguish and walked away, angrily kicking the dirt on the ground.

I called after him, “Charlie, please don’t leave me. I need you. Jordan is your friend. We need to go to the hospital and be there, no matter what will happen tonight or maybe already did. Please don’t walk away. I beg you. Please don’t leave me!”

I cried so much now and fell to my knees. I couldn’t control my emotions anymore. I wasn’t even sure if I could still drive. I needed to call Chad but I wasn’t capable of even pulling my phone out at the moment.

Charlie turned around, came back to me and he squatted down, “Shay!”

I looked at him and fell into his arms right there on the parking lot. Jordan connected us. I didn’t care anymore how smelly Charlie was or how he had admitted that he had used me with my car and that there was possibly some truth to what he had said about Jordan’s situation being his fault. I just couldn’t be alone at the moment and Charlie just happened to be the only person around in the middle of a cold November night on an empty parking lot in Seattle as my boyfriend was possibly dying.
My head felt like it was going to explode with all the thoughts that ran through it.

If I would lose Jordan, I didn’t know how I was going to keep on living. If this night would be the end of Jordan’s life and my life with him, I couldn’t even imagine how I would cope. My regular world seemed like it was thousands of lightyears away, like I was falling and falling through an everlasting galaxy of sorrow and pain. And there was nothing to hold on to, I fell without any control over my being and my body.

Charlie held me and I cried, I moaned and sobbed until I eventually was able to get up. Without speaking Charlie and I got into my car. My eyes were almost swollen shut from the tears I had cried and my trembling hands were barely able to hold the steering wheel. We made our way through a city I didn’t even notice or perceive as a reality at the moment. The only thing on my mind was Jordan and everything we had been through in such a short period of time. The things we had talked about, and the emotions we had experienced for each other raced through my mind in a film of endless pictures.

I don’t know how I made it to Harborview without getting into an accident. I had some horns blown at me and a few times Charlie had to tell me when a light turned green or red but I somehow managed to drive to the hospital. I was in a daze of tremendous fear and pain. I parked the car in the visitor parking, we got out, I locked my car, and in silence we walked into the main entrance of Harborview Medical Center.

Inside the lobby it was bright and warm. At the reception a young man sat behind a counter and looked at us. I saw security guards not far from the reception. I assumed Charlie and I looked like an odd pair. He was tall, beardy and dirty, and I was small and probably looked somewhat decent except for my blotchy face and my swollen eyes.

The young man behind the reception desk looked at us curiously and smiled with a trace of suspicion as we approached. Charlie looked at me as to check if I was okay and then let me step up to the counter.

The receptionist asked, “Hi there, how can I help you?”
I cleared my throat, tried to breathe normal and calm and stated, “I’m here to see my boyfriend. He was brought in a short while ago with an ambulance.”

Charlie stood somewhat behind me and kept his eyes down, nervously glancing at the security guards who eyed us curiously. I felt weak and I was nervous.

The receptionist asked, “What is his name?”
I swallowed a lump in my throat, “Jordan.”
The receptionist looked at me strangely, “And his last name?”

I hadn’t even though about a last name and now I stared at the receptionist and had no idea what Jordan’s last name was. I quickly tried to remember if the EMT’s had mentioned anything but at that time I had been in shock and didn’t know anything going on around me.

Charlie stepped forward and put his arm around me, answering friendly, “His name is Jordan Blanchard. Sorry, she’s a little shook up still.”

The receptionist nodded almost like he was disappointed that we actually had a last name. His fingers ran over the keyboard of his computer as he typed.

After a moment he looked up, “So yes, Jordan is here. He was brought in through the Emergency Department but is assigned to ICU right now.”
I nodded quickly and felt my heart beat just as quick, “Can we see him?”
“That I can’t answer but I can tell you where the ICU is and you can go there and ask them.”
“Okay.”
I didn’t know anything about Harborview and asked, “Where is the ICU?”
The receptionist replied, “I’ll have security escort you over there since it is after hours really.”
I nodded, “Okay.”

The receptionist only glanced over to security, nodded at them and they came over. He told them about escorting us to ICU and they smiled.

One of them then turned to us, “Yeah, so just this way if you want to come along.”

We walked between the two security guards. I hadn’t missed the curious and skeptical looks that had been thrown at Charlie. Charlie though was calm and smiled at them. I had basically gotten used to his smell as he held me and now still had his arm around me. It made me feel slightly better because inside of me, chaos reigned. My emotions ran wild and I kept trying very hard to hold it together and not break down. Charlie’s large arm around me made me feel some security in this situation.

We seemed to walk miles through the hospital corridors and even went up in an elevator. I had no idea where we were. The security guards left us alone and didn’t say much. It was now after midnight. We arrived at the ICU and there was a reception as well but the receptionist sat behind a glass front. She smiled at us and greeted the security guards as we approached.
One of them explained, “They are here to see someone.”
She looked at us and smiled, “Okay.”

The security guards then told us to have a good night and walked away. I didn’t know that they stayed close by just in case something could happen.

The receptionist asked us the same question as the one in the lobby and this time I answered, “I’m here to see my boyfriend, his name is Jordan Blanchard. He was brought in with an ambulance earlier.”
She typed into her computer, “Okay, let’s see. Could I also see some ID?”

I was worried about this and hoped it wouldn’t be an issue. And I definitely worried about Charlie next to me maybe not having any ID but I was surprised when he pulled out a valid driver’s license and we slid our ID’s under the window and the receptionist looked at them, typed some things and asked, “Would it be okay for me to make some copies of your ID’s?”

We both nodded and watched as she copied our ID’s behind her at a copy machine.

She slid the ID’s under the window back to us and now said, “So, if you could please take a seat in our waiting area over there.”
While she said it, she pointed at an area behind us and I asked, “Can you tell me how my boyfriend is doing?”
She didn’t answer but repeated, “If you would just take a seat please. Someone will be with you as soon as possible.”
I felt panic creep up and tried to read her expression when I asked again, “But do you know how he is doing?”
She only smiled and before she could tell me again to take a seat, Charlie put his arm around me again and said, “Let’s just wait over there, Shay.”
He looked at the receptionist, “Thank you very much. We’ll be waiting then.”

Charlie was so calm and friendly and basically guided me over to the waiting area. This was a nice large space with a small kitchen and vending machines and comfortable looking lounge chairs. The light wasn’t too bright and there was a fish tank with several colorful fish inside. Three people were sitting in a corner and the woman in the group was crying holding a tissue in front of her face. They only quickly glanced at us as we approached and we found some seats not too close to them.

I was trembling from fear and from exhaustion. My eyes were burning now that my tears had subsided and dried.

Charlie looked at me, “Are you all right Shay?” 
I tried to smile but shook my head and said softly, “Not really.”

He put his arm around me again and I felt some tears collect in my eyes again.

“It’ll be all right Shay. Don’t worry.”
“That’s not possible.”
Charlie nodded, “I know but there’s nothing we can do. We just have to wait right now.”

We sat there for an hour when the double doors to the ICU opened and I sat up quickly but the doctor who came out approached the three people on the other side of the room. I couldn’t make out what he was saying but the woman then broke out into tears and cried loudly. The two men with her put their arms around her and they all followed the doctor into the ICU and the doors closed again.

My heart was pounding and I was taking quick breaths at having witnessed this interaction. Apparently, these people had just gotten bad news and I was so scared again all the sudden.

I loved Jordan and I couldn’t bear the thoughts of him dying. I didn’t know how I would keep on going if he would be gone. It had been only a short time we had known each other but it really seemed like an eternity. All the things I had felt for Jordan and the emotions that he had stirred in me had been building up inside of me for years; emotions I had wanted to feel for a man; things I had longed to experience with a man; a side in me I had wanted to explore since I was a young girl; the thoughts I had harbored for the longest time and could never really figure out.

And for so long I had felt this void with any of the guys I had been with, a void I didn’t understand and had tried to ignore as best as I could. It was always there though even in my best relationships with able bodied and fit men. On so many nights I lay there in my bed, feeling strange, and imagining these men who were different than any men I had been around, men who couldn't walk, men in wheelchairs.

I had never in my wildest dreams though imagined in my life that I would explore all those pent-up feelings with a broken man like Jordan, but I had fallen for him so quick and so hard and as much joy as I had felt, I had also felt a tremendous pain at his bringing all these emotions I harbored, to the surface. My life would never be the same, even if I wouldn’t have Jordan in it. He had changed forever who I was because I now knew my true self and I would only follow my heart and my true self would guide me and I would always have Jordan with me in my heart. He was who I wanted and he was who I needed and if I would lose him, the feelings I had experienced with him would always stay with me.

I sat there with Charlie next to me and we didn’t speak. We were scared and we were sad. It wasn’t until almost four in the morning when the door to the ICU opened again and a female doctor came out. I was startled as I had almost dozed off with my head on Charlie’s shoulder.

This time there was no one else waiting and she came toward us and in approaching she asked, “Are you here for Jordan Blanchard?”
I literally jumped up, nodding, “Yes, I’m his girlfriend.”
The doctor nodded and smiled weakly, “Hi there, good morning I guess.”
She looked at a watch on her wrist, then back to us, “I’m Dr. Hayes, a cardiologist here at Harborview and also attending Critical Care provider tonight.”
I nodded, “Hi, I’m Shay, this is Charlie.”

Charlie nodded at the doctor and I saw her look him up and down but then she smiled, “Hi.”

She then gestured us to sit down again and when at first, I didn’t really want to sit, she seemed to realize and said, “Why don’t you sit down for a moment?”

I was so scared at what she was going to say.
She sat down in a chair across from us. She wore a white lab coat over teal green scrubs, a stethoscope dangling from her lab coat pocket. A name tag was sewn on to the lab coat, Dr. Veronica Hayes, Cardiologist. Her hair was up in a pony tail.

I couldn’t wait anymore, “How’s my boyfriend?”
Dr. Hayes leaned forward some and took a deep breath and started, “He’s not doing very good. He’s in a very critical status at the moment. Jordan overdosed on Heroin, probably a bad batch on top of it. He suffered a Cardiac Arrest in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. The EMT’s were able to resuscitate him. We quickly rushed him to ICU where we initiated life saving measures. He is currently intubated and on several IV medications. Jordan also has been diagnosed with Sepsis. We are closely monitoring him and I will look further at his heart once he is stabilized. I’m anticipating there is some blockage.  As far as I can tell, Jordan has been using for quite a while and together with his paraplegia his body has been through a lot and with a compromised immune system it was just a matter of time when the drug use would take its toll on him. He’s alive but he’s in a very critical condition at the moment. I inquired with surrounding hospitals on any records as I am aware, he seems to be homeless. Also, if you have any information of any family around and you know them, it would probably be a good time to contact them.” 

Tears had once again started running from my eyes and my hands were balled in such tight fists that I felt them tingle now as they lost sensation. Sweat was running down my back as I listened to Dr. Hayes. Charlie had put his arm around me again.

Dr. Hayes looked at me warmly, “So, I have to ask, are you also homeless then?”
I realized I probably looked so withered that I could pass for a homeless person but I looked at her and shook my head, “I’m not.”
Dr. Hayes seemed intrigued, “Are you a user?”
I shook my head again, “No, I’m not.”
Dr. Hayes then looked over at Charlie and without her even asking, he answered, “Yes, I know Jordan from the streets. We’re friends.”
Dr. Hayes then asked, “Do you know how long Jordan has been using?”
Charlie answered, “As far as I know, for years, on and off.”

Dr. Hayes then looked at me again and I assumed she wondered how Jordan and I were together.

She said warmly, “I’m sorry I don’t have better news, Shay.”
Tears were still streaming from my eyes and I asked weakly, “Is he going to make it?”
She lowered her eyes, then looked back up at me, “I hope so but I can’t really say yet. Right now, we just have to stabilize him. We’re going to keep him in an induced coma at the moment and evaluate further when his vital signs are stable, then we will go from there.”
I nodded, “Can we see him at least?”
Dr. Hayes seemed hesitant and I begged, “Please!”
She took a deep breath and then nodded, “Okay, for a moment.”
She shifted, “I’ll go in with you.”

I jumped up and Charlie and I followed Dr. Hayes toward the door. She looked over to the receptionist behind the glass, waved at her and then she slid her badge over the scanner and the doors opened.
The ICU was dimly lit, staff was moving about quietly and as we followed Dr. Hayes, they smiled at us or looked curiously from Charlie to me.
It smelled clean and sterile, it seemed somewhat cool too but it could have just been me because I was tired and exhausted.
We arrived at a room and a female nurse was sitting at a desk right outside the room, looking up from her papers.

Dr. Hayes introduced us, “Kelly, this is Shay, she's Jordan’s girlfriend and this is Charlie, he's Jordan’s friend. We’re going to visit Jordan for a few minutes.”
Kelly smiled and greeted us warmly with a low, “Hi, nice to meet you.”

Dr. Hayes pushed the curtain over and we stepped into the ICU room. It was dark with only a small light on by the computer on the counter. I spotted Jordan’s wheelchair in the corner of the room. I could barely see Jordan in the bed, he was surrounded by machines beeping and small lights blinking in various rhythms. There was a heart rate flickering across a monitor and buzzing sounds were softly humming.

Dr. Hayes stood on one side of the bed and Charlie and I stood on the opposite side. She looked over Jordan with her hands in her lab coat pockets. I held my hand balled up to my mouth, trying to keep my composure and keep from crying too much again.

Jordan lay in this seemingly huge bed. He was intubated with the breathing tube in his mouth strapped to his face. IV’s were running into his body with bags of fluid medications attached on a pole and also in a pump next to the bed.
His eyes were closed, his long dark hair stuck out from the white pillow. His hands were next to his body on the bed.  He was covered with a white sheet and blanket over it.

Dr. Hayes explained, “He can’t hear or feel anything right now. He’s in a very deep comatose sleep.”
I nodded and took my fist from my mouth and asked softly, “Can I touch his hand?”

Dr. Hayes nodded and I gently put my hand on his hand right there on the bed next to his body. His hand was warm. I felt his bony fingers and as I ran my fingers over the top of his hand, I felt a few uneven spots and I knew exactly what those were.

I wrapped my hand around his and then asked, “Can I touch his face or hair?”
Dr. Hayes nodded, “Just be careful with all the equipment.”

Tears were slowly running over my face. Charlie stood beside me quiet and still.
Dr. Hayes watched as I gently put my hand on Jordan’s face and ran my fingers through his hair.

She then said, “I’ll give you a few moments with him.”

I nodded and she walked out.

Charlie then said next to me, “I’ll wait outside, Shay.”

I heard the tremble in his voice and looked at him, “You can stay Charlie.”
He shook his head, “I can’t, sorry. I’ll be outside in the waiting area.”

He walked out and I was alone with Jordan. More tears now streamed over my face as I looked at him.
I leaned down to his face and next to his ear I started talking softly with a trembling voice, “Jordan, I love you. You have to make it through this, okay. You hear me. I can’t lose you like this. You and me…remember how you said you think it was meant to happen that we met.”

I stopped, trying to breathe and not cry more, then continued, “I love you so much Jordan. You make it through this and we’ll be happy and your life will get better. You’ll be with me and I’ll be there to support you in any way I can. I need you; you know my deepest secrets my beautiful Jordan. No one else knows me like you do, I need you so much, my love. Please don’t give up, keep fighting through this and your life will begin again and it will be a good life, a life that you deserve. I’ll be waiting for you and I’ll come every day if they let me. And when I’m not here you’ll be in my thoughts and always in my heart. I’ll try to stay strong and I know you can do it too. I’ll be ready for you when you wake up Jordan. I love you so much…”

I couldn’t say anything else because now my voice broke under my tears and I wept over him. Tears dripped onto Jordan. I held his hand still in mine and it was so very difficult for me.

All the sudden I heard nurse Kelly’s soft voice, “Shay, everything okay?”

I nodded over Jordan without looking up and sniffled my nose.

Kelly said, “Dr. Hayes said you may come and see him every day if you want. It’ll only be for a little while but you may visit with him daily. And we can keep you updated on him. I don’t have any other contacts for him in his record.”

I said softly over him, “There’s no one else. I’m the only person he has.”
“Okay.”

I now kissed him gently on his forehead and then stood up and turned toward Kelly. She smiled at me and I wiped over my face.

“Thank you, Kelly.”
She nodded, “Oh you’re more than welcome. We’ll take good care of him.”
I nodded and sniffled my nose, then asked her, “Will he make it?”
Kelly tilted her head and smiled warmly, “He has to be very strong right now. We’ll help him.”

She had not answered my question but deep inside I knew she wouldn’t be able to answer this question either way, just like I didn’t expect Dr. Hayes could answer the question.
I nodded at Kelly and looked at Jordan once more, then walked out with Kelly behind me.

Outside the room she gently touched my arm, “We’ll help him.”
I smiled under tears, “Thank you.”
She nodded and said, “See you tomorrow maybe?”
This wasn’t a “maybe” for me, “You will.”

We said Good Bye and as I walked through the ICU, Dr Hayes intercepted me and she gently touched my arm, “Are you okay Shay?”

I nodded and my tears had slowed down.
She walked me out to the waiting area where Charlie was sitting on a chair and when I came out, he looked up from having his face buried in his hands. His eyes were wet. He got up as we walked out.
Dr. Hayes told me that I could come and see Jordan every day for a little while, she made sure that they had the right information on how to get in touch with me.

We eventually said Good Bye with a hug and Dr. Hayes said, “Try to get some rest Shay. We got him. We’ll take care of him and we’ll do everything we can for him.”
“Thank you.”

She smiled and also said Good bye to Charlie. The receptionist told us how we could get to the main lobby again and we made our way there without speaking.

I still felt like I was in a daze, like none of this was actually happening and somehow, I wished I would wake up from some kind of nightmare with Jordan sleeping peacefully next to me in my bed at home.
As we stepped out in the cold of this early November morning, I quickly was reminded that this was not a nightmare but it was reality.
It was after four in the morning now and I was shivering, walking from the hospital exit to my car.

Charlie and I got into the car without speaking and I turned the key in the ignition and turned the heat on high. Charlie’s smell from earlier still lingered in my car but none of this mattered anymore. The only thing on my mind was Jordan. Everything else around me didn't matter anymore.

4 comments:

  1. Dani, what a strong chapter. You touched my heart because I managed to put myself in Shay's place and I felt a lot of agony and sadness. I wish Charlie could use this bad and difficult time to try to stay clean too. I know it won't be easy, but I feel that he and Shay now have a very special connection. I hope Jordan wakes up soon and finally he and Shay can have a quiet time. Good thing she has people to count on like her brother. Thank's for sharing this chapter, which in my opinion, was one of the best to date.
    I'm sorry to read about your friend, sometimes some horrible things happen and we don't understand why. My condolences. And that it can be a new stage for your sister-in-law and that she has a lot of strength. Thanks for sharing and I'm looking forward to next week.

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    1. Hi Ana, thanks so much for your sweet comment. Knowing there are people as you are, still reading, encourages me. It was a heavy chapter for sure and indirectly fitting for my week. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, it means a lot. 💚

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  2. Thank you for this chapter. I'm very sorry to hear about your friend. Take care and and let the time heal you.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, it means a lot

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