In the ambulance the EMT’s had explained to me that my ankle didn’t seem broken but was most likely sprained, an X-Ray would clarify this. I would need stitches though in my forehead and I was nervous to hear about that. We arrived at the ER; they pulled the gurney out of the ambulance and also Jordan’s wheelchair. As we entered the ER, I saw one of the EMT’s talk to someone and hand over the wheelchair.
I was assigned a room in the Emergency Department and the EMT’s helped me get from the gurney onto the hospital bed. My head hurt a lot and every movement of my foot caused pain. The EMT’s relayed all my information over to my nurse named Kim. Eventually I had an armband around my wrist with my name, date of birth, and account number established by the hospital and the three letters NKA. The EMT’s wished me well and left to go on another call.
As she stood next to my bed she asked, “So, what happened Shay?”
I explained that I had slipped on the wet sidewalk as I was walking with my friend.
I asked, “Do you know if he’s here already?”“Who’s your friend?”
“His name is Jordan. He was there when I fell and he ended up having a seizure with all the stuff that had happened. People had come over and they thought he had done something wrong, but he had not. He had only tried to help me and get my cell phone out of my purse. My purse had flown off my shoulder in the fall. Jordan is paralyzed and he was on the ground…”
The words came tumbling out of me and I now took a breath and Kim touched my arm, “I’m sorry. Sounds like it has been a rough evening for you Shay. Just try to relax.”
I had not realized how my voice had changed into a panicky tremble and how the tears were trying to push through again.
I laid my head back in exhaustion, “I guess I just want to know if Jordan is okay. It was all such a weird situation.”Kim tried to comfort me, “I’m sure they’re taking care of your friend Jordan in another room. I saw the EMT hand a wheelchair over to one of the nurses. Was that your friend’s wheelchair?”
I nodded but stopped right away with the pain shooting through my temple and explained weakly, “Yes, they had forgotten to put his wheelchair in the ambulance he was in and so it was in our ambulance.”
I was anxious and I was still in a state of shock about everything. I couldn’t really grasp the fact that I now was in the hospital and had a head injury, a sprained ankle, and worried about Jordan, a homeless guy in a wheelchair. My day had been so normal until I had spotted Jordan on the sidewalk. Really my whole life had seemed so normal until I had come across Jordan under the Rite Aid store roof. Now everything seemed so strange and different. It had been a long time since I had last been in a hospital when I had my appendix taken out as a teenager.
I was soon transported to the Radiology department and while they wheeled the bed through the ER, I looked around trying to see if Jordan was anywhere. I didn’t see him and I didn’t find out anything about him.
Back in the ER room a doctor came in and started talking to me. He introduced himself as the attending physician Dr. Greenbaum. I told the whole story again as in my stumbling and falling while I was walking with my friend.
Dr. Greenbaum seemed to believe me and I was glad about that. He was also the one who stitched me up. I ended up with twenty stitches on the right side of my forehead. It looked horrible but the pain had lessened since I had had a local anesthesia and some pain medication. With my long hair I was somewhat able to cover up most of it.
Dr. Greenbaum informed me that the X-Ray of my foot showed that it was not broken but only sprained, and I was ordered to leave my foot elevated for now until the swelling would go down. Kim had put my foot onto a sturdy foam pillow and I just lay there and watched as she typed into the computer.
I eventually held a small mirror from my purse in front of me and I was shocked to see myself. My eye make-up was smeared all over my face. My hair looked like a mess, stringy, unkempt, and still wet. My upper lip was busted and swollen but Kim had cleaned the wound and had applied a cream. I looked horrible. My eyes were blood shot and I still had smudges of dirt on my face from hitting the pavement. There were scratches on my cheek and Kim had cleaned those as well and applied a thin layer of an antibiotic ointment. I looked and felt terrible.
After Kim had made sure I was taken care of and comfortable, Dr. Greenbaum came back in and was sitting on a stool with wheels next to my bed looking at me. He suggested for me to be admitted for one night at least to make sure the blow to my head wasn’t going to be an issue. I sat there in the bed and thought about this for a moment.
I took a deep breath and I asked, “Can you tell me where my friend Jordan is? He was brought in here the same time I was brought in.”
Dr. Greenbaum stood up and logged into the computer. He was typing some things and I watched him. I was hoping so much he would be able to tell me about Jordan.
I added softly, “I’m very worried about him.”
Dr. Greenbaum just nodded and kept looking at the computer and clicking around on the screen.
He then turned around and asked me, “What is Jordan’s last name?”
I was caught off guard as I had no clue what Jordan’s last name was.
Thinking I hadn’t heard him, Dr. Greenbaum now repeated, “What is Jordan’s last name?”
I swallowed and I felt tears built up in my eyes as I had seemingly come to a dead end. I wasn’t going to find out anything about Jordan.
Dr. Greenbaum now came over and looked at me curiously, “Do you not know your friend’s last name?”
Tears started running down my face, I felt helpless and desperate. I sniffled my nose and didn’t know what to say.Dr. Greenbaum scanned my face and explained, “We have a patient named Jordan here but that’s all I can tell you, Shay.”
I could barely talk and my lip hurt, “I beg you to tell me if he’s okay. You just don’t know how important this is to me.”
Dr. Greenbaum kept his eyes on me curiously, “I’m thinking that there’s a bit more than friendship between you and this Jordan.”
I lowered my eyes and the tears kept running when I said, “I care about him and I just want to make sure he’s okay.”
Dr. Greenbaum now got up and said, “I’ll be right back.”
He didn’t wait for a reply from me but walked out. He disappeared behind the curtain on the door. I felt my heart beat fast and my tears didn’t want to stop. I laid my head back onto the pillow and stared at the ceiling trying to control my emotions. I still couldn’t grasp all the way how this evening had turned out. The clock on the wall showed it was almost eight o’clock.
Dr. Greenbaum came back about twenty minutes later.
“I talked to Jordan.”I looked up at him expectantly, shifted my position some, ready to hear more, “Yes.”
Dr. Greenbaum explained factually, “So, I have Jordan’s permission to tell you that he is okay. He was given medication for the seizure and it makes him very tired.”
I nodded like a little kid waiting to get a lollipop.
“Is he going to be okay?”“How is he doing though?”
Dr. Greenbaum nodded, “Yes.”
Dr. Greenbaum nodded, “Yes.”
“He’s very drowsy right now because we gave him some medications. I can’t really tell you anything else.”
I couldn’t let it go, “Can I see him?”
Dr. Greenbaum glanced at my swollen foot, “It’s probably not a good idea with your foot at the moment. You should get some rest.”
“But if you could get me a wheelchair, I could go see him, right? I need to apologize to him. All this happened because of me.”
Dr. Greenbaum looked at me wearily and I added, “It’s very important that I can talk to him. The reason we are both here tonight was all my fault.”
The doctor took a deep breath, “I’ll see what I can do.”
I wiped my tears away and thanked him, then watched him walk out again.
After about thirty minutes Kim came in with a hospital wheelchair, “I heard you want to go see your friend. Dr. Greenbaum had to make sure it was okay with Jordan and he said it was.”I was relieved and thankful, “Good.”
Kim helped me get into the wheelchair and she adjusted the foot rest so my leg and foot were resting horizontal. My foot was swollen badly and only the pain medications I had been given made it bearable. I didn’t care how I looked but only wanted to be taken to Jordan. My head hurt like I had an especially severe migraine.
Kim pushed me out. This was obviously a very busy Emergency Department bustling with lots of activity. Ambulances kept bringing people and there was lots of commotion everywhere. I heard wailing and cries of pain and I saw staff rushing and nurses going in and out of rooms. I saw people in scrubs and people in regular clothes, patients or family members of patients.
We made our way through the department and some people looked at me curiously. I knew I looked like a mess with the stitches on my forehead, fitting for Halloween like Frankenstein’s bride and people were probably wondering what had happened to me.
We arrived at a room in the far corner of the department where the commotion wasn’t as heavy. It was somewhat quiet and secluded from the main areas. I saw the room number over the glass sliding doors. They were closed and the curtain was drawn.
Kim knocked softly on the door and then pushed it open carefully. She left me parked and peeked into the room. I heard her say Jordan’s name.I didn’t hear a reply but when she came back out, she grabbed the handles of the wheelchair again and pushed me in. My heart was racing and my body was trembling.
I was pushed into the dimly lit room, only a soft light on in the corner.
Kim announced, “Jordan, your friend Shay is here.”
Jordan was only slightly inclined in bed. I made out his dark hair on the white pillow. He was covered up to his waist with a blanket. He wore a hospital gown like I did.
Kim pushed the wheelchair all the way up and I looked at him. He had his eyes closed but I could clearly see how he was breathing quickly.
Kim repeated, “Jordan, someone is here to see you.”She looked at me, explaining, “He’s very tired from the medications.”
She then added, “I’ll give you a few minutes with him. Not sure how responsive he will be though. Push the call light on the remote if you need me to come back in.”“Thank you, Kim.”
Kim walked over to the door, drew the curtain, and closed the glass sliding door.
Jordan was attached to an IV line ending in a large bag hanging on an IV pole next to his bed, there was also a smaller bag hanging next to it. A monitor beeping softly was apparently measuring his blood pressure and heart rate. He had oxygen running into his nostrils through some thin tubing draped over his face.
I scanned him in the bed. I couldn’t see his legs; they were under the blanket. I saw his wrists were actually strapped to the bed. The bed rails were up on both sides.I carefully moved my swollen foot off the hospital wheelchair and with most of the weight on my healthy foot, I pushed myself up and steadied myself, holding on to the bed rail. I now had a better view of Jordan from above him.
I stood wobbly but now said, “Jordan, it’s Shay. Can you hear me?”
Jordan slowly opened his eyes. His hair was wet and stringy. I stood there holding on to the bed rail. He focused on me. I saw his chest rise and fall quickly.
I greeted him with a smile, “Jordan, hi.”He kept his eyes on me and now he moved his lips.
Almost inaudible and breathing quickly he said, “Shay.”
His eyes wanted to close again but he kept them barely open.
I still smiled weakly, “Jordan, how are you?”His dark eyes were shiny and I could barely hear him, “Not good.”
I kept my eyes on him and thought of my reply, “You’ll get better again.”
It sounded strange as in reality I had no idea what was going on with Jordan and how or when he would be feeling better.
He struggled to get the words out, “Are you…are you okay, Shay?”
I saw how his arms seemed to be trembling and twitching slightly.
I shifted getting a sturdier position and answered, “Kind of, I sprained my ankle and I have twenty stitches in my forehead.”I moved my hair out of the way so he could see it, “I’m ready for Halloween. I’m going as Frankenstein’s bride.”
I laughed softly and to my surprise Jordan drew his mouth into a weak smile, but at the same time he was inhaling and exhaling quickly.
I explained further, “They want to keep me here for tonight to make sure I don’t have a concussion or something, which I think I have. My head hurts a lot.”His eyes stayed on me and he gasped, “You’ll make a beautiful…Frank…Frankenstein’s bride.”
I lowered my eyes, smiling “Thank you.”
He swallowed and struggled to keep his eyes open, gasping, “Fucking meds…are making me tired.”
I heard frustration in his voice.
“I should let you sleep, so you’ll get better.”He forced his eyes open again and I leaned over some more, “Jordan, I…”
I swallowed my oncoming tears, “I was very worried about you tonight and I’m so sorry about everything. I know it was all my fault.”
His dark eyes scanned over my face and he was taking quick breaths, “You have…have nothing…to be sorry about.”
I tried to contain my tears, “What I did was stupid…but when I saw you out on the sidewalk, I wanted to find you.”
He gasped, “Why?”
It seemed like we were back at the same conversation we had had on the sidewalk in the rain.
I felt my foot throb from pain, “I don’t know. I just want…” I stopped and took a deep breath, “I just wanted to see you again I guess.”He swallowed and I saw his Adam’s apple move up and down when he said very low, “You…you should forget about…me…Shay.”
He stopped and swallowed again, then gasped, “There’s…there’s really no reason…for you…for you to be in here.”
His eyes fell closed again. It was difficult for him to focus and talk.
A few tears ran over my cheek and I barely managed to say, “But you gave them permission for me to see you and I wish you would give me a chance to get to know you.”
Just as I said this, I reminded myself once again what I was doing; talking to a guy I had met on the street and didn’t know anything about.
He opened his eyes again and looked at me, whispering, “There’s nothing…nothing to know, Shay.”
His eyes closed again and he was barely able to stay awake. I looked over in the corner where his wheelchair was parked. I was relieved it was with him.
I stated softly, “Your wheelchair is here. I made sure they brought it for you.”
He opened his eyes again, and he struggled to speak, “I…I appreciate that…it...it wouldn’t be…”
He stopped, gasping for air and continued, “It wouldn’t…be good…be good if I wouldn’t have…have it.”
Every word was difficult for him to get out, he was trying to breathe and get air but his body was trembling and when I glanced at his hands, I saw them shaking.
His eyes were still on me and I asked nervously, “Why are you using a wheelchair?”
He was taking quick breaths and was licking his lips.
For a moment his dark eyes were fixed on me before he answered softly, “’Cause I can’t…walk…I’m para...plegic.”
For a moment his eyes were still on me and then fell shut again. He seemed to fall into even breaths and I watched him as my heart was beating quickly. My body was trembling and my knees were weak not because of pain, but merely because those few words he had said last had set my brain and my heart into a rollercoaster of emotions. I felt the full force of what had drawn me to Jordan in the first place come over me. My eyes were filled with tears as I thought about this situation and how it had affected me already.` All the thoughts and images I had been keeping locked away for a long time were now stirring and rumbling deep inside like my body was the core of the earth and a volcano was ready to erupt.
I attempted, “Jordan, I’ll let you sleep and I’ll come back later.”
He now opened his eyes again slowly but he didn’t say anything and only looked at me, then his eyes closed again.
I watched Jordan sleep and my eyes scanned over him. Whatever was going on with him, I wanted to know and I wanted to be in his life. I knew enough now that his life was all but easy. He was obviously living on the street, he was paralyzed, and he was dealing with some health issues.
Looking at his face and scanning over it I saw more though. I saw a man who had been dealt a bad hand and I wanted to get in the game. His dark eye lashes were long and black, protecting eyes just as dark but closed right now. His longish dark hair was unkempt, moist and greasy ruffled uncoordinated around his head. A thin beard was showing. I saw parts of tattoos coming out from under the hospital gown on his arms. He was thin from what I had seen of him so far. I wondered how old Jordan was.
My eyes looked over to the IV and the monitor, his blood pressure seemed okay, and the fluid from the bag was slowly dripping into a vein in the top of his right hand. The Oxygen hummed softly flowing into his nose. I noticed the tubing coming out from under the blanket on the other side of the bed and even though I couldn’t see it, I knew it was attached to a bag on the side of the bed and urine was running through the tubing.
I let my eyes rest on his face for a few more moments. Jordan didn’t move anymore and I carefully sat back down in the wheelchair.
I lifted my swollen foot up onto the foot rest and it hurt momentarily.
Just then Kim came into the room. “Shay, are you all right?”She assisted me as I was adjusting my position and she glanced over at Jordan, “Was he responsive?”
“Yes, we talked a few words.”
Kim put her hands to the wheelchair, “That’s good. The medications are making him tired though.”
She put her hands to the wheelchair handles and spun me around to leave. I glanced at Jordan once more and my heart was aching and beating for him.
As Kim pushed me back to my room, I asked her, “Is Jordan going to get a room in the hospital?”She shook her head, “Probably not, they will most likely keep him in the Emergency Room and discharge him in the morning unless he changes his mind. A social worker is supposed to come in and talk to him.”
“Changes his mind about what? And why a social worker?”
“The social worker wants to talk to him about his situation and his options. It’s the normal process. But Jordan probably does not want to talk to a social worker and so we will have to see.”
Kim seemed surprised at my questions and remarked, “Well, you know about his issues, right? And his homelessness and everything. I am sure you know about all of those things since you are friends. The social worker will talk to him about his options.”
I didn’t reply and she didn’t ask me about anything else but instead she pushed me back to my room. I wanted them to believe that I was indeed Jordan’s friend and that I knew things about him. In reality I didn’t know anything but I wanted to be kept in the loop somewhat and pretending that we were friends seemed my only option.
I got back to my room and when I looked at the clock, I saw it was almost ten o’clock. I realized I had to call out of work for the next day, which was Friday and Halloween.
Kim helped me back into the bed and get comfortable.
She checked the computer and then turned to me, “How are you feeling Shay?”“I’m okay, I think. The pain medication is working.”
“Good. Do you want me to get a sandwich and some snacks for you to eat? Doc said it’s okay for you to eat now.”
As she had mentioned this, I did realize that I was quite hungry, “That would be great.”
Kim nodded and I asked, “Am I going to get a regular room tonight?”
“Possibly, still waiting. We’re pretty full tonight but hopefully it won’t be too much longer. For now, I’ll get you something eat.”“Thanks. I really appreciate that. Kim, may I ask you a favor?”
She stood next to the bed, smiling, “Of course.”
“Is there any way you could keep me updated on Jordan tonight?”
“I can do that. I’ll be here all night and I can check on him for you.”
Kim smiled and I added, “Before you go, could you get my purse for me?”
Kim grabbed my purse from the chair and handed it to me.
“I’ll be right back with some dinner.”
Kim walked out and I found my cell phone in my purse. I looked at my calendar and I was relieved that I wouldn’t have any clients the next day so if I called out sick it wasn’t a big deal really.
I brought up my department supervisor Elaine’s number. Since it was late already, I texted her that on my way home from work I had fallen and was in the hospital with a sprained ankle and a mild concussion but had needed stitches. It didn’t take very long and instead of texting, Elaine called me back.
“Elaine, Hi.”Elaine blurted out, “My God, Shay, what happened? Are you all right?”
She was obviously worried and concerned.
I explained in more detail to her that I had slipped on the wet sidewalk in my heeled boots and told her about my injuries. I also told her that I didn’t have any clients scheduled for Friday. She would have taken over any clients should I have had any, but since this was not the case, we didn’t have to worry about this being an issue.
I explained to her that they were keeping me in the hospital overnight for observation because of the head injury, and how I had been advised not to sleep so they could keep an eye on me to make sure I was okay.
Elaine asked to be updated the next day or over the weekend at least but she assured me that I didn’t need to worry about work and I should take as much time as I needed to get well. Even if I would be able to work, I was already embarrassed about my head injury and the stitches and really didn’t want to face any clients in my condition.
After I had finished with Elaine, I debated if I should text or call my parents or my brother.
I was worried about the questions they would ask because I couldn’t exactly tell them how everything had happened and I didn’t want to lie to them. My parents didn’t know about Jordan and my brother only knew very little about him. I knew they would come to the hospital and with that I possibly would lose the connection to Jordan while he was here.
I decided I wouldn’t let my family know and wait until the next day. My plan was to go home the next day anyways.I laid back and I thought about Jordan and hoped he was okay. My head hurt not only from the injury but also from all the thoughts racing through it.
Kim came back in with some food. She set the sandwich, Yogurt, Juice box, and a cup with ice on the bed tray and pushed it closer to me. I was glad to see the food and realized how I was really hungry.
Kim left again, tending to her other patients, and I started on my light dinner. I was to rest and not do much really but lay there. The TV mounted up on the wall was on and showing an episode of “The Big Bang Theory” and I had the remote with the call button next to me. The light was dim and even though I wasn’t supposed to sleep I felt completely exhausted.
It turned out that there was no available room to admit me for overnight but Dr. Greenbaum did not want to let me go yet and it was decided I would just stay in the room in the Emergency Department overnight. That way Kim could stay my nurse and keep an eye on me. I was okay with the decision because it gave me a slight relief to not be too far away from Jordan even though he was basically on the complete other side of the Emergency Room.
Kim came in around midnight, “Hey Shay. Just wanted to make sure you’re okay.”
I was sitting up in bed with the TV on. Earlier a Nurse’s Assistant had helped me to the bathroom. I had been able to brush my teeth over a spit tray and I also had been able to wash my face and brush through my hair. I felt a bit better but was still in pain when the pain medication wore off.
“I’m okay.”Kim stood next to the bed, “I’m on a quick break and I checked on Jordan. He’s sleeping.”
I was relieved to hear about him, “Thanks so much for updating me Kim.”
She didn’t leave right away but instead she smiled at me warmly and her green eyes were on me, “You care about Jordan a bit more than just friends, don’t you?”
I nodded, “I do.”
Kim asked, “Forgive my curiosity Shay, but how are you and Jordan connected? I mean he is…he’s not in such a good situation. He’s actually been here quite a few times in the past already and you’re…”
She paused and thought for a moment, “You’re a regular young woman…”
I lowered my eyes, then looked up at her shyly, and explained with a trembling voice, “A few weeks ago I met Jordan when he was pan handling outside my office in the city.”
Kim nodded, “I see. But how did you guys both end up here tonight?”“It’s kind of a weird story. I guess I’d rather not talk about it.”
She touched my arm gently, “You know Jordan is dealing with a lot of stuff.”
I nodded and took a deep breath, “I think I may have an idea.”
Kim smiled, “I’ll check on him again later and come back to update you.”
“Thanks Kim. I really appreciate that.”
I didn’t sleep for the next few hours and I wasn’t really supposed to. They wanted to make sure I was all right with the head injury. Kim kept checking on me and gave me some more pain medication and it made me drowsy but she instructed me to try to stay awake. A few times throughout the night Dr. Greenbaum checked on me as well, shining a light into my eyes and making sure I didn’t suffer from a serious head trauma.
My thoughts were with Jordan on the other side of the Emergency Room Department. I hoped very much that he was going to be okay and all I could think about was seeing him again.