Tuesday, April 23, 2019
What It Was - Chapter 8
I was relieved that Jordan wanted me to stay. If he would have wanted me to leave, it would have been difficult and I was certain I could never have forgotten about him. We had connected and things had been said that would have been impossible to forget. I sat there in the hospital wheelchair, my leg propped up horizontally and I just looked at Jordan. He was obviously preoccupied with fighting against his body and the cravings it harbored. I had no idea how difficult this was for him. Only as I watched his body shake in a constant tremor and his hand and fingers on the bed by his side twitch without stopping, I still could hardly imagine how this was for him.
The closest thing I had come to as in drugs had been Marijuana. I had smoked pot, I had ingested it, and I had drank strangely formulated Cannabis drinks but I had never before in my life touched any harder drugs. I remembered kids in High School and even college who had fallen prey to the merciless grip of harder drugs, the drugs that make your life seem worthless and bleak, the drugs that slowly but certainly killed the person it held captive.
I watched Jordan and took a deep breath because I thought about his situation and how I now was part of it. I was part of it because I had spotted a wheelchair and I usually never missed a wheelchair and I always checked what type of person was in it. If it was a woman or an elderly person, I didn’t care too much, but the wheelchair in itself always stirred my curiosity and I wondered what the disability was that forced the person to use a wheelchair. If I wasn’t particularly attracted to the person in the wheelchair, it remained just that - the curiosity of the disability and the assistive devices that came with the disability. It had always been like that. Even though I had always been interested in all these medical things, the fear and shame of actually working in the medical field because of my strange interests and attractions had been the reason of my career choice and kept me far away from any medical careers.
Throughout my life though, I had fantasized about stories where I would be the Physical Therapist or something in that field and meet that “man of my dreams” in a wheelchair and live happily ever after.
I could never deny it, it was always there, it had always been there, and I had always felt horrible and the utmost shame, imagining my boyfriends in wheelchairs or picturing them in traumatic accidents which would leave them paralyzed. But at the same time, the men in wheelchairs I had always dreamed of, had been men who had overcome the trauma and lived independent and good lives. I had never imagined the man who would turn my world upside down with his paraplegia and in a wheelchair, to be a drug addict who lived on the streets.
But there he was, lying in a hospital bed, his body torturing him with tremors and shaking, craving the drugs, not having any kind of stability in his life and just basically surviving one day at a time.
Jordan had his eyes closed and I could see he was struggling with his breathing, with keeping his body still, and probably with not losing it while he was stuck in the hospital, a place he hated but a place he also needed.
I gently touched his hand, “Jordan?”
He opened his dark eyes and turned toward me and I saw despair and sadness.
I remarked softly, “I’m very glad you want me to stay right now. What can I do to make it easier for you?”
He answered lowly, “Just you being here is a good thing.”
I was touched when I realized his feeble attempt to smile.
“I know you’re not feeling well right now.”
“I’m not but they’re not letting me go so I just have to get through it.”
He glanced over to his wheelchair, “I can’t wait to get into my chair and get out of here. I’m so fed up with this bed and this room. It’s driving me crazy.”
I got up from the hospital wheelchair, careful not to put any weight on my injured foot, “Would it make you feel better if I lay with you?”
Jordan looked at me surprised and watched me get up, “I don’t think it’s a good idea Shay. They won’t allow that.”
I stood next to his bed holding on to the inclined head rest, “I don’t think anyone can stop it.”
I prepared myself to get on the bed with him and I shuffled onto the edge of it.
Jordan moved over some but mumbled, “I don’t know Shay. Maybe not.”
He seemed nervous but didn’t really fight me on it when I pushed myself onto the bed next to him. As pain shot through my head, I let out a whimpering moan.
Jordan was alerted, “Shay, are you all right?”
“I’m all right, it just hurts a little.”
As Jordan had pushed his body over some I was able to lay next to him.
I slowly let my head down on the pillow and I sighed with relief, “Lying down feels good.”
My foot was up on the bed and my head was on the pillow. I felt exhausted from the night and the pain in my head and ankle was only numbed to an extent with the pain medications I had been given. Throughout the night I had been so occupied with Jordan and our situation that I had somewhat forgotten about my own health issues at the moment. I was tired and felt fatigue overcome me. Jordan seemed anxious.
I turned my head toward him and he held himself up and looked over at me, “They will kick you out of this bed and room if they see this.”
I said softly, “Well, right now they’re not here and I don’t care. I needed to lay down.”
We looked at each other for a moment. Jordan’s body vibrated under the constant tension next to me and his arms were shaky as he held himself there.
I stated softly, “You’re shaking a lot.”
He lowered his eyes but didn’t say anything.
“Why don’t you lay back down?”
Jordan seemed unsure at how to act with me in the bed next to him but he let himself down on the pillow and rested his hand on his belly, staring at the ceiling. I heard how the blood pressure machine beeped softly and his heart rate had sped up some.
Without looking at him I asked, “How often do you use in a day?”
He didn’t answer right away, then took a deep breath, “I don’t use every day. My last hit was on Thursday morning, like around three.”
“Three in the morning?”
Jordan nodded and I asked, “So, it’s difficult for you right now?”
He nodded again but didn’t say anything.
“So, the money you get out there goes to that?”
“What if you can’t get it?”
“I can usually get enough money for a couple of hits a week.”
“What if you don’t get enough money together?”
“If I don’t have enough money, I’ll make sure I have enough for my hits, but then I may not eat a lot.”
“How are you holding up right now?”
“I’m not good but I’m trying to hold it together for you.”
I sat up and looked into his eyes, “What if I wouldn’t be here?”
His dark eyes darted to the ceiling, over to his chair, to me, toward the door, “I don’t know.”
I scanned over his face, “How long have you been using?”
His eyes flickered nervously but stayed on my face, “For far too long.”
“How old are you, Jordan?”
I rested my head on my hand with my elbow on the bed, looking at him, “What is too long, Jordan?”
Jordan’s eyes travelled over my face. My hair was hanging over my shoulder draped onto the pillow. He looked at me for a few seconds, his eyes were focused on my face and he seemed to be thinking about his answer. He brought his trembling hand up to my hair and let strands of it run through his fingers.
Softly he stated, “Your hair is like warm sand, Shay.”
I had a feeling he was trying to avoid the answer I was waiting for.
My eyes met his and I repeated softly, “How long is too long, Jordan?”
He pressed his lips together but kept his eyes on his fingers in my hair and eventually he answered, “On and off since I was a teenager. Different stuff throughout my life. There were some clean spells in between.”
I was shocked to hear this and didn’t really know what to say. I also didn’t want to be too interrogating because I sensed some anxiety from Jordan.
I moved my hand over to his face and he seemed nervous when I whisked some strands of his bangs from his eyes.
I felt him twitch slightly even with his shaking but kept my eyes on him, “How long have you been in a wheelchair?”
He moved his eyes from me and seemed uneasy with the question, “Eight years.”
I wanted to know so much about him but I didn’t want to ask him too many questions yet.
There was one more question that burned in me though, “How did it happen?”
He looked back at me, “Let’s not talk about that right now.”
I felt he was uncomfortable talking to me about this and I decided not to ask anything else. I didn’t want to annoy him and I knew he didn’t feel good. I also felt how tense he was next to me and almost like he didn’t want to lay too close.
His trembling seemed to increase and he laid his head back and fixed his eyes on the ceiling. His body tensed up with a sudden onset of distress. He closed his eyes, taking quick breaths.
I saw sweat beads on his forehead. His eyes were squeezed shut and he was exhaling and inhaling only through his nose with his lips pressed together tightly.
He was moaning and I asked him, “Jordan, what’s going on?”
He didn’t open his eyes but I saw him grab the blanket with his hand, holding it tight. He was moaning and breathing quicker. The trembling of his body seemed to worsen and now his legs twitched wildly under the blanket.
“Jordan, what’s going on? Talk to me! Do I need to get the nurse?”
He opened his eyes and looked at me, gasping, “They won’t do anything. It’s just my body…it just hurts…”
He didn’t finish the sentence but was taking some more gasping breaths.
I wanted to help him but I didn’t know how. I felt that I probably shouldn’t even lay on the bed with him.
“I probably should get off the bed.” Jordan grabbed my arm then.
His eyes were on me, dark and pleading, “Just stay up here with me. Distract me.”
I stopped in my commotion, Jordan pulled me down, and said under quick breaths, “Tell me about yourself. Tell me some…some good stuff.”
His legs were twitching wildly under the blanket and he was taking lots of gasping breaths.
My expression must have looked worried because he said, “I’m okay…I just…”
He couldn’t finish and paused for a moment, took some breaths, then added, “Just talk to me. Tell me about yourself, Shay.”
His hand was tightly gripping the blanket and even though I was worried about him I asked nervously, “What do you want to know?”
He had his head turned toward me and breathing heavy he asked, “Your work…tell me about your work. What do you do? I know…”
He stopped again and gasped for air, then continued, “I know you…you work downtown…and you… you have to dress nice.”
He now managed a weak smile and even in his distress I saw how he was trying to be strong. I told him what I did for a living and he listened and was trying to keep his eyes focused on me. I could see clearly though how he was struggling against the tremors in his body, the wild twitching of his legs, the breaths that were hard to take and when I touched his arm, his skin was cold, even though his face was glistening with sweat. I didn’t miss the bruises and the small wounds on his arms as I looked at him.
It was difficult for me to watch and I was close to pushing the call button to get his nurse into the room. I didn’t understand why they let him suffer like this.
As he was taking some more quick breaths, I was now worried about him, “Jordan, I think I should call the nurse.”
He managed to shrug his shoulders but didn’t object.
I pressed the call button and turned to him again.
He looked at me and gasped, “I just need…to get out of here.”
Just then Troy came in, he looked surprised as he saw me in bed next to Jordan, but he didn’t say anything about it.
“Jordan, what’s up my man?”
Jordan didn’t say anything,
Troy looked at me and I tried to explain, “He’s…I don’t know...”
Troy came over and stood over Jordan, “Jordan, do you want something to relax?”
Jordan looked at Troy now, gasping, “I want to get out of here…why are you keeping me here?”
He took a deep breath, then continued, “You know I’m fucked up…just let me get the fuck out…out of here.”
He could barely finish the sentence.
Troy explained, “If I let you go, you have to sign the AMA paperwork, you know that.”
Jordan gasped, “Yes, done it plenty…of times.”
Troy now took a deep breath, “You don’t want to talk to the social worker?”
Jordan sounded tense, “No, I don’t want to…talk to social worker. Get me the fucking paperwork. “
Troy sounded irritated, “Okay, if that’s what you want, Jordan. I’ll get the paperwork. I’ll be right back.”
He walked out and I turned to Jordan, “You’re just going to leave now?”
“I need to go, Shay. I’ve been keeping it together…”
He took another deep breath and swallowed, “For you but I can’t wait…any longer.”
“Where are you going to go?”
With difficulty, he pushed up on his elbows and then sat all the way up, holding himself there, shaking and obviously weak, his hands by his sides.
“Jordan, where are you going to go? And what about me…us?”
His head hung with his dark hair covering his face and he mumbled, “What about us?”
Now he looked over at me; I could barely see his eyes through his hair, “Give me your phone number and…I’ll call you…later.
I was confused at his attitude but I scrambled off the bed and plopped back down into the hospital wheelchair. I didn’t know what to say to him.
He didn’t seem to care about my feelings at the moment. He was focused on something totally different, something I couldn’t give him and never could give him. I watched as he held himself there on the bed in a sitting position, hunched over with his back curved.
After a few minutes it knocked, and Troy came in followed by a doctor, who had a Stethoscope dangling around his neck.
I saw Jordan’s hostile expression as the doctor approached the bed, “Hi there Jordan.”
Jordan still held himself sitting up in the bed but didn’t say anything.
The doctor continued, seemingly not intimidated by Jordan’s silent hostility, “So Troy told me that you want to leave?”
Jordan looked up from behind his bangs, “Yes, I want to leave.”
The doctor now turned to me, “Hi, and you’re Jordan’s friend?”
“Yes, I’m Shay.”
“Nice to meet you Shay. I’m Dr. Marcus.”
Dr. Marcus now asked, “Would you mind giving me a moment with Jordan. I want to talk to him.”
Jordan cut in right away, “She can stay in here. She can hear what you have to say. Or do I have to sign fucking paperwork for that as well?”
I looked over at him and I saw he was still shaking a lot.
I took a deep breath and debated if I should stay or leave.
Dr. Marcus seemed to not be apprehensive with me staying and was about to start talking when I said, “I’ll be outside.”
Jordan now protested, “Shay, you don’t have to leave…” He took some gasping breaths and then continued with quick breaths, “No one…can tell you…to leave if I...if I say that you can stay.”
I looked over at him and our eyes met, I saw he was obviously fighting against his body, “It’s all right Jordan. I’ll come back in when Dr. Marcus is done.”
And with Troy’s help I wheeled out.
Outside I pushed the hospital wheelchair out of the way into a corner and Troy stood there looking down on me, “Thank you Shay for giving the doc some privacy with Jordan. You did the right thing.”
I bit my lips and my vision was blurry. I tried to smile when I looked at Troy but he knew I didn’t feel like smiling.
He squatted down next to me and held himself on the armrest of the hospital wheelchair, now looking up at me, “Shay…”
I nodded and he continued with a sigh, “Jordan is very sick. He will probably argue with the doc and then the doc will have to let him go AMA.”
“What is AMA?”
“Against medical advice, we can’t hold Jordan here because he hasn’t done anything that would justify having him admitted into the hospital or anything. So we have to let him leave. He’s struggling right now because his body needs the drugs. That’s also why he’s basically non-compliant at the moment, and why he’s argumentative. He’ll be like that when he needs to shoot up. If you will be with him in those moments, there won’t be no reasoning with him. We see this sort of thing all the time with guys like Jordan. He’s an addict, all he cares about right now is where he gets his next hit. His body is acting up because it craves the drugs.”
A tear dripped from my eye and Troy now added, “I’m worried not only as a nurse but just a person. I want you to stay safe and if anything…if he would ever lose control you need to call someone or talk to someone. I know you care about him and you want to help, but…”
Troy shook his head, “It’ll be so difficult.”
I nodded and swallowed the lump in my throat, “I know but if I don’t care, no one else will either.”
Troy sighed deeply, “Unfortunately you’re very right about that.”
“I appreciate your concerns but I’ll have to try.”
Troy nodded, “Yes, but again, if he ever loses control over his actions or tries to hurt you or something, you need to tell someone, okay.”
I nodded and he added, “In the long term we need to get him into a detox really so he can get off the drugs and overcome the addiction. I’m not sure if that will ever happen, but maybe you’re the one that will have that power and can convince him.”
“I will have to see.”
Troy nodded and then stood up, “You know that you can always bring him here if things get bad, the ER is always an option.”
“Thank you, Troy.”
It took a few more minutes until Dr. Marcus came back out of Jordan’s room and he saw me in the corner and smiled as he walked over, “You can go back in there now, Shay.”
I wanted to ask him questions but I didn’t think I really had the right to ask since I was not related to Jordan.
Dr. Marcus said, “He’s okay but he does want to leave so I have to get the paperwork ready.”
I was surprised that the doctor wasn’t angry or frustrated with Jordan, but said these things very calmly and understanding.
Just as he was about to walk away, I said, “Dr. Marcus?”
He turned around again and smiled, “Yes?”
I stammered, “Jordan is not well though. Isn’t there anything you can do to keep him here?”
Dr. Marcus held on to this stethoscope with both hands on each side of the piece around his neck and he shook his head, “No, there is nothing I can do.”
He looked at me for a moment, waiting for me to say something but then added, “This happens daily. We get people like Jordan all the time and only if they agree to be admitted into a rehab facility or a detox program can we help them. If they want to go back out to the streets and keep doing what they’re doing, there’s nothing we can do.”
I remarked, “He doesn’t have a place I don’t think.”
Dr. Marcus nodded, “And there are thousands like Jordan on our streets. I can get him his medications so he at least has that, and sometimes we give the users clean supplies. That’s all I can do.”
He stood there looking at me and I nodded in defeat.
“I’m sorry Shay. I know you worry about him but I can’t do anything else.”
I nodded again, “Thank you for what you can do.”
He smiled warmly, “You’re welcome. Best of luck.”
He then walked away and I saw him make his way over to Troy at the nurses’ station. I pushed the rims of the bulky wheelchair and made my way back into the room.
Jordan was still in bed and he was shaking, his hair was moist and he was breathing heavy.
He looked up when I wheeled in and I saw how he tried to find his composure somewhat, “Shay.”
I rolled over to the bed, “Yes.”
His eyes looked from behind the dark strands of his bangs.
I stated, “So you’re leaving?”
He swallowed and nodded, “I have to.”
I could only nod and his eyes stayed on me until we were interrupted by Troy, “So Jordan, Dr. Marcus is getting your discharge orders ready and they’re going to fill your meds and get them up here to us shortly.”
Jordan didn’t say anything and I watched as Troy got busy with unhooking Jordan from the IV line. He did this with full focus and Jordan watched him and then looked over at me. His eyes were dark and nervous, but I could sense how he couldn’t wait to get off all the things that had kept him in the hospital bed all night.
Troy applied a gauze and tape over the injection site on top of Jordan’s hand where the IV port had entered his veins.
Jordan sat hunched over in the bed and now said, “Can you give me my clothes and push my chair over here?”
Troy pushed the wheelchair all the way up to the bed. He also grabbed the plastic bag with Jordan’s belongings and brought it over to him, “Here you go, your clothes are in here.”
Jordan took the bag and looked into it.
His hands were shaky and Troy asked, “Do you need help with getting dressed right now Jordan?”
Jordan shook his head and mumbled a “No”.
Troy nodded, “Okay my friend. I’ll let you get dressed then. I’m going to stand here though and make sure you can get into your clothes and your chair.”
Jordan’s eyes met mine and I put my hands to the push rims and said, “I’ll be outside waiting.”
I saw how he sat hunched over on the bed, holding himself steady and now moved his hands to the blanket and pushed it off his legs.
That’s the last thing I saw and I imagined how he was getting dressed and getting into his wheelchair. I would have liked to be in the room to see it but I knew it wasn’t the right thing, not yet. We had just met, I wasn’t even sure what we were, friends or more, I was confused, sad, and very worried about the situation.
I waited for a few minutes outside until Troy came back out, “He’s done.”
I asked quickly, “Did he manage okay?”
“Barely, but he made it.”
I put my hands to the rims of the bulky hospital chair and clumsily pushed myself into the room again. I found Jordan sitting in his wheelchair, dressed in his torn and stained jeans, the faded hoodie with a hole on the sleeve, and his worn-out sneakers, ready to go. He seemed restless and looked at me nervously.
I pushed over to him and we sat there for a moment. I saw his hands were shaking in his lap, he was still breathing quickly. He sat hunched over and I thought about how I would have really liked to have seen him transfer from the bed into the wheelchair. The one thing I had seen the night before when he had come out of his wheelchair and had plopped onto the hard ground next to me had intrigued me very much and I couldn’t help having had feelings of another kind as well. Having witnessed him pulling his body over to where my purse had landed in my fall had been stirring lots of emotions inside of me.
I asked softly, “So this is it, you’re just going to leave?”
He stated factually, “Give me your phone number so I can call you later.”
“Do you even have a phone?”
He shook his head, “No, but I know people with phones. They’ll let me use theirs.”
We were quiet again and neither of us said anything. My vision was blurry and my heart ached.
I started softly, “Jordan, please promise me that I’ll see you again.”
He looked up and our eyes locked, “You will.”
“I don’t know but I promise you’ll see me again.”
I tried to sound confident, “You don’t know when?”
He focused, “Shay, listen to me.”
His dark eyes were fixed on me and he pushed his wheelchair closer to mine. He reached his hands out for me to put mine in his. I put my hands into his rough, calloused hands and I lowered my eyes because I felt tears come up. Right in my line of view I saw his legs in the raggedy jeans placed side by side with his feet on the single foot rest. His legs were still twitching in the jeans and his feet were hopping slightly on the foot rest. My heart beat quickly.
I couldn’t look at him but he said, “Shay, please look at me.”
I slowly moved my eyes up to him.
Under heavy breaths he said, “I promise you’ll see me again Shay. When they discharge you, I want you to go home and get some rest. I want you to put your foot up and not do anything or worry about me. I want you to get well. I’m going to be okay. I’ll go to where I’m staying and make sure my stuff is still there. I’ll try to get money somehow and do what I need to do. I’ll be better later on. Right now, I can’t stay here anymore, I need to go. But I want you to trust me and this goes for any other time. I need you to trust me.”
I now lost a tear and he wrapped his hands tighter around mine, “Shay, I’m very thankful you found me again.”
I barely brought it over my lips, “I care about you Jordan.”
“I realize that and I care about you too.”
He now reached over to my face where a tear edged its’ way out of my eye and he wiped it away with his thumb, “But I don’t like to see you cry.”
I tried to swallow my tears but it didn’t work.
Jordan leaned forward some and his voice was tender, “Shay, I need you to trust me. I care about you too and even though I’m still unsure how things will be with us, I know I want you in my life. It’s not a great life but maybe having you be part of it will help me get better. I really need you to trust me though.”
I nodded, “I trust you.”
I looked into his eyes, “Are we together now?”
Jordan shifted and he squeezed my hand, “I want nothing more than that but I haven’t been in a situation like this in a long time. Let’s see what happens.”
I nodded like a little kid and I tried to choke back my tears, “I don’t want to lose you anymore Jordan.”
His hands wrapped tighter around mine, “You won’t.”
I didn’t say anything and Jordan added, “I may not always be where you are but I won’t disappear on you, Shay. I will be around.”
Momentarily Jordan seemed collected and strong and he put his hand to the side of my face and we looked at each other for a few more moments. He looked tired and exhausted. His eyes glistened and flickered nervously.
I pushed my face against his hand and another tear dripped out of my eye. Jordan wiped it away with his thumb again.
He said gently, “I hate to see you cry.”
I now forced a smile under my tears but I couldn’t stop crying.
We were interrupted with Troy coming in.
He held a paper bag in one hand and paperwork in the other hand, “So I got your paperwork and meds Jordan.”
Jordan put his hands to his push rims and moved toward Troy.
“I just need you to sign the discharge papers and also the paperwork for your meds.”
Troy placed the paperwork and bag with medication on the counter and I watched how with shaky hands Jordan signed the papers.
Troy then took the papers, “Okay, you’re free to go Jordan.”
Jordan looked up at Troy and mumbled, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Be safe out there Jordan, okay.”
Jordan nodded and Troy added intensely, “There’s a person in this room who cares a whole lot about you. You need to remember that and don’t lose that person.”
Jordan lowered his eyes, nodded again, and said lowly, “I know that.”
Jordan reached his hand over to me and I took it.
Now Troy knocked on the counter and said, “I will see you around Jordan.”
Jordan nodded and mumbled, “Thanks man.”
Troy nodded at Jordan once more and walked out.
We sat there for a moment and Jordan just held my hand. He then squeezed it and I looked over at him.
He looked up at me and asked lowly, “Are you all right Shay?”
My eyes were still filled with tears but I tried to hold them in.
All I could say was, “I guess.”
Jordan now moved closer with his wheelchair and he leaned forward with his eyes on me and said, “I don’t want to lose that person.”
I looked at him from behind the curtain of my hair but I didn’t say anything.
Jordan now let go of my hands and put his hands to his push rims.
With a slight nod he emphasized softly, “And I WILL see you later, Shay.”
I felt my tears push their way out of my eyes and I nodded but I couldn’t really say anything.
Jordan sighed and he then grabbed the paper bag with medications and some other items off the counter, and stashed the bag under his hoodie in the front.
With one push he rolled up beside me and looked at me once more, then lifted his hand and let his fingers stroke over my cheek, keeping his dark eyes on me, “I promise Shay.”
I could only nod and watch as he rolled out of the room and disappeared. I sat there and I felt lost. I let my tears run freely and I asked myself how I had gotten myself into this mess. Jordan had come into my life like this storm surge, saturating me with his presence and his being, making me feel like I couldn’t breathe anymore. It’s like I had lived under blue skies and sun up until now. With Jordan in my life all the sudden everything was different, everything seemed darker, and so much more difficult. I was scared and confused about how he had touched my heart and really my inner core of who I was and who I had always been.