Sunday, May 22, 2011

Journey - Recovery Begins

    Meg tried to focus complete on what the doctor was telling her. Every now and again it felt like her brain sloshed from one side to another. He described the injuries and the ramifications. “You’ll need to take it easy. No heavy lifting for several weeks. It would be easier of you’d been injured in just one place or even one side of your body. You got hit from four different directions. You’re lucky to be alive.”

    Assimilating that information, Meg tilted her head drunkenly, “When can I go home?”

    Amused, Dr. Montgomery grinned slightly, “Not for a while. You’re going to need to be up and walking before I let you out of here.” He shifted and took hold of the blanket, “Now, let’s take a look at you.”

    The doctor had explained much to her and the information jumbled in her head as she fell into sleep. She didn’t want to use the morphine. The doctor had told her that using it to keep the edge off the pain wouldn’t create an addiction. Meg wasn’t quite so certain but the longer she was awake the more she ached. It was a top of the head to the bottom of her feet kind of ache.

    Uncertain how long she’d slept, Meg scraped her hand over her face. She needed water. She wanted to go home. The lights had been dimmed but she didn’t open her eyes very wide. She rolled her head to reach for the button on the computerized pump. It had a name. She'd been told. Meg glared at it, trying to remember. Inspired, she decided she would call it Simon.

    “Simon says,” Meg muttered hoarsely. Amusement bubbled in her brain but she hurt too much to laugh. Rolling her head, she glared at the water on the rolling tray. It had been moved out of the way and not moved back within reach. Either side was bad for reaching. IV’s and equipment on one side. On the other, her injured shoulder made raising her arm difficult. Even hefting the water glass was currently a painful and often weak endeavor. Even if she could reach it.

    Meg sighed and closed her eyes. It wasn’t worth it.

    Warm fingers lifted her hand from her stomach and the handle of the insulated mug was pressed into her palm. Her fingers wrapped around the handle instinctively. The hand stayed on hers keeping the mug steady. The faint smell of soap and an aftershave she didn’t recognize filled her nose.

    Rolling her head back to center, Meg opened her eyes. Delight surged through her and the heart monitor recorded her heart beat skipping.

    DJ smiled slowly, “Hey.”

    “Hey.” Meg contented herself with seeing him in person. “You look good.”

    “You don’t.” He grinned to rob the words of any offense. She’d have known he was lying anyway. “Take a drink, Meg.”

    He held the mug for her and she drank slowly, sipping from the edge of the spouted lids. No straws until she was certain her stomach could handle the extra air. Meg was fairly certain the extra air might be worth the price of not dribbling water down her chin every time she needed a drink.

    Putting the cup back on the tray, DJ leaned closer to Meg. With his hand on the mattress at the side of her head, he put his weight on his arm.

    Ignoring the IV’s and the pull of the tape, Meg reached up to touch his cheek. “Why are you here?”

    “Because you are.” He kissed her forehead.

    “Have you been here? When did you arrive stateside?”

    DJ kissed the crease in her forehead. His lips were soft and warm on her skin.  “I hit land the same day you were shot. I spent the night in the chair watching you sleep.”

    “That must have been boring.”

    His smile was bright with humor, “Yeah. I fell asleep. I blamed the jet lag but really, I was just bored.”

    Meg stared at him, “Why didn’t you tell me you were coming?”


    A laugh bubbled out of her before it was smothered with a groan. Pain quickly replaced humor. Meg pressed her hands to her side and focused on breathing. With her eyes closed against the burning, she didn’t see DJ lower his head again to kiss her cheek. Then her nose before gently settling his lips against hers. The distraction was as complete as the kiss was sweet.

    When he pulled away, DJ heard the soft sigh and felt the breath on his lips. Without asking, he pushed the button on her PCA, “Simon says.”

    “You heard that?” The corner of Meg’s mouth lifted.

    DJ rubbed his knuckles over her arm before standing completely upright, “I did. You’ve been taking the bare minimum. You can take one more this time.”

    “Bossy.” The pleasure of seeing him robbed the name-calling of any true conviction. Fatigue began to darken the room. “You’ll be around?”

    “Yes.” The conviction rang in his voice, “We have things to discuss.”

    Opening one eye, Meg peered at him, “Good things?”

    “I hope so.” He watched the eye close and her head rolled to the side, resting her cheek on the pillow. He curled his hand around her foot and watched the slow smile curl her lips.

    “I love you, Darcy.”

    He told her he loved her but Meg was already asleep. DJ stretched his legs out, being mindful of cords and cables and watched her sleep.

    Meg never knew who was going to be in her room when she resurfaced from sleeping. Since she was awake, the nurses had her up and walking. Meg was frustrated by the slow motion but she had no choice. The injury in her upper leg was by far the least painful but hampered her considerably. The core muscles in her trunk were bruised and battered by the insult of injury and then by surgeries. Meg had no choice but to move slow. By Tuesday they only thing connected to her body was Simon. By Thursday she was completely unhooked.

    It had been difficult being in the hospital the days her comrades were memorialized. Her brothers would have worn their dress blues, her uncle a dark suit. Knowing it would be difficult on Meg, Norma sat with her briefly. Captain Mulholland surprised her by rolling into her room. He had demanded that he be wheeled down to her room. They talked and comiserated for over an hour until they were both ready to succumb to fatigue.

    When she woke up, her brothers grinned at her. They’d snuck in coffee just for her. Meg gave herself a few sips but since her stomach was still on bland foods, Matthew drank the rest of it. They visited, telling her of the memorial. Both been surprised when DJ made an appearance wearing his dress uniform. He’d chosen to sit with her family but his presence had been noted by many. Michael put words to the emotions, “It was right, having him there. There was pride that he’d come and come dressed as he was. The honor showed.”

    Matthew grinned rakishly, “He had a chestful of medals.”

    Meg enjoyed their company for as long as she could. She enjoyed when anyone took time to visit. It broke the monotony she found herself suffering when she was awake. Brandon Carroll made her laugh and groan with pain. On a rainy afternoon when Meg found herself fighting an odd depression, Spiro was a surly companion but a welcome presence. For over an hour’s worth of gin rummy, he told her what happened after she’d been taken away in the ambulance. She hadn’t remembered the ambulance. No one else had mentioned that she’d nearly died in Spiro’s direct manner. He mentioned that her soldier had made an impression when he’d arrived in the lecture hall. Meg wasn’t at all surprised.

    “Big apes tend to attract attention.”

    “True,” Spiro grinned, “especially miserable ones.”
    Her soldier came to sit with her every night. Becoming more acclimated to the time difference, he began sleeping more often than he didn’t. The hospital’s choice of a couch and bed combination was not very comfortable for most people. For a soldier accustomed to the ground and sleeping where he could, DJ never complained and didn’t mind. He’d been sleeping on Meg’s couch with a bob cat on his chest. This flat surface was easy.

    It was one such night when Meg had awakened to the pain and let DJ talk her into calling for a nurse and another dose of a pain med. Laying with his hands resting on his chest, DJ watched Meg’s face in the dim light, “You know I'm going to marry you, right?”

    “Sure.” Meg yawned hugely, the pain was abating and sleep wanted to return. “Did you get your hamburger with pickles?”

    “Yes.” DJ looked at the ceiling, “Will you go back to work after you’re released?”

    Meg chuckled and groaned softly. Laughing was getting easier. Everything was getting easier. Recovery was just taking so long. The doctor was right. It would have been so much easier if she’d been shot in one place. When she laughed, her back and her stomach hurt. “Didn’t you? Go back to work?”

    “Yes.” Making a decision, DJ pushed himself to his feet in one fluid motion. “Listen, Meg. The unit I'm with, if I get married ... the rules are ... “ DJ fumbled for the words and swore softly, “I'm out. I can’t be married and be in this outfit.”

    Meg’s eyes narrowed a fraction. Only training kept the frown from curving her mouth down in a moment of confusion. “Look, Darcy, I’ve never asked you to stop doing what you need to do. One day you might explain 2009 to me. Seriously. Not one letter? If this outfit is doing important stuff, I’m not going to stop you from going back.”

    “That’s not what I’m saying at all.” DJ shoved his hands in his jean pockets. “You’ve never made demands.”

    “Neither have you.”

    “If I asked you to leave the force?”

    “I don’t think you would, Darcy.” Meg studied his face, searched his eyes, for a long moment before answer carefully, “If you did, I’d tell you that you’re only reacting to my current state of injury. A condition which is improving daily.” She tilted her head, suddenly tired, “And I’d tell you that you’d need a damn good reason.”

    “It would only be fair.”

    “The reason? Or wanting one?”

    “Wanting one. My reasons would be selfish.”

    Uncertain of the motive behind this sudden turn of conversation, Meg offered a grin, “That’s good to know.”

    Words failed him. When had he gotten so bad with them? He could write her a letter. He could discuss strategy without stuttering. Why did he flub this so badly? Angry with himself, DJ scrubbed his hands over his the bristle that served as hair. With a quick kiss, DJ left her to sleep knowing Mark would be coming to replace him as sentry. He needed to move and put thoughts into actions and he couldn’t do it in the hospital.

© 2011 Amelia Antwiler/ComfyDenim

1 comment:

Mother Mayhem said...

EEE... I'm starting to sweat again!