A story by Altimexis
Welcome to the twelfth installment of Love in a Chair. If you haven't read it already, please read the foreword under Chapter 1. It goes without saying that this story is under copyright. It is a work of pure fiction and any resemblance of characters to real people is completely coincidental. This story involves gay sex between minors and if reading it is illegal where you live, please don't. As with the last chapter, this is not a happy one and there is no sex involved. Finally we will learn the reason for the story's title.
Summary of Chapters 1-11: Fifteen-year-old Aaron Johnson and Fourteen-year-old Brian Sandler are two boys in love. Aaron's parents are very supportive of the relationship, but Brian's are deeply religious and cut off all contact between the two when they discovered the boys had gone to a `fag' dance. Aaron and Brian formulated a ruse to spend some time together, but Aaron was forced to drive Brian home, though a month shy of his license, when their plan for a ride fell through. They were struck by a hit-and-run driver and Brian was seriously injured. Brian's parents have cut off all communication between Brian and Aaron, and even with Adam, Aaron's 13-year-old brother, and Larry Epstein, Brian's best friend. In the meantime, Aaron has been questioned by deputies of the local sheriff's office, who contend that the accident was Aaron's fault. Larry's father, Bill, has agreed to represent Aaron.
The first thing Brian was aware of was a gurgling sound. He heard a gurgling sound and felt his chest expand each time the gurgling began. He felt his chest expand, but it felt like he couldn't breathe. He tried, but he couldn't do it. And there was pain. It felt like his legs were on fire! He tried to move them, but he couldn't. He opened his eyes, but the room was dark with an eerie glow. Then he noticed a young woman standing next to him and looking up at something, writing something down on a clipboard. She put the clipboard down and looked at him and said, "Oh, you're awake."
She leaned over him and looked directly at his face, and she took her hand and rubbed it on his shoulder. "Hi, my name's Nancy, and I'm your nurse for tonight. Don't try to talk, there's a tube in your throat and a machine is breathing for you. You can answer my questions by nodding or shaking your head. Do you know where you are?"
Brian shook his head.
"You're in the hospital, in intensive care. You were in an accident. Do you remember the accident?"
Brian thought for a minute and a flood of emotions came rushing to him. He started flailing his arms wildly. He had to find Aaron!
"Don't do that Brian. You could really hurt yourself." But he only became more agitated. "Are you worried about your friend?"
Brian nodded his head and she noticed that he was starting to cry.
"Your friend is fine. He's already been discharged. Perhaps he can visit you later today." She knew very well what his parents thought, but she hoped that they would reconsider tomorrow and, besides, she had to give Brian some hope, particularly knowing what lay ahead of him. He settled down and she continued, "Brian, you're seriously injured and you had some surgery last night. The doctors had to remove your spleen and they put a chest tube in because your left lung had collapsed." Brian had no idea what a chest tube was, but he didn't care. Aaron was alright and that was all that mattered. "I'm going to get your parents, they've been waiting all night to see you. After they're gone, I'll get a doctor to come talk to you."
His mom and dad entered the room and came to stand on either side of his bed. "Hi darling," his mother began. "We were so worried about you, but the doctors say you're going to be fine. And when you're out of here, we'll get you some help. Everything's going to be fine."
"And we'll make sure that Aaron pays for what he did to you," his father added.
With that something snapped inside Brian. He tried to raise up off the bed, but couldn't, and started flailing his arms wildly, swinging at his father and setting off all the alarms on his bedside monitor. Nancy reentered the room and asked his parents to leave. She checked the monitors and rubbed Brian's shoulder, trying to settle him down. He slowly started to relax.
"Brian, I think I know what this is about. I've heard your father talking. Now they are your parents and they really do love you, and they're doing what they think is best, but you are the patient. You don't have to see them if you don't want to. There are some other things you can do, but now is not the time. You're in no shape to take care of yourself and you do need your parents help for now, especially with what lies ahead." After a pause, she said, "I'm going to get one of the residents on call to come and talk to you now. She can fill you in on what's going on, at least until morning rounds, when you'll have a chance to talk to the attending doctor."
Brian was just drifting back off to sleep when he heard someone say, "Hello." He looked up and saw a petite young woman wearing a white coat. "I'm Dr. Loughton. I'm a second year surgical resident, and I have the pleasure of being on the critical care service this month. I was the on-call resident when you came in last night. Nancy just told me you're awake and I thought I'd just drop by and chat with you for a while. At least until someone crashes or something." Brian would have smiled if he didn't have a tube shoved down his throat. She seemed a little quirky, but he kind of liked her mannerisms. She continued, "Brian . . . is that what you'd like me to call you?"
He nodded his head.
"Good. Well, I guess you remember that you were in a car crash from what Nancy told me, and you were injured pretty badly. You had a lot of internal bleeding in your belly and we had to take you to surgery to find out where it was coming from. It turned out you had ruptured your spleen, so we had to take it out. Now you don't really need a spleen, so that's not such a big deal, but you did lose more than half the blood in your body, so we had to transfuse you with five units of blood. The first two were not matched and were type `O negative', which is the universal type. You didn't have any reactions or anything, so I guess that was OK, even though it wasn't B positive, which is your blood type.
"Now in addition to losing your spleen, your left lung collapsed and the space around it had filled with air. We put in a chest tube for that. That's the big fat tube that's sticking out of your side and going between your ribs, into the space around your lung. It's connected to suction, so that the lung is kept inflated. Once the lung heals up and stops leaking air, we'll be able to remove the chest tube and you should be fine. Also, we have you on a breathing machine, or respirator, but I guess you already know that. Starting tomorrow we'll try to wean you off of the respirator and that tube in your throat could be gone as soon as tomorrow night if you do well.
"Finally, you had a fracture of the T6 vertebra. In other words, you broke your back, right between the shoulder blades."
The weight of what she had just said came crashing down on Brian like a ton of bricks. He knew what that meant and he thought he knew what she was about to say.
"Brian," she said as she took hold of his hand, "you have a spinal cord injury. Do you know what that means?"
He nodded as images of Christopher Reeves flashed through his head.
"I'm going to need to examine you now to get a better idea of how much nerve function you have left. I just want to caution you that what we see now may not be what you'll see in the end. These injuries are always worse in the beginning and a lot of people regain some function down the road. It just takes time . . . sometimes months or even years."
Brian started to cry silently.
"I'm going to poke you with a safety pin in a minute. What I want you to do, Brian, is to tell me when you first feel me poking you. OK?"
Brian nodded. He saw her move down to his legs, but he didn't feel anything at all as she poked around. Finally, he felt her poking him just below his left nipple and he nodded to her. He then felt her poking just below his right nipple and he nodded again.
"Good, Brian. I'm now going to check your strength. Could you squeeze my fingers? OK, good, now a little arm wrestling. Pull me toward you. Now push me away. Very good," she said as he complied. "I'm now going to do a rectal exam. Please nod your head if you feel anything at all." Brian knew she was down there and surprisingly, he wasn't embarrassed. She came back to the head of the bed and asked, "Did you feel anything?"
Brian shook his head, no.
"OK, Brian. I've got all the information I need for now. I know that this is overwhelming, but just hang in there. We'll take this one step at a time. All you have to do is focus on getting well. I'll be back with the rest of the team shortly for morning rounds. In the meantime, try to get some sleep."
After she left, Brian just lay there, staring up at the ceiling. He really didn't think he could sleep - there was just so much going through his head. First there was the run-in with his parents. And then he heard he had a spinal cord injury. He knew what that meant. Although Dr. Loughton hadn't told him, the fact that he felt nothing, he instinctively knew, wasn't a good sign. He pictured himself in a wheelchair and imagined that he would be in one for the rest of his life. He probably would never walk again. Worse still, he knew she had examined his dick, but he didn't feel anything at all.
Somehow he knew that he would never be able to have sex again. Why would Aaron even want to be around him? Now it didn't matter that he was gay. His sexual life was over. His father had won, and he started to cry again.
The next thing he knew he was opening his eyes to bright lights and there were several people around his bed. He must have dozed off after all. He heard Dr. Loughton start to speak to the rest of the group, almost as if he weren't even in the room.
"The patient is a fourteen-year-old male who was involved in an MVA yesterday in which he was a restrained passenger in a vehicle that hit a telephone pole. He sustained a laceration of the spleen and loss of 6 units of blood, treated with an exploratory lap, spelenectomy and transfusion. He also had a collapsed lung, treated with a chest tube and mechanical ventilation. He likely has pulmonary contusions, but we will attempt vent weaning today.
"The major injury is a T6 burst fracture, resulting in a T6, ASIA A complete spinal cord injury. He has no touch or pinprick below the 6th intercostals bilaterally, and there is no voluntary contraction below this level. Strength in the uppers is fully five out of five throughout, and UE sensation is intact. There is no sacral sensation. Reflexes are brisk in the lowers, he has up-going toes and his bulbocavernosis reflex is already present."
"And what is the significance of that?" Brian heard a man ask.
"Well, it means he's already out of spinal shock so, prognostically, that's one less reason to not see function."
"True, but I've never put much faith in that anyway. Go on."
"The family history is significant for diabetes in an aunt and his father has hypertension. His grandmother died of a stroke. He is an only child and lives with his parents in a one story house with two steps at the entrance. He is a freshman in high school and, according to his parents, doing very well academically. According to his parents, he has never smoked, does not drink and has never used recreational drugs to their knowledge. He enjoys music and is in his school's band. Of significance is that he is gay and his parents did not know until last night."
Brian's heart felt like it would stop when he heard his life's history being laid bare in front of all these strangers, but there was absolutely nothing he could do about it.
"His boyfriend was driving at the time of the MVA and fortunately was not seriously injured. However, the parents are blaming the boyfriend for the accident and for the patient's sexual orientation. They seem to be a couple of `born agains' who think they can make their son be straight, and they've forbidden the boyfriend or any of the patient's friends to visit him. I see this as a significantly huge negative factor that could impact his recovery and his rehabilitation."
"Mary, you really need to be careful using terms like, `born again'. I know many of us have significant problems with people's attitudes, but whether we agree or not, there are a lot of people out there who think homosexuality is against God's will. You're talking about the boy's parents and they do have the ultimate say on his healthcare so long as they don't jeopardize his health. Now if you witness any signs of abuse, either physical or psychological, that's another story. But you need to ask yourself if the patient's interests would be better served by his parents or by Child Protective Services. Until and unless we feel there is abuse, we need to work with his parents."
"I'm sorry, Dr. Farrell. In any case, Neurosurgery saw the patient in the ED and they will be by later today. He is already white-sheeted for the OR on Monday for an anterior-posterior fixation with iliac bone graft."
With that, the entire group of people - doctors, nurses, residents and medical students, Brian surmised, walked out of his room. They didn't even bother to talk to him. He understood that he was going to have more surgery, but no one bothered to tell him what it was for or why, and he was scared. All he could do was to stare at the ceiling.
After a short while, Nancy came in to tell him that it was the end of her shift. She introduced the day shift nurse, who's name was Ken. It didn't take Brain long to decide that Ken was a real hottie. He had short, sandy hair and grey-blue eyes. The skin on his face was absolutely smooth except for a little tuft of hair, just under his lower lip. And he had a diamond stud in his left ear. Yeah, Ken could really break a girl's, or a guy's heart. Suddenly, Ken noticed that Brian was staring at him and he winked back at Brian. It was then that Brian decided that there actually were some advantages to people knowing he was gay.
One of the first things that Ken did after taking Brian's vital signs and familiarizing himself with Brian's history was to give Brian a sponge bath. For some reason, although Brian couldn't feel anything, he felt strangely aroused at the thought of Ken's hands roaming all over his body and washing his most private parts. And when Ken washed his nipples, it was extremely erotic - perhaps even more than before - and for some strange reason it was incredibly erotic when Ken washed the lowest area where he had feeling, although a bit painful. Here he was, lying helplessly in bed, getting incredibly aroused by a male nurse washing him even though he couldn't get an erection. This was just too weird.
Perhaps there was hope for his sex life after all, but then he remembered Aaron and realized that Aaron would never be satisfied with a `crippled' boyfriend. With that thought, his mood sunk to a new low.
After Ken was done washing Brian and drying him off, he told him, "I'm going to change the settings on your ventilator. The doctors have ordered it. This is going to feel a little weird at first, but you're going to be able to breathe on your own a bit. Instead of the ventilator giving you a breath so many times a minute, it will wait - to a point - until you take a breath. When you do, it will assist you, making it easier to take in a deep breath. The more you breathe on your own, the less the ventilator will assist you. If you do well, we may even be able to take you off of it altogether later today. Are you ready for me to make the switch?
Brian nodded his head, yes.
"Good, let's get started."
Ken was right, it did feel weird. When the switch was made Brian just lay there, expecting the machine to breathe for him, but nothing happened. Eventually his brain took over and made him gasp, which set things in motion with the machine giving him a deeper breath than he could have on his own. Within a minute, he was already comfortable with the new settings.
Ken leaned down next to Brian and whispered, "I know you're not on particularly good terms with your parents right now, but they'd really like to see you. I think they learned the hard way that you didn't want to hear what they had to say last night, so they'll probably be on better behavior. I'll let you give the word on when you're ready to see them, if you want to see them. Do you feel like seeing them now?
Brian shook his head vigorously.
"OK, well you think about it and I'll ask you again a little later. Oh, by the way, your parents brought in your iPod and external speakers. I've looked at your play lists and for a little guy, you have very eclectic tastes. You have some classical stuff, classical jazz, modern jazz, new age, rock and some alternative stuff. Pretty grown up tastes if you ask me. Anyway, would you like to listen to something now?"
Brian nodded. Ken handed the iPod to Brian and let him select a play list, and he put the iPod into its cradle and the room was soon bathed in the sounds of Coldplay. Somehow this suited Brian very well right now - a little edgy, but mellow. The first song was `Don't Panic', which he really needed to hear. Although he didn't feel like it, somehow he knew it was a indeed a beautiful world and he briefly had the hope that maybe he'd find his way back to it.
The next thing he knew, the music was no longer playing and the sun was streaming through the window. He had no idea how long he'd been asleep, but something was casting a shadow across his bed. He looked up and saw his math teacher, Mrs. Watson, standing by his bedside.
"Hi Brian. I know you're wondering how I knew you're here and why I came to see you. I told your parents that I heard about the accident and wanted to come see how you're doing. The reality is that Mr. Sampson called me a little while ago. You may recall that Mr. Sampson is one of the faculty advisors for the GSA, and he also happens to be Aaron's history teacher. In other words, I'm here to serve as a liaison between you and Aaron. But for this to work, you absolutely have to keep quiet on this. Do you understand?"
"Good. Well the first thing I want to tell you is that Aaron is fine. He has a few broken ribs and a mild concussion, but he came through without any serious injuries. He's very, very worried about you, however, and I can tell that he feels guilty, even though the accident wasn't his fault. Now as to why you were on the road last night is another story. I imagine you're all going to be getting hell from your parents once things settle down."
Brian knew she was right. His parents were furious at him for being gay and even more furious at Aaron for `making him that way,' but sooner or later it would all come down to his having violated their trust. They would never treat him the same again.
"One thing you can do that would really help me, Brian, is to give me a message to give to Aaron to help ease his guilt. I know you can't talk, but perhaps you can let me know if this message sounds right to you. What I think you'd like to tell him is that you don't blame him at all for what happened, that you miss him and wish you could be with him and that you love him very, very much. How's that sound to you? Should I give him that message from you?"
Brian nodded yes vigorously.
"And by the way, he told me to be sure to tell you that he loves you and that he wishes he could be here with you more than anything else in the world. He also told me that he would give anything to trade places with you right now."
A tear started to roll down Brian's cheek.
"He also asked me to kiss you for him on the lips, but not only would that be impossible, thanks to that tube down your throat, but it would be a bit inappropriate for your teacher to kiss you, and I told Aaron that."
If Brian could have smiled, he would have.
"I'm going to go, now, Brian. I'm going back to Aaron and Larry to give them an update on how you're doing. OK?"
Brian nodded and, as she left, he thought, almost felt, that it was indeed a beautiful world.
Well, that's it for the twelfth installment of Love in a Chair. Hope you like it so far. Please e-mail me your comments. I will try to respond to all e-mail except flames, but I make no promises. I would like to thank Riley James of the Rainbow Community Writing Project for hosting my story. I would also like to thank WriteByMyself and David of Hope for their invaluable suggestions and editing. The next installment should be posted in a week or two.