While still sitting in The Chair, Aaron broaches the subject of walking. He’s quite certain he is ready. George (nurse today) calls Physical Therapy and tells Aaron that Physical Therapy will come to help with the walking. For the rest of the day, when not hallucinating, getting Physical Therapy is Aaron’s constant theme and consuming focus. “Are they on the way? Are they here yet? When are they coming? I’m ready to walk. I’ve got to get out of here. I’m ready to go home. Mom, let’s go home. Get me out of here. They are holding me here and not giving me water. Is Physical Therapy coming? I have no pain…..let’s go for a walk.”
He offers $200 to get them here now. When told they are busy, he ups the offer to $300. He tries to borrow money from one of the doctors for the payoff to Physical Therapy. He promises Mom that he will spend no money if she will take him home. Wheeling and dealing, persistent and focused, Aaron is true to form, though the form is a tad cracked.
Aaron is ready for bed after a half hour in The Chair. In bed, he fidgets, tosses, and turns all day, getting ready to walk with Physical Therapy and hallucinating. The hallucinations would be funny if they weren’t so wearing. Natalie and Anne spend hours closing imaginary drawers which contain pieces of Little Red Riding Hood. Natalie is Zorro, tracing Z’s on Aaron’s chest and fighting evil.
Did someone substitute a mixture of methamphetamines and LSD for the Valium? George thinks the Valium might not be having its expected effect, so he stops it. By evening, Aaron is more lucid. He asks for The Chair again. When the 20 minute operation to get him off the bed and into The Chair is complete and he is sitting nicely, Natalie asks how it is. “Anticlimactic,” is his single word reply, pretty much summing up this afternoon.
He tires after a while, is returned to bed, and falls to a quiet sleep, his first since that which came by way of the anesthesiologist at yesterday morning’s surgery.
Aaron and Eric (who has improved slightly over the last few days) are the youngest residents of the ICU. They have also been there the longest.
The eight patient spokes do not stay empty for long. The ICU seems to have an effective JIT order system for new patients. The names written on the patient/nurse/doctor assignment whiteboard change daily, and empty spokes are filled within hours. There is little discussion about those who leave. But when we are in Aaron’s room and we are asked to shut the door for 5 minutes, we know that in one of the spokes the doctors did not win, and another family will grieve.
And yet we believe that for Aaron, Father’s Day is coming soon.