By David Jensen
Copyright 2017 by David Jensen
Shakespir Edition License Notes
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This novel is a work of fiction. Names and characters are the product of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Oh hallelujah, at least I didn’t die and go to heaven or wherever one goes when ones clock stops ticking! But where am I now? You know how when you watch those television shows where a patient wakes up in the hospital room and they have a total blackout as to how they landed up in the hospital, that in every Doctor’s show they say that it is perfectly normal that the trauma makes the mind forget what happened in the last few seconds? Let me tell you that it is definitely just a theory that they utilize to calm some of the patients, for I remember everything, right down to some quirky fine details as to how I ended up here in the first place.
First thing I noticed as I woke up was that I apparently wasn’t in some mortuary or on a coroners table, because I could hear the quiet constant beeping of an ECG monitor. So with that and also the fact that I didn’t feel any pain, I was able to make the positive assumption that I was waking up from the anesthesia of being in the operating room of some hospital. That peeping was a sure sign that my condition wasn’t too good, because they don’t put you into the Intensive Care Unit for the fun of it! So I tried to open my eyes to see exactly what was going on, and to take inventory of my body parts and see if anything was now missing. But either they had my eyes taped shut or I was now blind, for although I tried to open my eyelids, nothing happened. Okay, the inventory will have to wait and as I was anyways swimming in and out of consciousness due to the anesthetics, I was not really worried at the present time. So I let myself fall backwards into my world of sleep.
When I awoke again I was more mentally fit than the last time, and my body was now reciting a painful story of a thousand elephants which had trampled all over me. I had a sledgehammer banging headache which made all of the other aches and pains in my body seem almost insignificant in comparison, but I still attempted to open my eyes. I was expecting the glaring of bright lights but the shock was that all I seen was darkness. Apparently I was blind, and if that was the only thing which I would permanently retain after all of this is finished, then I’ll just have to live with it!
I started to reminisce about how I got into this situation, and I replayed it all in my minds eye. I had made three very grave mistakes while driving on the road yesterday. Or was it last week? Who knows how much time has gone by when they wake up in the intensive care unit of a hospital? Whatever, I was driving along and needed to make a call on my cell phone to my wife, and in the before Christmas hectic I had totally forgotten to charge the battery on my Bluetooth headset. When the headsets battery was empty and it had given its last dying peeping tone, I had then tossed the headset in the middle console of the car. But I had to make the call so I grabbed my cell phone out of my jacket pocket and started to flip through the telephone list, which was the first mistake, to find her cell phone number. It’s hilarious now that I am lying here, and remembering that she had always said that I should set her number on speed dial. With the headset connected to the car it wasn’t necessary as all I had to do was tell the stupid headset to call her and it dialed all by itself.
So as I was flipping through all of those telephone numbers, at least the half of which I didn’t need anymore, my phone slipped out of my hand and fell to the floorboard at my feet. As it was a totally straight road and I had the road to myself, I did something that I would have thrown my students out of my drivers’ education course for. I unbuckled my seatbelt and reached down to search for my phone, which was screw-up number two! It only took a maximum of two seconds, and with the phone in my hand, I again set my eyes onto the road. Time is a relative thing and in that micro-second we looked at each other, and his big brown doe eyes were lit up from my headlights as he stood gallantly in the middle of the road.
My third mistake is something that I preach all the time about to my students while driving in the schools driver education car, and that is the simple fact that it’s less suicidal to drive straight and run over the wild animals than to steer wildly to the left and into the oncoming traffic, or right, where its either trees or a field where the car can roll over many times. I had cranked the steering wheel hard to the left in the hopes that I could maybe swing by the deer, and in the process, slid on the snowy road and straight into the tree.
And it played out in my mind like a slow motion movie as the trees bark exploded and the hood of my car crumpled up like a piece of paper. And then only total darkness.
Then someone walked into the room and I could smell a strange perfume, which signified that it must be a nurse and not my wife. I could hear her moving around and then suddenly she gave my arm a light squeeze, and although I screamed in pain, I couldn’t hear myself at all! She said to me as I was cursing and crying for pain; “I know you’ll be alright because I have faith that you will one day wake up.” And I was asking; “What do you mean one day I’ll wake up? I’m not sleeping beauty in the castle! I am awake!” “I’ve seen other coma patients who were worse off than you and they are now awake and amongst the living again, so don’t give up, have hope and keep fighting. That is, if you can hear me?”
I read once that people who stutter also stutter sometimes in their dreams, and as I heard the swishing of her skirt when she headed out the door, I was yelling at her like some stuttering crying child. “C…C…C… Coma patient! No come back because I’m here and I hear you and I felt you squeezing my arm and… COME BACK HERE!!”
After a while, (minutes?), I simply listened to the stupid bleeping of the ECG monitor, and I wondered if they had any idea of how much pain I had. And now it occurred to me why I wasn’t receiving any pain medication, because they think that coma patients don’t feel anything or hears, or smells or… I wondered about taste and I concentrated on how my mouth felt, and realized that my face and teeth had also been damaged. But now I was mentally tired, and I drifted off again deep into my world of sleep.
The next time I came to awareness, because saying ‘waking up’ is not really the correct terminology for my state of being aware and keen, the only thing I had to fill my time was listen to the monitor and it occurred to me that I could count minutes by counting the heartbeat beeps and doing a little simple mathematics. Let’s see, normal awake is between 60 and 100 beats, when one sleeps it is relatively slower. The average while awake is 80, so my body is resting and it should be about 60 to 70. Close enough for me, as I am normally a Science teacher and not a Doctor. Right now I’m happy that I had listened to my Biology colleague as he droned on and on about that stuff in the teachers lounge. So as I wasn’t going anywhere fast, anywhere soon, I counted the minutes as they constantly rolled by. Oh yeah, and somebody came in and according to the sounds they made, they must have changed my IV bottle or something. They didn’t speak, I smelled no perfume, and I wasn’t even touched, thank you very much for that aspect! The aches in my body had settled down a little but my head still felt like someone had it in a vise. That and my teeth were now hurting like hell, but it’s not like I was expecting a steak dinner tonight in my Hotel-Hospital anyways.
I have absolutely no awareness of day or night, weekdays, or anything else except the constant beeping, so to occupy myself, or shall I call it ‘Brain Training’, I started with Hydrogen and mentally recited the whole periodic table of elements. Strange that I haven’t done that since I left the university! I must have dove back into my dream world of (sleep?) because I came to my senses when the door opened quickly, (when it moves slowly it squeaks a little), and suddenly lots of people seemed to have walked into the room. I heard a man reciting lots of Latin medical terminology as they all walked in, and from the feel of the bed sheets and the bed moving I was sure that they had all surrounded my bed, which I figured out now that this must be when the main Doctor makes his weekly rounds and has his entourage following him like little poodles.
My favorite nurse, (actually the only one I know of), was also a part of the crowd which must now be assembled around me, for I smelled her perfume. I think it was also her that was gently squeezing my leg, as if to give me comfort while the group of Doctors talked about me in the third person form, like I was a piece of meat just laying there to be observed. The head honcho said this and that in his Latin, and then the others started to bombard him with questions about my condition. “Oh no, these are medical students! Hey sweet smelling lady, keep these medical jerks away from me! Don’t any of you even dare touch me!” “But Professor, if his EEG is normal then he has a good chance of waking up out of the coma, or not?” One of them asked. “You’re damn right I’m going to wake up, or do you think I plan on taking a life long vacation here?” “Every coma patient is unique, and even though the EEG was normal, you have to take into consideration that he still has severe cerebral damage.” The Professor said. “That and the fact that his face is so disfigured from contact with the steering wheel and the dashboard, it would be a grace from god if he remained in or terminated from his condition.” “So that at least explains why my teeth are roaring with pain, thanks for the info Doc, but I still would rather wake up!” “But in this condition the patient is unaware of anything, sort of out of body, and there is no pain for the patient” The Professor said, and patted my arm heavily. “Oh damn that hurts! Did you all even take X-Rays to find out what all is cracked and broken? Damn you that hurt!” One of the students noted that the heart rate had increased slightly when the Professor had touched him, and he had simply said; “It’s a natural reaction of the body but has no specific meaning as to his condition!” With that, the crowd departed, and as they were going out the door, the nurse said; “Keep trying and don’t give up on life!” And then I was alone again with only my beeper for company. Now my arm was in a close competition with my teeth as to what hurt the most. And if my face is so messed up that even the Doctor thinks that I would be better off dead, then why should I fight for life just because this nurse says to? And why haven’t my wife and my boy been around to visit me yet? I must look like Frankenstein. I started to cry out of desperation, and then was ashamed that I was a crying grown man, and then remembered that it was all taking place on the inside of my shell of a body. So I let it go and cried myself back down into my other world.
Oh I’m coming to awareness again! And I immediately noticed that my beeping ECG was either broke or not present anymore! In its place was the sound of a television set and listening to it, I heard that it was the ski jumping that takes place annually on the first of January. I could hear the commentator talking and then the sound of thousands of horns and such that the public uses to rally on for their favorite jumper. All of those shouts and horns sounded like a Wookie demonstration to me! It also meant that I had been here now for over three weeks if I calculated it correctly. I could smell perfume but it wasn’t the same one the nurse used before, so either she had gotten a new one for Christmas or somebody else smelled pretty good! So I wasn’t in ICU anymore, and I apparently had a roommate with a television set, which I found absolutely awesome! A door must have opened because I felt a slight breeze on my face and right arm, and then I heard my son Billy. “I’m back, so now you can go down to the cafeteria before they close up shop.” I heard a chair move on the tile floor and my wife said; “I won’t be very long, and when I come back up then I want you to go over to your friend Steve’s house. You don’t need to be hanging around here every day, that’s my job.” “It don’t bother me mom, I got ‘war of aircraft’ on dads phone to occupy myself.” Billy answered. “Yeah, but we’ve been around him almost every day since it happened and nothing has changed, with the exception of his new beard!” She said. “So I’ll get me a coffee and something to eat and when I get back, you’ll leave and start living like a normal child again!” The cold breeze came again meaning that she had left, and through the honking of the gang of Wookies on television, I could hear my son playing his strategic war game on his phone. “Wait a minute Billy; did you get my smart phone for Christmas or what? I remember that you had my old Motorola before the accident. Hello Billy, put the phone down and talk to me please!”
No reaction, and why should he answer when I didn’t actually speak. So I waited for my wife to return and while I waited, I listened to Billy hiss and curse quietly at the phone, and the commentator kept up his narration of what and who was jumping at the ski resort. I was amazed at the fact that I must have been more out of awareness than in it these last few weeks, for if they have been visiting me almost daily since the accident, then the few times that I have been awake was when they were in the cafeteria, bathroom or whatever. Now other questions plagued my mind like; how is my wife getting by financially, did she buy another car to replace the one I turned into a pile of scrap metal? Did anyone else come by to visit while I was in La-La land, like for example my brother Paul? I also wondered how my students were doing at school now that my Biology colleague has to take over my classes as well as his own. I had told the schools counsel that he had enough on his hands without attempting to teach something he had no idea about, because he didn’t know the difference between a nucleus and an electron. But he was delegated to be my temporary replacement in case I became ill for more than a week. I have nothing against him, for I could not understand what he was talking about once in the teachers lounge, when he was on the subject of Prion proteins, Neurons, and the mutational affects it could have on the cerebellum. Well, I apparently had all the time in the world, so I’ll just hang around here and wait till I find out more. Mental note: Am I becoming cynical or mentally insane? Well, I’m talking to myself aren’t I! And why not be cynical? I’m the one lying here encapsulated in this shell with no way to express myself to the outside world!
I got so mad at the situation that I started to cry again, and I tried to will my eyes to produce tears so they would know that I’m alive in here. If it worked when the pain in my arm raised my heartbeat on the ECG, then I have to do mental training to get my mind to control my bodily functions. So I concentrated as hard as I could to make my eyes tear-up, and then I tried even harder, for I didn’t feel any teardrops rolling down my cheeks.
I must have fallen backwards into my comatose sleep world, where nothing happens. If only I could dream! When I came to, I felt something great. It must be sunshine coming in though a window for I could feel the warmth on my skin, and I yelled with all the mental might I could summon up; “Hey, you over there with the television! Open the window so I can hear the birds, cars, ambulances, anything other than your stupid skiing sports program!” then I felt the cool breeze as the door opened, and before I could try to figure out if it was nurse or my wife, I heard my brothers voice. What a wonderful sound to hear as he greeted my wife, who had changed places with my boy Billy while I was in Como Land. Ha-Ha, now I have a new nickname for my under-underworld of sleep! Oh man, I think I really am going gaga!
“How’s he getting along?” Paul asked, and in the same moment realized how stupid that sounded. “Sorry, you know I didn’t mean it like that. Have you seen any changes in his condition or something positive happen?” Before my wife could answer, another voice piped up from over where the television was constantly on. “Well, he isn’t getting any uglier, thank god for little favors!” I knew what would happen the second he said that, and my brother showed more restraint than I thought he was capable of. “How about I use my service revolver and blast you one in the face! Then you’ll look like twins! Or you can shut your damn mouth from now on, your choice?” I heard the man by the window move through the room as he said; “I’m going to look for some pretty nurse and leave this standing as it is!” “Fine, go with god but get the hell out of here, you asshole!” My wife called after him as I felt the draft of the door closing.
If I could have moved, I would have applauded my wife’s new found attitude, because she was normally such a meek mild woman who would rather turn the other cheek than say something bad. And she called him an asshole on top of it all, like whipped cream topping on a cake. Not to forget that I know my brother would have loved to toss him out the window!
“Paul, when I came back from the cafeteria Billy said that when he looked up from his phone, his dad’s eyes were moist. Almost as if he was crying. Billy dried his eyes and since then nothing”. My wife said. “Listen,” Paul said, “before that jerk comes back. The proceedings are finished and they couldn’t find anything wrong about the accident. His luck was that he clipped the doe in the head and broke her neck. So we had the deer to prove that it was a legitimate accident. Your luck is that I found him first and seen his cell phone still activated on the dialer list. If they knew that he was screwing around with the phone, and the fact that he was a driver’s education teacher who should know better, then you would be looking into the empty jar of the insurance company. But no proof means that they will pay the insurance out and he will have the care he needs till he awakes.”
Listening in like this was like spying for me, for they talked as if I didn’t hear or understand. I didn’t catch it the first time when Billy said it was my phone he had, and now I know that Paul had taken it on him so it wouldn’t be seen as a deciding factor in the accident, and had brought it home to my wife. If they had found the phone, she would have received a no-go from the insurance company, and would have to look for a job to support Billy.
Paul had asked if the Doctors were planning on doing anything for the condition of my face, and my wife had answered; “The hospitals Orthodontist was in here yesterday right after they took him out of ICU, and he said that there was lots of work to be done. He is waiting for the green light from the insurance claims agent because most of the work is not life necessary for a comatose patient. He can only take preemptive measures when there is inflammation and a chance of infection. But he had a consultation with the Doctor and they will also do an image resonance of his dental tomorrow when he goes in for his cerebellum MRI.”
“Oh sweet Jesus, he wants to work on my teeth! And the head honcho thinks that I feel no pain? Okay people, I think I do want to do the exodus thing before he gets the chance to rummage around in my mouth without any anesthetics! That something is still not quite right in my head is a known fact! I could have told you that if you only would’ve asked me!”
Suddenly a bright white light flashed in my head, anyways that is the only way to describe it, and I immediately sunk backwards into Como Land.
When I came to awareness again, I was very confused, for I heard lots of different voices and sounds. It came slowly to me that they were rolling my bed down the hospitals hallway, and then the cruelest thing happened. I smelled food, vegetables, some kind of sauce, and I smelled ham. Thinking about the smell of the ham, I thought about bacon. I wonder if there is bacon in heaven. Once during a sermon on Sunday, the preacher was reciting something from the bible to the fact that everything you need to be happy in heaven would be present. The old lady behind us was overjoyed and whispered loudly to her husband; “See, I told you that pets can also be in heaven!” Thinking back to that day, I didn’t really need to have all of the dogs, cats, gerbils, and so forth running around my feet. I would be happy with bacon!
I was so caught up with my thoughts of bacon that I had stopped paying attention to my surroundings, as if I could change anything anyways! The two men were talking to each other, one by my head and the other at my feet, and I realized that they were talking about me.
“I’ve seen people in bad shape before, but this guy takes the cake!” The one at the head said. “He didn’t look so bad at first when he had his head all bandaged up,” the one at my feet said, “but since they took the bandages off he looks like he came from some freak show! I feel so sorry for him, and I’m sure if he knew how he looks now, he wouldn’t want to wake up at all!” By my head the other one said; “I’m sure I would commit suicide if I seen that face in the mirror! Why are we even bringing him to the MRI anyways, when the charts say that he is in a permanent coma?” The one at my feet chuckled and said; “You got a lot to learn about how greedy a hospital can be. There is free space in the appointment planer and the insurance is paying the hospital cost. The only one who signed off on it was the Orthodontist so if he dies while he’s in the tube, the Ortho’s going to take the blame. If it all goes good, then the hospital makes a big profit.” “Well at least he’ll stay still while they run him through it, and he won’t complain about the noise!” The one at the head said while laughing. The other one said that he was an asshole, and I started to tune it all out. So this meant that the only Doctor who actually cares is the one I am scared the most about, the Dentist. And when these two guys confirm the thoughts of my roommate, then maybe I should give up.
The room where they brought me was very cool and due to the fact that they assume I feel nothing, I didn’t even have a blanket to keep the cold away. And then my assumption of their assumption proved correct, for suddenly the two snatched me up and dropped me hard down on the table which would move me through the tube of the MRI. Some parts of my body reported that they were again in severe pain and my brains felt like they had smashed them onto the table. Instead of giving up, I got extremely mad and started to scream and rant at them about how much that hurt! “Hey, check out his hand man!” One said. “It’s jerking just a little! Did we cause a short circuit in his head when we set him down?” The second one said and laughed. “You really are an asshole, you know that?” The first one said. “We have to get a Doctor in here.” They both left me simply laying there and after a few moments I purposely dove down into my own private Como Land to escape the pain in my head.
I knew where I was the moment I came to again because I could hear the television set blaring on about some ski sport. I was getting better at judging if anybody was in my aura field because I could swear that there were two persons there. Then I heard my sister-in-law ask my wife if I would live through it after the stroke. “What stroke are you talking about? Those two guys literally threw me down on the table and I banged my head again!” My head was still buzzing and hurting like a hive of hornets was in it and stinging me constantly. “The Doctor is not optimistic and the nurse who was supposed to be giving him the daily Heparin shots has been arrested and will be charged with attempted murder by the district attorney.” My wife answered. “After lying here for so long and getting no Heparin shots for the Thrombosis, it was only a matter of time before a vein gets a blood clot.” “You mean the nurse who was telling me not to give up tried to kill me?”
After a few seconds, my hearing went somehow fuzzy, and then it was as if I was deaf. And I thought, just super! Now I can’t even hear!
“Sam!” Now I knew that I was hallucinating, for I heard my father’s voice in my head. “Sam, open your eyes and look at me.” If it was one thing we kids never did, it was to disobey our father, and without even thinking about what I was doing, or complain that I can’t use my eyes, I opened them and looked at my father standing next to my wife.
He was standing there and was so translucent that I wasn’t sure if he was real or not. But I could see everything else perfectly clear, the room, and my one foot sticking out from the bed sheet, my wife and my sister-in-law. “Get up Sam. It is time for us to leave now.” His self assuredness as he spoke made me obey without question and I got out of bed. I had heard about how people say someone comes to take you away when you die, so I was now not surprised at all. But I had to turn and see myself in the bed, and if I wasn’t a ghost or spirit, I would have again started to cry at the sight of my face. My father gently called me again, and when I turned, he was standing at the window. “Come Sam, you have no place here anymore. We must leave now.” He was smiling as I walked to him and said; “But only if there is bacon!”
After Sam has an accident on a snowy winter road, he wakes up in the hospital. But only mentally, for his body is in a comatose state. He attempts to show that he is mentally awake inside the body which encapsulates him, but to no avail. He slowly accepts the fact that he is a prisoner within himself.