He let go of her hand slowly, gently, he tried to raise himself up. He winced as she helped him and readjusted the pillow to accommodate his new position on the bed. He stared at her for long before deciding to speak. His fingers tapped soundlessly on the foam. ‘How long have I been here?’ His voice was weak. Husky.
She had become self aware, this patient’s gaze made her look almost naked and she felt like he was accusing her for negligence. Then he asked his question and she wished the ground would open and swallow her. She managed to speak though,’fi, five days, sir.’
His eyes dilated. ‘Five days?!’ It was almost a scream.
‘Yes sir, five days. I’ll need to get the doctor now so he can run a check and prescribe the next course of treatment…’ She started walking away.
‘Wait.’ It was an urgent request that stopped her in her tracks. ‘Stay with me a while.’ He lowered his head as tears rolled down his cheeks.
She turned round and looked at him. She felt pity for him as his tears thawed her heart and drew her to him. She remembered the argument that had ensued as the doctors battled to save his life. His companion had been declared dead on arrival. He was alive, just.
The hospital had made earnest calls and reached his family. It amazed her that her usually jaded colleagues ran a riot to save his life. Then the consent had been giving, he had undergone three separate surgeries and at the end, survived. This life before her was truly a miracle. She moved close and buried his face in the hollow of her chest.
They were like that for what seemed like an eternity. The patient weeping, Feyisayo offering succour when the doctor entered the ward. He stood there and watched the serene view before him for a few seconds before coughing loudly and moving into the ward.
‘I see the patient has finally come to.’ He addressed no one in particular.
The doctor’s cough and question gave Feyisayo and the patient enough time to recompose themselves. His face had a forlorn look as he stared at the doctor, seeking help from his drowning state. Feyisayo smoothed her gown that had become moist in front and now showed the linings of her bra as well as a haze of flesh.
The doctor took over, he checked the patients eyeballs and felt his pulse. Then he asked, ‘how’s your head?’
‘Feels like a war zone,’ the patient replied sadly.
‘It’ll get better. I’ll ask them to give you pain relievers, and sleeping pills. Just take it easy okay? The worst has passed, let’s be thankful.’
‘I dunno if the worst has passed doctor. I don’t have legs anymore.’ His tears flowed freely.
‘Take it easy sir. Be thankful you have life. Not all that had your kind of accident make it out alive.’
The doctor’s statement seemed to jolt him and he held his head as another wave of memory rushed back to his consciousness. And he remembered her. Maureen, he wept for her, no doubt she was long dead.
The doctor allowed him cry a while standing in silence, a solemn look on his face.
Feyisayo looked at the doctor surprised. He looked almost human for once as he allowed his vulnerability show. So he could be touched by another’s pain, she thought. She made to move to the patient and offer succour again but the doctor stopped her. He shook his head and she stayed put.
After a while, the patient raised his head, he looked from nurse to doctor, and then back at the nurse. ‘I guess Maureen is dead then?’ His voice was barely audible.
They stood silently, allowing him to choose which grief to embrace. The loss of his girlfriend, or his legs. It was his choice.
The doctor started feeling uncomfortable and wanted out of the gloomy room. His training had taught him to offer help without allowing himself get drowned in the patient’s misery. Unfortunately, in this episode, he had caught the bullet, point blank. He coughed loudly, ‘nurse Feyi will handle all your needs, I need to complete my rounds we’ll talk later.’ He started walking away.
Feyisayo stood there scandalised. She had just caught a bad break. The doctor was running away and leaving her with this needy patient. Not that she minded though, his face on her breasts had offered gratification where she hadn’t been seeking one.
The patient nodded slowly and watched the doctor leave. He waited almost five minutes before making his first request. ‘Please, can I get a glass of water?’ He managed a smile.
She smiled back, nervous. ‘I’ll get one for you pronto. She jumped up and ran out of the room glad to be away from him even if briefly. She took her time at the dispenser and inhaled the sterilised air in the hospital. Then she went back into his room.
Her scream rang through the hospital complex as the glass fell off her hand. She was already collapsing when other nurses and doctors ran into the room. What they saw repulsed them. On the floor passed out was nurse Feyi, further ahead his neck in an awkward position was the patient who apparently had committed suicide in the hospital.
© Derin Gbadebo 2013.