by: Marty Chrisman
Jesse and Daisy were overjoyed when they arrived later that morning and discovered that Luke was finally awake. They were worried and concerned when they found out he couldn’t move his legs, but they tried to keep from letting their own fear show through. They knew they had to be strong for Luke right now and not upset him. As the day passed, Luke gradually became more alert and oriented and his speech started to improve. His voice was still hoarse from disuse but at least he could talk to them again. The news spread rapidly through the facility that Luke had come out of his coma and that he was alert and oriented.
Without much discussion, it was decided that Bo would continue to stay at the facility with Luke so that he wouldn’t be alone. Jesse realized that Luke was going to need Bo now more then he ever had before. He still had a rough road ahead, at least for the next couple of weeks, and he was going to need Bo’s strength to help him to continue to improve.
That was another amazing thing about the bond between the boys, ever since they were children if one of them was hurt they always seemed to get better when they had the other one with them to draw strength from. But Jesse also knew this whole ordeal was hard for Luke, he was used to being the strong one, the one who took care of Bo. It would be hard for him to accept the reversal in their usual roles.
Cindy had decided not to do her regular session with Luke that day. She felt it was more important for him to spend time with family and to feel their love and their support. Now that he was awake, she could add new routines to her sessions. Routines that included getting him sitting up by himself again and feeding himself so that the feeding tube could be removed. He would also have to learn to use a wheelchair, at least for now, and she had a feeling that was the thing he was going to resist the most. She had already seen the stubborn pride that flashed in his eyes. She just hoped that future therapy sessions wouldn’t turn into a battle of wills between her and her patient.
The first sign of rebellion on Luke’s part came that evening when the aide came in to do his usual evening care. He didn’t say much as she emptied the catheter and took his vital signs, but he absolutely refused to let her wash him or change his clothes. Finally, Bo told her that it would probably be better if he took over that part of Luke’s care. Cindy had already anticipated this particular problem and had told the staff that it was already for Bo to take over part of Luke’s personal care if Luke resisted the aides doing it. The aide nodded and left the room.
Bo walked over and shut the door. Usually, it was kept open at night but now that Luke was awake, Bo decided it was time to start closing it at night like they did at home. It wasn’t much but it at least gave Luke back a sense of privacy again. “Okay, cuz…” Bo said as he wet a washcloth and handed it to Luke. “You can wash your own face and anything else you want washed that you can reach.” Luke gave him a dirty look but didn’t say anything as he took the washcloth. Bo smiled as he turned his back to give Luke some privacy. A few minutes later, he turned around and looked back at his oldest cousin. “You want your clothes changed?” he asked giving Luke the choice. Luke shook his head. “Okay. Do you want anything?”
“To go home.” Luke said clearly
“I know that.” Bo said, smiling gently and rubbing Luke’s shoulder “But you can’t do that just yet.”
“I’m scared, Bo….” Luke said, averting his gaze from his younger cousin’s eyes.
“I know…but it’s gonna be okay. Just give it a little more time.”
“What if I never walk again?”
“Don’t say that…you heard the doctors, they can fix what’s wrong with your back.”
“But they still won’t know if I’ll ever walk again or not.” Luke said
“Yes, you will.” Bo told him firmly “You’re a Duke you’re too stubborn not to walk again.”
Luke smiled thinly “Tell my legs that.”
“Luke, you almost died. I was so scared when I got back to plane with help…I thought I was too late…that I’d already lost you.” Bo told him, sharing with Luke the fear he’d dealt with since the accident. “Then when you went into the coma and wouldn’t wake up….I was so scared you’d never wake up….”
“I can’t believe I’ve been out of it for almost two months.” Luke said, finally looking back at Bo.
“Believe it, cousin….I know. I’ve been here every day waiting for you to wake up.”
“Who’s been helping Uncle Jesse with the farm?”
“Cooter, L.B, B.B., most of the neighbors. They’re all pitching in so Jesse and Daisy can be here as much as possible. Everybody has been praying for ya and asking about ya.”
“I did some praying of my own.” Luke admitted “After you left to get help.” He sighed, tired out from the stress of the day. He could barely keep his eyes open but there was a part of him that was afraid to go to sleep, afraid he wouldn’t wake up again. He knew it was irrational but he was still scared.
A soft knock on the door caught both boys attention. “Come in” Bo called out. The door opened and Cindy came into the room. She smiled at both of them and walked over to the opposite side of the bed.
“Hi, Luke. Remember me?”
“Cindy.” Luke said, letting his gaze run boldly up and down her trim figure.
“That’s right and if you’re finished checking me out, I thought we could talk about what we’re gonna do tomorrow.” She grinned when she saw the flush that crept into Luke’s face. “We’re gonna be doing some things tomorrow to find out just how much you can do on your own now that you’re awake. I’m sure you wanna get rid of that catheter and that feeding tube.” Luke nodded “Well, we’re gonna start with seeing how well you can feed yourself. If you can do that, then they can take out the feeding tube and you can start eating real food again. The catheter might take a little longer to get rid of they’ll have to run some tests to see how much bladder control you have since you can’t feel anything below your waist right now.” She didn’t miss the look of disappointment that crossed Luke’s face at that statement. Bladder control was a big issue with any patient in Luke’s condition. It was the one thing that they hated the most, losing the ability to control those basic functions. It was part of her job to help them learn to deal with their limitations and keep them from getting depressed or frustrated.
“We’re also going to work on getting you used to sitting up by yourself again and using a wheelchair.” She definitely did not miss the dirty look Luke gave her when she mentioned using a wheelchair. She had a feeling they were going to butt heads over that issue. She ignored the fire in his eyes and said, “So, you might wanna think about getting some sleep because tomorrow is gonna be a busy day. And we’re gonna get started bright and early.”
Bo caught the scowl on Luke’s face as Cindy left the room. “Okay, Lukas….” He said “What’s the problem?”
“Nothing.” Luke said, refusing to talk about what was troubling him and Bo knew better than to push the issue. Luke hated feeling like an invalid even if that was what he was right now. And the last thing he wanted from anybody was pity. And the fear of never being able to walk again was overwhelming.