I didn’t really know what to say about that, they were doing what was best for them, not Clay, but again, I couldn’t get into that argument with them right now. “I’ll talk to him, maybe you should go home. I’ll call you if there’s any changes,” I said, rubbing and my temples trying to relieve the pounding in my head. I hadn’t slept for over 38 hours and wow did I feel it kicking in now.
Linda pushed herself away from Richard and wrapped me in a hug, but I couldn’t hug her back. The best she could expect from me was that I didn’t push her away, in my eyes that was more than she deserved. “I’m so sorry. I should have listened to you, he wanted the surgery, I should have listened!” she wailed, her fingers digging in my back where she was hugging me so tightly.
I nodded, “Yeah,” I confirmed. I swallowed my angry retort, I’d already said my piece to her, they would both probably suffer the consequences of it now, Clay really knew how to hold a grudge when he wanted to. There was a good chance that he wouldn’t want to see his parents again, I guess I was the only chance they had right now and to be honest I didn’t feel very charitable towards them at that precise moment. “You should go home before he comes out.”
Finally, after what felt like forever, they wheeled Clay out of the operating suites and back into the same room he was in before. He had even more tubes and wires sticking out of him this time, his face pale but yet strangely peaceful as he lay in the bed. My parents weren’t allowed into his room because visiting hours were over, so I pulled the chair up by the side of the bed again and held his hand.
When he finally groaned and opened his eyes I smiled and leant over to him. “Hi, thanks for not breaking your promise,” I whispered, looking at him gratefully. He smiled weakly, pulling the little oxygen mask off of his face. He tried to speak but all that came out was a croaking sound, probably from the tubes he’d had down his throat from the surgery. “Shh baby, everything went good they said. You just need to relax and rest, and tomorrow they’ll run some tests to see how it went. Just get some sleep for me, ok? I’ll be right here all night,” I said, squeezing his hand as I kissed his forehead.
He smiled and closed his eyes, I don’t think he really had a choice, he looked exhausted. “You sleep too, Riley bear,” he croaked, his voice barely above a whisper.
I smiled and nodded, “I will baby, I’ll see you in the morning.” I kissed his hand and rested my chin on the side of his bed, I felt sleep coming to take me and I couldn’t fight it anymore. Tomorrow was going to be another long day, either everything would go as planned, or it wouldn’t. Either way, we had a lot of work to do to get Clay over this, this was far from over for either of us.
I woke in the morning and could barely move, I groaned and lifted my head from the side of Clay’s bed, rubbing my aching neck. My back seemed to pop as I sat up, I don’t really think it was a good idea to sleep bent over leaning on the bed!
My eyes immediately found Clay, he was awake and just staring at me, a small sad smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. “Hey,” he whispered.
“Hi, why didn’t you wake me if you were awake?” I asked, rubbing my hand up his arm and trying to stifle a yawn. My whole body was hurting and aching, my eyes were still stinging and I could do with another few hours sleep at least.
He stroked the side of my face, “You know I like to watch you sleep,” he said quietly.
I laughed and turned my head to kiss his hand. “I know pervert, but I would have much rather you have woken me up so I could have talked to you. I’ve missed you, you were asleep for a long time you know,” I scolded playfully. He smiled but didn’t say anything, his eyes were tighter than normal, his face so defeated and sad. I swallowed loudly, “What’s wrong, Clay?” I whispered.
“I can’t feel my legs,” he replied, looking away from me.
I felt my heart sink, had it not worked? Had he gone through all of that pain for nothing? Had he risked his life and nothing had changed? “Clay, lets just wait for the Doctor, ok? He said they needed to wait a while before doing the tests. Maybe the swelling hasn’t gone down yet, maybe you need more time to get over the surgery, it’s only been a few hours,” I said, trying to keep my voice level and devoid of any emotion.
He nodded but he didn’t look like he believed me. “Yeah I guess.”
“Please baby, just don’t start stressing about it yet. Lets just let the Doctor do his thing and do the tests when you’re ready to do them, ok?” I begged. “You could be working yourself up into a state for nothing, please Clay, the Doctor said you needed to stay calm and rest.”
He nodded and squeezed my hand, putting on a fake smile and looking back to me. “Yeah ok.” He sighed and looked over my face slowly. “You still look tired Riley bear, you should sleep some more.”
I kissed his hand and shook my head, “If you’re awake then I’m awake.”
“Riley, what if it doesn’t work and I can’t walk anymore? What do I do then?” he whispered, he looked like he was a couple of seconds from completely breaking down and it was scaring me a little. Clay was always so strong, he was always the one in control and looking after me, and right now the roles had completely reversed for the first time ever.
“We’ll deal with that if it happens. Let’s just not think about it right now, ok? What’s the point in worrying about something that won’t even happen?” I asked, trying to sound positive.
He closed his eyes and pulled on my hand, “Come lay with me for a little while. You should go back to sleep, you look like hell, Riley bear.”
I laughed and tried to look offended, “That’s not the way to talk to the girl you’re in love with, Clay. If you’re trying to get in my pants then you’re going about it all wrong,” I teased, as I climbed on the bed carefully. I laid along his side, barely touching him and staying as still as possible.
“I might not be able to do that again, Riley, did you think about that?” he snapped.
I frowned at his anger but didn’t say anything, I wasn’t sure what I could say to make him feel better, so I just put my arm across his chest and kissed his shoulder. He hardly ever shouted at me or anything, so he must be really upset to be doing it now. If he needed someone to shout at and get his anger out on then I could be that person for him, I’d be anything he needed me to be.
After another hour, of us just laying in silence, the Doctor came in to do his rounds. He smiled as he walked in and I pushed myself up out of the bed, barely able to breathe. Was this it, was he going to do the tests now? I stood back as he looked at Clay’s IV, detaching him from all of the tubes and wires. He checked his eyes and his catheter before he smiled and came back up to the side of the bed.
“Ok, so the operation went well Clay. I’m hopeful that there should be a marked improvement, I was able to repair everything that I could see. What I’m going to do is send you down for an MRI scan now and then when you’re back I’ll do a couple of physical tests,” he said. A nurse walked in with a couple of orderlies and went to the head of Clay’s bed.
“Can I go with him?” I asked, not wanting Clay out of my sight for a second more than necessary.
“Sure, you can go to the waiting room with him, but you won’t be allowed in the room while they do it.” The doctor smiled and nodded, and the two orderlies started pushing the bed out of the room. I ran to catch up with it and held Clay’s hand as we went down the endless hallways. I kissed him lightly when we got there and he was wheeled into another room.
I sat there in the waiting room, trying to look at a magazine while I waited for him to come out, but I couldn’t even tell you what the magazine was called. I was flicking through the pages without even looking at them properly, just so I would have something to do with my hands to stop them shaking.
Once we were back in his room, we had to wait a little while before his surgeon came back in. I just held Clay’s hand tightly, trying to talk to him but he just answered yes or no to everything I said, my attempts to distract him weren’t working at all. He was so distant and quiet that it was making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. My heart was aching because Clay was keeping his feelings bottled up, he never kept things from me, but he was obviously doing it now. Every time I looked at him it seemed like he was sinking further and further into a depression and there was nothing I could say or do to bring him out of it.
Dr Kirk came back in and did the physical tests on Clay’s feet and legs. He kept poking him with a sharp needle like thing, putting some sort of cloth that he had dipped into a liquid, onto various parts of Clay’s legs, asking him if he could feel the cold. To every question Clay answered no, and I saw the devastation building in his eyes with each passing second.
The doctor threw the things in the trash and smiled reassuringly. “Ok so there’s obviously some swelling still there, that’s clear from the MRI, I had a look at that before I came in. It could just be too early to tell,” he said.
“What does that mean?” Clay asked, looking a little confused.
The doctor sighed and looked at him apologetically, “It’s just a wait and see thing, I’m sorry, I know that’s hard to do but there’s not much else we can do at this point but just wait and see how your body reacts. The more the swelling goes down, the more we’ll be able to see how much mobility there is there,” he said, scribbling on Clay’s chart.
“How much mobility, what does that mean? Does that mean that even if it was successful, then I wouldn’t be back to normal?” Clay asked, trying to move in the bed as he hissed through his teeth and squeezed his eyes shut.
The doctor pushed on his shoulder. “Just stay still. Give your body a chance, Clay. This isn’t an overnight thing. I know it’s hard but you need to be patient and rest as much as you can.”
I stepped forward again and stroked his face. “Clay just relax. Please, listen to the doctor he knows what he’s talking about!” I said desperately.