“Okay, Dave. Here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to put the prosthesis on you then we’ll see how you do standing on it. First, we’re going to sit you up and get you used to being upright. You may feel lightheaded and dizzy. If you feel nauseous, let me know. Ready?
“As ready as I’ll ever be. Let’s get this show on the road.” Dave said with more bravado than he was feeling.
“Okay, let’s get that leg on you.” Fitting action to his words, Dillon fitted the prosthetic leg on Dave. “How does it feel?”
“Kinda weird, but I guess I’ll get used to it eventually.”
“Okay, let’s sit you up. Slowly, we don’t want to sit you up too fast.” Dave was lifted slowly until he was sitting upright.
He closed his eyes and moaned, swaying a little. “Easy, Dave. Feeling dizzy and lightheaded?” Dave nodded. “That’s totally normal. It’s because you’ve been lying down for so long. It’ll pass. What about nausea?” Dave shook his head no and immediately regretted it. If it weren’t for Dillon’s quick reflexes, Dave would have ended up on the floor.
“Easy, Dave, easy. No sudden head movements. How’s the head?”
“It’s starting to settle down.”
“There’s no rush. Take as much time as you need. I’m not going anywhere.”
A couple of minutes later, Dave said he was ready.
Grabbing hold of his arm for support, Dillon had Dave carefully slide to the edge of the gurney.
“Okay, easy does it. Slide forward and put your feet on the floor. How’s the pain?”
“It hurts a little, kinda like a mild headache.”
“Okay. Slowly slide off the gurney, putting your weight on your right leg. Try not to put any weight on your left leg yet.” With Dillon’s help, Dave slid off the gurney. “How’s your head? Dizzy? Light-headed?”
“Not really; maybe a little dizzy.”
“Okay, good. Now, slowly start putting weight on your left leg. If it really starts to hurt, back off.”
“Okay.” Dave started slowly putting weight on his left leg. A couple of seconds later, he groaned in pain and slid back up on the gurney, sweat beads forming on his forehead. “I’m sorry, Dillon. I tried.”
“It’s okay, Dave. You did great. Believe me, it will get better. It’s not going to happen overnight.”
“How long’s it going to take?”
“It will take as long as it takes, and I’ll be with you every step of the way.”
Dillon couldn’t count how many times he’d been down this road. “Dave, in the initial stage of your rehabilitation, it is absolutely essential that you get into the right mindset and not be distracted. Being distracted will deter your rehab and at this stage of the game, Greg will be a distraction. I can understand you wanting Greg here. If I were in your place, I’d want my husband with me. Please, trust me on this.”
“Yeah; his name’s Pete. He’s a home health aide.”
“His last name wouldn’t by any chance be Carsoni, would it?”
“Yeah; why do you ask?”
“He’s going to be Greg’s home health aide.”
“No shit. That’s crazy; one gay couple taking care of another gay couple.”
“I think it’s pretty cool. I can’t wait to tell Greg.”
“I can’t wait to tell Pete. Anyway, let’s try it one more time. Then we’ll take you back to your room.” This time Dave was able to put a little more weight on his leg. “That’s good, Dave. The key is to go slow and not overdo it. Let’s get you back to your room and you can give Greg the news.
Back in their room, Dave gave Greg the news. “Guess what, baby? Your home health aide and my physical therapist are husband and husband.”
“Really; how cool is that?” Dr. Foster walked in at that moment. “Hey, Doc, guess what? Dave’s physical therapist and my home health aide are married.”
“I know. When I found out that Dillon was going to be your physical therapist, I requested Pete from the agency. The two of them will be good for you.”
“We’ll certainly do our best,” Pete said, walking into the room. “Greg, this is Brett. He’s going to be helping you learn to get around on your own.”
“I’m pleased to meet you, Greg.” He took Greg’s outstretched hand and shook it gently.
“I’m pleased to meet you as well.
“This is my fiancé Dave.”
“Pleased to meet you as well, Dave.”
“Likewise,” Dave responded, shaking the outstretched hand.
“Okay, let’s get you up and around. The sooner you’re able to move around, the quicker you’ll be able to go home.” Brett said with a smile, looking forward to working with Greg. “Ok. First let’s get you sitting up then we’re going to get you standing. You may feel dizzy or nauseous. It’s completely normal, considering you’ve been lying down all this time. I’m going to raise the head of the bed. Let me know if you get dizzy or nauseous.”
He slowly started raising the head of the bed until Greg told him to stop, putting his hand over his mouth, the universal sign that he was going to throw up. Brett quickly grabbed the plastic basin off the bedside table and positioned it in front of Greg’s mouth. “Breathe deeply and slowly, Greg. It will pass.” A few seconds later Greg signaled he was okay, and Brett finished raising the head of the bed so Greg was positioned like he would be sitting in a chair.
“You’re doing great. Now I’m going to lower the bed rail. I want you to slowly swing your legs off the side of the bed. Don’t try to stand just yet. You may feel some disorientation, Greg. Balance is approximately eighty-five percent visual, which is why the visually impaired have difficulty walking at first.”
“Thanks for not saying blind, Brett.”
“You aren’t blind. You can see shapes and colors, which is a good thing. That makes you visually impaired. If you were blind, you wouldn’t be able to see anything. Okay, slowly slide your butt off the bed. Easy does it.” Dave looked on with pride as, with Brett’s help, Greg stood on his feet for the first time in several months. “Okay, how do you feel?” He asked as Greg was standing up, swaying slightly.
“Okay. No dizziness or anything.”
“Good. Now let’s try a few steps. Slowly put one foot in front of the other. We’re not looking to break any speed records today.” That got a smile out of Greg. “Don’t worry, I gotcha. That’s it. You’re doing great. How do you feel?”
I can do this! I can really do this! Greg thought gleefully. Out loud he said, “My legs are a little stiff, but it feels great to be on my feet again.”
“The stiffness will go away the more you walk around. Any dizziness or feeling you’re going to fall?”
“A little bit of dizziness, but not as much as when I first sat up. It’s going away.”
“Good. Let’s walk you to the nurse’s station, which is right outside the door. Then we’ll walk back and forth a couple of times. We don’t want to overdo it the first time you’re up. Ready for this?”
“Yeah; let’s do this!”
“Okay, Greg. Remember, go slow. I’ve got you so don’t worry about falling. Let’s go.” Brett slowly led Greg out to the nurse’s station. “Look who’s here.” He said with a touch of pride in his voice.
Dawn, the shift supervisor looked up from her paperwork, smiling from ear to ear. “It’s really awesome to see you on your feet, Greg. How are you feeling?”
“Awesome. It feels incredible to be able to stand on my own two feet.” Greg mentally kicked himself at the selfishness of that statement, knowing Dave wouldn’t be able to.
Being extremely observant, Dawn caught the slight look of remorse on Greg’s face. “Greg, I have a pretty good idea what’s going on in your head right now. It’s okay to feel good to be on your feet when Dave can’t be.” Greg shot her a startled look. How did she know what I was thinking?
“Remember this. Dave will soon be able to stand and walk around. Granted, it will be with a prosthetic leg, but he’ll be able to get around just fine.”
Greg suddenly found himself surrounded by nurses and patient care techs telling him how happy they all were to see him up and around. When his legs started to wobble slightly, Brett guided him back to the room and had him sit on the bed. “You did great for your first time, my friend,” Brett told him as he massaged Greg’s legs to stave off any cramping.
“Any pain or discomfort?”
“Yeah, a little, from my hips on down.”
“That’s normal. The more you’re up and around the easier it will get. Next week I’ll show you how to use a walking cane and will talk about getting you a seeing-eye dog. Okay, let’s get you back into bed. We’ll do this again tomorrow. I’m sure you want to be up and about on your own. You’ll get there. It just takes time and patience, and I’ll be with you every step of the way.”
“How much time?” Greg asked anxiously.
“I can’t give you a definitive answer to that, Greg. Getting physical therapy to make sure your muscles don’t atrophy is one thing. It’s a totally different matter altogether when you actually start to use them. First we have to build up the muscles so they’ll support your weight. Then we have to make sure you have your coordination back.
“At the same time, like I said, I’ll be showing you how to use the walking cane. Once you’re home we’ll get you started working with a service dog. I’ll be working with you on that as an outpatient. I’ll actually be coming to your home for that. I know it’s easier said than done, but you have to be patient. I want you up and around on your own, but I’m not going to rush things. That can do more harm than good.”
Greg sighed. “I wish it could be tomorrow.”
“I wish it could be as well. Just believe in yourself and that you can do it and it’ll happen. Get some rest and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Baby, I’m so proud of you. You’re on your way!” Dave said.
“I wish we could leave this place together and get our lives back.”
“Greg, you know our lives are going to be different now, but we’re not going to let any of this stop us.” Dave said with conviction.
“I know. I just wish…” Greg broke off.
“I know, baby, I know. Why don’t you try and get some sleep. You look exhausted.”
“I feel exhausted, yet I feel good at the same time. I tell you what. When I get out of here I don’t ever want to come back. I know I’ve said it before, but I really miss Chiara.”
“I’m sure she’s being well taken care of. My sister loves cats. That’s why she spends so much time volunteering at the cat rescue place.”
“Yeah, I know. I want to do something special to thank her.”
“I know what you can do. Help out at the shelter. That’d be the best way to thank her.”
“I’ll do that. I just have to get out of here first and help you with your rehab.” Greg followed that statement with a huge yawn.
“Get some sleep, baby.”
“Yeah, I think I will.” Greg closed his eyes and was soon snoring softly.
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