Adam, Lissa and Cassie continued their visit until Dr. Gorman came in on his afternoon rounds. Lissa watched with interest as Cassie’s face first lit up with excitement when she saw him; it was quickly followed by a slow flush and she tried to turn her head slightly to hide it.
Very curious Lissa thought. She watched Dr. Gorman carefully to see how he handled it and was amused by his reaction to Cassie. For a half of a moment his face lit up as well, but it was quickly composed as he made himself busy looking at the chart and the monitors. His manner was totally professional, not even a hint of personal interest; however Lissa was sure of what she saw.
Dr. Gorman and Adam were introduced and if Georgio recognized him he gave no indication of it. For Lissa’s part, this was all turning out to be pretty interesting; her mother and a movie star, Cassie and her doctor. Yes, Lissa decided, very interesting indeed.
Dr. Gorman did a couple of tactile tests on Cassie’s legs and it broke Lissa’s heart to see no reaction when the doctor got no response to a reflexivity test. Granted it was only two days after the accident but Lissa could still hope that there would be some reaction by now. She sighed – like her mother this situation would just take time.
Not seeming discouraged at all Dr. Gorman made notes in Cassie’s chart and left the room. Cassie followed him as far as she could with her eyes and when her green eyes met Lissa’s hazel ones she ducked her head in embarrassment, ashamed to have been caught.
Lissa only smiled at Cassie; in one respect she didn’t blame her at all. Dr. Gorman was a very fine looking man and he had an awesome reputation; Lissa knew that Cassie’s doctor was the very best. Hero-worship was not uncommon in these situations; they were warned about it often in class, she could only hope that Cassie would be okay.
Cassie was uncharacteristically quiet when Dr. Gorman left; Lissa decided to try and cheer her up a bit and started telling her about her grandparent’s reaction to Adam, which made them all smile. Adam seriously did have the most charming dimples and he also knew very well how to use them to disarm people. Still Cassie and Lissa both watched him and realized that with them there was nothing phony going on, he was just Adam, a guy who was obviously crazy about Sarah. That was a comforting thought to both of the women.
As Georgio left Cassie’s room he wondered about Adam Richland being there. Yes, he had recognized him immediately and even for half a moment, if he were to be honest with himself, well, he would have to admit to a tiny pang of jealousy.
How on earth did she know him, he wondered? She seemed relaxed with him there, which could only denote a comfortable relationship. So, she knew him somehow and maybe they were dating? Georgio wouldn’t blame Adam a bit, Cassie was beautiful, funny, smart and he’d bet the farm that she was grace itself when she moved. It was his business to know these things about patients, how they moved and he could always tell when someone had a natural grace.
See Georgio, another reason to just be her doctor, you can’t possibly compete with Adam Richland.
Not that he was ever even thinking of being anything but her doctor he acknowledged, but this just made it even clearer. A tiny part of him wondered if Adam could possibly be a family member or something like that, but that seemed unlikely and he dismissed it as soon as he thought of it. No, he was obviously not a family member so he must be interested in her.
He hoped for, wished that would bring him some comfort because he knew that caring support increased someone’s chances of recovery by almost double. So that was what was best for Cassie. Now if only he could accept it.
Later, when Lissa and Adam had left her room, after Lissa had made a promise of smuggling in more ‘contraband’ later, Cassie settled in to rest for a bit. Lissa had put a CD into the machine and Cassie listened to the soothing sounds of the soundtrack to the movie Moll Flanders. She closed her eyes and was swept away by the beauty of the music; graceful and dramatic, much like a certain doctor she knew.
Had Cassie had any idea of the thoughts that Georgio was having about Adam she would have been amused and probably a whole lot more hopeful. Her instinct told her that even though he was hiding it well, he was interested in her, the same as she was in him. She still needed to remind herself that there were barriers, for very good reasons but she also knew that there wouldn’t always be. It was only a matter of time, and time had a tendency of slipping past very quickly.
She turned her thoughts to Adam Richland and she realized that she liked him a lot. He was perfect for Sarah, even if she didn’t realize it yet and knowing Sarah even if she did she wouldn’t easily admit it. Yes, she had told Cass that she thought she loved him, but it was a scared and reluctant admission and that was a far cry from truly accepting him into her life. Adam seemed a bit like an immovable object though; his love and devotion to Sarah were very clear, Cassie only hoped that he had stamina as well because he was surely going to need it!
After a short nap she was awakened by her parents and her dinner tray. She was happy to see her mom and dad, not so much about the tray. She sniffed the air, trying to find something delectable or even encouraging in the steam rising from the food but sadly, there were none.
Baked chicken, roasted potatoes, green beans and custard were on the menu and Cass did her very best to eat it all. Actually, the custard wasn’t too bad; really none of it was terrible, but mostly just bland and uninspiring.
Cassie’s business often times catered large affairs; she knew what it took to make food not only a feast for the eyes, but for the mouth as well. This food was purely utilitarian, made to nourish a body through recovery but it did nothing for the soul.
Cassie’s mom carefully brushed her hair for her; Cassie wanted it washed but there wasn’t anything they could do about that yet. Still, her mom swept the brush through it lovingly and it felt good, relaxing. Next she washed Cassie’s face and neck with a warm washcloth and then applied moisturizer liberally all over them. Cassie could feel her skin drinking in the cream and she relished the feeling of her skin not feeling quite so tight.
“Shortcake, would you like me to do your arms and legs too?” Alice asked and at Cassie’s nod she went to work, gently massaging in the lotion.
When Alice was working on Cassie’s legs she thought for a moment she felt a bit of pressure as Alice’s hands glided over her knees. She closed her eyes for a moment and held her breath; yes, she was positive she felt something!
“Mom, I can feel your hands – well, sort of anyway, on, on my knees. Really,” she said when she noticed the skeptical look her mother wore.
“What do you feel Cassie?” he dad asked, wanting to hope but almost afraid to.
“I, like, um, pressure I guess. I can’t feel anything specific, just that something is touching them. Weird…”
Ed Banks’ heart leapt in his chest and he reached to call the nurse in. This was good, this was better than good and he wanted to shout it down the hallway. After an eternity that actually only lasted 2 minutes the nurse finally answered the call.
“Yes, I uh, I can feel pressure on my legs,” Cassie said into the speaker that was built into the side of the bed. She had tears running down her cheeks and her mom reached over and dabbed them away with a tissue; then she wiped away her own.
“Hold on, we’ll be right there,” the nurse told her.
A minute later her nurse and the attending physician came into the room, ready to question Cassie and see for themselves what was going on.
Her nurse this night was Paula, a middle-aged grandmotherly type and she was wearing a smile a mile wide as she lightly touched Cassie’s hand.
The doctor was a young female who introduced herself as Dr. Karlen, who was covering the floor this evening. “So, Ms. Banks, tell me what you felt?” she asked as she prepared to make notes in the chart.
“Well, my mom was rubbing lotion onto my arms and legs and I realized I could feel, uh, pressure I guess is the best way to describe it. Not like I could feel fingers exactly, but more like something just being on my knees. It was weird.”
Dr. Karlen smiled and nodded her head. “That’s a great start, just what we want to hear. Paula, please page Dr. Gorman and let him know while I examine her,” she instructed.
“Alright now Ms. Banks, let’s see what you can feel. I want you to close your eyes and tell me when you can feel something, okay?”
“Okay, but there is a condition; please, just call me Cassie. I’d be so much more comfortable,” she said.
“Okay Cassie. Now, close those eyes!”
Dr. Karlen lightly touched Cassie’s thigh and got no reaction so she pressed a bit harder and Cassie broke into a smile and practically yelled, “Yes, I feel something!” Her eyes popped open and she grinned, again blinking back tears.
“Terrific Cassie, but we’re not done. Close your eyes again.”
This time she used a probe and stroked it down Cassie’s leg with a light, but firm pressure and Cassie let out a sob and said, “Yes, yes! I feel it, like a, uh, I don’t know like a pencil or something running down my leg!”
“Good girl! You are doing wonderfully well Cassie. This is very quick, just keep on following orders and you’ll be moving around soon.”
“Dr. Gorman is on his way up. He had an emergency surgery earlier and was still in the hospital. He should be here in a minute or so,” Paula told them.
Cassie wanted to yell yippee, but whether because she could feel something or the fact that Dr. Gorman was coming in she didn’t know and she wasn’t going to analyze; she was just happy. A moment later he strode into her room, his face wearing an excited smile.
The first thing he did was to touch her hand and give it a gentle squeeze; he then self-consciously let it go since there were so many other people in the room. He then took the chart and looked it over and questioned Dr. Karlen. As if he wasn’t satisfied without testing her himself he did the tests all over again and he felt his heart leap with joy at the results. He made a few more notes on the chart before turning his attention back to Cassie.
“This is wonderful Ms. Banks; you are experiencing tactile reaction much sooner than I expected. This is very exciting!”
“You’re telling me something I didn’t know?” she teased and watched his face light up at her words.
Both doctor’s explained what this meant to Cassie and her mom and dad, how this was the first step, and an important one in her recovery. Each step would be a victory and both doctors were sure that she would make a full recovery. The medical staff left a short while later and so did Cassie’s parents; Cassie was glad really, she wanted to think about what had happened and revel in it. She was also pretty tired and knew she would fall asleep easily since for the first time she was feeling like she truly would recover.
Right before she fell asleep Lissa stopped by with a treat, some chocolates from Cero’s Candies. Lissa popped a maple crème chocolate into Cassie’s mouth and she chewed slowly, savoring every single second.
“Ah heavens, this is fabulous Lissa, thanks so much! A perfect ending to an exciting evening. What else you got there?”
Lissa looked over the box and picked out a chocolate caramel and held it up for Cass to take a bite of. “So, what has been so exciting this evening?” she asked.
“I can feel some sensation on my legs Lissa! Mom was rubbing lotion on them and I could feel it, well, pressure anyway. Lissa, I’m going to be okay,” she said and the tears started flowing again.
“Oh My God! Cassie, that is the best news!” She gave Cassie the other part of the caramel and said, “Wow, you are moving along really quickly, this is great.”
Cassie swallowed the last bit of candy down and agreed, “Yes it is. It’s only a bit of pressure right now, but hopefully soon it will be more!”
“But it’s a start, and that is what is important. What does your doctor say? Does he know?”
“Yes, he certainly does,” Georgio said as he entered the room and heard the last few words. “It is a wonderful beginning!”
Cassie again blushed as he came towards the bed, but she managed to quip, “Do you actually live here or something? I mean, you are always here at this hospital Dr. Gorman. Your wife must feel neglected!”
Georgio took in the teasing sparkle in Cassie’s eyes and responded, “Yes, I actually have a room, just down the hall! I have to keep my eye on you, you know!”
Cassie swallowed hard at those words; they made her feel oddly comforted and safe even though she knew that they weren’t true. She wondered if he had a wife; he didn’t wear a ring, but he didn’t say he didn’t have one when she teased him. She frowned for a moment, really starting to wonder. Frankly, it hadn’t occurred to her before that he might actually be married; it was a sobering thought.
Georgio watched a sudden frown sweep across his patients face and wondered what brought that about. He looked around the room, a bit uncomfortable and spied the small box of Cero’s chocolates on the tray table. A gift from Adam Richland he wondered?
“So you have a sweet tooth, huh?” he said, trying to hide his feelings with the question. “And Cero’s – your gift giver certainly has good taste!”
“Yes, she does! And again Lissa, thank you so much. If I had to exist only on the food they serve here I’d be a goner!”
So the candy wasn’t from Richland Georgio thought with satisfaction. He mentally nodded his approval at that. He felt ridiculously relieved and that disturbed him too.
Lissa bent over and kissed Cassie on the forehead, in preparation to leave. “Hey, I spend enough time in hospitals to understand about the food Cass. What would you like tomorrow?”
Georgio’s ears perked up at Lissa’s words and he had to ask, “Do you work in a hospital?”
“Well, in a manner of speaking. I’m a med student at KU. So hopefully one day I’ll have my own bed in the hospital too!”
Georgio laughed and nodded as Cassie said, “Hm, tomorrow I’d like some hummus and pita from N & J please! Lots of it!”
“Okay, N & J it is! I’ll see you tomorrow Cassie. Bye”
Silence fell over the room and the two occupants and Georgio cleared his throat, tying to think of something to say. Well, that wasn’t strictly true, he had lots to say but he was looking for a safe subject to discuss because he didn’t really want to leave just yet.
“So, you like Mediterranean food?” he asked.
“Love it. And now I have something else to look forward to tomorrow!”
“What else will you look forward to?” he asked and found that he waited expectantly for her answer.
For you, for you to walk into my room with that smile! What she actually said was, “Waking up, being another day closer to walking again.”
He liked her answer, but his heart also sunk for a moment. Every day she grows better was one less day that I will have her in my life. What he actually said was, “That’s a great perspective Ms. Banks.”
“Dr. Gorman, I uh, have a request.”
“What is that Ms. Banks?”
“Well, it’s the ‘Ms. Banks’ thing. Can you possibly call me Cassie? It would help me to relax a bit. Right now it all seems so, I don’t know, formal and restrained. Really, it would help me.”
Georgio’s heart stopped for a moment and then beat wildly the next. He drew in a sharp breath; these were words he had ached to hear, had dreaded to hear.
He took her hand again and looked her in the eyes and said, “Of course Cassie. Whatever will help you.”
Copyright 2010 by Cynthia Hope Hodge
All rights reserved. You may not reproduce, or retransmit by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording or by any other means without permission by the author.