[b]His brain felt like it was in a fog. Where was he?

He heard people talking to him, but had no idea who they were. They were talking to him as though they knew him, but he was confused. He tried to open his eyes, but he could not. He let them go on talking, wondering whom these people were that were here for him, and why they cared.[/b]

***

An hour later, Jimmy's recovery room nurse approached and told them that it was time to move Jimmy upstairs. The family was asked to wait in the ICU lobby while he was settled in. The group made their way upstairs, husbands comforting wives, friends comforting each other. They exited the elevator in small groups, and then made their way to the lobby. Matt commented quietly to Val that the night seemed to so far be filled with nothing more than one lobby after another; he wondered when they d get to sit with Jimmy.

The ICU lobby was clearly designed for comfort. The chairs and couches were a neutral grey color, coordinating with the steel colored carpet. Pictures and painting adorned the walls, depicting families sitting together for a meal or small children playing in a park. There were four TVs mounted on the walls, each on at a low volume. There were books and movies on shelves along the walls and magazines available as well. The lobby was divided into four sections and Jimmy's family settled into the one closest to the entrance to the unit, ready for another long wait.

Five minutes later, Jimmy rolled past, someone pressing on a blue bag, which was attached to the tube in his mouth. Apparently, whatever he needed to breathe wasn t portable. An orderly said a nurse would come and get the family when Jimmy was settled.

As the family settled into to wait, Allison sat near her father, leaned her head on his shoulder, and let her mind wander. She could feel the stiffness and pain that she knew had been coming, especially in her face. The pain medication from the ER was still working, but it was mostly taking the edge off. She d have to get her prescription filled soon, she decided, and quietly asked Val if she d pick it up once the pharmacy opened. Val agreed, so Allison wouldn t have to leave Jimmy's side.

It seemed as though they were waiting for hours, as they all settled in. Some took the time to sleep; others spoke quietly with those unable to sleep. At last, however, a nurse said that the immediate family could go in. Allison stood, waiting for Jimmy's parents, then followed the nurse into the dimly lit unit.

ICU was a world unto itself. A foreboding silence enveloped them as soon as they entered the unit. There was a circular nurse s station in the center, bustling with people and machines. There were rooms along the outer edge of the unit, each one with sliding doors with no more than a white blind covering them. Each door looked wide enough for a bed to come through in an emergency.

Jimmy's room was the fifth one on the unit and the foreboding silence followed them inside. His bed was positioned in the center of the room, and a dim light was cast over it. There were machines tucked into one corner, hidden slightly in the darkness. The tube in his throat was now connected to two tubes, one clear, one blue and those tubes led to the bank of machines. The gentle sound of the ventilator joined other sounds in the room as his chest rose and fell. A slight vibrating noise came from his bed, and the sound of something inflating and deflating followed. There were a series of metal bars constructed over his bed and from those hung a metal, half moon-shaped sling, in which rested his leg. His body was covered by a white sheet and blanket, his at his sides. Several clear bags of fluid hung over his bed.

A computer screen was mounted above his bed, numbers and lines displayed on it in bright colors. There were three chairs placed on the right hand side of the bed, and it was here that Allison, Barb, and Joe sat. Allison took Jimmy's hand, looking at his bruised face, and she sighed. His face was littered with cuts, some with stitches, others covered with small bandages to hold them together while they healed. The cast on his leg was yellow, and she thought about how unhappy that was going to make him; he didn t care for yellow so much, he preferred black.

There was a strange bulge in the covers near his stomach, and she reached for them with her good hand, gently lifting them, to find a white, hard brace covering his stomach and chest. She saw the IV in his neck, held in place with tape and covered with clear plastic, probably to protect it. His hair was still matted with blood and she felt her bottom lip tremble as she looked at him. She knew that he wasn t out of the woods yet; the first 24 hours would be the most critical, the doctor had said.

Good morning, a voice said, and Allison looked up into kind brown eyes. My name is Jameca and I m going to be Jimmy s nurse for the remainder of the night. She wrote her name on a white marker board mounted on the wall at the foot of the bed. She then turned to a computer she d brought in with her. I m going to have to ask some questions, okay?

Allison helped Jimmy's parents answer the questions as best she could. It seemed like she was telling his entire life story, with the amount of questions asked, but finally, the nurse was done. She clicked the mouse a few times, then turned to the family once again.

I have to ask two more questions, she said, gently. It was clear that she d had a lot of experience in these situations. These are usually very difficult for families, but I still have to ask them. Allison nodded for her to continue. The first question I have to ask is if Jimmy is an organ donor.

Allison took Jimmy's black leather wallet out of her purse, thankful it had been returned to her. She looked down at his license, avoiding his smiling face for fear of bursting into tears and looked at the organ donor question. It was marked yes, even though he'd never said anything to her about it. She nodded, looking up at the nurse.

Yes, she said. Barb rubbed her hand, wishing to lend support.

Thank you, the nurse said, typing on the computer. The next question is the hardest one. In the event that Jimmy would stop breathing or his heart stop beating, do you want heroic measures?

Such as? Allison asked, gripping Barb's hand tighter. Now she wished they d had this conversation. She had no idea what Jimmy wanted, and would have to go with her own choices. She thought she knew what heroic measures were, but she needed to hear it first. Joe wrapped an arm around her, comforting her.

CPR, life saving medications, etc., the nurse explained.

Yes, Allison said, biting her lip. I want you to try. If he cannot be saved, we'll talk then.

[b]NO! Jimmy wanted to scream. Damn, I knew we should ve talked about this. I watched my cousin die a slow, painful death where they did all of those heroic things to her and look where it got her. She s still dead. I don t want anyone doing anything of the sort to me. If it s my time, I m checking out and damn anyone that tries to stop me.[/b]

I understand, the nurse said. She turned the computer cart, looking back at the family with a slight smile on her face. I ll give you some time before I come back.

Allison nodded, as Barb and Joe enfolded her into a hug. Barb found herself wondering about Joe. Could she answer those questions about him? She made a mental note to talk to him about his wishes.

Do you think he's brain dead? Allison asked, quietly, as she held Jimmy's hand once again.

The question caught Barb and Joe off guard. Barb gazed at her son, lying in the bed. His chest rose and fell with the ventilator. She looked at Jimmy's right eye, swollen and black and blue, almost purple, the gashes in his forehead, swollen and somewhat frightful looking with the stitches in them. She looked at the tube in Jimmy's nose, seated with tape and delivering sustenance. Finally, she looked at her son s hands, restrained to the bed with soft, white loops of cloth. Jimmy's eyes moved under closed lids.

No, Barb whispered. I don't.

Allison traced the outline of Jimmy s arm muscles, took in his tattoos. She stroked his hand, felt his calloused fingers. She wondered if he d drum again or if his career had ended in one night. She thought of his voice, soft and lisping, and how she d do anything to hear it right now. She wondered what was going on in his mind. Could he hear her, as the doctor had said? Was he able to think freely right now, or was he just a shell?

I hope you're right, she said, as the nurse returned.

Just hanging some fluids, she said. I'm also going to bring in an antibiotic and some medicine to keep his blood pressure up. His body isn t able to do that right now, so it needs a little help. He ll also get medication to keep fluid from building up in his lungs, as well as a blood thinner to prevent blood clots.

As the nurse finished with Jimmy s IV, he started to shudder, his hands shaking and his muscles tightening. The nurse moved the family into the hall, calling to other nurses to help her. The door closed,

and Allison reached for it, wishing to be with her husband. Another nurse explained that she d need to wait in the lobby and reluctantly, she followed her in-laws. In the waiting room, Allison paced back and forth. Barb and Joe sat her on the couch and hugged her while they waited to go back in.

While they sat, some still sleeping, others moving around getting coffee or pacing, Allison mulled over the pregnancy in her mind. She wanted to tell everyone, but wasn t sure this was the right time. She knew, of course, that no time was the right time in this situation and she finally decided to tell them. She waited until everyone was settled, then said she had some news for them. Those sleeping were wakened and then she spoke, quietly, making her announcement.

I know this isn t the greatest time in the world. But I found out something in the ER this morning.

Barb and Joe looked at her and waited for her to continue. Barb noticed her hands were shaking and she took them in her hands to still them. She thought she had an idea what was coming, but let Allison speak.

I found out, she said, taking a deep breath. That Jimmy and I are having a baby.

Jaws dropped and then her sister Alexis wrapped her in a hug. When? Alexis asked.

Around November 3rd, she answered, wiping tears from her eyes. They don t know if the accident has affected the baby, and won t know for some time. I just don t know how to tell Jimmy.

I d tell him now, just to let him hear you say it, Sheryl, Allison s mother, said. They said he can hear us, so this would be good for him to hear. Then, you tell him in more detail when he wakes up.

But what if he

Allison started, but Zach interrupted.

He s going to wake up, Zach said. His face was stern, his eyes hard. Don t even think about him not waking up. This is Jimmy and I know he s in there, somewhere.

***

[b]Jimmy wondered what all the shouting was. He was trembling and thought he d never be able to get warm. Someone shouted something about his airway. He thought he was breathing fine. He still felt like he was shivering and was so cold that he could never warm up. Why couldn't he get warm? He felt confused. What was going on? [/b]

***

When Allison, Barb, and Joe were allowed back in, they sat around Jimmy's bed, holding his hands. A nurse accessed his IV and injected something into it. He's going to be getting a dose of seizure medication every morning for seizure control. Hopefully, this will keep him from having more seizures.

Are the seizures normal? Joe asked, watching Jimmy.

Yes, the nurse said. She walked over to a red box on the wall and placed the syringe in it. A bruise on the brain causes a lot of problems, and seizures are one of them. But we can control them with medication.

Will he need seizure medications at home? Allison asked. She knew it was probably too early to tell, but she wanted to be prepared.

It's hard to say. Some patients recover from seizures once the brain heals and some have lifelong seizures. There is really no way to know, the nurse said. She smiled at them, and Allison knew it was meant to reassure them that everything was going to be okay. Jimmy was in good hands and Allison needed to have faith that he d pull through this.

Do they ever get less scary? Barb asked, looking at her son. He d been healthy since he d conquered his drug addiction and it was hard to see him down.

That's a hard question to answer, the nurse responded. She looked tired and they knew the end of her shift was nearing. It all depends on the families.

Allison nodded. She wasn't sure she'd get used to the seizures. It scared her every time he started having one and she had to leave the room. She wondered what happened while the nurses were working on her husband. She wasn t sure she wanted to know.

Can we stay overnight with him? Allison asked, holding his hand. It was warm, and she was thankful for that sign of life.

Yes, but you will have to stay in the lobby, the nurse said. This is because we need to have a clear room in case of emergency.

That's fine; I just want to be close to him, Allison said, holding his hand tight. She didn t care where she slept as long as they were under the same roof. She looked to her in-laws, wishing for some time alone. Could Jimmy and I have a few minutes alone?

Of course, Barb said, nodding. She stood, kissing Jimmy forehead and telling him that she d be back soon. His father followed suite, then left the room with the nurse.

Allison pondered how best to tell him the big news. Finally, she decided to just come out with it. She leaned down and spoke quietly into his ear.

Jimmy, she said. There was no response, and she fought back tears, reminding herself that he wasn t likely to respond for several days. I found out in the ER that I m pregnant. We re going to have a baby in November.

There was no sign of anything from Jimmy, but Allison felt better having told him. She hoped he d heard the news and hoped that he was happy about it. She d tell him again when he woke up, but for now, she just wanted him to be happy.

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