Two days after the accident, Allison was still sitting at Jimmy's bedside.

She d spent the last two nights on a cot in Jimmy's room, despite the protests of the nurses, who quickly learned it was no good arguing with her. She wanted to be close to him and she got her wish. Her nights were restless and his were quiet. The nurses gave round the clock care to him, making sure that he was as comfortable as possible.

Allison had started a journal to record her thoughts and feelings about the pregnancy and Jimmy's recovery from the accident. So far, there wasn t much to say about either event, but she knew that the coming weeks and months would yield more. When she wasn t writing, she was holding his hand or stroking his face, talking to him about everything and nothing.

Their friends and family took turns staying with her, and sitting with Jimmy. Every hour, she took a 10 minute break to get outside and get some fresh air. Today, it was Mariah sitting with her, and they were discussing the nursery.

Jimmy, what do you think about painting the nursery dark blue? she asked, hoping he d squeeze her hand. There was no response, and she sighed. If his silence was any indication, the nursery wasn t going to get painted any color. Does your silence mean you don t like dark blue, either? You ve been silent on each color choice thus far, babe. I was thinking of a space theme for the nursery, but we could do jungle as well. We could even do a neutral theme with yellow and green, kind of a spring theme.

Jimmy did not respond, though his hand started trembling, followed by his left foot. Allison sighed, knowing this was one of the small seizures he was prone to having. She wrote down the time it started, the symptoms and finally the time it stopped. It went on for less than 45 seconds, and Mariah took the paper to the nurse, who filed it on Jimmy's chart.

If all his seizures were like that, I think I could handle it, Allison remarked, as Mariah returned to the bedside. But it s those big seizures that get me every time.

Same here, Mariah said, smoothing Jimmy's hair from his head. It had finally been washed and the blood was gone. The doctors were keeping an eye on his brain and so far, so good. There was no further bruising, and no blood clots had formed. He wasn t out of danger yet, but he was stable for now and that was important. Maybe, once the bruising starts going down, the big seizures will go away.

We can hope, Allison said, with a sigh. She adjusted the sling around her neck, trying to take it off a pressure point. Her neck still hurt, even though the nurses were bringing her ice packs every hour for it and she was keeping up with the pain medication. Once she was feeling better, she decided she d have to see her chiropractor.


She looked up as the door to Jimmy's room opened and her parents filed in, Jimmy's parents right behind her. She stood to greet them, then resumed her seat at his side, holding his hand right.

Jimmy, it s Sheryl, Allison s mom said, leaning down and kissing her son-in-law s forehead. We re all rooting for you okay? Gary and I are going to take Allison for the day, because she needs a break. We ll bring her back tomorrow.

Mom, I can t

You can and you will, her mother said, looking sternly at her daughter. The bright California sun was shining in the window, bathing the dreary room in bright light. You need a break, Allison, and this is the only way we re going to get you to leave.

All right, she agreed, defeated. She stood, kissing Jimmy's cold lips, lingering a bit to look at his face. It was still swollen and bruised. The stitches made him look like a movie monster and she hoped they could come out soon. Jimmy, I love you, remember that. I ll only be gone over night and I ll be back here as soon as I can.

She squeezed his hand, kissed his lips, then followed her parents out the door. Barb and Alan would sit with him now for a while, making sure that he was never alone. Allison wanted to be at his side every day, around the clock, but their family and friends weren t going to allow that. She was afraid he d wake up alone and that thought terrified her.


Jimmy, honey, it s mom, Barb said, taking her son s cool hand. She adjusted the covers around him, hoping he was as comfortable as possible. Your dad and I are here now, and we ve sent Mariah home for a break as well. The sun is shining, and there s not a cloud in the sky. It s the 4th of May, two days since the accident. The man who hit you was arrested, since he bolted from the scene of the accident. He s sitting in jail and facing enough charges to keep him there for some time.

She paused, waiting for a reaction, but there was nothing. His eyes moved under closed lids, and she hoped he was having pleasant dreams. She looked him over, noting that his leg was still suspended in the air with the large yellow cast. The back brace was still covering his abdomen, and the doctor had explained that it provided stability during healing. Jimmy was still facing back surgery, but the doctor wanted to wait a bit and give his body time to heal from the first surgery.

You ve got a lot of cards and flowers already, his mom continued, looking around the room. The small room was filled with flowers of all hues, houseplants, bright balloons bearing slogans like Get Well Soon! or Speedy Recovery! , teddy bears and stacks of cards. The fans got wind of the accident and sent gifts. Some of the fan groups have sent teddy bears, others balloons. We re not sure how they found out you were here, but they re being good about not trying to visit.

She stood and got some of the cards, seeing that only a few had been opened. They d have to take some stuff home soon if he got anymore. She sat down and opened the newest batch of cards, placing any checks or money aside to take home and put in a new savings account Allison had opened just for medical expenses. She read each card to him, laughing at the funny ones with her husband. When she was done, she gathered the cards and put them in her purse.

You ve made quite a bit of money so far as well, she said, shaking her head in amazement. People are sending money to help with expenses and it s all going onto a savings account Allison opened for you yesterday for medical bills and stuff. Sadly, the man that hit you didn t have insurance, so you re on your own, but everyone is going to help, okay?

Jimmy's only response was a slight trembling of his right hand, which progressed to a full-blown seizure. Alan went for the nurse and he and his wife left the room. They had no idea what the nurses were doing during the seizures; they only knew that Jimmy seemed no worse for wear afterward.

Do you think the seizures are ever going to stop? Barb asked, waiting to be let back in.

I don t know, her husband admitted, sighing as he looked at the door to his son s room. The doctor said sometimes they do and sometimes they don t. I hope they do, but it s too soon to tell.

The door to the room opened and his nurse for the day smiled at them.

You can go back in now, she said, moving to sit at the small wall desk outside his room. She opened his chart and started writing as Barb and Alan went back in.

Oh Jimmy, Barb said, sighing, as she took his hand. I want you to wake up, okay? I don t care what kind of shape you re in I just want you to wake up.

There was no response and she hadn t expected one. They sat quietly for several minutes, the only noises in the room those of the ventilator breathing for Jimmy and the inflatable wrap on his leg as it kept his circulation going. Just as the silence got unbearable, the door creaked open and one of Jimmy's many doctors entered the room.

Good morning, Dr. Niederhall, his orthopedic surgeon said, shaking hands with Barb and Alan. I m just going to check Jimmy over and then I d like to discuss the next step in his treatment.

Jimmy's parents stood back from the bed, watching the doctor work. Jimmy's nurse stood just inside the room, ready to act on any new orders the doctor gave. When he was done, the doctor asked Jimmy's parents to sit down again, as he pulled up a folding chair kept against the wall at the foot of the bed.

There are no problems currently with Jimmy's leg, he began, smiling. I saw the x-rays from this morning and the hardware is intact and there are very early signs of healing. I am concerned about his back, however. You might recall that he has several herniated discs. This means that the discs are pushed out of their usual spot and into the spinal canal. This means that they are pressing on nerves and

can be causing pain. I ve been monitoring Jimmy's back over the last two days and will continue to do so. I do, however, feel that he may be a good candidate for back surgery.

Will he survive it? his father asked, holding tight to his son s left hand.

That will depend on when we do the surgery, the doctor said. I will continue to monitor him, but if the swelling does not go down, or if I see major changes in his responses to neurological tests, we ll have to consider surgery.

What would surgery do? Barb asked. Jimmy had already been through so much, she didn t want him to have more surgery.

There are many options. The most common is to remove the discs that are herniated, as it can be very difficult to put them back in, and allow the body to re-grow them. This is the most drastic technique. If we do surgery, we may find that we can slip the discs back with no problem. For now, I m going to keep him on bed rest, flat on his back with the brace. That should help him heal, but surgery is always there if it does not work. Are there any questions?

No, Barb said, and Alan shook his head. Thank you, though for all you ve done.

You are very welcome, he said, shaking hands once again. He left to update the chart and another doctor entered.

Good morning, Dr. Spiner, Jimmy's brain doctor, greeted the family. How has he been this morning? I see in his chart that he s had some seizure activity.

Yes. Do they ever stop?

Sometimes, but each case is different, the doctor said, as he performed his tests on Jimmy. As always, Jimmy's foot jumped when poked with a pin, but that was his only reaction. He s still responding to

painful stimuli, which works in his favor. This means that he s not in a very deep coma, but there is still no way to be sure when he ll wake up. It also decreases his chances for paralysis.

The family nodded, as the doctor shined a light in Jimmy's eyes, then ran the pin up and down Jimmy's arms. His arms twitched a bit, but there was no further response. Jimmy did, however, give the doctor a show by having a small seizure before he left. Dr. Spiner watched the seizure progress, making notes, then turned to the family.

Keep in mind that seizures are a normal part of the head injury, he said, looking down at his notes. Jimmy is having two different kinds of seizures right now: grand mal and partial complex. Grand mal is the classic seizure. When you say seizure, most people picture the body shaking and writhing, as in the movies. The partials are when his limbs tremble, his muscles tighten, but there is no violent shaking. If a patient must have seizures, we prefer the partial complex, because they have less potential for brain damage.

Can the seizures worsen the bruise on his brain? his father asked, taking his son s hand again. His head moved just a bit, but it caused excitement in the room.

Only if there is further trauma to his head, the doctor said, checking Jimmy over again. Movement was a sign that he was starting to wake up. Jimmy, can you squeeze my hand?

There was an almost imperceptible movement of the fingers on his right hand.

This is good progress, the doctor said, smiling. We ll just keep an eye on him for the next several days and hopefully, he ll wake up soon.

When there were no further questions, the doctor left. Jimmy's parents looked at their son, taking his hands and begging him to squeeze them. His right hand responded, but his left hand did not. His father wondered why and went to the door, catching Dr. Spiner just before he left.

I m sorry to bother you, he said, but the doctor assured him he was fine. But why is Jimmy's right side responding and his left side not?

The majority of the bruise is on the left side of his brain, the doctor explained. It covers most of the back of his brain, but the worst bruising is on the left. It s possible that his brain experienced stroke-like symptoms because of that. That s something else we can only monitor as time goes on.

Thank you, Alan said, returning to his son s side. He explained to his wife what the doctor had said, and then sighed, as he sat down again. Come on, Jim, wake up, okay?

Jimmy's only response was a slight brushing of his fingers against his mother s hand. But it was enough for his parents.

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