Friday, May 3, 2013

More or Less a Man

 Part II

Heather had been taught that if a patient didn't care he wouldn't heal. A therapist couldn't make a patient care.  Her head knew this, but her heart refused to believe that she couldn't help Coach Davis.  She had to find a way to motivate him.  The damage to his spirit was worse than the damage to his physical body and watching the results was just too difficult for Heather to take.  

accesses,difficulties,Fotolia,healthcare,hospitals,infirm,infirmaries,injured,injuries,medical,mobiles,mobility,Photographs,physical therapy,recoveries,recovering,wheelchairs Heather left the hospital feeling less than happy about her job for the first time since starting her clinicals.  She didn't know what to do. Coach Davis wasn't going to die from his injuries, but he certainly wasn't living with them.

Heather spent time in prayer about the situation.  The next day she walked into the hospital prepared to talk to Coach Davis--more importantly she planned to listen.  She pulled a chair beside his bed and sat down with determination.

Coach Davis looked at her curiously and said, "What in the world are you doing?"

"I'm working."
"Working?  Doesn't look like work to me.  Your job is to make me feel better."
"You are right and that's what we're going to do today."
"By sitting in that chair?"
"By working on your biggest problem."
"Now that's funny.  My biggest problem is that I lost me legs."
"Well I will agree that is a problem.  But you have a bigger problem."
"What is that?"

"I have diagnosed it as DTJE."
"What is that?"
"It stands for Determined To Just Exist."
"Well how would you feel if you went to serve your country and you came back in pieces?"
"Thankfully I cannot answer that question because I have no experience to draw from."
"That's right, you don't know."  Coach Davis spat the words out of his mouth and the tone of voice showed his level of frustration.
 Be patient, Heather told herself. She knew he was hurting and lashing out at her because she was convenient.  "Why don't you tell me about it?"
"I'm damaged goods.  No one is going to want me now."
"I don't believe that."
"Well I do.  No school is going to hire me without legs.  No woman is going to want to spend the rest of her life with me."
"Oh I think any woman would be proud to spend her life with you."
"Not the one I was engaged to."  He said so softly that Heather hardly heard the words.
She hadn't know he was engaged.  "I'm sorry you lost your love."
"When she came to see me in the hospital, she promised that nothing had changed.  But as soon as the nurses removed the sheets to change my bandages, out that door she went.  She couldn't have gotten out of here faster if she worn roller blades.  For a week or so she called with excuses why she couldn't visit me.  Then she sent me a letter telling me that it was too painful to see me this way."
"She sent you a letter?"
"She didn't tell you in person?"
"No, just a letter."
"Excuse me for saying, but I'm not sure you lost much."
Coach Davis laughed for the first time since the attack.  "You might be right.  She was kind of high maintenance.  Did you know I bought her two engagement rings because she said the first diamond wasn't large enough?  We always ate at the best restaurants.  The only time I ate hamburgers was when I was with the team."
"Oh I think it's hard to beat a good hamburger."
"I agree."
"Did you know that a hamburger can actually be very healthy?  If you use lean meat and mustard on wheat buns, it is healthy.  You have your protein, whole wheat, and vegetables."
"Sounds like a complete meal."
"It is and a soft drink makes it a balanced meal."
Again Coach Davis laughed.  Heather liked his laugh. She wished she could have heard more, but it was time for her next patient.
"Please excuse me.  I need to go see my next patient."
"Okay, thanks for talking to me."
"I enjoyed it.  Don't you feel better."
"I don't think we solved any of my problems, but I'm okay."

Over the next week Heather watched Coach Davis as his emotions ran the gamut from 'everything is fine' to 'my life is over'.  There were days she thought she had made a difference and days she thought she'd wasted her time.  The end of the week was one of those days when she wondered why she tried.  Coach Davis was angry and snappy.  Heather continued to be her sweet, friendly self although there were times she momentarily considered choking him.
On Saturday morning, after a restless and prayerful night, she made a decision.  She walked quickly to the phone and dialed the number before she changed her mind.

"Chip?  This is Heather."
"Hello Heather.  I still recognize your voice.  You don't have to tell me who you are."  He said with just a bit of teasing in his voice.  "What's up?"
As quickly and succinctly as possible she told him the story of Coach Davis' tragedy.  Chip was very saddened to hear about it.
"How can I help?"
"Well, he is so down, I thought that if some of the football players came to see him it'd lift his spirits."
"That's a good idea.  I probably won't come because I'm so far away, but I will call some of the team and see if they can come."
 "Thanks Chip.  I really appreciate it."

On Monday morning Coach Davis was in a relatively good mood, which always made Heather's job easier.  Although he didn't argue and complain, he didn't work very hard either.  He still did as little as possible.  Tuesday dawned a beautiful day outside, but a stormy day in Coach Davis' room.  He almost bit Heather's head off as soon as she walked in the door.  He did what she asked, but complained more than he exercised. His foul mood didn't improve Wednesday.  Then came Thursday--a day Heather will never forget. This was more than a bad mood.  He was argumentative, insolent, combative, sarcastic and arrogant.

Heather spent as little time as possible with him.  His gloomy attitude had affected Heather so badly that she had scheduled a day off on Friday.  She needed the long weekend and recover from the barbs she'd been thrown this week.

She was finishing paperwork and getting ready to go home when she heard a raucous down the hall.  The noise was coming from Coach Davis' room.  As she suspected, the team that went to state finals was standing in the hospital room of the coach they so willingly followed.  There were more high fives being passed around than lollipops at a birthday party.  Coach Davis was grinning from ear to ear.  Not a fake smile.  A genuine I-am-happy smile.  Heather hadn't seen that smile since she  graduated.
Just as quietly as she entered, Heather exited the room.  This was a team moment and she didn't want to intrude. 

Heather appreciated the long weekend as much as she needed it. She slept late, went shopping with a friend, and then saw a funny movie.  It felt good to laugh after such a draining week.  She had worked hard to keep her spirits up in front of Coach Davis and it was getting more difficult each day.  She was pretty close to letting him sink in his own despair.  That went against everything she believed, but the fact was, he was bringing her down with him.

Look for Part III next week.


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