Sunday, February 13, 2005
Pecaw's Gift / Chapter 13 - If At First...
“Mr. Dosilmeyer, this morning we are going to take you off the respirator. Do you understand?” Dr Gwyen looked over to the monitor and waited for the number one to appear. No change occurred on the monitor as it continued to read, “70”. As he continued to look at the monitor, “Mr. Dosilmeyer, can you hear me?”
“That’s better; did you understand what I said about the removal from the respirator?”
“Your breathing has been assisted by a machine for the past two months and we feel that you should be able to take over that function now. Do you understand now?”
“We are going to let you breathe on your own for just a little while to get your body used to working again. This will only take a few moments.”, as he disconnected the tube at the base of Sinclair’s throat. “Can you feel any thing at all?”
“It is disconnected . . . You are on your own.” Dr. Gwyen observed cautiously as he waited for Sinclair to resume a normal pattern of breathing. “It is off now and you must start to breathe . . . I will have to put it back on right away if you do not start breathing . . . Mr. Dosilmeyer, did you hear me? I said that you must start breathing now.” Dr. Gwyen was calm; but, somewhat impatient in the tone of his voice.
Sinclair’s chest did not rise. There was no activity from the muscles that worked his lungs. He continued to acknowledge “Yes”; but, for some reason his mind could not make his body work. His heart was pumping just fine. His brain; well, who could say
for sure what was working and what wasn’t. He could not understand why he could not
breathe. He tried harder to send the message to his lungs and diaphragm. It frustrated him that he could not feel anything happening. The monitor went back to reading “70” as Sinclair lost contact with the outside world.
“Mr. Dosilmeyer. . . “, the monitor did not change as Dr.Gwyen queried Sinclair’s status. Looking at his watch as the seconds began toadd up, “One minute now and you are not yet breathing . . .” Sinclair listened to the foreign accent and was amused at the way people from Southeast Asia put their words together.
Disappointment fell upon the face of Dr. Gwyen. The attempt had failed; reattaching the tube to the respirator. Sinclair’s chest responded but it was not from within. “I’m sorry Mr. Dosilmeyer; but, for now you must remain on the respirator. I will come by and check your progress reports. Maybe in a week or so we will try again. Do not let this upset you. You have made remarkable improvement since your accident.”
Sinclair heard the words but was not sure what accident he had been in. “I know I’m in a hospital. I’m not able to feel my body. I can think and hear but I can’t breathe
without the help of a machine. How did I get here?” Sinclair searched the shadows for
some clue to the question. “The doctor said I had been in some kind of accident. I don’t
remember having been in a car wreck.” He worried to himself, “I hope it wasn’t a police car that I wrecked. How am I going to explain that in a letter to the Chief? Dear Chief, They told me I wrecked my shop but I don’t remember anything about it. Boy, that will really go over big.”
The oxygenated blood cleared his head and he tried to move his toes. “This little piggy went to market. . . I wonder if my toe moved.. . .This piggy stayed home. This little piggy had roast beef and this little piggy had none. This little piggy went Wee Wee Wee all the way home.” He laughed to himself as he sang the child’s song in his mind. He was playing with Bonnie’s miniature toes as she lay in her bassinet. He was completely in awe as the miracle of life beckoned him to spend some time with her. He touched each toe and winked at the two eyes that gazed up at him. He remembered that when he was a boy, his own mother had played the “piggy” game. He wanted to have his feeling back. He Wanted to have someone massage his toes and sing to him.
Bev talked with Dr Gwyen in the hall prior to going in to see Sinclair. For a moment there was a let down, but then she thought to herself how wonderful it was that she could converse with her husband. She wasn’t going to let a little bad news sour her day. A smile, the kind that stops people in their tracks and requires them to admit that there is a God in Heaven, returned to her face as she entered the room to greet Sinclair. She looked at the tubing; but, only for a moment as she reached into her purse for the daily cassette tape. It was a purse of enormous internal ability, covered with a patch work of remnant odd shaped leather discards. Each piece of leather had been sewn, in quilt like fashion, to another with the end result looking much like an ancient wine skin that was full to the breaking point. All the weeks grocery coupons, arranged in order of expected use, were jammed in at the top. Under the coupons was the “Gold C” book which she had bought from William’s Cub Scout Pack. It was their fund raising project and had even more coupons. A stack of letters to be mailed crowded the entrance to the great abyss.
Sinclair had never gone into, nor had the desire to go into the lower levels of Bev’s purse. Somewhere deep inside there was a matching wallet, that, stride for stride shared the potentially hazardous “deployment” threshold limits of the purse. It had two gold tone snaps that sighed with each opening. Again, there were more coupons, these were the very precious ones, the kind that were never traded away to her next door neighbor. A handful of loose change and three one dollar bills covered the liquid assets. The change slot had been filled with miniature portrait snap shots, in gold tone key chain picture frames, of each child on the day they were born. There was even a blue and white plastic football “fight pin” from Milby High that she had worn to the Twenty Year Reunion, the year before. Bev would keep the most valuable trinkets close by and they would offer warm moments to her when she needed them.
“I bought that to wear to the Homecoming game, the game that Sinclair took me to.” She enjoyed the memory, wiped away a loose tear, then closed the purse.
( Music of Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies on a recording by Zubin Mehta and the Israel Orchestra fills the room. )
“What was that, ‘you talkin’ to yourself again Bev?” Maime had entered the room to check on Sinclair, but mostly to make sure that Bev was holding up. Sometimes minor set backs would be major obstacles and Maime was there to make sure that Bev had a friend close by.
“Oh, just going through my purse.” Bev blinked away the remaining moisture that was caught in the corner of her eye as she turned to greet Maime. “I guess you already knew about. . .”
Maime nodded, “Don’t fret; most times that’s the way it is. When they are on the
respirator for a long time the body gets to bein’ lazy. Why don’t we get to work and help Mr. Sinclair get his muscle tone back.” Maime began extending and contracting Sinclair’s left arm. She would stroke each of the muscle groups along the length of the arm all the way to the wrist. The hand would then be flexed and the process repeated for each of the fingers. “I normally don’t mess with another woman’s man right in front of her; but, I’ll make an exception just this one time for you.” Maime laughed as a devilish grin appeared on her face, encouraging Bev to massage the other arm. “Mr. Sinclair; they’s real nice fingers, why don’t you try moving them for me? Come on, try this one.”, as she flexed his index finger.
“How long will his leg be in that brace Maime?”, Bev pulled back the sheet and cringed looking at the chromed steel bolts that protruded through his thigh. “He hurt his knee one time and was in a cast for several weeks. It took about two months for it to heal and we all ducked when he would go by. He has a terrible temper and expects perfection from himself.” Bev had picked up his crutches only once, after that he had to get them himself.
“Mr. Sinclair is going to have to learn to walk all over. It will take as long as it takes. . .; ain’t that right?” Maime was glad to be able to talk with Bev so openly.
“That reminds me; what time’s the game today and I’ll be sure to come by and turn it on for Mr. Sinclair.”
“They’re on the East Coast, so the game comes on at six thirty. Last night they beat the Mets in extra innings four to two on a Home Run by Davis in the Tenth. It was quite a game.”
“I listened to it too. I had to pull a double when one of the girls on evening’s called in sick. I can always use a little extra money so I don’t mind so much.” Maime was able to hide being tired almost as well as Bev. “What we women won’t do for our man? Glad you got a good one too.”
“You never have talked about your husband, Maime. What’s his name?” Bev was glad to change the subject and get to know more about Maime. They had talked about lots of things, but never once did Maime ever talk about her husband.
“My Kelly died just after he got home from Viet Nam. He was sick from Malaria and that stuff that was sprayed all over.”
“That’s the stuff. When he wasn’t weezen he was gone half crazy. One night he just walked into the back yard and blew his brains out with a hunting rifle.” Maime had stopped rubbing and had closed her eyes as she looked back into her memory book. It had been a while since she had talked about it. “Torn between being angry and sad I decided to become a nurse. The government paid for my school’en; sort of like blood money.”
Bev wasn’t sure how to react. Maime’s back arched as she talked and her voice got a little deeper. “Those bastards got my Kelly, just as surely as if they’d shot him themselves.” Maime’s eyes were fixed and her brow peaked across her forehead
momentarily. “I hope they’s happy. . . All they had to do was to take him in at the V.A.
and he could’a got some kind of treatment.” Maime stopped for a moment and her
countenance changed. “I’m sorry Bev; its not like me to swear.”
“That’s okay; its all right Maime. I sorry I asked.”
“Shoot girl, it wasn’t your fault. I just miss him. I suppose that’s why I hope so much for your Mr. Sinclair.”
“All the same, I’m sorry that you had to explain it to me. I could see that it was
painful.” Bev studied the depths of the dark brown eyes that had hidden the grief so well. “How much do you know about the Mormons Maime?”
Maime crooked her neck and paused, “Not much, just that they crossed the plains in wagons and had lots of wives.”
“Maime, you don’t think that there’s another woman alive who would put up with
Sinclair?” Maime grinned but kept silent as Bev explained that the Mormons no longer
practiced plural marriage. “I’d like to tell you more about what we believe. I think you
would enjoy knowing how you can get back together with Kelly.”
“Thank you Bev, but I’m happy with what I have now.” Maime was a Baptist and would sing and hum as she did the daily chores.
“Maybe some other time.” Bev could feel some of the built up tension release as her shoulders relaxed. “Thanks for being my friend Maime.”
“My pleasure Bev, my pleasure.”