Day - 3,742
Beep…Beep…Beep…Beep. It’s constant, like a hammer methodically driving a nail through a wooden board. Loud. I can feel the beat of it pulsing through my body. Has this been going on for days? Beep…Beep…Beep. I feel like it has. It’s so loud. But where is it coming from? I can’t see it. Beep…Beep…Beep…Beep. Everything is dark. Will someone please turn on the lights? Beep…Beep…Beep. Please. Someone. I can’t see anything. Can anyone hear me? Beep…Beep…Beep…Beep. Is anyone there?
“Hello, Ms. Patrick. And how are we feeling today? It’s a beautiful day outside. The sun is so bright, shining through the windows this morning. Oh, and someone brought you flowers, I see.” Ouch! Hey, watch it! That’s my arm. Well, I think it’s my arm. I can’t see anything. Will you please turn on the lights, whoever you are? Please!
“There. All done. Just had to take some blood again today and make sure everything still looks right.” Still looks right? What do you mean? Who are you? Where am I? What is this place? WILL SOMEONE PLEASE TURN ON THE LIGHTS! I wait for a few seconds and hear nothing. I sense the feeling that someone is still here. Wait. Hey, are you still here? Can you hear me? Please help me. I can’t see and…I’m afraid.
Someone touches my hand. It’s warm. Their hand is soft but strong. They squeeze mine softly. “Oh, honey. I wish you could hear me and see everything around you.”
But I CAN hear you and…well, I can’t see you but I know you’re there. Please help me. Why can’t I see you? What’s going on?
“I think you’ve got some visitors coming in again today. There aren’t as many as there used to be but they still come straggling in every once in a while to say hi and see how you’re doing. I think they all miss you terribly.” I hear her pause for a second and then she squeezes my hand again. I’m here! Can’t you hear me? I try to squeeze my hand in hers. Can you feel that? I’m squeezing. I’m squeezing! Slowly she lets go of my hand and the warmth is gone. Wait! Come back! Don’t leave! Please don’t leave! Wait! Don’t…CLICK!
What was that? Was that a door? Is anyone still here? Silence. Beep…Beep…Beep. What is happening to me? Please God? Where am I? My eyes are getting heavy and suddenly I feel sleepy again. What time is it? Is it day or night. My eyelids close slowly but I’m not sleepy. No, please, I don’t want to go to sleep. I have too many ques…tions…please…help…me…
My eyes fall closed and I drift off into a long slumber. I dream. The traffic is rushing by. I’m happy. My window is down in the car, my brand new car I just got for my birthday. I can feel the wind blowing my hair. It’s warm. I’m happy; so happy. I’m on my way to meet someone, I think its Travis, my boyfriend. No wonder I’m happy. He’s the best boyfriend any girl could ever have. I continue to drive, watching the trees and sites speed by my window. I reach down for my phone to check messages. I realize I shouldn’t be doing this but it’ll just take a minute. I was to find out if Travis is on his way. We have this big night planned. I look down for just a second; I’m sure it was just a second. CRASH!
Beep…Beep…Beep. I awake with a start. I feel like I’m jolted awake but have no idea if I moved or not. It feels like I did. Hello. Is anyone here? Is anyone in this room?
“…I know, honey. But it’s just for a week. I’m sure Darren will understand. Don’t forget to wipe out the sink nice and neat after you’re done. And, besides, she’s your sister.”
“Did you see that?”
“I could have sworn I saw Lindsay move. Did you see her move?”
“No, I didn’t. I’m sure it was nothing. You’re tired and your eyes are probably just playing tricks on you.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right, Mom.” There is a long pause. “Listen Mom, why do I need to stay up here again? We go through this every year. And it never helps? Why can’t it be another week this year? That’s the same week that Darren is going on that bike trip and I’ll have to miss it.”
“Susan, there will be other bike trips. This is your sister we’re talking about. She needs us.”
“No, she doesn’t! Lindsay’s never going to wake up! It’s been over ten years, Mom, for God’s sake!”
I lay paralyzed. Ten years. Ten years since what? What happened? Who’s here? Is that you, Mom? Susan? Can you guys hear me? I’m here. Please talk to me. Please help me!
“Susan, we don’t know that. I refuse to give up on her. So many people have but I’m not going to and I’m not going to let you either. When she DOES wake up, I want to make sure her family is around her and that she knows we stood by her and never gave up on her.”
I hear something crash like something falling, or maybe something sliding across the floor. “Oh, Mom, I miss her so much. We were going to do so much together. Why did she have to go and get in a car accident? Why did this have to happen?”
Car accident? What car accident? What happened? I don’t remember a car accident? Susan, Mom, please help me. Tell me what’s going on.
“I know, honey. I know. In a few days we’ll come back to stay for a week, I want you to read your letter to Lindsay, just like you have every year. Maybe someday it’ll make a difference.”
“Mom, she doesn’t hear me. She’s in a coma. I’m tired of reading this to her and hoping that she hears me and will wake up!”
But I can hear you, Susan. And I can hear Mom, too. Oh, please stay here with me and read to me. Just please don’t leave. Please. I hear some shuffling around and feel someone touch my hand. Suddenly, there is a softness on my forehead. Hey, someone just kissed my forehead. Who was it? Mom, was that you? Susan? Please stay. Don’t leave. Please.
“Bye Lindsay, we’ll be back in a few days. It’s our yearly ritual to stay with you for a week. I love you, honey. I know you’re in there somewhere, I just know it. Please come back to us. Please.”
I feel someone squeeze my hand. I try to squeeze back. Hey can you feel it? I’m squeezing back. Don’t leave. Please don’t leave me, Mom? Mom? Please. I need you. I’m so scared. I don’t know what to do or how to get back to you. I can’t see you and can’t move. Tell me what to do. Please help me!
I hear what sounds like footsteps going away from me. Are they leaving? Hey, wait a minute! Please! Come back. I’m trying…to…wake…up. Just give me…a…chance. I can…do…it. After what seems like minutes I feel exhausted; like I’ve just swam a mile. I feel like my muscles are tense and sweat is beading up on my forehead. It’s quiet now like everyone has left. Beep…Beep…Beep. Okay, I need to figure out where I am? I must be in some sort of hospital or care center. That beeping has got to be a monitor of some sort. And I think I’m on a bed; although, I can’t move around to feel anything. But I CAN hear and I think I can smell, too. It smells…clean, like disinfectant. So, I’ve got to be in some sort of room at a healthcare facility. I’ve been in a coma for 10 years? I was in a car accident. …but how did I get in the accident? What happened?
Day – 3,743
Clank…Clank…Clank! “Hey, watch it, Norbert. You’ll wake the dead.”
“Uh, Charlie, there ain’t no dead people around here. It’s a hospital, you dork.”
“Well, uh, then you’ll wake the sleeping patients, pea brain. Hey, isn’t this the room where that girl is in the coma? I hear she’s been in it for ten frickin’ years. Is that wild or what?”
“Yeah, that’s pretty wild, alright? Did you hear what happened to her?”
“Well, of course I did, you numbskull. I may have just started working here but I get around. They don’t call me nosey Norbert for nothin’.”
There is a long pause. I’m awake. What was that clanking noise? What day is it? Is anyone here? Hey, is anyone there?
“Hey, did you see that?”
“See what, Charlie? I didn’t see nuttin’.”
“Right over there. I swear I saw something move.”
“Move? Charlie, have you been hitting the sauce already this morning?”
“No, Norbert. I thought I saw something move on that girl’s bed. I thought I did, at least. Maybe I didn’t. This is creeping me out. Let’s get the rest of the trash and get the hell outa here.”
“Sounds good to me, Charlie. I always get nervous coming in this room anyway. It’s weird seeing someone that’s been sleepin’ for ten years.”
“Yeah, let’s go.”
Wait! Wait! I’m awake, Okay! I’m awake! Don’t leave. PLEASE don’t leave. Talk to me. Turn on the lights. Tell me who you are and what’s going on? Please!
CLANK! Silence. Wait! Are you still there! Please…someone…talk to me. Beep…Beep…Beep…Oh my gosh! Will someone turn off that infernal beeping! I’m alive. I can hear. Can’t someone TALK to me?
Swish! The sound of footsteps interrupt my thoughts and someone touches my forehead and then my right arm. I can hear them fiddling with something next to me. Maybe it’s my monitor.
“Well, Ms. Patrick. Everything seems to be in order. The nurse will be in to give you your daily sponge bath in a few minutes. We started doing it every day a few months ago, thinking that it might help to stimulate you in some way. To tell you the truth, Lindsay, I’m out of ideas. You have baffled the doctors of this hospital, as well, as others across the country. Everything seems normal, your brain activity is normal, your eye movements seem normal, your reflexes are normal. For all intents and purposes, you look and seem like you’re just sleeping. We can’t figure it out.”
Silence. Are you still there? I hear you and I want to wake up. Please keep talking to me. I need someone to talk to me like I can hear, like I’m normal, like I’m a person. Please keep talking.
“Well, I have some more rounds to do this afternoon. I’ll stop back by later in the week. I do hope something changes soon. We haven’t given up hope. I want you to know that. We are still hoping for a miracle, if God still has any to give out.”
His warm touch lingers on my hand for a moment. I try to grab at it. PLEASE…PLEASE just grab his fingers, Lindsay. You can do this! I feel like I’m sweating, like I’m tensing up so much trying to make this happen. Surely he can see this. I feel like it’s so obvious. How can he not see my hand moving?
Suddenly, it’s gone. I hear the footsteps slowly moving away from me; the sound of the door opening and closing, and then silence again.
I want to cry. CAN I cry? Maybe if I can cry and physically make tears, then maybe someone will see that I’m still here. But can I do it? The doctor said that everything seemed normal. But are my tear ducks normal? I used to be able to cry at the drop of a hat. Mom said I could always get my way with dad because I could cry so easily. Oh, how I wish I could see them and cry on their shoulders. What I wouldn’t do to be able to have a nice, big cry right now.
I decide that it’s not going to do me any good to feel sorry for myself. I relax (or, at least I think I’m relaxed. Maybe I’m always relaxed) and listen. There are so many sounds to listen to besides the Beep…Beep…Beep of the monitor. Maybe if I listen real carefully, I can hear something that could trigger a tear or emotion; SOMETHING!
I lay still and listen for what seems like hours. My eyes get heavy and I drift off to sleep again. I dream. It’s the same dream. I’ve had this dream every time for as long as I can remember. Have I been dreaming this for the past ten years? I don’t know. I only remember the past few days. I’m sitting in my car, driving somewhere. I’m so happy. The sun is shining. It’s a beautiful day. I’m thinking about someone. Who is it? It’s someone I like very much. Or maybe I love them? Is it Travis, my boyfriend? It’s got to be Travis. My phone buzzes and I reach for it. I look at the message and decide to respond back. It’ll only take a few seconds. I’m a good driver. I can do both. Wait, that’s not what I typed. Okay, I have to re-type that or…CRASH!
Beep…Beep…Beep! I jolt away. I feel like I’ve leaped right off the bed. Oh my gosh! What happened? Who was I texting? I never get past this part of the dream. I’m on my phone and then everything stops.
Swish. “Well, good evening Lindsay. How are we feeling today? I’m going to…”.
Silence. Hey are you still here? I’m awake. Don’t go. I need to hear someone talk to me. Please!
Swish. “Hey, Nancy, Dr. Steadson wants you as soon as you get finished with Ms. Patrick, okay.”
“Okay, Sara. Hey, Sara, come here for a minute. I think I’m seeing things.”
“What do you mean, Nancy?” I can hear footsteps coming closer to me and then they stop. There is pressure next to my leg like someone is leaning next to the bed or putting something on the bed next to me.
“Well, I came in to give Lindsay her sponge bath and look at this.” There was a long pause. “Wasn’t her hand facing down the other way yesterday?”
There was another long pause. I can hear their breathing. What are they thinking? Why are they worried about the position of my hand? Hey, who cares about my hands! Please just shake me or something and try to wake me up. I’m still here. I can hear you.
“Well, I don’t know. I actually wasn’t in here yesterday but seems like it’s always been facing down. Ever since she’s been in the coma, her palms have faced downwards. That’s weird. Maybe a nurse or doctor moved them. Or maybe it was a relative.”
“No, Sara, remember what the doctors said? They wanted to make sure everyone, including friends and relatives who visited Ms. Patrick, knew not to move her limbs in any way. That way, we would know if something changed.” There was silence again. I could feel them staring at me. Please, just open my eyes so I can see you. I know if you just help open my eyelids, I could see you and I’d be able to move my eyes. I know I could do that. Please.
“Hmmm. That’s weird. Do you think she moved? Yes! Yes! I moved. I’m sure of it. Don’t you see? I’m alive in here. Please, just get the doctor. Get someone!
“Well, I’m sure that she’s always had her palms down. I mean, you don’t forget something like that after seeing it pretty much every day for ten years.”
“Yes, that’s true, Nancy. Do you want me to go get the doctor?”
“Yes, if you would, please. I’ll stay with her and start her bath.”
I hear footsteps quickly echoing away from me as the sound diminishes out the door. The door shuts with a CLICK.
“So, Lindsay, have you been busy in here lately?” YES! YES! I’m awake. I moved. You’ve got to believe me and hear me! I’m in here. I want to wake up! “Are you in there, Lindsay? I sure would like to believe that you’ll come back to us someday.” YES! I want to come back, too. I am back! Please, just don’t leave me. I feel so alone when no one is here. I’m so scared. What if I never wake up? What if they shut off all the machines and think I’m dead. Would they pull the plug? I don’t even know if I’m breathing on my own. Do I have anything down my throat? I can’t tell. I can’t swallow. Maybe if I try real hard. REALLY…hard. It hurts so much. Am I doing it? Am I swallowing? This is exhausting. I can’t tell if anyone is even seeing anything. Hello! Can you see me?
Swish. “It looks like to me that…” That what? THAT WHAT? Don’t stop. Please talk to me. What were you going to say?
“Dr. Johnson is going to stop by in just a few minutes. He’s with a patient right now just down the hall. Nancy, what’s wrong? What happened?”
There is silence. What? What’s going on? Will someone please say something? What happened?
“Sara, I swear I just saw Lindsay’s neck move?”
“What do you mean, you saw her neck move?”
“I think I saw her neck move, like she was trying to say something or swallow. I was moving the water over here and was just about to wash her arms and out of the corner of my eye, I SWEAR I saw something move around her throat somewhere.”
“Are you sure, Nancy? Are you really sure. I mean, maybe you’re just hoping so much that we’ll see some sort of sign, that your eyes are just playing tricks on you.”
“No, I’m sure I…” YES! YES! My throat did move. I KNEW I could do it. Yes, I swallowed. See, you DID see me. I am alive and I’m in here. Please don’t leave. Please believe that I’m in here and can hear you. Please don’t leave.
“…want to see her improve, Sara. But I’m sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me. I KNOW I saw something move. Do you think she can hear us? Do you think she’s still with us in there somewhere?”
“Oh, Nancy. That would be a miracle. I sure hope so. Let’s wait until the doctor comes in and see what he says.”
Swish. I can hear heavy footsteps clomping towards me. “Okay, Ms. Stanley, what’s this all about?” Whoever this is sounds really annoyed. Okay, bub. So, if I’m moving my throat trying to show you all that I’m still alive in here, you need to listen to these nurses and do some tests. Sorry if I’m keeping you from a golf game or something but I’m really getting impatient. Do some tests or something!
“Well, doctor, I was getting ready to give Ms. Patrick her sponge bath and could have sworn that I saw her throat move, like she was trying to swallow or something.”
“Are you sure? This is pretty big, Ms. Stanley. You’re sure you’re not just imagining it?”
“Well, I don’t think so. I’m about as sure as I can be. And, when I first came in, I noticed that the palm of her right hand was facing upwards when it’s always faced down. For ten years, her palms have faced down right by her sides.”
There is silence. I can feel someone lean up against me. There is the smell of spearmint. He must be standing right over me. I can feel his breath on my face. Suddenly, there is a cold touch to my eyelid. It’s pulling open. Hey, wait. Don’t pull. That hurts. Wait a minute! Turn off that bright light. I can hardly see. What are you trying to do, blind me! I feel pulling on my other eyelid and…there’s that bright light again. What are you doing? Then darkness again. Wait a minute! Wait a minute. I know what you’re doing. Did you see my eyes move? Do you think I’m all right? Don’t go. Wait a minute!
“Well, her eyes show good response but I didn’t see anything moving out of the ordinary. Nothing seems to have changed. Keep an eye on her and I’ll stop by first thing in the morning.
I hear footsteps moving away from me and then lingering for a while. Then the CLICK of the door penetrates my ears. Wait! Please don’t go. Come try again. I’m sure that I can make my eyes move. Please! I know I can do it. Just give me another chance. Please. Silence. Is anyone still here? Hello? Silence.
My eyes are getting heavy again. Crap! They must have put…something in…my IV…. But I’m…not…sleepy….
I can feel the wind blowing through my hair. It feels so good. I’m so happy but something is tugging at me. Something is wrong. My phone dings with it’s usually sound when I get a text. I hesitate to answer but reach over to pick it up. I don’t know why I’m afraid. Something is wrong but I still feel so happy and excited. Why am I afraid? I reach over but my phone has slid out of my reach. CRASH!