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It was the sensation of movement that first stirred his mind into awareness. One pair of hands gripped his ankles, and another pair slid under his shoulders, raising them slightly. Yet a third set was at the small of his back; all were lifting and sliding him from a firm, narrow table onto a softer, wider surface. Opening his eyes, he looked beside him and saw the white sheet was stained with crimson. Blood? he wondered fuzzily. His blood? Then the bed under him began to move forward; his eyes closed with the effort of staying focussed, and he drifted away.
A slight jolt brought him back, seconds or minutes later, he didn't know which. The gurney was in a different room now, a big room filled with many, mostly empty, beds, with dimmer lighting and a warmer temperature; despite this, he felt himself shivering, shaking, and was unable to stop.
“It's all right, it's a normal after effect of the anesthetic,” a quiet, soothing voice said, close to his ear. “You'll be feeling warmer in a little while.”
He heard the same voice raised slightly, giving instructions, and a moment later a warmed blanket was tucked around him. The all-encompassing wash of heat from the blanket had him closing his eyes again with a soft sigh, and his shivering eased almost at once. With that one discomfort gone, however, other sensations quickly rose to the fore.
The pain started as a slow burn in his leg but quickly progressed to a full-out inferno. He must have made some sound, or perhaps it was the sudden beads of sweat standing out on his brow, but abruptly there was more movement around his bed, and a voice was directing that morphine be given. At the same time gentle hands were lifting his head and fitting an oxygen mask over his nose and mouth. He felt the tingle of medication entering his arm through the IV, tasted the cool oxygen tang on his tongue, and with the sound of the hissing of the oxygen in his ears he drifted off again, closing his eyes to the lights and the pain.
When he awoke again, the mask was gone, the pain, almost. He blinked a few times, trying to clear the cobwebs from his mind, meeting with only limited success. There was a nurse sitting at a desk near the foot of his bed, writing notes in a chart, about him? he wondered, although he could just manage slight curiosity about it.
She looked up, and when she noticed he was awake, she smiled reassuringly. “It's good to see you awake,” she said. Then she frowned slightly, moving forward to silence a quietly beeping alarm at the head of the bed. “Your sats are low. Could you take a few deep breaths for me please?” She asked, gently coaxing him through a few breathing exercises. “There, that's better. You have to remember to breathe deeply; It will help the anesthetic leave your system.”
He nodded, but as he tried to speak he became aware of his parched mouth and painfully sore throat. “Water, please,” he managed to croak.
“Of course.” The nurse disappeared into the next room, returning with a cup and a straw. “Just small sips. Are you feeling any nausea?”
He sipped the cool water gratefully, feeling it slide down his aching throat. “No,” he whispered.
“How's your pain level? On a scale of one to ten, where are you right now?”
He considered that for a moment, taking a quick, if slightly vague, inventory. “I think, a five or six,” he answered. “My leg hurts the most.”
The nurse smiled again, sympathetically. “Can you swallow a couple of pills, do you think?” She asked.
“I think so,” was the whispered reply.
“Good.” She went to a cabinet near the middle of the room, coming back with a little pill cup and a syringe. Injecting its contents into his IV, the nurse explained, “This is a quick shot of gravol. You know we need to keep your stomach settled when you take the pain meds. Here you go...” She patted him on the arm, and moved back to the desk to make some more notes. He swallowed the tablets, wincing at the soreness of his throat, already beginning to feel the effect of the gravol as he closed his eyes again, floating off to sleep to the sound of the beeping alarm by the bed.
Time passed; How much, he wasn't sure. Nestled into the bed, he drifted back and forth in and out of awareness. He did note the presence of a nasal cannula, providing a small, steady flow of oxygen. The nurse was alternately concerned and reassuring, pushing him to continue to breathe deeply, then soothing him back into comfortable dozing. At one point, while performing a check of his vitals, the nurse smiled at him and said, “You know, you are a bit stoned!”
Even under the influence of the medications, the paramedic in him responded quickly, “Yeah, I might be, but at least it's legal!”
The nurse shook her head in mock dismay. “Let's get you a bit more awake, so you can get out of here and off to your own room.” But he was already dozing once more.
It took a visit from Doctor Brackett to rouse him again. The physician stood by the bed, none too gently shaking his shoulder as he encouraged him to wake up. “Come along, you can't sleep in here all day, you know,” he groused. “It's time to get you out of recovery and up into the ward. And besides,” he gave the drowsy patient an extra nudge. “You know who is anxious to see you. He's been here the entire time, since you were brought in, pacing a path around my department!” Turning to the nurse, he added, “Another fifteen minutes ought to do, nurse, if his sats hold where they are.”
“Yes, doctor,” she replied. “He'll be ready, I'll make sure of it.” The nurse picked up the phone on her desk, requesting first the services of an orderly, then confirming the room number. “All right,” she said, turning back to her now slightly more attentive patient. “Let's get you prepared to go. Your ride will be here in a few minutes.”
He was still alert, although in a dazed kind of way, when the orderly arrived. As the nurse began to detach all the monitors, he smiled up at her. “Thank you,” he said quietly. “You've been very kind to me.”
She smiled back and squeezed his arm lightly. “You take care and get back on your feet soon, okay?”
“Okay,” he said, as the gurney began to move.
The orderly was a skilled driver, smoothly manoeuvring the bed through a seemingly endless series of corridors before finally ending up in front of elevator doors.
“We must be taking the scenic route,” he joked weakly. It was becoming an effort to keep his eyes open, despite the changing view around him. By the time they exited the elevator, he was drifting again, unable to stay focussed. Then finally the motion stopped, and gentle hands were again sliding him from one bed to another. There was a flutter of movement around the new bed, as blankets were adjusted, IV bags hung, and the nasal cannula reinstated to provide low-level oxygen support. He heard a murmur of voices, and then a small commotion at the door caused him to open his eyes at last, blinking dazedly.
“Thank God you're finally here!” The familiar voice was suddenly beside his bed, sounding both anxious and relieved at the same time. “You took so long in recovery, I was concerned, despite what Doc was telling me.”
“I'm okay,” he whispered hoarsely. Immediately a cup with a straw was held to his lips, and he sipped the water gratefully. “Thanks.”
Doctor Brackett stepped forward and injected a small amount of colourless liquid into the IV port. “This should keep you comfortable, and let you rest for a while,” he said to the patient, while frowning slightly at the visitor standing beside the bed. “Make sure that happens. He needs all the rest and quiet he can get; he lost a lot of blood when the splinter from that ceiling beam nicked the artery.” The doctor backed away, adding, “I'll be back later to check on you,” as he headed out the door.
“Sure thing Doc.”
In the sudden quiet of the room, the two men looked at each other. Blue eyes met brown eyes, both tired and concerned, but each drawing comfort and strength from the other.
The weary eyes began to close, as exhaustion and medication defeated his desire to stay awake.
“Just sleep. I'll be here when you wake up.”
O o O o O
A/N: Recently I had the experience of waking up in the recovery room after surgery; what should have been a twenty minute stay turned into a three hour event! I thought I'd roughly translate what happened with me into the realm of fanfic (although I was *not* stabbed in the leg by a giant wooden splinter, nor was I visited by Doctor Brackett !!). Can you tell who was who in the story?
Additionally, this story was originally published on ff.net, in another fandom (Hawaii Five-O, the classic series)... it was pointed out to me that as a story about the close relationship between co-workers, it would also translate well to the E! universe. So here it is... please enjoy!
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