When I woke up, my dad was sitting next to me watching basketball.
“I’m awake,” I croaked. My throat was like a desert.
My dad looked at me, then hopped up and grabbed the water sitting on the table next to me. He put the straw to my lips and I drank a lot.
“Slow down, they said to be nice to your stomach.”
“I’m really thirsty,” I said.
“I can bring you some fruit juice,” he said. “It’ll help get your energy back up.”
“Okay,” I agreed. “Where’s Jed?”
“Upstairs, I think. Do you want me to get him?”
“Yeah,” I said.
Jed came down before my dad came back with the juice. “How are you?”
“I’m thirsty. Tired. Kind of itchy.”
“Is it because of the socks?”
“Maybe. I don’t think I can take them off.”
Jed reached out and scratched my legs for me.
“Closer to my feet.”
He did as I asked, and my dad came in with the fruit juice.
“His legs itched,” Jed said, pulling his hands back.
“Mine would too if I had those things on.” Dad said. Jed moved over so he could sit next to me and hold the glass.
“I can hold it.” I said.
“Maybe you can just hold the straw.”
I moved my arm at the elbow, and it felt good to do something. I drank half the glass of juice. “I’m good for now, thanks,” I told my dad. He put the juice back on the table next to us.
We sat and talked for a while and I could feel the sugar getting into my system. “I’m kind of hungry.”
“I think you might want to wait a bit. Make sure the juice doesn’t make you sick.”
“Okay,” I said, even though I really wanted food.
“How is your pain level?” Dad asked.
“Fine,” I said. I wasn’t super comfortable, but I wasn’t in pain.
“Do you need me to adjust anything?”
“Can you lean the seat up a little more?”
Dad got up and did as I asked. “Anything you want to watch?”
After looking at Netflix, I settled on a movie. Halfway through, Isaiah’s siblings got home from school. They didn’t come into the living room, but we could hear them arguing from the kitchen.
“I’ll go see what’s up with them,” Jed said.
He didn’t come back until Isaiah’s parents got home and they came to see me.
“Looking good for such a major surgery,” Marco said, smiling at my dad. “How’d he hold up?”
“He was a little loopy from the anesthesia, but the doctor said the procedure went very well. Cameron and I are going to have to teach Jed how to empty the drains in his chest before I leave.”
“How do you feel?” Laney asked.
“Tired and hungry,” I said.
“Can you have anything?”
I looked at Dad.
“I think some crackers or toast would be okay now. He had juice about two hours ago and he hasn’t thrown up. Are you feeling okay? No stomach problems?” “I’m fine,” I said.
Laney left to get me some crackers, and I thought I could kiss her.
“I’m glad you’re doing well,” Marco said, smiling at me. “Where’s Jed?”
“With Jonah and Jamey.”
“I don’t know what we’d do without him,” Marco said, laughing. “Honestly, I don’t even have to help with homework anymore!”
I smiled, and he walked away to find his kids. Laney came back with the crackers and gave them to my dad, who handed them to me one by one. I chose a show to watch and zoned out for a while, barely even noticing when my dad stopped giving me crackers. I felt kind of foggy, which I thought was mostly because I was tired, but maybe partially because of the painkillers.
Before I knew it, my dad had to leave, and he went to find Jed so he could teach him how to empty my drains. I took my shirt off, not even caring who was looking. I felt so good that even the mild pain from my dad and Jed touching the drains couldn’t get me down.
“If those hurt, I can get you some ice,” Dad offered.
“That might be good,” I said.
Jed fiddled with the drain again and then rubbed my compression vest where it went over my shoulder. “This thing looks uncomfortable.”
“Not yet, really,” I said. “I don’t know how much I can actually feel in my chest right now.”
“At least you’re not in pain.”
“Yeah. I’m starting to have to pee though.”
“Should your dad help you with that before he leaves?”
“Remember when I said you were going to have to help me with a lot of stuff?”
“I’m sorry. I can get Dad to help if you’re uncomfortable, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it on my own tomorrow either.”
“It’s okay, Cam. I want to be here for you.”
I smiled. His determined face was so adorable. “Thank you. I’m sorry I wasn’t really more clear before.”
“I did look some stuff up,” Jed admitted, “but it was mostly just like washing your hair and the drains thing and driving you to your appointments.”
My dad came back with an ice pack just then. I thanked him and took it, pressing it on my left side first, which kind of itched and hurt.
“I think I’m going to have to get going,” Dad said, frowning. “Are you sure there’s nothing you need before I go?”
“I’m sure, Dad. I want you to get sleep.”
“Remember you have an appointment tomorrow at 11.”
“And you should take those anti-constipation pills.”
“And you should empty your drains and record how much fluid is in them before you go to bed. And make sure you sleep here so you don’t pull out your drains or something.”
“Dad, I’ll be okay,” I said, giving him a smile.
He gave me a small smile and moved so he could lean down and give me a kiss on the forehead. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Dad. Thanks for all your help.”
“Anything.” he looked at Jed. “Take good care of him, okay?”
Jed nodded dutifully. “I’ll let you know if anything happens.”
“It might be good to get up and walk,” Dad said.
I took the hint. “I’ll walk you out to the car.”
“Let me grab my bag,” he said. Jed stood next to me as I got up, ready to stabilize me if needed. I felt a lot better on my feet than I had when we left the hospital.
As I walked, I was careful not to move my arms a lot, but I kept hitting my drains, which were really annoying. I didn’t realize that I still had my actual shirt off until I was already outside, but my compression vest covered almost everything, and I didn’t have so much to hide anymore, so I found that I didn’t really care.
My dad gave me a small hug before he got in the car. As he pulled out, Jed waved, and I waved from hip level.
“Ready to pee?” Jed asked.
“Yeah,” I said, trying not to blush.