Rocky Road

Chapter 7

Molly watched Greg sleep. She could see the lines of tension on his face and hoped that the scheduled dose of his painkillers soon will kick in. She shook her head. Even though Greg must have been in quite an amount of pain he had refused to take any extra pain medication.
“ You stubborn idiot” Molly thought.
His breathing was more laboured than it normally was and some sweat was forming on his forehead. She carefully wiped it away. Today had been a particularly hard and frustrating day for both of them.

When Molly had arrived at the hospital Greg was right at the middle of his daily physiotherapy session. He was doing breathing exercises to improve his respiration and to strengthen the muscles inside his chest .
“Hi, I'm Stephen, Mr. Lestrade's Physiotherapist,” the man standing next to Greg's bed introduced himself. He was around 25 years old and had shoulder long blond hair which he wore in a ponytail. He looked more like a surfer than a physiotherapist.
Greg waved slightly upon seeing her standing at the door and gestured her to come in. Molly closed the door behind her and moved the chair over to the left site of Greg's bed.
“Hey Molly,” Greg greeted her after he finished his exercises.
“Just one more session on my arms and abdomen and then I'm all yours,” he said spotting a strained smile and sounding a little out of breath.
Molly nodded and smiled while the physiotherapist started out with some light exercises by asking Greg to move his arms in certain ways.

“What's the level of pain, Mr. Lestrade? You up for some more?” The young man asked after finishing the first round of exercise.
“Not too bad actually. Think I can manage some more,” Greg said looking over to where Molly was sitting.
If he was honest he was in a quite considerable amount of pain but Greg didn't want to show it. He hated it that he was still so dependent and couldn't really do anything on his own. He'd been stuck in this bed for nearly two months now and even though he had been unconscious most of the time and therefore couldn't remember most of it he wanted to get out of it as soon as possible. So he had decided to speed things up a bit by pushing his limits more and more.

After Greg had finished the second round of exercises the Physiotherapist asked again about the level of pain Greg was in just to make sure if he was really up for the even more painful session on his abdomen. His chest was burning from all the movements and his abdomen started to hurt from sitting upright for too long. But he wanted to follow through with his plan. Stephen had promised him to bring a wheelchair to the session on the next day if this one went well and maybe even try some walking exercises in a couple of days depending on the strength in Greg's arms and chest. So in Greg's mind that meant that he had to push himself hard to archive that no matter what the pain will be.
“ 'm fine. Let's do it,” Lestrade replied, hoping that he sounded convincing enough.
“You sure? We can move that to the later session, as planned,” Stephen asked, noticing that his patient looked like he was actually in quite some pain.
“No, no. It's all good. Nothing I can't manage,” Greg said, getting slightly annoyed.
Molly leaned forward and put a hand on Greg's arm. “Please, Greg, don't over do it. You need to...”
“I don't need to do anything,” Lestrade snapped angrily pulling his arm away from Molly's touch. “I'm not a kid you know?” Raising his voice he looked at both Molly and Stephen. “I'm a grown man, I bloody know damn well what is good for me and what is not. I don't need people telling me that everyday. I had that for weeks now. From doctors, from therapists, from friends, I don't need that shit any more. It's my fucking body and I say when it is enough, not anybody else, do you understand?” All that shouting had left him out of breath and while he was busy trying to breath through the pain he didn't noticed the tears that began falling down on Molly's face.
“I know it is a hard time you are are going through, Mr. Lestrade,” the Physiotherapist said, trying to calm the situation.
“You are damn well right, it's fucking hell I'm going through,” Greg muttered still trying to catch his breath.
“It's not always easy to notice what is good for your body and the healing progress and what is not.”
Greg let out a grunt.
“I understand that it's quite frustrating for you but as said before pushing too hard will only cause more damage and slow down your recovery. You know what we are going to do, Mr. Lestrade?” Greg shook his head.
“We are not going to do any more exercises today but...”
Greg, even though he was still not able to breath properly, tried to protest,
“..but what I will do instead," Stephen continued, not giving his patient a change to word his disapproval, "is come around later this afternoon and I'll bring a wheelchair. How does that sound, Mr. Lestrade? Is that a deal?”
“Deal” Greg gasped out.
“Ok, I leave you two alone then and I will be back later today” Stephen said patting Greg's shoulder.
Greg nodded reaching over to Molly to grab her hand. She hesitated a moment, still hurt by his sudden outburst. She knew that it was nothing personal and John had warned her that episodes like this will occur during Greg's recovery. This wouldn't probably be the last time and she knew that this where the times when Greg needed her the most, even though he couldn't show it.
Greg noticed her hesitation and slowly withdrew his outstretched hand. He slightly regretted his sudden temper but all of this frustration just had to come out.
“'m sry” he managed to get out, still trying to catch his breath. “just frustrating”
“I know, Greg, I know” Molly said.
“Not really helping when you or others are...are telling me what” he was interrupted by a coughing fit which made his chest hurt even more. “Fucking lungs.” He continued, “just don't need it. 's hard enough when the...the doctors and therapists are telling me what my...” he paused to catch his breath, “my body is capable of doing. Can't take that from you as well at the moment. Please understand.” He looked at her, breathing heavily.
“I understand” Molly answered, “but you also have to understand that we nearly lost you, twice.”
Seeing the confused look on Lestrade's face she explained, “they had to resuscitate you twice. You went into cardiac arrest once at the scene and later during surgery. It was quite a touch and go for the first days. They didn't even know if you would make it. I don't know if anyone had told you this but during your stay in the ICU there were moments when we thought that there would be an other setback and that we were losing you but you pulled through them all." Molly took a deep breath. “I don't want to lose you again, Greg. It had hurt so badly seeing you lying there, barely conscious. Seeing the fear and confusion in your eyes, not really recognizing the people who were around you. Trying to calm you down when you were panicking, thinking the nurses or visitors were trying to hurt you. I'm not sure if I could handle it a second time. Not after all we went through. That's why I asked you to take it slow. I'll try to stop doing it f it makes you feel better but you have to listen to what your doctors and therapists are saying, can you promise me that?” Molly asked looking Greg straight into his brown eyes which were showing a mixture of pain, fear and anger. Tears began to form.
No one had actually bothered to tell him that he nearly died twice and had to be resuscitated. He was not stupid, he knew that his injuries were quite severe but he didn't know that they thought that he might die. Or more truthfully he had never bothered to think about that.
He couldn't remember much of his stay in the ICU, it was all really blurry and left him with an uncomfortable, kind of frightening feeling. He felt bad. Bad that he had hurt the people around him. He didn't meant to do that. He made a mental note that he had to talk about this topic with John and had to find out who else of his other friends had visited him in ICU.
“'K” Greg finally answered. "S'pose I need to be shown my boundaries from time to time. Sorry for hurt...hurting you. Didn't meant to. Just so bloody frus...frustrating being helpless.” He quickly wiped away the tear that started falling from his right eye, hoping that Molly hadn't noticed it. “And sorry for my behaviour the ICU then. So so sorry. Didn't know about nearly dy...dying twice. Didn't know I scared you,” Greg said reaching out again to take Molly's hand.
Molly noticed that Lestrade's hand was shaking, she didn't know if it was from exhaustion, the pain or because of the shock of what Molly just had told him. Moving closer to the bed she took his hand, kissed it gently, trying to avoid the IV line that went into it and held it against her chest.
“Don't be sorry for this” she said. “The way you behaved in ICU wasn't you, it were the drugs and sedatives that were in your system.” She leant over and kissed his forehead. “It's all gone and forgiven now. You just concentrate on getting better without pushing yourself too hard, that's all I'm asking for.”
Greg nodded. He knew Molly was right. He wasn't a young man any more. With 45 the body just needed more time for healing. He was lucky that he was quite fit so that the doctors assured him that there was a fair chance of him making a full recovery.
But still there was the thing with his legs. Even though he had regained more and more feelings in them over the last few days, he still wasn't able to move them at all. And that really frightened him. Sure, the doctors were saying that his legs needed to remember how to work after a spinal injury and that it'll start as soon as they were beginning with the training on them. But still it didn't feel right.
He could feel tears starting to dwell up again. “Shit, not now. Molly is here. Don't need her to see me cry” he thought to himself trying to keep the tears at bay.
“What are you thinking about?” Molly asked, stroking his cheek and thereby casually wiped away a tear that had escaped his eye.
“My useless legs” Greg answered truthfully. He had thought for a minute to lie about it but them dismissed the idea, thinking that it would be best to talk about the things that were bothering him.
“Still no sign of movement returning. Probably will be in a wheelchair for...for the rest of my life. Never being able to re...return to my Job as a DI at Scotland Yard. What am I supposed to do then? What good am I then?”
“No, don't say stuff like that,” Molly said. “Just wait until your rehabilitation program starts and then you will be on your feet in no time” Trying to cheer him up she added “you know I had a patient once with nearly the same spine injury like you have...”
“Not really helping” Greg interrupted her, now spotting the faint of a smile “you only do post mortems, how is that supp...supposed to motivate me?”
“Na-a, just wait,” Molly continued. “Well, yeah you are right he was dead, had been stabbed to death the poor bastard. But the important part of this story is, that what I could see from his files was that after he had injured his spine in an motorcycle accident he was able to walk with aids a couple of month later and had regained all his mobility back in what was like a little over a year. So you see? No reason to hang one's head. It may take a while but I'm quite sure that you'll make a full recovery”
“Yeah, maybe” Greg answered, still not surely convinced.
He was annoyed that he had allowed himself to be dragged down to these dark thoughts again and that he had bothered Molly with them. They should be having a good time during her visits. She was already worrying about him so much, he didn't need to burden her with his depressions as well.

Molly rearranged her chair so that she was able to lay her head between Greg's neck and shoulder. For a moment they just lay there, both deeply absorbed in their own thoughts.
After a while Greg stirred and thereby rubbed his head against Molly's. She chuckled.
“Wha'?” Greg asked.
“You do know, that you desperately need a shave? When was the last time?” Molly answered laughing.
“Dunno, “ Greg carefully shrugged his shoulders.
“Couple of days ago, I guess. My electrical razor broke. Then decided to give the bearded look a try. You don't like it?” he said smiling.
“Not quite sure,” Molly admitted. “Bit prickly but I must say that it kinda does look good on you.” She gave him a kiss.“As long as it doesn't grow into a full ZZ Top style one I'm all good with it” Lestrade started to laugh which resulted in an other coughing fit. “Na, no worries about this. I think even if I would grow it a little...a little bit longer I would start to look stupid. Maybe as soon as I gained some weight back and had a decent haircut I...I might try again, but now I'm afraid I'll just look like some git instead of the ho...hoped for Sean Connery look. So probably going to shave soon anyway.“
Molly let out a hearty laugh. Greg had indeed lost quite a lot of weight since he was shot and with his hair not being cut and styled for quite a while he would really look like someone sleeping under a bridge rather than a Detective Inspector from Scotland Yard. “That'll most likely be the case,” she said, still laughing. “But I've got to run some errands after work any ways and I'll have a look at Tesco and see if I find you a good razor with which you will be able to maintain a look that doesn't resemble Sherlock during his drug days.”
“That sounds like a good idea,” Greg said, still laughing even though the pain in his chest and abdomen started to get worse again.
Molly gave him an other kiss. “I'll be back around 6 or 7, depending on when I manage to get off work.”
Greg, who wasn't able to control his coughing at the moment could only nod. Molly handed him a glass of water which he thankfully took. He managed to swallow a couple of gulps before he had to cough again. All this laughing really didn't helped his lungs.
“Try to get some rest” Molly said putting the glass back on the bedside table.
“Yeah,” Greg managed to rasp out “probably a good idea.”
After Molly left his room he put down his headrest and tried to get at least a little sleep. He didn't think that he would have any luck, though. Because of his injuries the only way he was able to lie was on his back which normally wasn't his sleeping position.

A few days ago he had the stupid idea to try to roll onto his side. The exit wounds on his back had been aching and he desperately wanted to lie in a different position for once without having a sponge bath. He soon regretted even trying.
Without being able to move his legs he hadn't been really able to get into a comfortable position so he had tried to bend over a little bit to grab his legs and move them to a better position using his already bent position to check on his status, well down there. And that had been the moment from which everything went downhill.
A sudden pain had shot through his chest and abdomen and had made him flinching his arm back up. Unfortunately it had been under the tube which connected his catheter with the urine bag and the sudden upward movement had resulted in the catheter being nearly pulled out. The pain had been unbearable and Greg quickly had moved back on his back breathing heavily.
At first Greg had thought about not letting anyone know about this episode but when the pain had gotten worse and he could see a little blood shining trough the fabric of his hospital blanked he had decided that'll probably would be the best to call for the nurse. She had arrived a couple of minutes later and Greg told her about his embarrassing mishap.
The nurse had shook her head and told him to never try something that stupid again while she re-adjusted his catheter, of which he hadn't felt a thing, so so much for that he had thought annoyed, and got him a new blanket.
Red-faced and embarrassed to his guts all Greg had been able to do was staring at the ceiling and hoping that it will be over soon.
“You've also pulled some stitches on your little adventure, Mr. Lestrade,” the nurse had told him. “I'm going to have a doctor look over it later.”
Greg just wanted to die. Could it get any worse?

“So lying on the back it is then,” Greg sighed while he tried to get at least a little bit comfortable.
The pain still was pretty nasty and prevented him from fully relaxing so he switched on the TV and watched some daytime shows. He must have dosed off at one point because suddenly he was awoken by Stephen who was standing beside his bed.
“Ready to drag your ass out of this bed, Mr. Lestrade?” Stephen asked, spotting a wide smile.
“You bet I am,” Greg answered.
“Oh and by the way, it's Greg.” He really liked that boy. The way he talked to him made him feel like a normal person and lacked all the pity and sorrow which always shined through when his friends and colleagues visited him. Even though they really tried to hide it Greg noticed that they behaved different around him since he was shot. And he hated it.
“'K Greg, than let's start by getting you to sit upright. I'm slowly raising your headrest to get you in the right position.”
Greg nodded.
After Greg was brought up to a sitting position Stephen put a hand on his back to support him and then slowly moved his legs over the edge of the bed.
“You all right?” Stephen asked.
“Yeah, all good. Bit nervous, though,” Greg admitted.
“That's perfectly normal,” Stephen reassured him. “It actually is quite a big step in your recovery progress, so you have every right to be nervous about it. Feeling any dizziness?”
Greg shook his head.
“'K then. I now want you to put your arms down at your site and give yourself a good push when I start lifting you up. OK?” Greg did as he was told and Stephen carefully put one arm around his waist, the other under his legs and slowly lifted the Detective Inspector up.
“Wow, quite some strength you've have in your arms” Stephen smiled after he had seated Greg in the wheelchair, readjusting his legs and hooking the catheter and IV bags onto the chair.
“Gimme a couple of days and I'll beat you at arm wrestling,” Greg laughed.
“Challenge accepted,” Stephen replied laughing. “So were do you want to go?”
“Somewhere outside would be nice,” Greg answered. “Would love to catch some fresh air.”
“Sounds good to me. Courtyard or are you already up for a trip into the real world?” Stephen asked.
Greg shook his head. No he wasn't really ready to face the outside world just yet. Not with all the equipment dangling around and him being so helpless.
“Courtyard is just fine,” he answered.
“Cool, but you better put on a zip hoody. We don't want any turmoil caused by the ladies going crazy at the sight of a hot bare chested guy being pushed around by an even hotter one, do we?”
“As if..” Greg laughed.

A couple of minutes later Greg was wearing a grey zipped hoody which matched the sweatpants he, after some discussion with the nurses, was now allowed to wear instead of the dreaded hospital gown.

“Let's go then” Stephen started to turn around the wheelchair and pushed Greg out of his room to the elevators.

Greg had never thought how great it would feel to be outside and to catch some fresh air. Even though the fresh air was still polluted Whitechapel air it felt awesome in his lungs. He took a deep breath which resulted in a coughing fit.
“Easy there, boy,” Stephen said laying a hand on Greg's shoulder.
“So do you want me to push you around a little bit or do you want to find a nice place and relax there for a while?”
“Na, pushing around sounds good,” Greg answered. "Been stationary for too long.”
“That's true,” Stephen agreed.

Stephen had pushed him around for like 15 minutes when Greg noticed that the pain in his chest and abdomen started to get worse but he didn't want to return to his room just yet. And even though he felt uncomfortable and slightly embarrassed to be pushed around he enjoyed it to be not confined to his hospital bed for once. So he kept quiet.
“I think it's time to return you to your room, Greg,” Stephen said carefully some time after he noticed that the change of breathing and the slight strain in the voice of his patient when they talked was getting worse.
Seeing the disappointment on Greg's face he added “You've done really good for your first trip. 30 Minutes, that's quite a long time actually. We're going to do an other trip tomorrow and I heard that there was talk to transfer you to a rehabilitation facility soon to get you back on your feet.”
Greg's face lit up. “Really?” he asked turning as much as he could in his wheelchair to look Stephen in the face. He couldn't really believe it. It just sounded just to good to be true. Going to rehab meant that his wounds had healed enough so that he can work on walking again.
“Really! “ Stephen confirmed. “Our Job here now is to make sure that your wounds heal nicely, start some light exercises on your legs and work on your lungs so that you stop sounding like some old chain smoker every time you exercise a little or take a too deep breath.”
Greg chuckled.
“So let's go back inside,” Stephen said pushing Greg back into the building.
“Nothing I could do against it, could I? I'm completely at your mercy, ” Greg said still chuckling.

On their way back to his room they bumped into Molly who just exited the other elevator.
“Oh Greg, I see you are on wheels now,” she greeted him cheerfully. “What a pity that I missed your first trip,” Molly said giving Greg a kiss on his forehead.
“There will be plenty more first times” Greg assured her. What he particularly was thinking about was hopefully the first time walking with aids and more importantly the first time walking without any help. That were the moments where he wanted her at his site.

The transfer from the wheelchair back to the bed was quite painful and Greg had to bite back a painful groan before he finally was settled back to a comfortable position. Stephen asked if he should get the nurse to give him some unscheduled pain medication as he seemed to be in quite some pain. Greg shook his head. This stuff always made him drowsy and somewhat dazed and he just wanted to spent as much time with Molly today as possible. For the next days she had to work during the visiting hours and she couldn't say if she was able to make it over during her lunch break, so they most likely only were able to see each other again at the coming weekend.
“You sure you don't need any painkillers, Greg?” Molly asked after Stephen had left the room.
“No, not that bad now, actually” He tried to smile. “Had a great time finally get...ting out of this room” Greg said, trying to move the conversation to a different direction.
“I quite believe it,” Molly answered, still not fully convinced that Greg was fine. “Where did you two go?”
“Just to the courtyard. Was an awesome fe..feeling to breath fresh air and to feel the...the sun on my skin,” Greg answered with bright eyes. “Can't wait get out again.”
“I can imagine,” she replied happy to see Greg in such a cheerful mood. “It was a particularly nice day today too.”
“Probably would...would have even love...loved it if it ...if it had rained” The smile on his face couldn't hide the fact that he was really worn out from his trip in the wheelchair and that talking really needed an ridiculous amount of strength.
Molly noticed it as well and thought that it would be the best if Greg would get some rest but didn't want to push him on that topic. She didn't want to trigger an other outburst like the one in the morning and destroy the good mood he was in after finally being allowed out of bed and thus making a small step towards independence.
“That would've been quite a sight then” she laughed. “They would've probably transferred you to the loony ward right away.” Greg chuckled.“Oh by th..the way. What I wanted tell you. Stephen said that th...there was talk ab...about transferring me to a reha...rehabilitation facility soon,” Greg said spotting a proud smile. “Said that I'm doing...really well. Strength and all tha...that stuff. Just need the injuries heal to a certain level so that I can move with...without being in too much pain and...and out of breath so quickly.”
“Greg! These are great news!” Molly gave him a hug, carefully avoiding the wounds on his chest. She looked at him smiling. That was the confident boost he just needed. He had been feeling down quite often lately especially after his doctor had to check and redo some of Greg's stitches a couple of days ago. God knows how he had managed to pull them but it was something Greg didn't want to talk about with her.

She had just arrived at the hospital after work and was talking about how annoying Sherlock was lately when there had been a knock on the door and his doctor had entered.
“The nurses told me that you had managed to pull some of your stitches, Mr. Lestrade? Care to explain how you managed that?”
Greg looked over to Molly and slowly shook his head. “No, would prefer not to,” he had said quietly.
“Very well then, but whatever it was do not repeat it. The first round of restitching is for free, the following will cost a Pint for each stitch.”
Greg had let out a grunt.
“So now let me see the damage,” the doctor had said removing the dressings from Greg's chest and abdomen.
That was the first time Molly had sawn the real extend of his injuries. A long incision ran down in the middle of his chest. Starting just below the the collarbones it went nearly all way down to his stomach. On both sites of the chest the entry wounds of the bullets were clearly visible. The incision on his abdomen just stopped short of the one on his chest and went down to his pubic area. She could see that the bullet had entered right in the middle of his stomach.
It was different seeing them for real. She knew that they were there, but they had each been covered with dressings so she hadn't really wasted any thoughts on what it would look like beneath them.
She had really tried to look as casual as possible but the shock must had been quite visible on her face because after the doctor had left after he was finished with his work and had put new dressings on, Greg whispered “See, I look horrible with all these scars. I will never be normal again.” What followed had been a serious episode of self-pity and Molly had found it very hard to convince him that she will love him no matter what and that a few scars, which will fade anyway over time, will not make him somewhat different.

This in mind she was really happy about the progress Greg was making and that he'll be out of this hospital soon. And Greg seemed so too. Even though he was exhausted and in pain from this day's activities he was smiling and was talking about what facility he would probably go to. Which would be best and covered by his health insurance.
“I'll ask around what the best choices around London would be and get you some info material,” she promised him. “ Now what about some semi-cuddling and watching some telly? I don't know about you but I'm actually quite knackered from work. And there is till a little over an hour of visiting time left.”
“OK, anything particularly you want to watch?” Greg asked stroking Molly's head she had now rested carefully on his shoulder.
“Na, whatever you fancy” she replied.
Greg switched through the channels and got stuck on a Top Gear rerun.
It didn't take long and sleep claimed Greg leaving Molly to watch his chest raise and fall during his laboured breathing. He still wasn't out of the woods completely and he mustn't strain his body too hard. There were still chances of serious re-injuries to his lungs or his guts but for the moment now she was just happy that he was alive and about the progress he had made in the last couple of weeks. Nobody wanted to admit it but during his first week in the ICU everyone around Greg expected to get the dreaded call every minute. That he pulled through was actually a little miracle and while she gently wiped away some of the sweat that had been forming on his forehead she quietly whispered in his ear: “You know I'll always be there for you. No matter what the future holds. Just keep talking to me and I promise I'll help you the best I can.” She gave him a kiss and made her way back home.

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