Part Thirty Seven
Chapter Thirty Seven
"Have you spoken to Coop?" Natasha blurted, as she almost jogged to her car, not giving Freya time to even answer the call. The internet reports were sketchy at best, all she knew was that Bo had suffered a puck to the head, and the game was stopped to take him to hospital.
"Jonny the assistant coach has stayed with him, Coop had to come back with the others, the team doctor is there too. Do you want their numbers?"
Did she? Could she turn up and act like she had a role in Bo's life?
Suddenly, she didn't care what anyone said or thought, Bo had no family, few friends. He needed someone.
"Can I have Coop's number? I'd rather suss things out with him first."
Freya agreed, hanging up, then sending her his number, and Natasha was in the car, heading out of the car park as he answered a call, his voice a tonic through her Bluetooth system.
"Hey, Coop. It's Natasha..."
She didn't have time to answer before he sighed, "thank god for that, I think he'd love to know you're in touch. He's been out of it. I had to leave him, they say he's not critical, but they're waiting for a CT scan..." he groaned. "Had to come back with these guys to field media questions...and I've just finished a call with his parents."
His pleasure that she was involved, there for Bo was obvious, she barely replied, other than to ask where he was. He named the General Hospital in the town they'd played in which was a ninety minute drive away. Hanging up, she plugged the postcode into her satnav and headed off.
His head hurt, that was all Bo knew, as he lay there, eyes closed, he could make out voices, increasing in clarity as he concentrated, but the pain made him fight that, slump back into what he presumed was sleep. He'd been struggling like this for what felt like hours. Foggy, distant, then woken up, lights shone in his eyes, questions asked.
The light was brighter now, and the voices louder as he woke this time, trying desperately to work out where in the hell he was. His head throbbed, felt as though an axe was cleaving it apart at his right temple. Then he remembered, that puck, he threw himself in front of it to stop a shot on goal, and it flicked up, hitting him under the rim of his helmet. Had he passed out? He couldn't remember anything else.
Other than now.
He strained to make out the muffled voices, not recognising either of them. Were there two? Or three? Doctors again?
He tried to peel his eyes open, but that felt physically impossible, it felt as though they were welded shut. So frustrating. Then a wave of pain washed through his brain and he couldn't help but moan, and the sound was painful to his ears.
He was officially in hell.
"Bo?" A male voice he couldn't place was close to him, "I think he's waking up."
When he managed to split his left eyelid, the face that wasn't in focus, was Matt, the team doctor.
His lips didn't behave, and he was struggling to formulate a word, with a groan of frustration, he closed his barely open eye and wanted to switch off.
"You're in the General Hospital, mate." Matt crouched down to his level, "do you remember getting a hit, puck to the head? It knocked you to the ice and you hit your head as you fell. Been wafting in and out of it since. How you feeling?"
"Pain." He managed the word, unsure if it sounded.
Matt patted his hand, "they'll give you some more meds, we're just waiting on your CT scan results."
He had his eye open again and it was feeling a little easier, "time?"
Once again the team doctor lowered into his limited visual field, "it's seven twenty, an hour since your hit."
Shit! His internal voice screamed, this wasn't good.
Matt was talking, but he wasn't really listening, instead, all his recent positivity was ending, as he realised that this could mean the end of his career. He wanted to cry, and he had avoided that for so long.
"I've turned the light off," Matt finally offered, "does that feel better?"
He opened his left eye, the right sluggishly trying to follow, then he managed a little nod. The light was no longer like needles piercing deep into his skull.
He'd spent a fair bit of time with Matt and the team's physio since he'd arrived and he liked the man, but he knew a lecture was coming. And he dreaded it.
"This is Michael Cartwright, he's the neurosurgeon on call. He's reviewed your CT scan, and there's no damage to your brain, we were concerned, ironically not from the initial hit, but the collision with the ice. Fortunately there's no sign of bleeding, fracture, but concussions don't show up in imaging. So we can't tell what effects this will have on you.
"Whilst that's good news, the club, and indeed the league have to follow strict guidelines after a concussion this bad. So, you'll be monitored, daily for the next two weeks, and if all is well regularly for several weeks."
Matt laughed, "not for a while, you are at risk of traumatic brain injury, post concussion syndrome...lots of things we need to protect you from."
He groaned, more time out, it was the only thing keeping him going was playing. How the hell would he survive a long time out? Again. The pain in his chest was immense.
The neurosurgeon then started to ask him those ridiculous questions, his name, the date, who the prime minister was. Then tested his eyes, hearing...again. He felt like a guinea pig as he was poked prodded.
"Can I go home?" He asked, as the two men combined at the end of his bed and talked in hushed tones.
When they met his eyes, he hated what he saw, but before they spoke, the door opened and the male nurse who'd taken his observations earlier peeped in, "you've got a visitor...you up for it?"
Bo liked that he directed the question at him, and not the doctors. He wasn't in the mood to see anyone, but it was his chance to at least have a little control.
The door widened, and the warmest most pleasurable sight greeted his eyes.
As he watched her take in the room, smile and nod at the doctors, he couldn't remember the last time someone had looked out for him, let alone driven halfway across the country to check on him.
Smiling he watched her approach, happy until he saw the horror wash over her face as her eyes met his.
"Do I look that bad?" Bo looked up at her from his mashed up face and tried to smile, and Natasha hated the way that he stumbled over his words. What the hell had happened?
As she took in the cut above his eye, and the blood that was caked in his hair, the dark rings under his eyes, and his usual warm complexion was pallid.
"You've looked better," she tried to snap out of her sadness. "A lot better on times."
That made him smile, "you should see the other guy...the ice was ruined."
Grinning she walked up to him, then stooped to kiss his cheek without even thinking about it. And didn't miss the sigh of relief escaping his lips.
He breathed the words quietly when she was close, and his eyes, half open as they were, were focussed on her, intently.
Nodding, she squatted to his level, taking his hands, then smiled at the doctor who pushed a chair in her direction.
"Didn't think you'd have hundreds of people queuing around the block to visit." She offered as she sat down, level with his head.
He laughed, then grimaced at the effort, "touché."
"Joking aside, you look like shit."
She watched as Bo closed his eyes, when he opened them again, he seemed to have regained a little composure, "feel like it."
At that point, one of the two men who were talking at the end of the bed, "Hi, Miss...?"
"This is my friend, Natasha," Bo interrupted him.
"Natasha, I'm Matt, the doctor who travels with the Hornets. Bo," he turned away from her. "Are you OK with me talking you through with everything with Natasha here?" When Bo nodded, gripping her hand tightly, he carried on, recapping for her benefit, "as I told you earlier, your CT scan shows no obvious damage to the brain, but there are physical signs that your brain isn't functioning fully...yet. You are showing classic signs of severe concussion, and with your loss of consciousness, for about fifteen minutes, the fog you're currently in, no memory of the last hour, headaches, dizziness, nausea, the delayed and slurred speech. For most people this will resolve in a few days, maybe a couple of weeks, but there is always a chance of post concussion syndrome. Longer term effects.
"The league and club indicate that you have to be completely symptom free for two weeks before you can even begin to train let alone play." As Bo nodded, he added, "and whilst you might want to lie about things, to play sooner...this can be career threatening, even life threatening, if we don't deal with and manage it properly."
As Bo opened his mouth, Natasha leaned in front of him, "so what do we have to do?"
Matt turned to her, and they both almost ignored Bo for a moment, Natasha hoped he'd take that moment to digest the severity of things.
"I have to go back soon, I have a clinic at nine am in our local hospital. They need Bo to stay for observations, I'm waiting on Coop getting back to me about transport back when he's discharged. The assistant coach was here, but he got called away too."
"I'll stay with him, I can drive him home..."
Bo coughed for attention, "I am here too, you know?"
Smiling, Natasha looked down at him, "you want me to stay with you?"
"Of course." The pleasure, the gratitude in his expression made it all worthwhile. She was all he had. She knew that.
He smiled, and he was so vulnerable, so forlorn as he asked, "Can I go home?"
She turned to the consultant at the end of the bed. "So, can he?"
He shook his head, "He can't be alone for at least twenty four hours, so we plan to keep..."
"He won't be alone," she interrupted. "I'll be with him, and I can keep an eye on him."
The doctor looked undecided, so she added, "he'll be better out of here, he'll relax, sleep better. All you have to tell me is what to watch out for. I can call you guys here, or Matt in the morning? I can take him to the hospital for a check. I just figure he'll be better out of here."
The consultant was quiet for a moment, then shrugged, "Bo's scans are good, chances of major changes over night are rare, but we still advise that he is woken two hourly, pupils checked, simple questions asked, just to make sure he is rousable and that there are no neurological changes, we can give you a chart."
She nodded, then turned to Matt, "I think the drive will be too much tonight. If we stay locally, a hotel or something, can we check in with you tomorrow?"
He nodded, "I'll be free after midday. Call me when you're back in town, and I'll come to Bo's. Check him out there."
As he handed her a business card, Natasha pulled out her phone and googled a nearby high end hotel. They needed luxury. As she connected a call, she stepped out of the room and managed to secure a room. A double room. That was the only option available. Whilst she needed to be in the room with him, she'd hoped for two beds.
When she got back into the room, Bo was sat up and looking a little green, but both doctors were talking to him intently. When she approached all three looked at her.
"These are the charts you need to fill in overnight," Matt handed her two pages. "The first is the hospital's, the other is what the league use as guidelines. I am on the end of the phone if you're worried. Or Michael here," he gestured to the consultant. "He's happy for you to come straight back at any point."
She nodded, "will you get in touch with Coop?"
"Of course. Bo came here in his kit, most of it was bagged up and taken back by Johnny earlier." He pointed at a large kit bag on a chair. "He might need a hand to get dressed."
Rolling her eyes, she ushered the two men out of the room then turned back to Bo, still sat on the edge of the bed in a hospital gown.
"You OK with this?"
"You dressing me? Rather it was undressing, but hey-ho."
Rolling her eyes again, Natasha lifted the bag and opened it, pulling out underwear, and fortunately a club track suit that was easier than jeans to help him into.
"Thanks for this."
She paused at Bo's words, looking up at him slowly, "it's OK. I couldn't have not come."
Nodding he bit his lip, "and I'll try not to read anything into that."
He looked so small, so vulnerable, that she couldn't control the impulse that saw her wrap her arms around him and hold him tightly against her. Stood between his thighs, his head rested on the slope of her breast, and he sighed against her, his arms slid around her, reciprocating her move. Long moments passed as she held him, and she was almost reluctant to step back.
Getting him dressed was a whole different challenge. His balance was off, so he couldn't bend, meaning she had to help him into his boxer shorts, and pull them up. But once they were on, she could slide off the hideous hospital gown. Which only revealed his broad chest and shoulders, the beautifully shaped body that she'd enjoyed so readily.
Almost hurriedly, she pulled a t-shirt over his head, then eased the black club polo shirt over his head, the tracksuit trousers and jacket followed, then she joke huffed as she sat at his feet and pulled on his socks and laced his trainers. When she looked up from her position on the floor, he had the audacity to smirk. Rolling her eyes she pulled herself to her feet, but it was then he took her hands.
"I don't deserve this, you have no idea how grateful I am."
Shaking it off, she smiled, "you'd do the same for me."
Just under an hour later, Natasha had opened the door to the hotel room, and Bo had never been more grateful to see a bed. The walk from the car park to the room had felt like the Marathon des Sables. He just wanted to collapse, and sleep. Forever.
Natasha was carrying his bag, he felt bad about that, and the fact that she didn't even have a toothbrush with her.
Sitting on the bed, he kicked off his shoes, then slumped against the pillows.
"You OK?" She threw the bag onto a chair, then walked over to him. Nodding he lifted his legs onto the bed, groaning with relief.
"You've got two hours, I'll set an alarm. Get some sleep."