I didn’t sleep at all last night. I cannot wrap my mind around what’s happened the last few days. This all just feels like one big nightmare that might never end.
I’m afraid to be alone in the room with Levi, I should not be feeling this way, but I don’t know what to do or how to act with him. I am upset, like a mixture of anger and sadness in one. I am sure Levi feels the same, even worse since this is him it has happened to. But this has also happened to me, not the physical part, but every other way about it. We were supposed to finish up our movie and start planning our wedding, even move in together in the next few weeks.
How are we supposed to do that now? Now he must stay here for at least 12 months! What am I going to do, stay here, go home, and come back every few weeks to visit? I must go back to finish the movie, I know that. I will feel awful leaving him here while I am gone, but it must be done.
Today I cannot be selfish, I need to be here for him. I want to help him, I’m just unsure how.
I walk across the hall to Levi’s parents’ room and tell them I will go see Levi early and have breakfast with him, so they can take their time getting ready.
The 5-minute walk to the rehab center is just what I need to settle my nerves. The weather is beautiful, springtime here in Boston seems nice. The sidewalks are filled with people walking in both directions and the street is busy with traffic, but I don’t notice the noise around me because I’m lost in my own head anticipating what this day will be like.
I am greeted at the door by a young blonde girl behind the front desk. She is smiling at me and lets me know Levi is waiting for me. Why is everyone smiling around here? This does not seem like the appropriate place to be smiling, all I want to do is cry, but for some reason I hold it together while that girl continues to smile at me. My mood keeps fluctuating and that assistant guy, Nate passes me in the hall and greets me while also smiling. This has got to be a nightmare, and I want to wake up from it right now.
I find myself pausing right outside Levi’s door. I am so nervous, I know I must go in there, but I cannot get myself to move any further. All the sudden I snap out of it as Charlotte walks out of his room and catches me standing there. I expected her to give me some kind of condescending look as I stand like a statue outside his door, but instead she just looks at me plainly like she knows what I am feeling at this moment.
“Good morning Emma”, she kindly says.
“Levi is just about to have breakfast, I’m sure he would love to have your company”, Charlotte encourages me, then gently places her hand on the back of my shoulder and guides me into his room.
Levi’s bed is upright so that he is sitting up to eat. He is dressed in a black t-shirt and grey sweatpants which look comfortable, but I am used to seeing him dressed in jeans. I’m used to him sitting at a table for breakfast too, not in bed with a tray in front of him. His face looks pale and I cannot tell if he looks like he is in pain or if he is tired.
“Hey baby, I’m glad you are here, did you sleep well?” he asks me.
I instantly start smiling back at him when I notice him reaching his right hand up towards me. He can move his arms now, oh thank god! I think to myself, maybe this won’t be so bad, and he will be up and moving in no time.
“Come sit here next to me”, he pats towards the chair by his bed.
I cannot help staring at what is on his tray. The utensils are bent and have extra thick handles, and the large plastic mug has a large space between the cup part and the handle.
“These are very odd dishes they’ve given you”, I say to Levi.
He gives me a half smile and responds, “I can’t grab a normal fork, and this mug is made so I can put my hand between the handle so that you can help me bring the drink up to my mouth without me spilling it everywhere”.
“What!“, the sound of shock slips out of my mouth.
My reaction must have scared him because he looks down and nearly whispers, “Well that is only if you want to help me eat”.
“Um, yes, of course”, I recover.
Thankfully, Charlotte saves us from the awkwardness and walks over to show me how to feed Levi.
“Just put your hand over his and help him grasp the fork and use your other hand to help guide his movement towards his mouth, like this”, Charlotte instructs.
“Isn’t it easier if I just feed him myself?“, I question her.
Charlotte smiles while acknowledging my question, “Yes it is easier, but we want Levi to learn how to do this on his own, it will get easier for him as he gains more strength and movement, plus this gives him a little more independence. I’ll leave you two alone for a bit, let me know if you need anything”, she says and then leaves the room.
The next 30 minutes I spend trying to help Levi eat. I try to help him one way while he tries to instruct me another. It is all too surreal. Neither of us know what to say or how to act right now, so I decide to ask about his night and how he likes the place so far.
Nate comes in the room just as we finish breakfast. “We are going to start morning therapy now”, he tells us.
“You can stay and watch, or you can help with the therapy if you would like Emma”, Nate says to me.
I agree to stay and try to help.
Nate instructs me to stand on Levi’s right side. “His right side is a little easier, as he will be able to help you a bit”, Nate tells me, and I give him a questioning look.
Nate picks up Levi’s seemingly lifeless left arm and begins to massage his shoulder down to his elbow, making small circular motions with his thumbs. Levi looks at me and gently touches my hand. He slightly raises his arm for me while nodding at me to take it. I lift it enough for me to get my hands around his upper arm, then I look over to Nate.
“It’s ok Emma, just do what I’m doing, press into his muscles, you won’t hurt him”, he instructs.
I start to copy Nate’s movements and I find myself staring at him, not even looking to see if I am doing my part right.
“Are you ok?“, Levi whispers to me, bringing me back out of my trance.
“Yes sorry, I want to make sure I’m doing it right”, I say.
“You are doing fine baby, thank you for helping”, he says in his sweetest voice.
Nate disrupts the uncomfortable feeling in the room by asking us about the movie we are making. It felt refreshing to talk about something familiar to us. Levi and I filled him in on all the details about the movie and who all the actors are.
I was too into the conversation we were having to realize I was now bending Levi’s elbow, then massaging his forearm, moving his wrist and then his fingers around, as Nate was doing to Levi’s left side.
We then moved on to legs. Things got very weird when Nate reached up to Levi’s upper thigh near his groin to start massaging, and it got even worse when I was doing the same thing to Levi’s right thigh. Levi kept shifting his wide stare from Nate to me then back to Nate. This must be embarrassing for him; I know it is for me. Things got slightly better as we made our way down to Levi’s knees and ankles.
Levi was able to lift his right knee slightly for me, but I couldn’t help but notice he was not moving his left leg at all. I felt my eyes fill with liquid and looked away quickly hoping Levi would not catch me crying.
“Is this the type of therapy Levi will have every day?“, I ask Nate.
“Yes he will have this type of massage therapy twice a day, but he will also have many other different therapies throughout the day”, he continues in his confident voice...“The first two weeks will be similar to this, this passive therapy as we wait for his fractures to heal. After that, we will be able to get him sitting up, swimming, lifting weights and all kinds of other things. It’s just slow at first, but will get better”.
“I’m going to help him with toileting now, then get him up into a wheelchair so he can hang out with you and the family in the lounge”, Nate explains.
I look at Levi, and then tell him I will call his parents to come over now. I lean over and kiss his forehead, then head out of the room.
Finally out of the room, I lean my back against the wall right outside his door and release a long breath I didn’t realize I was holding, and begin to feel the tears welling up in my eyes again.