Life is Better with You

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A Long Week

Charlotte’s POV

I sat in the recliner next to Levi’s bed while I held his hand and read a book, waiting for him to fully wake from the anesthesia. He woke briefly after the procedure was over, but he was groggy, so I told him to sleep it off. Dr. Lee told me the procedure went well and Levi should start physical therapy in the morning.

He slept for another three hours. It was half past one in the morning when he finally squeezed my hand and looked over at me. I had dozed off, so when he grabbed my hand, it startled me, and my book went flying off my lap.

“Sorry I woke you”, he mumbled.

“It’s ok, how are you feeling?” I ask him.

“Tired. Thirsty. Hot”, he sighs.

I lean over and plant a kiss on his lips. His lips feel much warmer than usual, so I kiss his forehead too. He is extremely warm.

“I am going to get you some ice water, I will be right back”, I quickly spout.

Moments later I return with water and a thermometer.

“What is that for?”, he asks, pointing to the thermometer.

“You feel warm, I just want to check your temperature”.

I scan the thermometer over his forehead and sure enough, it reads 103.2 degrees.

“Crap!”, I unintentionally blurt out.

“What is it?”, he looks at me with concern.

I kiss him again then head out of the room to call and inform Dr. Lee.

“Where did you go? Don’t just leave me like that with no explanation!”, Levi vents out with an angry voice when I return.

I give him a couple Tylenols to take then start rambling off.

“I’m sorry I walked out of the room like that! I just got nervous when I saw your high temp and went to call Dr. Lee. I know that getting a fever or infection is a possible side effect, but seeing it happen to you just caused me to panic...I don’t want anything bad to happen to you”.

He starts to struggle, trying to move his body closer to the side of the bed. My body feels tenuous and shaky because of the anxiety taking over me. I hate seeing him struggle and now he is sick with a fever.

“I’m having a hard time moving, please come lay with me”, he softly says while patting the mattress.

I climb in to lay next to him, rest my head in the crook of his arm and place my hand on his chest.

“No more panicking and no more running off, I will be fine”, he whispers before leaning over to kiss my head.

I do not try to carry on any type of conversation, I just let him sleep and pray that the fever will be gone by the time the sun rises.

I did not get any sleep at all. I was so worried that I checked his temperature without waking him every half hour. The Tylenol helped some, only bringing his temp down to 101 degrees by the time he woke up.

I was already up, showered, and changed when Levi opened his eyes searching for me.

“Morning! I am right here”, I lean over the bed and run my fingers through his messy hair causing him to smile.

“Here, please take these meds, you still have a fever”, I tell him.

“We need to get you up for breakfast then to therapy”, I inform him.

Again, he struggles to move. He can barely get himself to sit up, and when he finally does, I rush over to catch him from falling over.

I sit next to him on the edge of the bed with my arm around the back of his waist waiting for him to secure his balance.

“Will you be ok if I let go to put your leg brace on?”

“Yes, I think so”, he says.

I quickly attach his brace and sit back down next to him. He puts his left arm around my shoulder, and I hold around his back so we can stand together. As soon as I help him up off the bed, his right leg gives out and I swiftly sit him back down.

He puts his head down in defeat, not sure what to say or do at this point.

I press his body against mine to gesture that I am here for him.

“Levi, describe to me what your body feels like?”

He keeps his head down and speaks so low I can hardly hear him say, ” I don’t know, my whole body just feels weak”.

“Can I help you into your wheelchair? Maybe getting some food into you will help?” I ask him, but he just nods.

I push him down to the cafeteria. I know he doesn’t feel well or much like eating, so I get him a hot tea and some toast and fruit. He eats as much as he can before we head to the gym.

Even his arms are too weak to be able to do anything that requires using any of his weight and getting out of and back into his chair again takes too much out of him. I know he is discouraged, and I try to remind him that his body is just reacting to the stem-cells and it is going to take a little longer to adjust.

He is so quiet and keeps his focus down towards the floor while I massage and manipulate his limbs.

Without hurrying I move my body to stand in front of him and reach down to hold his face in my hands. His skin is hot to the touch, his eyes full of anguish when he looks at me that I instinctively kiss his warm lips, then peer into his eyes while giving him an encouraging smile.

" I love you so much, and I know how hard you are trying right now, but you need to rest today so your fever will subside.... tomorrow we can try again”, I express to him.

He agrees to let me help him back to his room and help him take a shower before getting into bed.

It is only noon time, but he is exhausted, and his temp is holding steady at 101.1 degrees. I sit up next to him in his bed and flick through the channels until we find something interesting to watch on TV. Neither of us can seem to find a good program and all I can focus on is him and how to get his fever down.

" I am going to get you some lunch and more Tylenol”, I tell him before placing my lips on to his then walking out the door.

I don’t want to leave him for even a second, yet a small amount of relief comes over me when I leave his room. Is this what love is supposed to feel like? This lightheaded, shaky, and worrisome feeling consuming my whole being. I am not sure if all these intense emotions from being in love are a blessing or a curse.

Levi takes the meds I bring him and eats half of his soup and sandwich.

“Why don’t you take a nap, maybe a good rest will help you feel better”, I suggest to him.

“What are you going to do?” he asks, clearly worried about me.

“I have some paperwork to catch up on in my office”, I tell him.

He averts his eyes from me, and I know it is because he does not want me to leave.

“I can grab my papers and laptop and do my work in here while you sleep?”

He instantly smiles at me, and his voice perks up.

" Really? I mean if you don’t mind, I would like that”, he beams.

I rush to and back from my office with all the work I need to finish. His eyes are closed, so I give him a gentle peck on his cheek and whisper into his ear that I am here so he can sleep.

Again, he ate little of his dinner in the evening and went back to sleep for the night. I was so tired from my lack of sleep, that I had no trouble resting in the recliner, only waking up periodically to check his temp.

Morning arrives and Levi’s temp has thankfully returned to normal.

“Good morning beautiful”, he pipes up. “I am feeling much better”, he smiles.

A rush of calm floods my veins and I exhale loudly, “Thank goodness!”

He was able to eat all his meals and participate in most of his therapy today. His body was still weak, but not nearly as weak as yesterday. He was strong enough to make it through every therapy session with each passing day and he was happy, which made me happy. There was no visible improvement in his left side yet, but that was expected after only one injection.

His next injection procedure is scheduled for tomorrow morning. With the reaction his body had to the first injection, Dr. Lee and I were hesitant to let him continue the treatments, but Levi insisted on going through with them no matter what.

“I am a little scared of what will happen after your injection tomorrow”, I confess to him while we are lying in his bed together.

“I survived the last one and I will survive this one too”, he affirms. “Now stop worrying about me so much, I know you haven’t slept all week!“, he points out.

" I can’t help it”, I convey.

“I know, if this was happening to you, I would not be able to stop worrying about you either”, he softly says as he kisses me.

" Have I told you how proud I am of you”, I proclaim.

“All the time!“, he kisses me again then wraps his arms around me so we can fall asleep.

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