Something Is Working
The second and third injections also caused my body to react with high fevers, but they subsided after a day or two and I was able to continue with physical therapy.
I couldn’t tell if my left side was getting any better or not because my body always felt weak after each procedure and I spent the following days working my way back to my previous strength, what I had before I started this treatment.
Charlotte was a nervous wreck this whole trip, constantly taking my temperature, not getting any valuable sleep at all. I felt horrible when my temp would get too high and scare her. The fact is, I was scared too but I couldn’t show it because it would worry her even more. I need to be the one supporting her in this relationship as much as she supports me. I know I could never live up to the level of selflessness she has shown me, but I can do my best to try.
Tomorrow is my last injection, so I made sure to work extra hard during PT this morning. Charlotte refused to accept any help all week and insisted she did all my therapy sessions with me. She needs a break, not from me, but in general, before she makes herself sick.
It is nearly noon when Charlotte comes to find me in my room after getting a bit of work done in her office. I know she is expecting to get me to the cafeteria to eat and then to my next therapy session. She has been relentless, but I plan to change that.
“You ready for some lunch and more exercise?”, she poses.
“Nope! We are taking the afternoon off, and before you object, I already got permission from Dr. Lee”, I declare.
She retorts with multiple different expressions on her face. The fact that she is speechless at the moment makes me laugh and she looks at me and shrugs her shoulders.
“Well, if Dr. Lee said it’s ok, then we shall listen to him”, she smirks.
“Great, I have looked up a few places and thought we should try Palisades Park? We can grab something to eat and walk around and look at the ocean!”, I suggest to her.
“Sounds good”, she says as she brings over my wheelchair.
“I am walking with you today, no chair… consider it my afternoon therapy”, I chuckle.
Fortunately, she doesn’t mind that I want to walk with her, holding on to me the rest of the day.
We take an Uber to Santa Monica and when we get there, we spot a few food trucks and order some food. There are some benches in the park that overlook the ocean, so we head towards the only empty one left.
The weather is beautiful here in California. Besides the smog that everyone speaks of, it has been 70 degrees and sunny every day. Charlotte is loving the sunny weather too. She leans her head onto the back of the bench and closes her eyes. I hear her take in a deep breath and let out a long sigh, her eyes still closed, letting her face soak in all the sun. I am so glad we did this, she needed this.
“Thank you, Levi for taking me here, this is nice and relaxing”, she says while pulling herself up to rest her head on my shoulder. I think she might fall asleep.
I won’t mind if she slept here leaning on my shoulder, Lord knows she hasn’t had much sleep since we’ve been here. Sitting here with her head on my shoulder as I look out at the ocean is pleasantly comforting.
An hour goes by with us sitting here. I listen to her slow and peaceful breathing and know that she is surely sleeping. Her peaceful nap doesn’t last much longer though when clumsy me accidently knocks over my crutch and Charlotte springs up from my shoulder wiping her eyes at the same time.
“Oh my God! I’m so sorry, I fell asleep”, she tries to apologize.
“It’s alright Love, I enjoyed listening to you snore on my shoulder”, I joke with her.
“Shut up”, she playfully slaps my arm.
“We should head back before it gets dark”, she suggests.
She wraps her arm firmly around my back to support my balance while I wrap my arm around her shoulder to support my left side and we walk embraced together towards our ride. I look at her beautiful face and appreciate the happiness she expresses the whole walk back.
“I can’t wait until the two of us can walk hand in hand together”, I divulge to her.
She doesn’t respond, she just acknowledges me by kissing me on the cheek. She does that when I say things that I want to be able to do in the future, like walk on my own only holding her hand. She does not want to say the wrong thing and get my hopes up I am sure, yet she always reminds me in subtle ways like a with a peck on my cheek or a squeeze of my hand, that she is here with me no matter what. Little things like that make my love for her grow stronger each day.
We make it back to my room and she runs a hot shower for me. I want to take her into the shower with me. We have not had an intimate moment with each other since our first night here and I’m not sure if tonight would be the right time either. I yearn to feel her supple skin close to mine, to feel her fingers trace my back while I inhale her sweet scent and caress her majestic lips.
Tonight, does not pose the most opportune circumstance though. Charlotte is acting strangely subdued, keeping her demeanor discreet the entire ride back here. Her unspoken language tells me something is bothering her, or maybe she’s over tired, I can’t put a finger on it. All I can do is ask her, so I get into my wheelchair and roll myself in front to face her. I reach for her hands and gently trace the palms of her hands with my thumbs while looking up at her.
“Charlotte, please tell me what’s wrong, I know something is bothering you”.
“I am concerned about your procedure tomorrow, I hate how it makes you sick after every time...I am just worried for you that is all”, she confides.
“I hate that I cause all of this worry for you Charlotte, but tomorrow will be different...I can already feel it!“, I say, trying to lighten her mood.
She nods and smiles at my statement then tells me to get into the shower before the hot water runs out. I kiss her hand and do as she tells me. She doesn’t follow me or try to help me, which further proves my speculations that tonight is not the night to fulfill any sexual desire.
After my shower, I open the curtain to find that Charlotte brought in a towel and my night clothes and left them for me on my wheelchair. Usually, she helps me transfer from the shower chair to my other chair and helps me stand to get dressed, but tonight I am doing it on my own, which I am fully capable of now, but I still love when Charlotte is near me making sure I do not fall.
When I finally finish struggling with my pajama shorts and head back into the bedroom, I find Charlotte fast asleep in the recliner. I do not have the heart to wake her even though I want her lying next to me in bed, so I carefully place a blanket over her and softly kiss her forehead.
Morning hastily arrives and I am anxious for today. I did not get much sleep last night without feeling Charlotte’s body nestled against mine. But knowing that she slept soundly all night for the first time in two weeks, puts my mind at ease.
“Morning Love!” I greet her when she opens her eyes and starts stretching her limbs.
“Good morning! Are you okay? I’m sorry I fell asleep in this chair”, she quickly sputters out.
“I’m fine Love! And don’t apologize for finally getting some rest”, I smile at her.
“Today is going to be a good day!” I remind her.
Charlotte helps me get into the ugly and uncomfortable hospital gown I need to wear for my procedure and sits with me while we wait for Dr. Lee to arrive.
I touch her chin and turn her face towards me so I can kiss her. She slowly and nervously moves her lips against mine, so I press my mouth firmer to hers trying to force her worries away.
“Please don’t worry, I love you”, I breathe into her mouth, kissing her again before the Dr. whisks me away for my last procedure.
The anesthesia always takes a while to wear off and after I wake up, I always seem to need another few hours of recovery sleep. Charlotte is sitting in the chair next to my bed like she always does, waiting for me to open my eyes.
“How are you feeling”, she asks me, her voice sounds so sweet and full of concern.
“Fine, just tired”, I let her know.
“Go back to sleep, I’ll wake you up for lunch, I will be right here if you need me”, she says and softly kisses my lips right before I close my eyes again.
My body needed the extra sleep, but I am relieved when Charlotte runs her fingers through my hair, and whispers for me to wake up. I feel surprisingly rejuvenated. Charlotte places her hand on my forehead, and I see her face light up.
“No fever!“, she squeaks with excitement.
“See, I told you today would be a good day”, I squeak back.
Charlotte helps me up and dress, a smile fixed to her face the entire time. This is the Charlotte I have missed lately; the carefree and confident Charlotte whose unconditional love for me reminds me that all hope is not lost.
My body feels stronger than it usually does after a procedure. I am able to walk with Charlotte to the cafeteria for lunch and then to the gym for therapy. After the gym she gets me into the pool without my left leg brace. I’m a little warry about what she wants me to try, I don’t want either of us to be let down when my left leg gives out on me.
She keeps her grip tight around me while she glides me off the pool chair and into a standing position.
“Charlotte, I don’t know about this”, I huff.
“It’s better that we try in the pool, the water will help you balance”, she tries to convince me.
Her hands are secured to my hips waiting for me to keep a steady balance. Once my hips remain still, she lets go of me and grabs both of my hands. She is facing me while I face her.
“You’re still standing!“, she joyfully points out, then I realize both of my legs are holding strong and I look at her, letting her know I am scared and thrilled at the same time.
“You are doing great!“, she beams at me. “Now take a step with your left”, she instructs.
I hesitate out of nervousness and take my first step. Both of our eyes go wide with anticipation and I take another step with my right. She is holding my hands and stepping backwards while I step forward, it’s working! I take a third step and this time my left leg gives out and Charlotte lunges forward to quickly wrap her arms around my body to catch me from falling.
“Oh my God! You did it!“, her tone is full of praise as she embraces me.
“I am so happy for you, let’s try it again”, she spouts out.
We practiced this for another hour. Each time my leg giving out with the third or fourth step and each time Charlotte catching me at the right moment and applauding me. I know we are in the pool, but this is the first time I can stand without my leg brace, let alone take a few steps. The stem-cell treatment is working!
“I think we are ready to get back to Boston and see what other surprises are instore for you!“, she exclaims.
I am happy with my new progress, but I do not want to get my hopes too high. Charlotte is so thrilled with my small accomplishment, I hope it continues, it would kill me if I let her down.