Vin woke up later in the morning when an orderly was shaking him. He was
telling Vin it was his time to go to the common area for some tests and he
was there to wheel him down. Vin stared blankly at the man, not even able
to guess what he was talking about. The orderly gently pulled back Vin's
covers and indicated he was to get in the wheel chair. Vin finally nodded
that he understood and slowly began easing himself up. The orderly let him
do what he could and helped him when it looked like he needed help.
Vin was wheeled down to a common area on the floor where most of the patients
spent at least a part of their day. If Vin had been more awake when the orderly
had first come, he may had caught on to what the man had wanted sooner. It
was a repeat of yesterday's activities but Vin was still slightly groggy
when the orderly had first shown up.
He was wheeled up to a small table and left to sit alone for several minutes
before another young man stepped up and sat down at the table across from
him, placing a large box down at his feet.
"Hi, my name's Alex. I'll be working with you today. Your regular therapist
will be in tomorrow. Now, I've read your file and what the tests yesterday
have determined but we need to do a few more, okay?"
Vin blinked passively at this new person. He'd almost gotten tired of putting
on his confused expression each time someone spoke to him. The man seemed
to be waiting for a reply and sighed when it didn't come. He leaned over
and opened the box, pulling out stacks of cards.
He placed some of the cards on the table and arranged them in front of Vin.
"Now, John, I want you to put these in order. We start with one," he said
as he pulled aside a card that displayed the number one on it. He waited
for Vin to figure out what he was supposed to do and when Vin didn't make
a move, he slowly moved his hand towards the two and slid that into place
beside the one. He then waited for Vin again.
The marks on the cards meant nothing to Vin. He knew what this man was expecting
him to do but he couldn't comply because he couldn't tell what was what on
the cards. He took a deep breath and let it out sadly.
For the next hour, the man pulled out different sets of cards, trying to
get Vin to reveal what he knew, trying to pinpoint what Vin's problem was.
Each time he got no response, he would mark his findings in Vin's file and
try something else.
Vin was getting frustrated. And agitated. He was frustrated because he knew
that he knew what was being asked of him but couldn't make his brain communicate
it and he was agitated because they kept asking him for answers he couldn't
Alex tried a different set of cards, some had words written on them and some
had pictures. "Okay, John, let's see if you can do this. There are pictures
of things and the name of that thing is written on another card, like, here
is a picture of a chair and this one has the word chair written on it. See
if you can match any up."
Vin looked down at the cards laid out on the table. Again, he knew what was
supposed to happen but he couldn't do it. He began to slowly shake his head
from side to side.
"Come on and try, John. See, here is a table. Find the card that says table
Alex waited as he held the picture.
Vin sat silently taking several deep breaths. He was getting tired. Tired
of looking at things he knew he should be able to understand and not being
able to understand them. Tired of people talking to him and not being able
to get even a word of what they were saying. And he was tired of being somewhere
where he didn't know where he was.
Tired quickly became angry and he swatted the card out of Alex's hand, slammed
both his arms onto the table top and swiped all the other cards off the surface.
It wasn't until the last card had fluttered to rest on the floor that he
felt the pain that erupted in both his wrists. He raised his arms up, keeping
his elbows on the table, and buried his face in the crook of one arm.
Alex sighed heavily. Some days just didn't go well. "Are you all right, John?"
he asked as he leaned over and began to pick up the strewn cards.
One of the floor nurses came up to the table. "What happened, Alex?" he asked.
"John's just a little frustrated, that's all, Pete. It happens all the time."
Pete leaned forward and tried to check on Vin without touching him. "You
think he hurt his wrists when he hit the table?"
"Probably wouldn't hurt to re-x-ray them, just to be sure. He gave them a
pretty good whack."
So Vin was wheeled to x-ray where they made new films of the breaks in his
hands and wrists. There were no new breaks and the old ones seemed no worse.
He did, however, break open the scrapes on both wrists and they had bled
through the bandages so those needed to be changed.
Vin remained agitated and was finally sedated and put to bed. Though it normally
wasn't their practice to simply sedate unruly patients, shorthanded as they
were, there was no one available to tend to one.
******* ******* *******
Andy hobbled up to the nurses' desk and meekly stood waiting for the two
women there to acknowledge him. It took several minutes before one looked
"Oh, Andy. What can I do for you?" Angela asked kindly. Andy was one of the
easier patients to deal with.
"He's crying. John. The guy in the other bed."
Marti looked up from her patient files and addressed Angela. "Who's sharing
Andy's room?" she asked.
Angela pointed to one of her files. "New one. A John Doe. He's one of yours.
He had a bad day today."
Marti leafed through the file a minute, skimming through all the notes on
"See what you get for coming in on your day off." Angela smirked.
Marti smiled back, then set the pile on the desk and stood up. "Guess I'd
better go introduce myself then." She stopped for a moment beside Andy. "Don't
worry. I'm sure he's all right, Andy." She continued on to the room. Andy
looked after her sadly, sure that he had done something to upset his new
Marti quietly entered the room to see the new arrival curled up on his side
facing away from the door. As she approached the bed, she saw his splinted
arms lying on the bed in front of his face and the familiar heaving shoulders
of someone crying, though he made no sound. She tapped her hand gently on
the end of the bed to let him know someone was there but he didn't respond.
She grabbed a chair and moved it up beside the bed where she could face the
man. She sat and watched for a moment before she reached up and laid a gentle
hand on the side of his face.
"Hey," she said softly. "Are you okay?" The man quieted some but kept his
eyes squeezed shut. "John?" she prodded. She sighed, then continued. "I know
your name probably isn't John, is it? You don't really look like a John but
we don't know what else to call you." She didn't know if any of her words
were getting through. She had seen in his file that he hadn't spoken yet,
which was why he was in this particular ward of the hospital. "My name's
Marti, short for Martina. I'm your therapist so we're going to be getting
to know each other pretty well while you're here."
Her tone was soothing and the man in the bed quieted a little more. She rubbed
her thumb gently across his cheek and then tried to coax his eyes open by
pulling up lightly on his eyelids. He resisted for a moment.
"Are you hurting, John?" Marti asked, glancing at his arms. She became aware
of a soft clumping sound entering the room and knew Andy had come back.
Slowly, the man in the bed opened his eyes and looked tentatively at the
woman before him.
"Oh, that's not hurt. That's scared," she sighed. How many times had she
seen that look in one of her patients' eyes? She gently stroked the side
of his head.
"Marti?" Andy spoke softly.
"Yeah, Andy?" Marti responded, turning her eyes briefly from the bed to Andy
"He can have the bed by the window." Andy took a deep breath. "I don't mind,"
he added with a touch of fear in his voice, afraid she might actually take
him up on it. Everyone knew the bed by the window was the best one and he
really liked it, but if it would make his new roommate stop crying, he would
give it up.
"That's very nice of you, Andy, but I don't think that's why he's upset.
I think he's just scared." She looked back up at Andy. "You remember how
you felt when you first got here?"
Andy nodded, remembering those first few days that seemed so long ago now.
His leg hurt from the break and he was somewhere where he didn't know anybody.
He was scared.
"I think if we just show John that we're going to take care of him, he won't
be so scared. What do you think?"
Andy nodded his head vigorously. "I'll help."
She smiled at Andy. "I knew you would and I appreciate it." She turned her
attention back to the bed and continued to stroke the side of the man's head
as his tears finally stopped.
She reached up to the bedside table and pulled a tissue from the box. Gently,
she dried his eyes and cheeks and wiped his nose. "Feeling better?" she asked
smiling, hoping that if he didn't understand her words, he understood her
He took a deep, shaky breath and let it out slowly as he continued to look
her in the eye.
Marti smiled as she leaned back in her chair. "I don't want you to worry
about anything, John. We're going to make sure you're taken care of and try
to make you better, okay?" She wasn't really expecting him to answer but
it was in her nature to talk so she talked. Who knows, maybe one day, something
might get through.
Before she could say anything more, however, one of the oderlies entered
the room carrying two trays of food. Andy's eyes got wide as he limped over
to his own bed. Andy was one of the few people who truly liked hospital food.
He climbed onto his bed and pulled the wheeled table over his lap in
anticipation. The orderly set a tray down on the table beside Vin before
he stepped over to Andy's bed. After he made his delivery, he left without
Marti watched as Vin shifted slightly in his bed but made no move for his
dinner. She wondered if he could feed himself with both hands in splints.
She decided since she was there, she might as well feed him. She stood and
walked around the bed and wheeled the table into position over the bed. Vin
watched but didn't move. She gently grabbed his upper arm and rolled him
onto his back as she pressed a button to raise the head of the bed. Once
he was situated, she pulled the cover off the tray and looked at the food
"Looks like the usual bland diet. I guess since you can't tell us if you're
allergic to anything, they're trying to be careful. Hmmmm, soymilk, applesauce,
some pasta with unidentifiable vegetables. No wonder you don't seem so enthused."
Marti opened the small carton of milk and inserted a straw. She held the
carton in front of Vin and guided the straw towards his mouth. He hesitantly
opened his mouth as he kept his eyes on her face. After a short pull on the
liquid, Vin scrunched up his face and pulled away from the straw.
"Ah, don't love soy milk, huh? It is an acquired taste," Marti joked
as she watched Vin try to remove the taste from his mouth. She picked up
the cup of applesauce and peeled back the top. She was sure it would be bland
as she dipped the spoon into the yellowish paste and scraped the bottom against
the edge of the cup. She held out the spoon and Vin hesitated before he leaned
forward to take the spoonful into his mouth. He seemed to tolerate that pretty
well so she feed him the rest of it. Moving on to the pasta and vegetables,
she speared a some with the fork and feed them to Vin. He didn't let on one
way or the other whether he liked them or not, he just took them, chewed
and swallowed. He had turned his gaze to the tray in front of him.
When he was finished, she wheeled the table to the side and looked at him
expectantly. "Did you get enough?" she asked, though she wasn't sure why.
He shifted his eyes to hers but otherwise did not respond. She pointed to
him and then patted her stomach the way she remembered her uncle doing after
a particularly satisfying meal. Vin smiled slightly at the gesture but didn't
seem to understand what she wanted to know. She sighed sadly. There had to
be a way to communicate with this man.