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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Memories Unlocked #17



Noticing that Miguela had yet to arrive, Todd decided to see if the physical therapy room was empty.  He rolled into the room and didn’t see anyone and breathed a sigh of relief.  For once maybe he could try a piece of equipment without anyone’s help.  Todd moved to the weight bench.  He went and picked up several weights and put them on the bar, locking them in place.  “See Todd, you can do this on your own.  Now all you have to do is slide onto the bench and you’ll be set.”  He maneuvered his chair as close to the bench as he could get it.  Crossing his arms, he grasped the weight bar and using his arms he pulled himself out of his chair, twisting his upper body onto the bench.   He paused  to catch his breath. Todd smiled to himself. He had been practicing that move for a couple of days but it was the first time he had done it alone. “Now finish the job, Todd.”  He reached and lifted his legs one at a time until they were straight out in front of him, then laid down and started lifting the bar. Todd was on his twentieth lift when his therapist walked into the room.  


The therapist frowned and headed to stop his patient, who was clearly struggling with the last couple of lifts. “Whoa, Todd, I think you’ve had enough.“ he helped place the bar back in it’s cradle as Todd closed his eyes and let his arms drop by his side.  “What on earth possessed you to workout by yourself?  You know hospital policy says your therapist is supposed to be with you.  If you had lost your grip, you could have killed yourself.”


Todd’s eyes opened and he looked up at the man and smiled. “Hey, Joe, don’t I at least get an atta-boy for getting myself on this contraption and setting up my own weights.”


Joe’s frown deepened as he saw just how heavy the weights were that Todd had been lifting.  “You must be crazy.  That’s twice the amount you’ve been working with.  Your back muscles aren’t ready for that kind of exercise yet, even if your arms are.” He reached down and offered Todd a hand, helping him back into a sitting position and proceeded to  massage Todd’s arm muscles.  “Look I know you’re the type of guy that hates taking it so slowly, but you need to pace yourself.  What prompted this sudden desire to work out?”


“I’m leaving today.  I’ve already let the administrator know, and I figured I might as well get in one more session.  It will probably be my last for a long time.”


“I see.  Does your doctor know you’re quitting therapy?  I mean, even if you quit your job, you can still come here.”


Todd rubbed his arms and reached out for his chair. “I could, but I’m leaving Guam.  I made the decision this morning and I have a flight out this evening, thanks to Lucy’s father, the Colonel.”  Joe held the chair perfectly still so Todd could lift himself back over. Todd was just letting himself down into the chair when his right leg dropped off the weight bench. It landed with a thud. “Ahh!” Todd  exclaimed as he felt it all the way up his spine.


Joe reacted instantly. “Todd, what is it? Is it your back?” Joe immediately reached for Todd’s other leg to prevent it from falling too.


Todd could only stare at the foot resting on the floor. He had not only felt it in his back, the pain had radiated up from the heel.  He reached down rubbing the back of his leg.  “Joe, It’s not my back.  I think I felt my heel hit the ground.”


Joe lowered Todd’s other leg and then removed the shoe on the foot Todd had dropped. He pulled a small tool out of his pocket and ran its edge along the sole and sure enough the foot reacted.


Todd was excited, for the first time in months he actually felt something.  It was faint but it was there.  “I felt that, I’m not imagining it.”


Joe looked up and smiled.  “You’re not imagining it, there is a response.  Todd, I want you to try and move your toes.”


Todd looked at his foot and concentrated.  Nothing was happening. “I don’t understand.  I can feel your hand and that thing, why can’t I move anything?”


“Relax Todd, let me check your other foot.  We’ll try again after I do that.”  Joe proceeded  to take the shoe off Todd’s other foot and duplicated his previous actions.  At first there was nothing but Joe decided to try once more and sure enough the foot responded.  He put the point of the tool on the top of Todd’s foot. “Do you feel that?”


Todd frowned, he could see the tool pressing on his foot but didn’t feel it.  “No.  How come I feel my right leg and foot but not my left?”


Joe set the foot down.  “Todd, it’s not as bad as you think.  There was a small response.   It means you might get full sensation back in both legs.  The right leg seems to have a head start that’s all.  Look, it’s not going to happen overnight, but it’s still going to happen.  What we don’t know yet is how much mobility you’ll regain.  Hey, this is good news  Are you sure I can’t talk you into delaying your trip?”


Todd hesitated. To be able to walk again was something he had all but given up on.  Then he recalled his reason for leaving.  If he stayed, his family would find him for sure  He didn’t want them to see him in a chair.  Once he had realized the picture was his family he had tried a to recall their names and had kept coming up blank.  It was as infuriating as not knowing his own last name.  “Damn it!” Todd blurted out and then saw Joe’s surprised expression at the  answer to his question. “Sorry, that wasn’t meant for you.  It’s just I have a problem, and now this happened.  God, you have no idea how much this means to me.  Seriously, you think I could walk again?”


“Yes, Todd, it definitely means you could walk again.  Now try and move your toes on your right foot again.”


Todd tried again and suddenly his big toe moved. “I did it!” It was such a little movement but it meant the world to him at that moment.  His eyes teared up as he realized he was going to walk again.  Come hell or high water, he would be back on his feet.


****


Blair sat in the cab wishing it was moving faster.  The traffic was terrible and all she could do was see the time ticking away on her watch.  She couldn’t shake the feeling that Todd was going to disappear again.  If what she suspected about him was true it explained everything.  Her thoughts returned to past time in their lives when Todd had just returned from Ireland.  She had been so glad to see him but at the same time furious because he hadn’t let them know he was alive.  She remembered sitting on the floor at the end of the couch as Todd had explained.


A fisherman found me on the beach washed up.  He thought I was dead and he was only half wrong.  For days, then weeks, then months, nightmares meant that I was sleeping, pain meant that I was awake.  Lots of faces, lots of fear, hot food, hallucinations, home remedies, wild animals.  Okay, I made up the part about wild animals, but the point is, there were no credit cards, no cellular phones, not even a message in a bottle.”


She knew from his voice that day, that everything he said was true.  Now she feared that Todd’s trip on the raft had resulted into something equally horrific. There was only one thing that bothered her.  Even if he had been severely injured, Guam was not an isolated cottage on a remote Irish island.  It still didn’t make sense why he hadn’t tried to at least send a message to Starr.  The cab pulled up in front of the hospital, she paid the driver and carefully exited with Jack and waited as Starr clamored out. Eager to get inside and go to the Children’s ward. Starr took off at a run, “Starr, wait up.  We have another stop before we go to the ward.”


“But Mom, the little boy said Daddy was going to leave.  Maybe he changed his mind. Maybe he’s working.”


“Oh alright, we’ll see if he’s there.  If he’s not, the nurses might know where we can find him.”  Starr beamed. Then altogether, they entered the hospital and headed to the Children’s ward.


Blair went up to the Nurses desk.  “Excuse me, I’m looking  for Mr. Drake.  I was told he works on this ward.”


The nurse nodded.  “He works here, but I haven’t seen him yet this morning.  He usually comes in around nine o’clock to be with the children.  I’m hoping he shows up soon.  The children are still upset about losing little Lucy.  Mr. Drake knows just what to say to cheer them up.  You’re welcomed to wait or you could check with Dr. Sanchez.  She might know where to find him.”  


“I see.”  Blair tried to hide her disappointment.  She had secretly been hoping they would find him there.  Hearing Dr. Sanchez’s name reminded her of Sam Vance’s photo.  Before she could ask her next question, she heard a voice behind her.


“Um, I know you.  You’re looking for Mr. Drake aren’t you?”


Blair looked around to see a young girl about the same age as Starr.  “Why yes we are looking for him?  But I don’t understand, what did you mean when you said you know me.”  The little girl was in a robe and had the biggest brown eyes surrounded by a mass of brown curly hair.  She was obviously a patient on the Ward.


Blanca shuffled her slippered feet and looked down at the floor.  “I guess you’re why he’s leaving us.  He carries your picture around with him all the time.  I saw him looking at it once and he seemed a little sad.  Last night he told us he was going.  We told him goodbye, and then my friend died.”  She glanced at Starr,  “Are you his daughter?  You look like Lucy.”  She hugged herself. “Lucy was my best friend, but Mr. Drake showed me how Lucy is still with me.  Last night he told me just to go and look at sky at night and the first star I see is Lucy keeping an eye on me.  I’m going to miss him, but if you’re his daughter, I bet he’ll be so glad to see you.  He hasn’t had any visitors since he’s been here.”


Starr felt so sad for the little girl, she went to her and gave her a hug.  “I'm sorry you lost your friend.  We’ve been looking for my Daddy a long time, and now we’re here.  Do you know a  place he could be?”


Blanca smiled and nodded.  “You could try his room.”  She told them the number and then said goodbye.


Blair watched as the little girl joined some other children in what appeared to be an  Activity room. Her mind was in a whirl.  Todd had a picture of them all this time.  Tea was right, he had been trying to get home, but there were still some unanswered questions.


“Mommy, come on!  Let’s go check out Daddy’s room.”  Starr started pulling her mom out of the ward.


The minute they exited the ward, Blair pulled Starr to a halt. “Wait Starr, we have a room number but this isn’t a hotel. We need to find out where the room is.”  She walked over to the information desk to the volunteer working there.  It was the same woman as the day before.  “Excuse me. Do you remember us?  We were here yesterday, looking for my husband.”
The woman looked up and then smiled.  “Oh yes, you were looking for your father weren’t you, Sweetie?”  Starr nodded.


Blair brought the woman’s attention back to her.  “Well that’s just it,  We keep missing Mr. Drake and we were just told he has a room here in the hospital.  Can you tell me where to find this room?”  Blair gave her the number of the room and waited.


“Oh my, I didn’t realize Mr. Drake had a room here.  There it is.   That room number puts him on the Orthopedic Ward.  If you take that hallway over there it will take you to that Ward.  Good Luck,  I hope he’ll be able to give you the answers you are looking for regarding your dad, Sweetie.”  


Blair’s heart was beating fast.  It was no longer a  question.  The ward only confirmed her suspicions that Todd was in a wheelchair.  Just how badly had he been hurt.  They walked into the ward and followed the numbers finally arriving at the number they had been given.  The door was closed.  There was no answer when Blair knocked. so she slowly opened the door.  Her heart sunk as she looked around.  Todd wasn’t there.


“Mommy, now what are we going to do?  I want my Daddy.” Starr began to search the room. If her dad had been there he wasn’t now.  She turned towards her mother and put her fists on her hips.  “Why didn’t you believe me last night?  He’s gone and we might never find him!” Starr’s voice trembled, her eyes filling with tears.

Blair sat down in a chair, as close to tears as her daughter.  Jack started to fuss sensing her mood and she slowly patted his back. This can’t be it.  We can’t have come this far only to lose him again.   Blair straightened her back and stood back up.  “We still have one more person who might be able to help us.  If he’s not here, he couldn’t have gone very far.”  She reach into her purse and drew out her cell phone.  “Sam, change of plans.  I need you to go to the airport and see if anyone by the name of Todd Drake is on an outgoing flight.  If he is, stay there and watch for him.”  She put the phone away.  “Let’s go Starr, we have a doctor to see.”


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