Gerard has additional complications with his already dismal situation.
“This is Dr. Collins. He’s a neurologist.” Lindsey smiled weakly; awaiting whatever news they had recovered from analyzing her husband’s brain.
“Mrs. Way, we’ve noticed that the frontal brain region, specifically the prefrontal cortex of your husband’s brain has been significantly damaged. Unfortunately, this can lead to drastic changes in his personality, mood, reasoning, and attention span.” Wasn’t this enough? Wasn’t enough that Gerard had been to hell and back, needed an organ transplant, and needed to go to rehab? Wasn’t it enough for Lindsey? Unfortunately, the worst was not over. “Because brain cells cannot be regenerated, Gerard won’t be the same, I’m afraid, which can explain his recent outburst. Fortunately, there are therapy solutions, medications, and many other ways to allow him to be more like his old self.” Lindsey did not know how to respond. Not only was there a risk of her husband being taken away from her forever, even if he wasn’t, the husband she knew, the husband she fell in love with would be gone. He would be a completely different person. Dr. Weis spoke.
“Mrs. Way, I’ve just received word that there’s been a complication with the donor list, and the wait might be extended a little longer. Possibly even a couple months. I’m convinced Gerard will be fine, his condition being stabilized, and if anything goes wrong, we can put him under life support.” Lindsey nodded. She would wait as long as she needed as long as Gerard would be okay. While Gerard was wheeled back into his room, Lindsey did not notice that Mikey had given Bandit to Frank and had entered the CT scan room. Gerard was awake now, but was easily set off by the smallest things. Fortunately, he never acted out towards Bandit. Their reuniting was heartwarming, in fact. Bandit had never been happier and they sat together, laughing. Unfortunately, though, around everyone else, he wasn’t himself. He acted on impulse, and did not censor his thoughts. His comments were often inappropriate and unacceptable. Lindsey tried to correct him every time, taking small steps to rehabilitate him towards his old self, but every single time she corrected his cynical outbursts, he glared at her warningly.
A nurse entered the room to reinsert the IV needle into Gerard’s from when they had to take it out during the CT scan. At the time, Gerard had been sleeping silently. Lindsey was doing the same in her chair next to Gerard’s bed. Frank had gone out to get lunch with Bandit and Mikey was nowhere to be seen. The nurse reached out for Gerard’s arm and readied it for insertion. Just before the nurse was about to put the needle in his skin, Gerard woke up. In a flash, he struck the nurse’s hand. The needle she was holding clattered to the ground.
“Don’t you even try to fucking put that inside of me,” he growled at her. The nurse scoffed faintly and went to pick up the needle. Throwing it away in the garbage, she opened the packet to a new one. While Gerard was looking away, she quickly swabbed his arm and prepared the new needle. Just as she was about to put it into his skin, she was stopped by Gerard’s hand. He squeezed hers painfully. Struggling to get her hand released from Gerard, she tried to pry his hand off. His strength surprised her and he would not relent, but clenched tighter. The nurse shrieked in pain, waking up Lindsey. She rose from her seat and saw the struggle between the two people.
“Gerard! Stop! What are you doing?” Lindsey forced his hand off of the nurse. Cradling her hand, the nurse hurried out of the room. Gerard was still furious. “Gerard, you can’t do that. She only wanted to help you.”
“No, she wanted to stick a goddamn needle into my skin,” he said bluntly.
“Honey, I feel you don’t fully understand what’s happening. You don’t understand how malnourished and drunk you were.”
“I don’t care,” he insisted. He had always been afraid of needles. Lindsey did not know why he was afraid of such a thing, but the anger and pain he would have suppressed while getting a shot seemed to be completely released, like he had no filter.
“Honey, please,” she gently put her hand on his neck. Gerard shivered. In an effort to calm him, she started to massage it lightly, feeling the tension in his neck disappear. “Will you do it?”
“Thank you,” Lindsey flung her arms around him. This feeling of adoration was not foreign to Gerard. Although he had forgotten everything within the last couple months, he could not have forgotten this feeling. The feeling of unadulterated love. Gerard hugged her back. Soon, a different nurse entered the room. Apparently she had heard what had happened to the last nurse, so she hesitantly neared Gerard, who glared at her the whole time. Then, surprising the nurse, he presented her his arm, ready for the needle. The nurse swabbed his arm and wrapped a tourniquet above the injection site. She swabbed the area to disinfect and stuck the needle in. After inserting the catheter into his skin, she attached the IV tube to it and removed the tourniquet.
“All done,” she said happily. Gerard released the breath he was holding during the process.
“I love you, Gee,” Lindsey whispered, and kissed his cheek. Gerard faced Lindsey and regarded her with the old expression of admiration he always wore.
“I love you, too.” Maybe this wouldn’t be that bad. Sure, he might not remember right from wrong or how to appropriately act, but she had been told that there would be good days and bad days. Medication would help, and therapy could quite possibly return him to his old self. One thing was for sure, though: Lindsey had to reteach him everything he had been socially taught as a child. While the two sat on the bed, talking. Mikey returned to the room, with Frank and Bandit, who he had met upon returning to Gerard’s room. Frank said,
“Lindsey, I think I have to go home. Work is getting serious, I’m sorry, but I’ll come back as soon as I can.”
“Of course, Frank. Do what you have to do,” Lindsey said. Mikey spoke up.
“I, uh, I think I’m going to stay.” Frank told him,
“Mikey, the tour was postponed completely until we decide what’s going to happen. Are you still willing to try out for the band?”
“Of course, but I need to stay here for the time being.”
“Okay, I’ll drive down here whenever you need.” Frank walked over to Gerard. “Gerard, man, you get better. Bandit really loves you. She wouldn’t stop talking about you during lunch. I’ll see you later.” He leaned over to hug Gerard.
“Thanks,” Gerard said. Frank hugged Bandit for the last time, and said goodbye to Mikey and Lindsey.
“Frank, wait,” Lindsey celled. Frank turned around. “Thank you so much,” she said and approached him to embrace him
“Oh, Lindsey, it’s my pleasure.”
“Come back soon,”
“I will.” Waving goodbye, Frank left the room. Lindsey picked up Bandit and returned to her seat.
“Thank you, Mikey, for staying. I really do need help with Bandit.”
“Oh, no, I have to stay.”
“If you have anything to do with work or anything, you can leave at any time.”
“Oh, that reminds me. Can I use your phone?”
“Sure, here.” Lindsey fished her cell phone out of her pocket and handed it to Mikey. Mikey stepped out of the room to make a call. Minutes later, Mikey returned and handed Lindsey’s phone back,
“I just had to make sure my boss know I would be gone for a while.”
“Mikey, if this is inconvenient for you, you really don’t have to stat. I’m sure Gerard will be fine.” Mikey shook his head. He had to stay. Gerard needed him.
Mikey was frequently out of the room, what he was doing, Lindsey didn’t know. Gerard was sleeping most of the time, and had calmed down a bit from the IV incident. It was almost six in the evening and the natural light had completely left the room. Lindsey had not noticed how early the sun had started to set. It was the beginning of December, and just then, Lindsey realized that Bandit would most likely be spending Christmas in the hospital. There would be no Christmas tree, no Christmas dinner, and no rushing into the living room to see presents under the tree. Lindsey wasn’t even sure if she would be able to pay for rent, let alone presents. She sighed.
“Bandit, you want to get dinner?”
“Yeah!” Bandit had brought her father’s comic books from home, and for once, Lindsey allowed her. Thought he was sleeping, Lindsey told Gerard,
“We’re going to go get dinner. Yours should come soon; I think they said 6. I don’t know where Mikey is right now, but hopefully he’ll come back soon. Bye, sweetie.” She kissed his forehead lightly.
About an half an hour later, Mikey entered Gerard’s room. A small platform of untouched food was on the ground and Gerard was lying on his side, his back facing Mikey.
“Gerard?” Changing his position, Gerard winced while trying to face Mikey.
“Hi,” Gerard smiled. At this point, Gerard seemed relatively normal, a totally different person from what he witnessed earlier. Mikey picked up the tiny table and presented it to Gerard.
“You have to eat if you want to get better.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“I don’t feel good.”
“At least try to eat the soup.”
“…Okay.” Mikey handed Gerard the bowl of soup. It was most likely low sodium chicken noodle soup. Gerard brought the spoon to his mouth. He looked up at Mikey, and said,
“This is disgusting,” grimacing.
“Well, it probably wouldn’t be very good for you if it tasted good, would it?”
“It still doesn’t mean I want to eat it,” Gerard mumbled.
“Please, Gerard, at least eat half of it.”
“Fine.” Gerard grudgingly drank the soup. “Ugh, I’m not eating anymore of this.” Gerard returned the bowl to Mikey, who was finally content with how much Gerard had eaten. Just as he put the bowl back onto the table, he found Gerard slumped over the side of the bed, vomiting into the trashcan beside him. Before Mikey could react, Gerard had returned to his original position on the bed.
“Oh, Gerard, I’m so sorry,”
“I told you I wasn’t feeling well,” Gerard said softly. Clearly, he was trying to suppress his easily sparked anger, but it showed through his expression. The doctor had given him medication for his ever-changing mood, and it did work somewhat, but not completely.
“Here, I’ll go get someone.” Mikey rushed out of the room to get a nurse. Soon, Gerard was given a painkiller for his nausea and his room was cleaned.
Lindsey came back a little while later with Bandit, who was holding a tinfoil wrapped sandwich.
“We brought you dinner!” she cried happily, handing the sandwich to Mikey.
“Thanks, B,” Mikey ruffled her hair. Gerard had fallen asleep and was now resting on his back. Bandit shuffled over to him and strained to raise her head above the bed. Reaching up to him, she placed a chocolate chip cookie next to his hand. Content with her own generosity, she returned to Lindsey, and asked to be picked up.
“Mikey, I think we’re going to head home. It doesn’t seem like anything is going to happen and I’ve been very sleep deprived lately.”
“Of course, we can leave whenever you want.” They all said goodbye to Gerard and promptly left the building. On the car ride home, Lindsey brought up what would happen the next couple of days.
“I’m going to start to try and find a job. Probably as an art teacher in some other town, but I’ll drop you and Bandit off at the hospital, if it’s all right with you taking care of her.” Mikey agreed to this, thinking it was the best idea for now.
Everyday was relatively routine after that. Gerard stayed in the same condition with the occasional outburst, but he eventually learned to moderate himself. He was able to walk around now, gaining back the energy and strength he had lost before, but still always felt nauseous and frequently vomited from the pain in his upper abdomen, his liver. He slept for the majority of the day, waking up only when necessary. Practically weeks had passed, and Mikey and Bandit went to the hospital every day, while Lindsey searched for work. Christmas was nearing. One could tell, not only because of the declining temperature, but also because of the increase in decorations and music filling every corner of every hallway. The Christmas spirit had never appealed to Mikey, having never legitimately experiencing Christmas at home. The presents he would receive at the orphanage were always picked at random, always being a “unisex” toy or game, and now the lights and songs played on loop were getting on his nerves. He never wanted to hear “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” ever again. Every day, Mikey entertained Bandit in as many different ways he could: with games, toys, books, anything. He made lunch at home to save money, but bought Bandit the occasional treat with his own money. Dinner was usually eaten at home. Gerard grew distant from them. Not only because he was sleeping all of the time, but as the doctors had predicted, his liver was worsening, and his words were sometimes incoherent mumbles. He didn’t seem to be in a conscious state most of the time, even when he was awake, and he rarely regarded Mikey or Bandit at all. Whenever he woke, Mikey tried to reunite himself with Gerard, or Bandit with Gerard, to remind him, even if in a delirious state, they were still there. As for Frank, he visited from time to time, and announced that the band had found a temporary bassist for the tour, which would start immediately after the New Year started. He told Mikey that it was still possible for him to audition for the band and that the bassist they had hired was by no means permanent. Mikey wanted to believe Frank, but he knew that if the tour went well with the new bassist, they would hire him or her as one of the official band members. As disappointed as Mikey was, he knew that Gerard was far more important. As of now, Gerard was scheduled for surgery in two days, the 26th. It was Christmas Eve. Bandit seemed to understand the situation, and thankfully, she didn’t know what day it was. Today, Lindsey went with them to the hospital, as Gerard’s operation was nearing, and grew more nervous with every passing day. She had heard many rumors of the patient rejecting the donated liver, or of lethal infections. Mikey knew nothing of the operation, so he wasn’t sure of how to comfort her. He didn’t want to give her false information, but he did want to calm her into thinking that Gerard was going to be all right. Gerard was told that he would soon be going “under the knife”, but they were not sure he understood. His mental condition was worsening, and he was constantly moaning from the pain he was experiencing. They gave him painkillers, but they worked minimally, and Mikey habitually left the room to escape the agonizing noises Gerard made. For the sake of Lindsey, Bandit, and everyone close to Gerard, Mikey hoped that this would soon be over.