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In a rush, sound and feeling and sight returned, and Lanie gasped as she jerked awake with a shriek. Her voice was muffled and high-pitched, but none of her screams could escape whatever was in her mouth. She clawed and fought, but her hands were caught. The light was harsh, unnatural, and everything smelled terrible. Chemical and sterile and overwhelming. Her chest ached like she’d been bludgeoned with a meat tenderizer.
“She’s back! Oh, thank God, we got her back.”
“We need to extubate her before she damages her trachea!”
“Lanie, honey, please relax. Here, can you give me a cough?”
She continued to shriek and wrench. Something was holding her down. No! She wasn’t supposed to be here. She had to get to Ben before he bled to death.
“Maybe we should sedate her?”
“No, look, she got it basically out. Just hold her jaw…”
Strong fingers gripped her face, and her throat stung as a long tube was pulled out.
“Ben!” she screeched, but her voice was scratchy and weak. “I need Ben! I need to save him!”
Her head whipped back and forth, from face to face that hovered above her. Their concern infuriated her, as did their insipid attempts at soothing commands. One tried to touch her hand comfortingly, and she snapped up three of those fingers in a clawed grip, digging in her nails.
“You have to calm down,” said a male nurse through gritted teeth. The owner of the hand, evidently. “We don’t want to have to put you under. But you’re going to injure yourself further if you don’t stop.”
“Don’t tell me to calm down!” With help, the man was able to pry his fingers from her grasp. Frantically, she tried to jerk her arms, but they were bound. She tried to kick one of the doctors, but her legs wouldn’t move. Her head was killing her, and she felt like she’d been rolled over by a truck.
Or been pummeled with the wreckage of a destroyed yacht.
While her husband lay dying in the sand a few inches away.
She felt a cold tingle from a single point inside her elbow. As the coldness fizzed up her arm, her head began to swim. Heaviness sank into her, and even though she fought it, her movements were sluggish, as though she were wading through Jello. Unblinkingly, chest heaving, she stared into the eyes of the all-too-familiar Dr. Roche.
“I need to see him,” she rasped, on the edge of sleep. Her voice slid out like molasses. “You know what it’s like for us to wake up without each other. Please, take me to him so he’s not scared. I won’t hurt anyone, I promise. Just let us stay in the same room.”
He pressed a hand to her face. The deep sadness in his face angered her. What did he have to be upset about? Why did he always act as though he was the one suffering when it was his patients going through the pain? “Lanie. I’m so sorry, but that’s not possible.”
“Yes, it is! My grandfather built this hospital. It’s basically mine, and I’m changing the visitation rule. Effective immediately.” Her voice sounded empty, detached. Not quite the effect she was going for, but her mouth wasn’t working right. Her head wasn’t quite attached to the rest of her body. “He needs me. You know he does.”
“Lanie. If I reverse your sedation, and unstrap you, will you stay calm and listen?”
She considered. She hated this feeling of being half-awake and not quite in her body. But she also had a feeling she didn’t want to hear what he had to say. A chilling shard of glass began scraping a slow, sharp line, opening a stinging fissure in her heart that threatened to burst open and fly apart. She fought to stop its progression.
Squeezing her eyes shut, she tried to get back to that spot in the garden. Oh, yes. The garden. She searched in the dark for the light. For the warmth. For the place in his arms where she belonged.
“No. Put me under. I want to sleep.”
“It’s really better if – ”
“Just do it.” Dr. Roche cut off a female nurse, and lifted his hand from Lanie’s cheek. “She’s not ready. Let’s give her a chance.”
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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.”
~ Romans 15:13