Friday, September 2, 2005

For One Life 12/38

By J.D. and M. Blais

Chapter 12

By the time they had finished and he finally reached the bed and sat his breathing was rough, the exertion and congestion catching up with him. Laying the crutches aside he leaned over to take the shoes off again.

"I think we can save the new clothes for tomorrow," William said, as he went over to the oxygen machine and started it running again.

"'kay.." He couldn't hold back the cough as he straigthened again..then shifted to pull his leg up on the bed.

William helped him get the leg up, then retrieved the plastic tubing with the oxygen. Carefully, he looped it over Luka's head and adjusted the prongs. "There, you can lay back now."

Pulling the blanket over him he slipped the robe off again...then lay it at the end of the cot. "Thanks.." He coughed again then lay back.

William managed a smile, even as he started pulling out a clean length of sterile bandage. "You're looking much less scruffy now."

"Feeling kind of tired though..." He propped himself up on one arm as he watched William.

"Understandable." He moved the blanket off Luka's leg so he could rebandage the gunshot wound.

His gaze moved to the leg.."How bad is it?"

He took out a pair of gloves, snapping them on and taking out a bottle of peroxide. He revealed the wound, setting his fingers at the edges of it.  "I know they injected at the site to kill the infection, and it seems to have worked to a degree," he said, low, as he pressed the skin around it experimentally.  "There's some knotting, indicative of scar tissue."

He drew a breath in at the probing.. "Is it still infected?"

William frowned, his fingers testing all the way around the circumference. "There seems to be no seepage at the site right now, which I would take as a no, I don't think it's still a dangerous infection. Can I see the entry?"

"Yeah..." He rolled to his side...then to his stomach with a slight grunt..leaving unsaid that he was shot while fleeing...

William leaned forward, his fingers checking all around the site. "The nodes in the general area aren't inflamed, so I think you're largely in the clear. Of course, the scar tissue is going to build a little bit hit a lot of muscle."

"Will I have a limp?" He brought his arm up to rest his chin on it while he lay there.

William leaned back. "From the shot alone, I wouldn't think so, not in the long term anyway. It hit the muscle but didn't sever anything vital. Is that the only part of your leg giving you trouble?"

"The knee hurts worse...Angelique said it would take awhile to heal."

"Your knee?" William pressed the back of his calf. "Can you turn back over?"

He nodded then turned onto his back again..a groan following the efforts.

William glided his fingers over the knee, feeling for the ligaments on either side of the kneecap.  "Have you been putting any weight on it?"

He bit his lip as his hands moved over the knee..his leg stiffening as he tensed.

He placed his left hand over the knee, and his right under the calf, so he could bend his leg experimentally.

"I did when I first did it, there really wasn't a choice...but, not since I got the crutches."

"Did it give out when you first were walking on it? Unsupportive of the weight?"

"Sometimes...but I had to keep moving."

"Alright." William forced the knee to bend a few times, keeping his calf supported. "Looks like a tear, in your ligaments, probably anterior. Knee seems to bend fine, but it loosens the farther I go, as the ligament isn't stretching with the knee, see?"  He was speaking as if this were as much a lesson as anything.

He moaned slightly with the movements to his knee before answering.  "Yeah."   He nodded his understanding as he tried to concentrate on what the man was saying.

"The best thing for a tear like this is to keep the knee mobilized, so the ligament can reattach in the proper formation. In extreme cases, it can need surgical reattachment, but that it rare, and would require a complete detachment in the injury."

"So more then just wrapping it?"

He laid Luka's leg back on the cot, keeping it straight, and nodded. "The fibers in the ligaments will reinforce themselves during the healing process as long as they are left in formation."

He pulled his eyes from the knee to William. "Why didn't Angelique do it before?"

"It's not vital unless you want there to be complete reattachment, as much as possible, like...if you were to play sports on this leg again.  Now, in the future, they may slip from time to time, since they still can't completely reattach to the exact same spot they tore from.  It's why football players consider it a career-killing injury.  Angelique most likely thought that if you kept off it for a short time, it would be fine."

He listened intently...filing the information away without realizing it.

He took up the sterile material, moving to rewrap the bullet wound. "And in essence, it would be. The ligaments are fused with each other rather tightly, and they bind quickly as well.  However, coupled with your thigh wound, seems prudent to just keep it immobilized. Ideally, we'd use a hardboard immobilizer, but we don't have any here."

He nodded,...a grunt escaping as pressure was put on the bullet wounds.

His hands moved quickly, making layers around the leg. "Now, the bullet wound isn't oozing any longer, but it still needs air to aid the clotting process." He kept the bandage comfortable but not tight, then taped the wrap after the clean layers were completed. With that done, he rummaged in his bag for something. "Ah, here we go....these might work."  He drew out two large tongue depressors.

Luka's forehead creased a bit as he watched..his confusion revealing itself.

"Look, we can forge a kind of small immobilizer here," he started, placing the depressors on either side of his knee, fingers probing until the ligaments were satisfactorily lined up.

He couldn't help but groan as William probed..his knuckles whitening as he grabbed the cot sides.

"Claire hates these things," he said conversationally, as he used another length of bandage to wrap the knee, using the wooden sticks to bind the knee straight.  "The depressors, I mean."

"Why?" The words came out between clenched teeth.

"She always said she couldn't stand the taste of wood on her tongue." He wrapped each layer, careful to keep the depressors stable. "Said it was like licking a tree."

He nodded even though he didn't quite understand what the man was saying...then dropped his eyes back to the knee.

His fingers moved to tape the bandage off. "She could never eat popsicles as a kid for that reason."


He nodded, testing the stiffness of the bandage. "You know, those little ice cream things that came on a wooden stick. She hated them."

Luka released the held breath as the man finished.

"There....makeshift, but it does the job."

He lifted his hand to rub his eye as he nodded..

"Try to get some sleep, Luka. You're fine for now." He drew off the gloves, depositing them into a small wastebasket by his cot.

"kay..." He raised his hand to feel for his picture..then lay it on his chest with his hand covering it. "Thanks..."

His eyes were already closing as he got the word out.

William drew the blanket back over his legs.

To be continued...

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