And now for part 2.
I must have dozed off again because I was jolted awake by a very loud beeping. It sounded like some type of alarm. Smoke detector? Carbon monoxide alarm? I panicked, imagining myself asphyxiating from smoke inhalation before the flames charred my lifeless body and consumed the cabin in its entirety.
I forewent the cautionary appraisal of potential monsters in my bedroom to determine the source of the noise. As I opened my bedroom door, the ruckus suddenly ceased. To paraphrase Lewis Carroll, this night was becoming curiouser and curiouser. I wished at that moment for one of Alice’s scrumptious petit-fours to shrink me so I could more effectively hide from the things that go bump in the night.
I ambled back to bed, in the dark, too weary at this point to acknowledge any qualms about what may or may not be hiding in the closet, under the bed, or dangling from the ceiling. Shit, I forgot about the ceiling. I climbed back into bed, aimed the flashlight up, and exhaled with relief at the spray-on acoustic texture.
As soon as I got comfortable and was perched upon the precipice of sleep the phone rang. Not my cell phone that I keep on top of the stack of books by my bed but my house phone. In the other room.
Who would be calling me this late? I wondered. It could be an Edvard Munch mask-clad serial killer wanting to know if I’m alone in the house so we could have a late-night scary movie trivia fest. Or perhaps a different sociopath wanting me to check on the children; however, since I had no slumbering tots in the house I immediately discounted this option. Maybe I would be privy to a recording with the details of my impending death. Or, even worse, it may be a Taiwanese telemarketer with a poor grasp on time zones.
As I grappled with the choice between remaining in my nice, warm, and perceived safe bed or braving the nighttime ghoulies to answer the phone, I judiciously chose the former, and within moments the annoying ringing ceased and I was able to visit Mister Sandman yet again.
At 3:51, I was, yet again, awakened by a series of sharp, stabbing, painful sensations along my shins and thighs. What the hell?! Fire ants? Amphibious jellyfish? Bees? I had never been stung by a bee so I worried what to do if I went into anaphylactic shock. I cautiously reached under the covers, expecting the worst, of course, and was beyond thankful to feel only my slightly-stubbly, vermin-free legs.
At this point, I was truly exhausted. And had to use the bathroom. Again.
After my aforementioned hallway light, toilet bowl, shower curtain OCD routine, as I was ready to flick the switch and dive back into bed, I was overcome by an extremely pungent, antiseptic-like odor, somewhat reminiscent of childhood scraped knees and the fiery hell that was Bactine. But now, it was as if I was bathing in the shit. The stench stung my nose and flooded my sinuses. My eyes watered like the audience at a Nicholas Sparks adaptation.
And then the smell was gone as quickly as it came.
“Will she ever awaken from the coma?” my mother asked. “She’s been unconscious for three weeks now.”
“Comas are tricky. Some patients awaken, some slip into persistent vegetative states, and others die, unfortunately. A coma is the body’s way of shutting down non-essential functions so that the more serious, immediate injury can be addressed. The automobile accident caused substantial traumatic brain injury. MRIs show no hemorrhaging and that the brain is functioning as it should be; however, we don’t know the full extent of the brain damage, if any. She has repeatedly scored a nine on the Glasgow Coma Scale, suggesting moderate brain injury. Oculocephalic reflex demonstrates brainstem integrity. Pupils are reactive indicating intact retinas. Corneal and gag reflexes indicate undamaged cranial nerves. All of which are good news, relatively speaking. What we need to do now is wait,” the doctor replied.
“Can she hear us? Is she aware of what’s going on around her?”
“There have been some stories of individuals in persistent vegetative states who have responded to directions. In fact, there was a British woman who was able to envision playing tennis when directed to do so, according to brain scan technology, thus demonstrating that there may be awareness in coma and PVS patients. But at the present time, she isn’t showing any type of active response to stimuli—painful or otherwise—so I would have to say that she is not aware. But this isn’t set in stone. There is ample evidence which suggests that talking to coma patients may help them regain consciousness. You really have nothing to lose by talking to her.”
“I had nightmares as a kid. As an adult, I have very prosaic dreams.” ~ Guillermo del Toro