Hey there! New story time? Sort of. This will be a biweekly story on the side of my new story to be posted on a weekly basis. My previous story is sadly coming to a close (May get a sequel maybe if I can bring myself to write it. Fingers crossed) Until then this is my 'new story' now that school is starting I will be writing on a weekly basis minus this one. This story gets biweekly because this story takes a lot more research than my weekly one will and I want to write this... right. Oh English puns.
BIG WARNING: Character Death. It is a freaking hospital AU, of course people die. You can be mad at me, but please try to restrain cursing me out.
Other than that dearest go right ahead! Have fun.
I'm going to cut right to the chase here, no bull, no tap dancing around the matter at hand. My name is Piper McLean... Yes, that McLean, and I was born sick. Only they didn't know I was sick until I was about twelve years old. I have been living with a disease called cardiomyopathy. Fancy word huh? Fancy for I'm probably going to die. Probably.
Let's break this down a bit. Cardiomyopathy is a heart condition that focuses on the muscles. Now, as you probably know, your heart is entirely composed of muscle so this is already bad news. There are four main ways this disease can affect someone, A the muscles thicken, B the muscles grow causing the heart to become enlarged, C the muscles become like a fatty tissue as apposed to a muscle like it's supposed to be, or D the muscles harden like a shell. In most cases it's a combination of two or three.
In my case, I have an enlarged heart that is hardening. Which means; instead of my fist being the same size as my heart (like it's supposed to be) it's, roughly, the size of a fully grown adult male. And yes, that is a very bad thing. You're a smart kid, you probably know that. There are a few extra problems on top of this. One, hard heart means it's nearly impossible for my heart to beat on its own. Two, heavy heart crushes lung sitting right underneath it.
Life pretty much sucks. Mostly because I know they could have prevented this. Well, I mean, there is no cure, but had they known when I was born how sick I am they could have given me a drug that slows the condition down.
Anyway, that isn't the point, the point is I'm sick. I have been for a while now. But I haven't been probably dying until today.
Over these past three years I've been going to the doctor once every month to check on my condition. Only today...
I entered the hospital waiting room by myself. My hands shoved deep in my jacket pockets, head down, earbuds with music still narrating my journey here. I see the nurse, a familiar face to me, smile.
"Hey, Piper." She greets, handing me the sign in sheet.
"Hey, Juniper." I say signing my name, "How goes it?"
"Alright." She nods taking the clipboard back, "The doctor should be ready for you, I'll go see."
"Oh, the doctor huh? He piss you off?"
She rolls her eyes as she walks away. Juniper is dating my physician, Dr. Underwood. He's the head pediatrician at this hospital, despite the fact that he's the biggest dork alive. Or maybe that's a requirement, most of the pediatricians I've met are pretty ridiculous.
I take a seat and flip through my music, but before I can decide on a song, Juniper is back.
"He's ready for you."
"Cool." I nod standing up. I hesitate for hardly a second as my blood flow readjusts to my standing. A trait I've simply become accustomed to over these years of my being sick. You get used to this kind of stuff.
Juniper leads me into Dr. Underwood's exam room, "Oh, it's you." He teases with a dorky smile.
"Sorry, Doc. Know you've got more important stuff to do than attend to me, but." I shrug taking a seat on the paper covered chair.
"You're no trouble." He laughs taking down some notes, "How've we been?" He asks, as Juniper begins my examination.
"Well, I'm still walking, talking, functioning as a basic human being. That's good."
"Very good." He agrees, "How's school?"
"So, your mentality is still intact." He notes, "Made any new friends?"
"What do you mean by new? I've never had friends." I laugh.
"You're such a loving person, I thought you'd finally allow someone to see it. You've started High School correct?"
"Yup. Worst decision of my life." I inform him.
"Spot on. You've been taking your medication regularly?"
"And you haven't missed an appointment."
"That's because you're my best friend, Doc."
"I'm so flattered." He chuckles, "Okay now, my turn for tests." He says as Juniper hands him the clip board with her evaluations.
"So, are you really in the dog house?" I ask. Causing the two of them to laugh.
"No, we're just professionals." He informs me. rolling his little stool over to the exam chair, "Right, honey?"
"Yes, dear." Juniper chuckles.
"Alright you know what to do." He says beginning his evaluation.
"So, no boyfriend?" Juniper asks me.
"No, ma'am." I tell her.
"I wonder why not. A pretty girl like you?" Yeah, because everyone wants to date the school freak. Who just so happens to be so sick she can't even take gym.
"I'm not pretty. I'm more of a silent terror." I tell her with a teasing smile.
"Oh, so you're silent at school, huh? Why not here?" She teases back.
"Breathe in." Dr. Underwood requests placing his cold stethoscope on my back.
"I'm sure the boys are all just intimidated by you. I know I am." I roll my eyes at her comment.
"Out." He says, I let the air deflate out of my chest. He continues to evaluate me before asking any questions, "Have you had any new symptoms?" He asks rolling back to his desk.
"Not really." I say thinking back through these weeks since my last visit.
"Not really?" He asks.
"Well, I mean, stairs have gotten a little worse." I think back to my school days when I get to class panting from having to climb the stairs.
"A little worse?"
"Like it's harder for me to catch my breath."
He takes note of that, "Anything else?"
"I guess I've been more tired lately. But that's because of school, probably." He writes it down anyway.
"Any trouble with school?"
"With classes? No. With getting around? Only the stairs thing." I answer.
"Alright, now for the tests."
"Fun." I chuckle as we walk out of the exam room so I can get other tests done. Once my blood is drawn and my insides have had their selfie time, I get to hang out with Juniper and the other nurses, until my results come in.
They gossip about the trauma nurses, apparently Brittany is pregnant and doesn't know who the father is. It's not at all weird for me to be around these people, they're honestly the only friends I have. Sad? A bit. But their lives really are as dramatic as Grey's Anatomy says. It's entertaining to me.
After I found out I was sick, I stopped socializing with kids my age. Not that I did much socializing to begin with, but I suddenly didn't have anything in common with them. Which sounds cliché but there isn't much you can do about the truth, no matter how stereotypical it can be.
"Piper." Dr. Underwood walks over to the nurses station, "We have your results back."
Juniper and I stand up, following Dr. Underwood into his office.
I love his office, because his office is a place for teenage boys. He's got a basketball hoop for crying out loud. You'd almost never guess that he knows every word to every Hillary Duff's So Yesterday, but he does. It's not at all relevant to this story, but I thought you should know.
He sits on the edge of his desk as he pulls out the different papers from my tests. He knows I hate it when he beats around the bush. He wants to get right down to it.
"Your blood count was especially low today, which was why we did the extra chest ultrasound." He puts my scans on the back light, "Your CT scan showed us that your heart has not grown much since your last appointment, which would be a good thing, but that's also why we're glad we did the extra tests."
He pulls out another paper, reads it, and then says, "Your heart has hardened considerably since we last checked. Which is the reason for your low blood count. It's getting harder for your heart to pump blood on its own. We're going to need to get in contact with your dad."
Three years ago I would have scoffed and said, "Good luck." But he's gotten better about taking calls from Dr. Underwood.
"There's also something else." He pulls out the ultrasound images, "You see this?" He outlines a darker part of the image. I nod, "That would be your lung. You see how it looks like it's being pushed up?" I don't really, but I nod, " What's going on here is like what happens when you push on a balloon and it inflates around whatever is constricting it. In this case, your heart is weighing down on your lung. Hence why you've been experiencing shortness of breath.
"Do you understand what I'm telling you?"
"That I'm sicker than we thought."
He nods, "We can help regulate your heart beat with a pacemaker which is what I need to get in contact with your father about. The other thing is, we can't wait any longer to put you on the donor list. You need a new heart."
And that's what I meant by, I'm probably dying. Because, I don't know if you know this, but donors aren't easy to find. Especially when you need a heart for a teenage girl. I know that, Juniper knows that, and Dr. Underwood knows that.
"Could you call your dad?" He asks.
I pull out my phone and dial his number, "Tristan McLean's phone." His water boy answers, "Who is this?"
"Piper, you know, his kid?" I always have hated his water boys.
"What do you need?"
"I need to talk to him."
"He's a very busy man."
"Don't you think I know that? Can you tell him I need to talk to him please?"
He sighs, "They're in the middle of a scene."
"I can wait, but not for long." I tell him.
After a few minutes pass I hear the phone switch hands, "Pipes?"
"Hi dad." I greet, "Dr. Underwood needs you to come down here."
I put the phone to my chest, "What do I tell him?" I ask Doc.
"Tell him... Uh... Forms. I need him to sign forms! Yeah that's it." God, my doctor is a dork.
"He needs you to sign some forms."
"Can't he fax them over?"
"Uh... Fax?" I ask Doc.
"Tell him you need him here."
"Dr. Underwood says I need you here."
"I get out for a lunch break in thirty minutes. Can he wait?"
"Thirty minutes?" Doc gives me a thumbs up, "We can wait."
"Okay, see you then."
"Bye." We hang up, "Don't you love my dad?" I ask.
"Of course we do." Doc chuckles, "He gives me a good paycheck."
"And me. He gave you me." I smirk.
"Well..." He gives me a look.
"You adore me." I tell him.
"Duh, would have gotten rid of you ages ago if I didn't." He informs me. He pulls out the small plastic basketball and tosses it to me, "Let's see if you've improved."
"I likely have. You know, with all of my training."
For the next thirty minutes the three of us toss the plastic basketball at the hoop, only getting a point every twenty shots or so. We repeat the cycle for the thirty minutes after that, and the thirty minutes after that.
My dad shows up almost two hours later.
"Sorry, I'm late, Doctor. I got held up at work." He says walking into the room. He kisses the top of my head before sitting beside me.
"No worries." Dr. Underwood slips the plastic basketball into the drawer of his desk.
"So, where are those forms?" He asks.
"Well, we actually need to talk about-"
"Honestly, Doctor, I trust you with my daughter's life. I believe you're doing what's right for her. I'll sign whatever you need." He's in a hurry, as usual.
"Sir, I think your daughter should be pulled out of school." He says bluntly.
"What for?" Dad asks.
"Because, your daughter's condition has gotten worse. We called you here so I could tell you that her heart can hardly beat on it's own. We'll have to give her a pacemaker in order to help her heart actually beat. Which is the procedure I need you to sign off on. But the pacemaker will only do so much. She needs to be placed on the donor list for a new heart, because the one she has now, is cutting off her lung. She needs to be taken out of school because she needs constant care."
My dad's face fills with confusion he looks at me. His eyes say, but you look healthy to me.
"Wait," I speak up, "I have to live in a hospital then?"
"Not necessarily." He says, "You will have a few options on how you wish to go about this."
"My kid is sick?" Dad asks, "Like, terminally sick?"
"If we don't get her on the donor list, yes she would be considered terminal." He says it like he doesn't want to. Like he wishes it weren't true.
"But... Pipes." He can't figure it out. He can't figure me out.
"So, Doc. How long do we have then?" I ask.
"Hard to say." He answers truthfully, "But we have other matters to discuss. The procedure, getting her on the list, where we are going to have her live."
I nod to him.
"I'll sign off on the procedure, and getting her on the list." Dad says, "But... Where will she live? I don't even know where to start."
"Like I said, you have a few options." Dr. Underwood laces his fingers together like a real professional would do, "She could live in your home, sign up for Hospice care. We could admit her to this hospital, here she'd be under constant supervision." He pauses before he seems to have a light bulb moment, "Or," He rummages through his drawers, "Juniper could you get me the pamphlet for Camp?"
Juniper nods, walking out of the room.
"Camp?" Dad asks.
"Yes sir, it's one of the newest facilities our hospital has. It was built about seven years ago. One of our residents runs a sort of Hospice unit, out of his home." Juniper returns with the pamphlet, "Yes, Camp Jupiter." He hands it to my dad, "It's a special pediatrics program designed for children who don't want to live in a hospital, but need more than Hospice can provide. It's like a home."
"Yes, it's an excellent program. The house is just two blocks away from here, so it's incredibly close to the hospital. Their care, is excellent. There is a max amount of patients that can live there, I believe it's ten. You can be assured she'll get the attention and care she'll need."
My dad flips through the pamphlet, "Do you think this would be the best option for her?"
"I think it'd be best for you both." Doc says, "Let's be honest Mr. McLean, having a child on Hospice care, requires a very attentive parent in the child's life. And with your work, you couldn't do that for her, not to mention the absence of her mother.
"And Piper, I don't think you want to live in a hospital. You're also not at the point where living in a hospital is necessary. This option would be the best for the both of you. In my opinion."
I look at the pamphlet's front photo. A large house, with well kept lawns, a house that almost looks straight out of a Home and Garden magazine.
"Pipes?" Dad asks me, "What do you think?"
"I think I don't want to live in a hospital." I say. I think you're too busy for me. To busy to take care of your sick child, but I'd never say it to him, "And Hospice care isn't too appealing either."
"Okay." He says, "Then yes. We'd like to look more into this." He hands the pamphlet back to Dr. Underwood.
"Juniper, call Chiron to see if he has time for me today."
"He always does." Juniper smiles walking out of the office.
"Now, we need you to sign these forms." He plops a dictionaries worth of papers in front of my dad, "These are the papers for the donor list, and the procedure. We'll see if the director has time to meet with you today on her living arrangement."
Dad gets to signing right away as Dr. Underwood talks us through the procedure. When Juniper returns my dad finishes signing the stack of contracts.
"He says he's free for the afternoon, he'd be willing to give you the tour if you'd like, Mr. McLean."
"What time?" My dad asks. He has to get back to work.
"Right now, if you're ready." Juniper smiles softly.
"That'd be best." My dad stands up.
"Uh, sir." Dr. Underwood stands up, "I'll be taking your daughter in for her procedure right now. Do you want to wait?"
He doesn't want to. He has more important things to do, "Pipes, do you need me to stay?"
I shake my head, "I'll be fine."
"Okay." He nods following Juniper out of the office.
"That man is all work and no play." Dr. Underwood says.
"No kidding." I agree standing up, "So, pacemaker time?" I smirk.
"Come with me." Doc returns the smile. I'm prepped for the procedure and in no time at all I'm waking up from my surgery. I don't quiet know what I was expecting when I woke up, but it wasn't to be greeted by two strange men.
One older, with kinder eyes. The other, colder, seeming to be more task driven as he takes down some kind of notes.
I give the men a look of confusion as Doc walks into my room, "You're awake, congratulations."
"Thanks?" I can hear the grogginess of my voice leak into the air.
"Piper, this is Chiron," He gestures to the kind looking man, "And Dr. D. The residents in charge of Camp Jupiter."
"It's nice to meet you, Piper." Chiron says to me. I nod tiredly, "Your dad signed you off to live in our facility. We're very excited to have you."
I doubt that, just because I doubt sick kids can be can be excited about anything, "Okay." I say with no other polite response coming to mind.
"Your dad has packed your things already and brought them to our facility. You're all moved in except for yourself."
"Uh... Cool?" I want to wake up more.
"And you'll be moving in as soon as I get your discharge papers in order." Doc informs me. I don't respond, I wait for them to say something.
After an awkward pause Chiron says, "Your roommate is excited to meet you. Her name is Annabeth and she's been with us since we opened. She'll be helping you get settled in." I wonder what's wrong with her, if she's been there since they opened. I sincerely hope she's hard to get along with, I hope she's not actually excited to meet me. I mean, I'm kind of terminal, and maybe she is too. But who wants to have friends when you know we're going to die?
After I wake up a bit more, I'm discharged from the hospital, and taken to my new home via hospital van. It's not even dark out, it's only six o'clock. I'm still thoroughly exhausted besides that, however.
"We're here." Chiron announces. as we pull into the driveway. Much to my surprise, the house looks exactly like it did in the pamphlet. Why am I shocked? I don't know, I don't usually expect things to be exactly what they seem. Chiron helps me out of the van and leads me up to the house, "It's dinner time, everyone will be in the dinning room. You don't have to eat tonight, if you're too tired. But we'd like you to meet everyone."
I don't respond as we walk into the house. Chiron directs me to the dinning room. The first thing I notice is that it's obnoxiously loud. Filled with ringing laughter and even louder comebacks. I feel like I'm walking into a school cafeteria.
Once I find myself standing in the dinning room, the teens around the table fall silent. I have always hated attention. Especially now, I feel incredibly uncomfortable.
"Everyone. This is Piper. Our new resident. I expect you all to make her feel welcome." He turns to me, "Are you hungry? You can take a seat and eat with the rest of them, if you are."
I have to think for a moment. I haven't eaten since breakfast at eight o'clock this morning, "Yeah." I mumble.
"Okay, you can go sit next to Annabeth, right at the end there." Chiron directs me to the other end of the table where a girl with a mop head of messy blonde curls sits.
I take a seat beside her, "Hi." She says, "I'm Annabeth, which, yeah, Chiron just told you. I'm your roommate."
"Hi." I give her a small smile, "Piper." I'm given a small plate and some utensils.
"Hey guys, pass some food down here, will ya?" Annabeth says.
"I'll think about it." An impish looking boy smirks.
"Don't be like that, Leo." Annabeth says, "We have to be nice remember?"
Leo rolls his eyes, "Fine." He passes down a bowel full of Mac and Cheese. I scoop a bit on to my plate.
"Does this mean I can sleep in your bed now?" The boy beside Annabeth asks.
"Percy!" Annabeth laughs. My eyes widen considerably, "No!"
"What? Now that they've pushed the beds back-"
"Stop it!" I look down at my food and start eating a bit quicker.
"It's a valid question." He protests.
"In what world?" She demands.
"This one. Duh." I'm so happy I get full quickly. Does anesthesia do that? Cause I'm full and falling asleep, and I'm so glad because I assume they want to ask me questions that I don't feel like answering.
"Piper? It's Piper right?"
"Hm?" I look up from my empty plate that had almost mesmerized me into sleeping.
"I'm Percy, the coolest kid you will ever meet." The dark haired guy beside Annabeth introduces himself, "And Annabeth's boyfriend. She'll probably spend a lot of time talking about me."
"Stop it." She scolds him. I feel myself nodding off again.
"What'd they do, drug you before bringing you over here?" Percy asks.
"Yeah." I think I nod, but I probably just sound high.
"I'll take you to our room. You can get some rest. I'm sure you've had a long day." I slowly stand up, let my sight readjust to my new position, and follow Annabeth out of the dinning room, "I'll help you out tomorrow." She leads me down a long stretch of hallway, "We haven't had a new resident in awhile. But don't worry, we're a good group. We're very accepting of each other."
"Cool." I slur tiredly.
"Are you okay?" Annabeth turns to look at me.
"Yeah, I just... Had a procedure done like... Two, maybe three hours ago?"
"Wow, and they just brought you over here?"
"Yeah." I feel a bit dizzy as she opens the door to our room.
"What was the procedure?" She asks flipping on a blinding light. The room is well sized. Two twin sized beds, two dressers, and a closet fit nice and evenly. The room looks lived in, thankfully. Annabeth's bed has a knitted quilt on it, books precariously perched on the edge of her dresser, and pictures scattering the walls of her side of the room.
"Pacemaker." I say sitting down on my bed. It's not the most comfortable thing I've ever felt, but it's better than the hospital bed I had been in an hour ago. Even on that thing, though, I'd still sleep like a baby, at this point.
"Ah, you're a heart kid."
"Yeah, I guess." I say, feeling my drowsiness intensify with each passing second.
"Well, we can talk more in the morning, you seem really worn out. Your clothes are in the drawer, bathroom is at the end of the hall last door on the left." I nod, "You want me to turn off the light?"
"Sure." I mutter, slipping off my shoes.
"Night." The moment the door is closed behind her I fall onto the bed. Not even bothering to pull up a blanket I only have enough consciousness to pull my knees to my chest before I fall asleep.