Barbara was the first to say anything, and all she could do was stutter as she looked at Ryan's chart. "I'm sorry. I didn't realize. It doesn't say...." She never noticed it before, but the section where an adult signs for a minor clearly stated "signature of parent/guardian." She always assumed parent, and she was never corrected. Until today.Sandy only nodded at her before saying, "Why doesn't everyone wait outside? I'll help Ryan."
The tone of Sandy's voice didn't go unnoticed by any of them, as Kirsten and Seth both silently nodded their heads and quickly followed the nurse out of the room. Ryan tried to look Sandy in the eyes, but looked away when he saw that Sandy's face matched Sandy's tone. They were both angry. He tried to shrink back into the bed as Sandy approached him and was shocked when all Sandy said was, "Come on, Ryan. Let's get you up and into the bathroom."
Ryan knew he was in enough trouble for what he said to Kirsten, so Ryan was smart enough not to argue as Sandy helped him out of the bed and guided him to the bathroom. He was relieved when Sandy opened the bathroom door, but didn't come in. Sandy at least let him have some dignity. Ryan also knew what to expect when he opened the bathroom door. He knew Sandy would be standing there on the other side, waiting to help him again. Sandy guided him back to the bed before telling him, "Sit down, Ryan."
So Ryan sat and waited. He knew it was coming, so he focused on a spot on the floor and waited for Sandy to start. Sandy took Ryan's boxers, sweatpants and sandals out of the bag and put them down next to him. "Here are your clothes, and guess what? I'm going to help you put them on. And you're going to let me. If you want to be mad, then be mad. At me. Not at Kirsten and not at Seth."
"I'm not..." Ryan started to say before Sandy cut him off. "Yes, you are. Otherwise you wouldn't be arguing with Kirsten or threatening Seth. So I'm telling you now - you want to be mad, then be mad at me. And even then, there's only so much I'm willing to accept. We're here to help you."
"I don't need help," Ryan still insisted, without lifting his eyes off that spot on the floor.
Sandy took a step closer to Ryan as he slowly and forcefully told him, "Yes. You do."
Ryan could only shake his head before looking at the pile of clothes. "I can't."
"You can't what?" Sandy asked, although he was pretty sure what Ryan meant.
"I can't let you do that." Ryan sighed as he continued to stare at the pile of clothes.
"Ryan," Sandy said, "you don't have a choice. Whether you like it or not, you need the help of your family right now. You need to accept that fact because we are going to help you."
Ryan finally looked up at Sandy. "Accept it? How do you expect me to accept it? I can't.... It's too...." Ryan just shook his head. He'd been taking care of himself for years, and now Sandy expected him to be happy about the fact he needed help.
"Then don't accept it." Sandy told him. "You want to make this even more unpleasant by being nasty about it? Fine. But know this - we are going to help you, because you need help and because we're your family. We're not going to sit by and watch you risk hurting yourself just because you're too stubborn to turn to someone for help. If you need help getting dressed, one of us is going to help you. If you need help with your food, we'll be there. And if you need help because you're still vomiting from the anesthesia, guess what? We're going to help you. Accept it, don't accept it. Like it, don't like it. Either way, that's how it's going to be. Is that clear?"
"It's going to be really hard," Ryan whispered, but Sandy just patted him on the shoulder. "Only as hard as you want to make it."
Ryan could only let out another sigh as he lowered his head. He didn't doubt for a minute that they were going to be there. He didn't like it and knew he'd never like it. But he also knew he was going to have to deal with it. That point Sandy made crystal clear.
Sandy waited for a minute as Ryan thought about what he said and tried to wrap his head around the fact he was going to have to accept help before moving onto the next subject. "About what you said about Kirsten."
"I'm sorry. That was wrong," Ryan said.
"Technically," Sandy told him, "it wasn't wrong. Technically, there is a difference between a guardian and a mother, as well as a guardian and a father. That doesn't mean we don't care about you just as much, because we do. Maybe we don't always show it, or maybe sometimes we show it too much. But no matter what you want to call us or what someone else calls us, we're still your family."
"It's just," Ryan tried to explain. "Don't you find it weird, when someone says that?"
Sandy shrugged and then shook his head. "Says what? Father? Mother? Parents? Son?" Nope, sorry. I don't find it weird at all. Neither does Kirsten. But remember, we were already parents with a son before you came along. All we did was add another son. You got stuck with an entirely new family to come to terms with."
"Yes, because the one I had was just so wonderful," Ryan snidely said. "I just. I don't always know how to respond to the whole thing."
Sandy finally sat on the bed next to Ryan. "I don't know how to help you with that one. They're just words, names. Nothing more. You are our foster son. Kirsten is your foster mother, Seth is your foster brother and I am your foster father. Call them titles, I guess. They don't erase your other family or change who you are. And they certainly don't affect the way we feel about you or the fact that you are a very important part of this family. Just try to remember that the next time someone forgets to add the word 'foster'. Okay?"
"Yeah. I'll try." Ryan thought about it for a minute. "I guess I should apologize to Kirsten."
"I think she'd like that," Sandy said. "Not so much for what you said, but how you said it. Your whole attitude."
Ryan smirked a little. "So, I guess I haven't been the easiest person to deal with today."
"Uh, no. You haven't," Sandy said. "I will admit though, you do have some valid reasons to be upset, even grumpy, but not nasty or surly. So I hope you don't plan on continuing that behavior. I'd hate to have to ground you after breaking your arm."
"Ground me from what? I can't go anywhere. I can't do anything. What could you possibly ground me from?" Ryan asked since he was more then a little shocked that Sandy would even threaten such a thing.
"Ryan," Sandy laughed. "You're only going to be under the weather for a couple of days. Your upset stomach should subside by tomorrow, and the pain in your arm should diminish gradually. In a few days you'll be going stir crazy and looking for something to do, at which point, I'd have to ground you from doing it."
"Thanks," Ryan said. "Appreciate your love and understanding."
"Anytime, kiddo, anytime," Sandy laughed again. "So what's say we get you dressed so we can finally be sprung from this joint."
Ryan watched as Sandy picked up his boxers first. "I hate this."
"I know you do." Sandy didn't say anything else. He didn't want to give Ryan some false words of comfort since he knew there was no way Ryan would feel any kind of comfort in getting help pulling up a pair of boxers. Nor would he feel at ease with words as Sandy helped him into his sweatpants. And there was nothing to say as Sandy pulled off the hospital gown, and then bent down to put Ryan's sandals on his feet for him.
"Just so you know," Sandy finally said after Ryan was dressed. "Kirsten is going to want you to rest on the couch for the remainder of today, and probably all of tomorrow. Just don't argue with her, since it's an argument you won't win. She's going to want to keep a close eye on you and mother you to death. Or I guess I should say foster mother you to death."
"Ha. Ha. Very funny." Ryan rolled his eyes. "Can't you just tell her that I'll be fine in the pool house? That if I need anything, I'll let you know."
Sandy shook his head. "I could. But I'm not. First of all, I don't think it would do any good. And second, I think I'd prefer you on the couch myself. Sorry kid, but I sort of have my doubts that you'll ask us for help if you're out in the pool house by yourself until it's too late. This way, we can be there to help as soon as we see you need it, especially if you're going to be sick again."
"Again with the love and understanding." Ryan muttered.
"Oh, we definitely love you. No doubt about that. And believe me, we understand you. That's why we want you on the couch." Sandy smiled as he headed for the door. "I think between the lingering effects of the anesthesia and the pain medication you'll be taking, you won't be awake long enough to care where you're sleeping."
Ryan looked down at the spot on the floor as Sandy opened the door to his room and Kirsten, Seth and the nurse came back in. He only glanced up briefly when he noticed that Seth and Kirsten both chose to stay on the other side of the room. He shouldn't have been upset since he did threaten Seth and insult Kirsten, but he was.
The nurse placed Ryan's chart on the table next to his bed and began to explain, "If you're all set, we just need to go over some discharge information. This form here explains what to look for in case of infection - fever, severe pain and/or swelling of the fingers, vomiting, chills and so forth. Any signs of infection, and you need to bring Ryan back. Also, in case the vomiting does not subside by tomorrow despite the Compazine, or if Ryan appears to be showing signs of dehydration as explained in this other form, than you need to bring him back as quickly as possible. If you have any questions or concerns, either phone the doctor's office or bring Ryan back. These are the prescriptions to be filled. One is for Percocet for pain. One is for Amoxicillin to fight infection and the other is for the Compazine. I'll give these to you, Mr. Cohen, and if you would just sign here, then your... Ryan will be ready to go. Any questions?"
"No, I think we're good." Sandy said as he reviewed and then signed the discharge summary.
Barbara looked at Ryan who was still staring at his feet. "Ryan, do you have any questions?"
"No, I'm good. Thanks." Ryan said softly, still looking down.
"Okay then, I just need to call down for a wheelchair, and you'll be ready to go." Barbara told them as she closed Ryan's chart.
It was then that Ryan finally looked up. "Don't bother, really. I can walk. I don't need a...." He quickly realized that it would be better not to finish the sentence when he saw the faces of Kirsten, Sandy and the nurse.
At least the nurse gave Ryan a smile. "Sorry. Hospital policy."After the nurse left, Sandy handed the prescriptions to Seth. "Can you take these and get them filled for when Ryan gets home?"
Seth looked down at the prescriptions Sandy handed him. "All three prescriptions?"
"Of course all three prescriptions." Kirsten said.
"Oh, well, I was just thinking, you know. Maybe, just maybe two would be okay." But when Kirsten and Sandy didn't answer him, Seth looked over at Ryan, who just shrugged his shoulders. "Yeah, well, okay. Sorry, bro."
Ryan smiled since he knew what Seth was suggesting. "Yeah. It's okay. But, um, me too. Sorry, I mean. About before."
"Don't worry about it. It's been a real crappy day for you. And hey, don't worry about these either," Seth said as he waved the prescriptions in the air. "Just maybe one of them will accidentally get lost on my way to the pharmacy. But shush, we wouldn't know which one, now would we?"
"Seth!" Sandy warned. "Take your mother's car and go get all three prescriptions filled."
Ryan couldn't help but laugh now. His arm still hurt and his stomach was still upset, but there were times when Seth could make him laugh simply by being Seth.
Seth threw up his arms in a mock surrender. "Ok, Ok. But you know, Dad, I think you mean my car. Or I should say our car. As in mine and Ryan's, not Mom's."
Ryan looked from Seth to Sandy and back to Seth. "Our car? What'd I miss?"
"During your little cat nap, surgery thing," Seth informed him. "Grandpa decided to give Mom a company car, and we inherited the Range Rover."
Ryan nodded first as if he were thinking very seriously before he deadpanned, "What, this doesn't warrant a fancy new convertible?"
"See, I said the same thing." Seth was very animated as he pointed first at Sandy and then to Ryan. "But apparently not. I guess Dad would have to break both your arms and maybe a leg or two for the convertible. For one broken arm, all we get is a used SUV!"
"And you're both asking for it to be taken away already," Kirsten said. "Seth, go. I want the medication to be at home when Ryan gets there. In case he needs it, I don't want to worry about him waiting for it. So go. Now."
Seth only nodded at Kirsten and then waved at Ryan, and decided to leave as quickly as possible. Ryan watched as Seth left and then looked back down at his feet. Kirsten obviously wasn't in the mood to joke or fool around. Not that Ryan could blame her. He had pushed her too far and then hurt her. She had every right to be really mad at him.
No one said anything for a minute, not until Ryan made a face and put his left hand to his stomach. The queasy feeling in the pit of his stomach just wouldn't go away, and Ryan was worried that he might get sick again.
"Is your stomach still upset?" Kirsten said as she took a step closer to the bed.
"Yeah, a little," Ryan admitted. He was a little surprised by her concern, since she was still obviously mad at him.
"So I guess no seafood feast this evening." Sandy said.
At first Ryan made a face since the idea didn't really sound very appealing to him at that particular moment. "Um, I'd say no. Not tonight. At least not for me. Thanks."
Kirsten scanned the information the nurse had left them. "It says here that Ryan should start on clear liquids. Ginger ale, tea, broth. Things like that, and then progress slowly to solid foods as tolerated. We have that all at home, don't we?"
"I don't know," Sandy said. "I would guess we have tea but I don't know about broth or ginger ale."
"Maybe you should run out now and get everything before we get home." Kirsten told him as she handed Sandy back the discharge information.
"And how would you and Ryan get home? We can stop on our way home." Sandy said.
Kirsten shook her head. "I'd rather we just get Ryan home."
Although Ryan really wanted to tell them not to worry about it, that whatever they had at home would be fine, he figured that probably wasn't a very bright idea, so instead he said, "Um, guys? You could just call Seth? Tell him what to get."
Before Sandy or Kirsten had a chance to answer, Barbara returned. "Sorry for the delay. Someone should be right here with the wheelchair. Mr. or Mrs. Cohen, one of you can go get the car and bring it around to the front entrance."
"I'll go." Sandy said. He turned to walk out of the room as Kirsten called after him, "When you get outside, make sure you call Seth and tell him what else to get. Gator Aid, too. Make sure he buys Gator Aid. And tell him if he gets home before us to bring Ryan's pillow and a blanket into the den."
Sandy smirked at Ryan as he tilted his head towards Kirsten and then walked out to get the car and give Ryan and Kirsten a chance to talk.
Barbara turned to follow Sandy out. "Goodbye Ryan, Mrs. Cohen. Take care and good luck."
Ryan only nodded at the nurse as Kirsten said, "Goodbye, and thank you for everything."
After the nurse left, leaving Ryan alone with Kirsten, he realized he had no idea what to say, or rather, how to say it. So he just looked down at his feet, stealing small glances up to see if he could read her face, judge how mad she still was. He jumped when Kirsten said, "Aren't you cold?"
He looked up to see Kirsten pointing towards his chest. "Nah, I'm good. Besides my tee shirt is still in the back of the car. The Range Rover, I mean."
"Oh, you mean, your car." Kirsten joked.
"Yeah." Ryan said as he nodded his head and looked down at his feet again. After a pause, he quietly said, "I'm sorry."
"I know." Kirsten said softly.
Ryan finally looked up and looked her in the eyes. "It's just. It's been a really bad day."
Kirsten smiled and reached out to brush the hair off his face. "Yeah. I know that, too." As the orderly pushed the wheelchair into the room, she added, "So, let's get you home then."
"Wheelchair, huh?" Ryan asked as he made a face, but Kirsten told him, "Yes. Wheelchair."
Kirsten laid one hand on Ryan's shoulder and held onto his left arm with her other hand as Ryan stood up, let out a sigh and sat down in the wheelchair. "Well, at least Seth's not here to do wheelies."
"Why do you think we sent him out ahead of us?" Kirsten laughed.Ryan laughed too, until he yawned. "Don't worry, we'll be home soon. You can get some sleep there." Kirsten said.
"You know," Ryan told her. "I'd probably sleep better in bed instead of on the den couch."
Kirsten patted Ryan's shoulder as she said, "Fine. Do you want the room across the hall from Seth's or the one next door?"
"I like my room," Ryan said.
Kirsten smiled. "Yeah, I believe you said that already."
"So, I can..." Ryan started but Kirsten said, "No."
"But it doesn't make..." Ryan again started but Kirsten said, "No."
"I really want to..." Ryan tried one last time, and Kirsten cut him off one last time. "No."
"Can you say something other then No?" Ryan asked, and Kirsten laughed as she said, "No."
Ryan couldn't help but roll his eyes. Sandy was definitely right that it was a losing argument. "It makes no sense," he mumbled.
As they waited for the elevator, the orderly decided to join in the discussion for some reason. "Listen to your mother and stop giving her such a hard time, kid. Be nice! I'm sure she knows best, and besides, she's the only Mom you're ever gonna get!"
Kirsten held her breath for a second, hoping Ryan wouldn't get upset and would just let the comment slide. She prayed Ryan would remember that the orderly wouldn't know any different, and that he was just trying to joke. She laid her hand on his shoulder and gave it a slight squeeze, and Ryan gave her a quick side-glance and offered a slight smile.
"I don't know," Ryan finally said. "I think I may be able to find one that doesn't cut my Jell-o into small pieces and who lets me sleep in my own bed."
Kirsten laughed. Harder then the joke called for, but relieved that Ryan would joke about it. "Oh, you think so? You think you could find someone else willing to put up with Grumpy Ryan?"
"Grumpy Ryan?" Ryan snorted.
"Seth's new nickname for you," Kirsten told him. "And if the name fits...."
"Hey, I thought I have the right to be grumpy. Sandy said so." Ryan tried to sound indignant, but thought he remembered someone saying something about Grumpy Ryan sometime during the day.
"Yeah, well, Sandy was just feeling guilty for breaking your arm." Kirsten said. "Grumpy Ryan is no fun, and trust me, only family could possibly love him."
Ryan could only shake his head as he tried to hide his smile. "So, I guess that means you're stuck with me."
"Yip, and you're stuck with us." Kirsten smiled as they got to the front entrance and saw Sandy waiting to take them home.
"I still say it's going to be a long summer." Ryan announced to no one in particular as both Sandy and Kirsten helped him into the back of the BMW.
"Well, at least this day is finally behind us, and the rest won't be that bad. We'll just take it one day at a time," Sandy told him as Kirsten said, "I'm sure you'll feel better after a nap. A nice long nap on the den couch."
Ryan only groaned and closed his eyes.
As Sandy drove home, Ryan knew Sandy was half right. His long day might finally over, but he knew his long summer was only just beginning....