Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural or the characters …
Author's Note: My young daughter recently underwent surgery, and I gowned up and stayed with her in the operating room until the anesthetic took effect. I used this experience as a guide for part of this chapter.
Sam was still conscious as they wheeled him down the corridor, the gurney wheels making barely a sound on the smooth floor. He felt the loss of his brother's presence as the hospital staff pushed him steadily towards the operating theatre.
He was feeling apprehensive about what was to follow, having listened in to the conversation between Dean and his doctor. His trepidation obviously showed as the beeping monitor, attached to him via a clip to his finger, picked up its pace as they neared their destination.
"Just relax sweetie …it'll be over before you know it ...nothin' to worry yourself about." The matronly nurse patted his shoulder.
Sam was relieved when the gurney finally came to a stop; the constant moving had started to make him feel nauseous. He lay unresisting as the kindly nurse prepared him for the upcoming surgery. He felt the papery cap being placed over his head, securing his hair away from his head. He vaguely though about how glad he was that Dean wasn't with him to tease him about the look, before deciding that a little teasing would have been a small price to pay to have Dean by his side.
As the gurney moved again he started to feel real fear. His heart rate picked up and his breathing started to become more difficult. He looked around at the unfamiliar faces and unfamiliar surroundings, and as the gurney came to a smooth stop, he wished he could be anywhere else but here.
He closed his eyes against the harsh overhead lights, trying to calm himself as he acknowledged that he no longer had any control over his current situation.
He didn't like the feeling of helplessness.
He listened to the voices around him, giving as small nod in answer to the questions directed at him when required. He felt the mask being removed from his face, and he struggled for a moment to breathe without the added assistance of the pumped oxygen. He relaxed as it was replaced by a sturdier mask, secured firmly over his nose and mouth.
"Sam, I need you to count backwards from one hundred for me …can you do that?"
"Hundred." Sam croaked, his voice barely audible.
Sam slowly opened his eyes. The dimly lit room was a stark contrast to his last conscious memory of the harsh operating room lights shining in his face.
'It must be over' was his first conscious thought as he awoke more fully, realizing that he was back in a stark hospital room.
He turned his head to the side, seeking out his brother, following the direction of the gentle snores which reverberated loudly in the otherwise quiet room. Dean was obviously deeply asleep; he'd have to be, to be unmoving in his awkward position. Dean's head rested against the back edge of the vinyl chair, his mouth open towards the ceiling and legs stretched out in front. If he'd had his cell handy, Sam would've snapped a picture, just for the memory of course.
Through half closed eyes, he watched Dean sleep, the small sounds his brother made helping to relax him with their regularity. He soon drifted back to sleep.
"Hey Sam …time to wake up man."
"Come on princess …enough with the sleeping."
"Well …at least cover yourself up man …I mean …the nurses really don't want to see everything you've got on display."
"Huh?" Sam sluggishly digested Dean's words. Opening his resisting eyes, he quickly glanced down the bed, reassuring himself that he was covered adequately by the thin hospital gown and bed sheet.
"Dude …so not funny."
Sam raised a trembling hand to his sore throat, gently massaging the tender length.
"Been waiting for you to wake for hour's man. …There's nothing to do here …I'm bored outta my freakin' skull."
"Nice Dean …wake me up to entertain yourself."
Sam fingered the intravenous drip attached to his arm, using his nail to scrape at the tape holding it in place. He noticed that the bag was nearly empty.
"How long've I been here?" Sam asked.
"Came in last night. Its 'bout noon now …wonder when they're gonna bring you lunch …cause man, I'm starving."
"Gone back to the house. Should be back soon …he's gonna bring you some clean clothes …and damn …I hope he remembers to bring me coffee ...God, I'd kill for a cup right about now."
Sam looked towards the door as a nurse walked in pushing a food cart. She pulled across a table and placed Sam's lunch tray on top before raising the head of his bed a little.
"You probably won't feel like eating much …with your throat and all …but your brother here ordered a full lunch for you …said you were sure to be hungry when you woke up." The nurse gave him a sympathetic smile before turning away.
Sam looked at the plate of food and turned a little paler. Even swallowing was agony on his throat, there was no way he could handle a sandwich or really anything else. Maybe the juice, but that was about it.
He watched as Dean reached across and helped himself to the sandwich.
"Hey man …knew you wouldn't be eating." Dean took a large bite. "What? …Didn't think I ordered it for you, did you?"
Sam sipped the juice slowly through the straw as he watched Dean wolf down the sandwich. Dean had almost worked his way through the entire tray of food when Bobby made his way into the room.
"Boys. …Sam …good to see you awake …brought you some clothes." Bobby put the bag down near the end of the bed. He handed Dean the cup of coffee he clutched in his other hand.
"Thanks Bobby." Sam said, his voice hoarse.
Dean took a long swig of the hot coffee, relishing the long awaited for taste. "Yeah, thanks Bobby."
"Just give me a minute to change …then we can get outta here." Sam stated, trying to pull himself up into a sitting position. He gasped as he pulled against the still raw stitches in his side.
"Whoa …hang on man …you just got outta surgery …doc says you gotta stay a couple more days." Dean pushed his brother back down onto the bed.
"Bobby?" Sam sought help from other quarters.
"Hey, leave me outta this …I ain't gonna intervene between the two of you …you boys sort this one out on your own." Bobby shook his head and backed away slightly, distancing himself from the brothers.
Sam braced himself as a cough tickled the back of his throat. He couldn't prevent his body from actually coughing, even though each movement jarred on his stitches and sent shafts of pain down his throat and into his chest.
Dean held his shoulders as he rode through the pain, gradually bringing his breathing back under control. When Dean held a glass of cool water to his lips he took it gratefully, letting the water slide down and ease away the rest of the tickle in his throat. As his hand trembled, Dean reached across and took the glass before he could spill the remaining liquid onto his lap.
Sam felt Dean's hand support him as he lay back down against the mattress, closing his drowsy eyes as exhaustion overcame him. He drifted back to sleep under the watchful eye of Dean and Bobby.
Dean kept his aggression in check as the doctor stood beside Sam's bed holding his medical chart, making little tut tut sounds in the back of his throat as he read through the notes. Finally he returned the chart to the nurse at his side before approaching the head of Sam's bed.
Dean kept his protective instincts in check, reminding himself that this was the doctor who had helped his little brother.
"Sam …Sam …can you hear me?" The doctor laid a hand on Sam's shoulder, shaking him a little.
"Mmmmmm." Sam opened his eyes, just a fraction, to look at the doctor.
"How are you feeling this afternoon Sam?"
"I'm just going to check the stitches on your side …alright?"
"Mr Archer, if you'd like to wait outside …maybe afford your brother a little privacy." The doctor spoke directly to Dean.
Dean looked at Sam carefully before replying. "No, I'm sure my brother would prefer me to stay."
"Yeah." Sam nodded his head, agreeing with Dean without hesitation.
Sam flinched as the doctor probed his tender side, pulling part of the tape aside to check the sutured wound. Dean moved fractionally closer, standing guard at his brother's side.
"Well, Sam, the area's a little red, but the stitches seem to be holding well." The doctor patted the bandage back into place before pulling Sam's gown back down.
"How's your throat feeling?
"Okay." Sam answered.
Dean looked at his brother, raising his eyes in question.
"Ah, maybe a bit sore."
"Any pain when breathing …dizziness …nausea?"
Dean looked intently at Sam's face again, trying to ascertain the level of truth in Sam's responses.
Sam looked back at Dean. "No" he repeated with a little more conviction, "I feel okay."
"Well, your temperature's still elevated …so I'm going to start you on another stronger round of antibiotics …and I'll continue with the mild pain killers. If you feel that you need a mild sedative to sleep tonight, just mention it to the nurse, I'll write it up in your chart." The doctor waited for the nurse to hand him the chart before continuing. "Your throat's going to feel a bit raw for a while, so I suggest you stick to soft foods that are easy to swallow."
Sam nodded. "Yeah …sounds good."
"I'll check in on you again in the morning Sam."
Dean shot daggers at the doctor's retreating back, pitying the nurse who scurried behind him. He sank back down onto the chair, leaning back and resting his feet on the side of the bed, tucked against Sam's side, on top of the white sheets.
"Dude, get 'em off." Sam swatted at Dean's boot clad feet.
Dean just smiled, keeping his feet firmly in place.
"So, where'd Bobby get to?" Sam asked, trying to distract Dean as he pushed more firmly at Dean's boots. They refused to budge.
"Got sick of watching you drool …think he went to get something to eat."
"Man, I don't drool."
"You snore." Sam stated to end the argument.
"You two at it already?" Bobby questioned from the doorway.
"Hey, is that food?" Dean spied the bag Bobby was carrying. "I think Sammy here's getting Jell-O for dinner and …uuggghhh …don't think I wanna share."
Bobby tossed Dean a wrapped burger. Dean opened the wrapper and bit hungrily into the large burger, a dribble of sauce running down his chin. Still chewing the first bite he paused, the burger poised an inch away from his mouth. He looked at his brother, suddenly feeling guilty for eating in front of him.
"Ah…" Dean started.
"Here you go Sam …didn't know if you'd be up for a burger …so I just gotcha a juice …freshly squeezed."
"Thanks Bobby." Sam took the offered drink, placing it carefully on the table beside him.
Bobby pulled another chair closer to the bed and settled down to demolish his own burger.
The room was suddenly quiet as both men focused on their food, like they hadn't eaten in days. Sam knew Dean had eaten lunch, having sacrificed his own meal for his brother. Not that he felt like eating anyway. His stomach felt like an empty pit, and he tried to remember how long it had been since he'd had a decent meal.
As the aroma of greasy burgers permeated the air, he suddenly realized that maybe his stomach wasn't as empty as he'd have liked. The burger aroma played havoc with his stomach, causing the meager contents to churn and roll. He swallowed back the nausea, trying not to breathe in through his nose; trying to block out the smell of freshly grilled hamburger meat.
Sam dropped his head and took fast shallow breaths in through his mouth, trying to focus on anything but the small of the food.
As the bile started to rise in his throat, he swallowed it back.
Saliva built up in his mouth and he swallowed this down also, only adding to the increasing nausea.
He took a small sip of juice, swallowing carefully. It didn't help.
No matter how hard he tried, he realized that he was only delaying the inevitable – he was going to be sick.
Fumbling around, he found the nurse call button and pressed it with urgency.
"Dean" he gasped, swallowing against the rising bile.
Dean saw Sam press the nurse call button. "Sam?" He asked, concern washing over him.
Dean rested his partially consumed burger on the arm rest of the chair as he rose quickly to his brother's side.
Sam had little warning as the next wave of nausea hit him with force. He had no time to take evasive action as his stomach clenched, sending its contents upwards and into his throat. Instinctively, he leant forward so that he didn't choke on his own vomit. Instead, in one sudden rush, he vomited all over his lap, the stomach contents vivid against the white sheets.
The action sent pain shooting through his wounded side and burnt his tender throat. He wrapped an arm across his middle, nursing his side as he readied himself in case he had to endure another round.
Dean held his brothers shoulders firmly, not wanting him to face plant into the vile mess.
"Shit Sam." Dean uttered as he pressed the call button again.
"Ah …lucky you moved your boots." Sam smiled weakly.
"I'll ah …just go for a walk …be back soon." Bobby said, making a hasty exit, passing the nurse as she walked into the room.
"Sorry." Sam whispered, to both the nurse and Dean, feeling a little humiliated.
Dean moved aside as the nurse spoke soothingly to Sam, stripping the bed of the soiled linens.
Dean reached for the remainder of his burger, tossing it into the trash. He'd completely lost his appetite.
As soon as he heard the nurse mention 'sponge bath', Dean gave a not too subtle cough. "I'll ah, go see what's up with Bobby…" He gave Sam a wide smile before striding out of the room.
Sam was asleep when Dean returned to the room. He stood for a moment beside the bed, looking down at the face of his pale brother. Sam seemed to have lost weight over the last few days, and his ashen color only highlighted the dark circles under his eyes. He was glad that at least he was breathing easier now, having lost the asthmatic sounding wheeze.
He sat back down onto the chair, taking one last look at Sam before closing his eyes. Lack of sleep was starting to catch up with him, and he needed to get in a couple of hours while Sam was sleeping.
Bobby entered the room quietly the next morning, just as dawn was breaking, to see both Sam and Dean sleeping soundly in their respective positions. He smiled to himself, realizing that this would be one of the rare times when he'd seen the brother's in the same room and not bantering or bickering back and forth. It made for a welcome change.
He pulled up another chair, and settled in, waiting for the brothers to wake.
Sam woke up a little while later and looked across at the two men sleeping in the chairs beside his bed, one weathered and gruff, the other looking almost serene in his peaceful slumber.
He looked at the intravenous drip still attached to his arm, annoyed that he was still attached to it. He needed to get to the bathroom and he'd have to take the damn thing with him.
Sitting up slowly in the bed, he grimaced at the pull to his stitches, but was relieved that he was actually starting to feel a little better. Careful to make minimal noise, he pulled down the bed sheets before swinging his legs over the side. Cautiously he slid the rest of the way off, keeping a hand on the bed for balance as his legs trembled a bit under his weight. He leant against the bed for a moment with his eyes closed as he waited for the room to stop spinning and for his legs to become steadier.
"God dammit …what the hell do you think you're doing?"
He jerked around at Dean's unexpected words, causing him to sway for a moment until he regained his balance.
"Goin' to the bathroom."
"Nah, I don't think so …get back into bed …now Sam."
"Dean, I gotta take a leak man."
"Yeah well …press the call button …that's what its there for."
"Dean…" Sam stubbornly took a small step towards the bathroom."
"Oh for God's sake…" Dean moved over to Sam, helping to support him and guide him towards the bathroom.
Sam stopped at the bathroom door. "Ah, can you get me my bag …wanna clean my teeth…"
Dean went to the bag and rummaged around for Sam's toothbrush and toothpaste, before returning and handing the items to his brother.
"Ah, can you just bring me the whole bag …I ah …want to get changed."
"Sam …I don't think…"
"Dean, will you just get me the bag."
"You shouldn't even be outta bed yet."
"The bag Dean,"
"I'll get it myself then." Sam said stubbornly, leaning on the door frame for support.
"Dean, will you just get your brother the god damn bag." Bobby piped up.
"Great, two against one." Dean mumbled as he stomped over and picked up the bag before dumping it on the bathroom floor near Sam's feet.
"Thanks Dean" Sam said, closing the bathroom door.
Dean stood outside the bathroom, listening to Sam's movements inside. He remained there; ready to give assistance if needed, until Sam eventually opened the door, now fully dressed except for his boots.
"I'm ready to go." Sam announced.
"Sam, where's your IV?"
"Took it out …"
"Dammit Sam." Dean grabbed his brother's arm and guided him back to sit on the bed. "I'm gonna speak to the nurse…get her to put it back in." Dean stormed out of the room.
Bobby helped Sam get on his boots before collecting the rest of their belongings. He figured that Sam was a grown man who could make his own decisions.
Dean returned to the room a few minutes later. "Spoke to your nurse …she paged the doc - he's gonna come up and see you in a few minutes."
Sam glared at Dean. "So …its okay for you to check yourself outta a hospital, but me …I have to get permission?"
"Yeah …that's the way it is."
"So you make all the rules now?"
"And who made you boss?"
"Will you give it a break!" Bobby interrupted loudly, running a hand over his unshaven face.
Dean and Sam sat in strained silence as they waited for the doctor's arrival. Dean wasn't looking forward to seeing the same doctor again, and wondered not for the first time, what he had done to get so far on the wrong side of this doctor.
Thinking of the devil, in he walked, sure and confident in his stride. Then he paused, looking momentarily surprised to see Sam dressed and sitting up on the side of the bed.
"Ah Sam, I see you're feeling a little better."
"Yeah …I ah …I'm ready to go home."
"Not enjoying your stay?"
"I feel much better."
"Let's see shall we." The doctor read Sam's chart before checking Sam's wound and asking pertinent questions about his level of pain and discomfort.
"Well, your temperatures almost within the normal range and you're healing nicely. You still need antibiotics for a few more days, and you realize that if you leave the hospital, you'll no longer be on the intravenous pain medication - you'll have to take medications orally, and you'll need to be able to keep them down."
"And you'll need to rest …no hunting trips." He looked at Dean as he spoke the last three words.
Dean clenched his teeth together, biting back a retort.
"Yeah, I'll take it easy."
"Okay, give me a few minutes; I'll have the paperwork drawn up." He said, leaving the room.
"Dude, I gotta slug that doctor before we leave." Dean growled anger evident in his stance.
"Ah Bobby …I think its time to go now …before ah …" Sam looked pointedly at Dean.
"Dean, why don't you bring the car round …make it easier for Sam. I'll bring Sam down once the paperwork's done." Bobby suggested.
"Yeah …good idea …I'll park near the front entrance." Dean grabbed Sam's bag and left the room.
Sam breathed a sigh of relief, feeling that disaster had just been averted. He gave Bobby a smile of thanks.
Ten minutes later, the discharge paperwork had been completed and Sam clutched his prescriptions in his hand as Bobby pushed his wheel chair towards the hospital exit. He saw the Impala idling outside, Dean standing at its side.
He headed towards the car eagerly, impatient to leave the hospital behind.
Dean smiled as he saw his brother being pushed in his direction, moving to assist Sam out of the wheel chair.
"Dude …a wheel chair?"
"Policy." Sam mumbled, struggling to get out of the contraption.
Dean smiled and helped his brother into the car.
Author's note: That's it – I'm all out of trauma!
Well, this has been my longest story ever (approx 22,500 words) and a lot of work. I really hope that if you've come this far, you enjoyed reading it.
I'd love a review.