A couple of hours later, the rest of the team plus Sarah were sitting in the waiting room waiting for news about Tim. Needless to say, more than a few of them were getting impatient.
"What's taking so long?" Abby asked.
"These tests take time, Abigail," Ducky said.
"He's awake, Abs. Take comfort in that," Gibbs told her.
"But you said he can't speak, right? God, that's gotta scare the crap out of him," Sarah said. She knew her brother well. He wouldn't have responded to waking up with no voice. Though she supposed no one would.
"Yeah, he's scared, but he'll be okay," Gibbs said. He wasn't sure who he was trying to convince more, Sarah or himself.
Just then, the doctor came out to greet them. Gibbs immediately stood up. "What's going on, Doc?"
"Let's sit down," Doctor Norton said before sitting in a chair in front of everyone.
Gibbs retook his seat next to Sarah.
"How is he?" Tony asked.
"He's alright. He's sleeping at the moment. We took some more scans and reviewed the initial ones," Doctor Norton said.
"And?" Gibbs pushed.
"They reveal significant damage to his frontal and parietal lobes," the doctor said sadly.
Ducky sighed sadly. He was probably the only one there that understood what the doctor was saying. A part of him wished he didn't. "The damage to his parietal lobe. The left side?"
"Yes," Doctor Norton said.
"Alright, for those of us who aren't doctors, would someone explain?" Gibbs asked impatiently.
"The parietal lobe damage is what's affecting his speech. He's most likely suffering from what is called Gerstmann's Syndrome. Aphasia is often associated with that," the doctor said.
"Aphasia?" Ziva asked confused.
"It means he can't speak," Sarah said glumly.
"Well, no, not exactly. Aphasia is the interference with communication in general. It's not limited to just speaking. Someone who suffers from it could have issues with speaking, reading and writing, understanding others, or all of the above," Doctor Norton explained.
"Well, he understood me when I spoke to him," Gibbs said.
"Yes. It appears that his understanding of language is intact," he said.
"What about the reading and writing aspect?" Sarah asked. That scared her. Tim loved reading and writing. He was an author for God's sake.
"We won't know about that until we conduct cognitive tests. Now there are other issues to be considered here. Gerstmann's syndrome can cause problems when it comes to understanding math calculations, confusion with right and left, and difficulty identifying fingers. Additionally, damage to the left side of the parietal lobe can cause what we call agnosia, which is when objects aren't perceived the way they're supposed to be," Doctor Norton explained.
"Oh my God. Can this get any worse?" Tony asked. This was unbelievably horrible. His friend's life as he knew it was essentially over, all because Tony decided that they were okay enough not to receive medical treatment right away.
"Unfortunately it can, Anthony. He's only gotten to the first part of the injured brain," Ducky said sadly.
"Yeah, you mentioned another part of his brain," Gibbs said to the doctor.
"Yes, the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is where most of our cognitive abilities come from, which means it's also where most of Agent McGee's problems will stem from."
If it was even possible everyone's faces became even more grim than they already were. "What kind of problems are we talking about?" Gibbs finally asked.
"Well, I don't want to fully go into it until we know for sure what we're dealing with, but the types of things I've seen in the past with this kind of thing are motor skills issues, difficulty concentrating, loss of problem solving skills, memory. The list goes on. We won't know for sure until we assess him," Doctor Norton said.
"No, his memory is fine. He recognized me, I know he did," Gibbs said. Even though Tim couldn't speak, the look on his face and the way he regarded him told him he knew him. His memory was intact.
"That's just long term memory, Jethro. There's a possibility that his short term memory was affected," Ducky told him.
"Is it possible that he won't suffer any of the affects you mentioned?" Tony asked. He had to cling to the doctor being wrong. His friend couldn't possibly be that adversely affected.
"No, there isn't?" he told him. "The frontal lobe was significantly damaged. It's simply impossible for him not to suffer affects from that."
"But you can do something, yes? You must be able to do something to help him," Ziva said pleadingly. She wouldn't be able to live with herself if nothing could be done. This happened because of her. Tony and McGee put themselves in harm's way to help her. McGee was injured so devastatingly because of her.
The doctor sighed. "Okay, I'm just going to come out and say it. Agent McGee has suffered severe brain damage. I know that's difficult to hear, but it's true. Now, with some therapy, some of the deficits he suffers from may improve, but some won't. And improvement doesn't mean cure. There is no cure. I'm sorry."
"So you're saying his life is over?" Tony asked in despair.
"No, of course not. Look, it's true that life will never be the same for him, but that doesn't mean it's over. He'll just have to find a new normal," the doctor explained.
Gibbs sighed. This was worse than he anticipated. He knew there was a chance that there would be brain damage, but he never thought it would be this bad. And they didn't even really know how bad it was. He knew one thing for sure though. Tim was going to need a lot of help and he would make sure he got it.
"When will we know the full extent?" Ducky asked.
"We're going to do the cognitive tests tomorrow morning. We should know more of what we're dealing with then," Doctor Norton said.
"Okay. Thanks, Doc," Gibbs said.
"Not a problem. If you have any more question, feel free to come find me," he said before walking away