Chapter 5: Dr. Lee
The Jell-O container was empty. This accomplishment may not have warranted a victory dance; after all, it was only a six ounce serving of lime gelatin. But, the unanimous sigh of relief was certainly fitting. After several days of refusing food, Callen had finally eaten something.
G looked up at Hetty with worried eyes, anticipating an adverse reaction from his system for having put something in his stomach.
Hetty reached through the side rail, rested her hand on his shoulder, and gave her Senior Agent an approving smile.
Callen let out a small breath through his nose and his shoulders relaxed. Still gazing up at Hetty, he ran his tongue across his bloody lip.
Hetty daintily discarded the Jell-O container and picked up the glass of iced tea from the side table. "Drink this. The cold will be good for your lip." She moved to help him drink, and he brought his hand hesitantly up before he realized that she didn't want his help. She held the rim of the glass to Callen's mouth and he took a sip.
Kensi looked over to the couch at Sam from where she sat and winked at the big agent. She knew from Sam's attempt to suppress a smile, he was thinking the same thing. With Callen now fully awake, Hetty was the only one who could get away with holding a glass for him to drink from.
Hetty lowered the drink, allowed Callen time to swallow and then brought the glass to his lips again.
After the fifth sip, Callen turned he head and gently pushed the glass away, his face unreadable. He had just lowered his head back down to the pillow, when there was a tap on the door.
Dr. Lee pushed the door open and he, and Anna, entered the room.
Hetty, still holding the iced tea, moved back so they could have access to the patient.
Dr. Lee scanned the room and acknowledged each visitor. "Hello, everyone. Late making rounds today. The clinic was closed a few days while I attended that conference in Seattle and now we're playing catch-up."
G looked up cautiously at the doctor and, with his left hand, grasped the top edge of the covers. His breathing accelerating slightly, something that Sam noticed immediately.
Dr. Lee moved closer to the bedside and addressed the patient. "See you're awake. How are you feeling?"
Callen turned his head to the right and searched until he found Sam and Hetty, almost as if he was checking their reactions. He found that Sam was staring at him worriedly, and Hetty seemed calm. Everyone present caught that Callen's eyes had a small glimmer of unrest in them.
Hetty took one step closer and regarded G with narrowed eyes. "Mr. Callen. The doctor just asked you a question."
Callen looked up at Dr. Lee and stared at him with a calculating distrust in his eyes. He searched the doctor's face, then seemed to pull his attention away pointedly, lowering his eyes.
Sam licked his lips and tried to figure out what was going on with his partner. He'd seen G pull back from doctors in the past, but this wasn't one of those types of responses. He didn't know what this was. It was almost as if G thought he was in danger at first, and then decided that he didn't care anymore. After the depression that Sam had had fielded from G earlier in the week, he wondered if this was more of the same. On several occasions, Callen seemed to have been swallowed up with hopelessness, indicating by his words and demeanor that he was not worth saving. Sam wrinkled his forehead and sat forward on the couch, ready to be at Callen's side in a moment, if necessary.
Hetty peered over the top of her glasses, a hint of concern in her chiding voice. "Mr. Callen?"
The doctor turned and smiled at Hetty. "It's alright. Really. After all he's been through, a little 'white coat anxiety' is understandable."
Kensi stood up, startling Deeks, her face unreadable. She walked to the foot of the bed and studied Callen for a moment. Without taking her eyes off him, she asked in her 'interrogation' voice, "Dr. Lee, did you see Callen yesterday?"
"Yes, yesterday morning, on my way in to the clinic."
"Was he awake while you were here?"
"No. The police officer who was with him, reported that Mr. Callen had been rather restless, and they had just sedated him. I checked for pupil reaction and listened to his heart and lungs… he never even roused."
"Miss Blye? What are you thinking?" Hetty asked, now curious.
Sam and Deeks looked, confused, between Kensi, Hetty, and Callen.
Kensi continued to stare at the Senior Agent. "Callen?"
G lifted his head and looked up at his female coworker.
Kensi crossed her arms. "Do you know who this is?" she asked, using the same tone, tilting her head in the direction of Dr. Lee.
Callen's gaze traveled to the doctor and then back to Kensi's brown eyes. After a few seconds, he responded by gently shaking his head.
Sam frowned, realizing that his partner had been more out-of-it than he had originally thought; he should have caught that Callen had no idea who the man was, and didn't feel up to pretending that he did.
Deeks looked over at Sam, feeling equally guilty for not having caught what his partner had. Sam glanced over at him and met his eyes. I know. Epic fail.
The doctor let out a sigh of frustration. "I'm so sorry, Agent Callen. When you arrived Wednesday, you were disoriented, and then we kept you heavily sedated the rest of the night. And yesterday, you were sleeping when I came by. It should have occurred to me that you might not remember me."
Callen peered up at the doctor, obviously still skeptical of the man standing beside him, but at least making eye contact.
"I'm Dr. Lee. Dr. Getz contacted me a few days ago and asked if I would oversee your medical care."
Callen released the sheet he was gripping and squinted up at Dr. Lee. "You know Nate?" he asked softly.
"Yes. We worked at the same hospital for a while; I was a resident and Nate was there getting his clinical hours. We remained friends even after he went on to his next rotation. When I got married that next summer, he was my Best Man."
"Nate all decked out in a tuxedo," Kensi mused, while returning to the chair next to her partner. "I would've liked to have seen that."
Noting that the idle conversation was doing wonders for his patient's anxiety level, Dr. Lee continued. "Aaahhh. Nate's tux… He's so tall that it had to be special ordered. It didn't come in until the morning of our wedding. And, apparently, the seamstress was in such a hurry, she left a pin in the cuff of his jacket. During the ceremony, it stuck him as he reached to hand me Alison's ring, and he dropped the ring on the floor. It rolled under the benches and didn't stop until it hit the foot of one of our guests sitting on the sixth row. We'll never let him live that down."
With everyone in the room smiling and chuckling, and the focus on something other than him, Callen finally relaxed.
"I have to laugh at Nate sometimes," the doctor said while shaking his head. "He's just got that touch of awkwardness. You never know if it's real or if it's a tactic he uses to make people feel comfortable. We joke around a lot with him, but my wife and I have a deep respect for the man. He's an excellent psychologist and has such a big heart."
Dr. Lee turned his attention to Callen. "And he's extremely concerned about you. I'm sure there will be several emails from him when I check my phone later—wanting an update on your condition. So how are you feeling?"
"I'm good," Callen responded weakly. "When can I go home?"
The doctor's eyebrows shot up. "Whoa. You really don't like hospitals, do you?" The doctor smiled reassuringly. "There are several factors to be considered before you can be released: you're still running a temperature, you have a concussion, and you need to build your strength up… We'll just take it one day at a time."
G looked down at his covers and frowned.
Hetty tilted her head to the side. "Doctor, why do you think he's still running fever?"
"My best guess is that it's just a result of the extreme trauma to his body, compounded by the dehydration. But I'll need to run some blood work to rule out an infection."
Dr. Lee pulled a penlight from his shirt pocket and leaned over the bed. "Just look straight ahead." He passed the beam of light over Callen's right eye, then left eye, several times, watching for a change in pupil size. "I'd like to schedule an MRI for tomorrow, just to make sure we've covered all our bases on the head injury." Dr. Lee looked at the nurse, who had been standing quietly to the side. "Miss Harris, would you take care of setting that up with radiology?"
Anna nodded and proceeded to write in the patient chart she was holding.
"Agent Callen, during this test, you'll be inside a tube-like machine for quite some time," the doctor explained. "It's imperative that you lie perfectly still in order for us to get reliable images. If you have any issues with being in tight spaces, I need to know so I can order a light sedative for you."
Callen did not respond. He just stared straight ahead.
Noting that his partner was either disgruntled over being told he couldn't go home, or distracted by the earlier mention of impending blood work, Sam decided to speak up for him. "G's not claustrophobic, if that's what you're asking."
Dr. Lee turned to face Sam. "You're sure?"
"Yeah, I'm sure. When we're working on an op, he's the one who always has to squeeze into small spaces and crawl through ventilation systems. I can't even tell you the number of times I've locked him in the trunk of my car."
"Eleven," Callen mumbled, while staring at the foot of the bed.
Dr. Lee turned his attention to Callen. "Pardon me?"
"Eleven times… he's locked me in the trunk."
The doctor now turned back to Sam with eyebrows raised.
"For work," Sam defended. "You know… undercover."
Deeks chuckled. "Hey, Kenz. You think we've been partners long enough to use the old 'lock your partner in the trunk' ruse?"
"Sure. But you're the one going in the trunk… and taking a knee to the groin."
Sam leaned back against the couch and crossed his arms. "I don't knee my partner in the groin."
"Solar plexus," Callen commented, weakly. "Eleven times."
This time, Anna and Hetty joined Dr. Lee in looking at Sam with raised eyebrows.
"What… I light touch him… and he still whines," Sam said, feigning gruffness.
Dr. Lee shook his head and smiled, and then resumed his examination of the patient. "Any headaches, dizziness, double vision, Agent Callen?"
Callen shook his head.
"Can you tell me what day it is?"
G turned his head to the side so that he could see his partner.
Sam gave him an apologetic smile. "Sorry, Buddy. You're on your own."
He looked back up at the doctor with a questioning gaze. "Thursday?"
"You're close. It's actually Friday… Agent Callen, I'm going to give you three words to remember. In a little while, I'm going to ask you to repeat them back to me. Alright?"
Callen nodded once.
"Okay. The words you are to remember are salt… pencil… and rabbit."
Callen nodded, again.
"Alright. Now, on to managing your pain. On a scale of one to ten, with ten being greater, could you rate your pain level right now?"
The only response from the patient was a slight shoulder shrug.
"The nurses tell me that, since I changed the orders so that the pain medication is only administered at your request, you've only received it once. With the nature of your injuries, I know you must be in quite a bit of pain. Would you be more likely to take something if it wasn't so strong… wouldn't knock you out—just take the edge off so you could rest?"
Callen turned his head away from the doctor, and stared blankly at the window blinds.
Hetty, slightly frustrated with her stubborn agent, sighed loudly. "Dr. Lee, please just write the appropriate order. We'll see that he takes it."
"Very well." Dr. Lee turned to the nurse. "I'll change the pain medication to Theradin. I'll leave the Valium ordered, PRN."
The doctor removed his stethoscope from his lab coat pocket, listened to Callen's heart, and then signaled with his eyes, for Anna to move to the other side of the bed. "Agent Callen, I need to listen to your lungs, examine your ribs and abdomen and then turn you so I can have a look at your back."
Callen gave the doctor a cautious glance and then lowered his eyes.
Anna closed the chart, placed it on the foot of the bed, and walked around to the other side. As she lowered the head of the bed, she noticed Dr. Lee reaching for the gown tie at the back of Callen's neck. "Oh. His gown's not tied," she informed. "When we turned him last, I left all the ties undone."
The doctor nodded, and moved his hand to the top of the sheet.
Callen tensed when the covers were removed. He became even more uncomfortable when his gown was lowered to his waist. He cut his eyes to side, avoiding eye contact with anyone around him.
Detecting Callen's uneasiness, Dr. Lee leaned in closer and asked, "Would you be more comfortable if there were fewer people in the room?"
G looked up at Hetty, and then, briefly, over at his partner. He lowered his eyes again, and shook his head.
"Just making sure."
Dr. Lee finished the assessment of the patient's lungs and returned the stethoscope to his pocket. He then visually examined the bruising on Callen's right side, noting that the color was a slightly lighter shade of purple than the day before. The doctor gently pressed on the sore ribs, causing Callen to gasp.
G regained his focus and, practically held his breath, determined to be still and quiet while the doctor continued pressing on his stomach and abdomen.
When this part of the exam was complete, Dr. Lee pulled the gown back up into place. He and Anna lowered the rails and turned the patient onto his left side.
Callen brought his right arm up and draped it across the side of his head, essentially shielding his face.
All at once, Sam sprang up from the couch. "Is he biting his lip?"
Still supporting Callen on his side, Anna leaned down so that she was face-to-face with him. When she stood up straight, she looked at Sam, and shook her head.
The ex-SEAL let out a breath and returned to his seat.
Dr. Lee opened the back of the Callen's gown and lowered the waist of his pajama a couple of inches. Unlike Callen's torso, the bruising on his lower back was even darker than when he had arrived at the hospital, two days before. The doctor scanned Callen's back and shoulders for a moment.
Anna assisted the Dr. Lee in turning Callen over onto his back and then raised the head of the bed.
Dr. Lee picked up G's left arm, and then his right, examining the abrasions on his palms and the scrapes and bruises on his forearms. "Your wrist is a little swollen. Until we can get you in a cast, you're going to need to be extra careful not to use that hand."
Callen held his right hand up and looked at his wrist. He narrowed his eyes in confusion. "A cast?" he asked softly. G turned his head toward Hetty and searched her eyes for answers. "What happened to my wrist?"
"Mr. Callen, you lost your footing several times after your accident. Apparently, one of those times, you tried to catch yourself, fracturing your wrist."
Marty furrowed his brow, concerned that Callen was still losing bits of information. The detective dropped his chin to his chest and cleared his throat, rather loudly.
Without taking her eyes off her Senior Agent, who was, once again, staring at his wrist, Hetty proceeded to clarify the detective's signal. "Mr. Deeks? I gather you two have already had this conversation?"
With his head still lowered, Marty replied, "Uh-huh. Aaand the day of the week."
"I see... Mr. Callen. Do you know what day this is?"
G laid his right hand on his chest and looked at Hetty with squinted eyes. "Wednesday?... No. Thursday."
Deeks and Kensi exchanged worried glances. Sam ducked his head and rubbed the back of his neck. It was unsettling to see their lead agent forget a simple piece of information in such a short period of time.
The doctor reached down and raised the bed rail. "Agent Callen, do you remember, a little while ago, I gave you some words to remember?"
Callen looked up at the doctor and nodded, hesitantly.
"Can you tell me the three words I gave to you?"
Callen stared at the wall in front of him, as if searching for the answers there. His forehead tensed and his breathing became choppy.
Seeing the growing panic in his partner's eyes, Sam got up from the couch and stepped up behind Hetty. In this disoriented state, G was feeling vulnerable and scared. Sam wanted to assure him that he wouldn't let anything happen to him, that he had his back. Hetty moved aside, understanding what was happening, and Sam took her place at the bedside. He placed his hand on Callen's shoulder.
Dr. Lee leaned closer to Callen. "It's alright," he consoled. "With a concussion, it's normal to have spotty memory for a while. Just give it some time."
Sam's stomach twisted. In less than an hour, he had watched G zone in and out several times, and go from, being coherent and participating in light bantering, to being confused and afraid. If this emotional roller coaster was causing Sam this much anxiety, he could only imagine what it must be like for his partner. Sam gave Callen's shoulder a quick, light squeeze. "G... Just relax... It's okay."
Callen closed his eyes until his breathing returned to normal. He looked up at Sam, and then looked down, lowering his head as if he were ashamed.
Sam was not sure if G was embarrassed about the memory loss, or for the display of panic in front of his co-workers. He squeezed Callen's shoulder, again.
Still looking downward, Callen swallowed hard. "Could I have a drink?" he asked, his voice soft and unsure.
Anna raised the rail on her side of the bed, while Sam poured a cup of water.
Callen's hands were trembling when he took the Styrofoam cup from Sam. But he managed to drink half of the contents, and hand it back to his partner, without a spill.
Sam put the cup on the table and then replaced his hand on G's shoulder.
Dr. Lee picked up the patient chart from the bed, and made an entry. "Agent Callen, I'm going to have physical therapy come tomorrow, and get you up in a chair for a while."
G narrowed his eyes that were suddenly stormy and shrugged his shoulder out of Sam's grip. "I don't need therapy," Callen mumbled.
Seeing a hint of his partner's customary independent temperament, Sam fought to suppress a smile that was twitching at the corners of his mouth.
"You need some help until you get your strength back." the doctor explained.
"I don't need help," Callen protested weakly. "Just take these rails down. I can get up by myself."
Hetty glared at her Senior Agent. "Mr. Callen?" she warned.
G looked up at his tiny boss with wide, blue eyes, and then ducked his head like a brooding teenager.
Dr. Lee and Anna exchanged amused smiles and then he continued. "I understand you were walking after the accident, but there is much more bruising and inflammation in your hip, now. Add in the neurological changes from your head injury, and the fact that you have been without food for a while... well, you just aren't strong enough to get up on your own."
The doctor closed the chart and tucked it under his arm. "I'll be back tomorrow afternoon to check on you. If there are any problems, just let the nurses know. They know how to reach me."
Anna pulled the blanket up over the patient and followed Dr. Lee out of the room.
As soon as the door was closed, Callen grimaced and shifted his position in the bed.
Sam studied his partner. "G. Do you need something for pain?"
Callen looked down and shook his head.
Hetty moved to the foot of the bed. "Mr. Hanna. What time does your family leave tomorrow?"
"Their flight's at 10:50 in the morning. I'm going to drop them off at the airport 9:00."
"Then go spend some time with them before you see them off. I'll stay the night with Mr. Callen."
G looked up at Sam with eyebrows raised, and expression that clearly said, 'Don't leave me here with her.'
"Mr. Callen. Stop trying to send your partner telepathic messages," Hetty chided. "You should know by now, I can read your minds."
"I knew it!" Marty exclaimed suddenly, resulting in stern look from Hetty at the volume of his voice.
Callen shifted his weight, once again, and frowned.
Hetty furrowed her brow. "Mr. Callen. Do you need to be repositioned?"
G did not respond.
Deeks stood up, picked up a pen from the bedside table, and scribbled something on a napkin.
Hetty turned to Kensi. "Miss Blye. Would you be so kind as to give your partner a ride home?"
With one last glance at Callen, Kensi stood and headed to the door.
"Oh, and would you stop and get Mr. Deeks something to eat? It appears the man has survived on nothing but cheese crackers all day."
Deeks' face lit up. "Is this a date? Where are you taking me?"
Kensi opened the door. "Not a date."
Deeks handed a folded napkin to Sam, and called out to Kensi, as he followed her out the door. "Fern?... Honey Bunch?... Light of my life?... Wait up."
Sam chuckled. He opened up the napkin and read the words Deeks had written. 'Callen needs bathroom. Call nurse!' Sam's chuckling suddenly ceased. Crap!
Sam looked at his partner, who was looking rather uncomfortable at this point. "G. I'll see you in the morning, sometime. Don't give Hetty too much trouble." The ex-SEAL patted Callen on the shoulder, slipped the folded napkin into Hetty's hand, and quickly exited the room.
He lingered just outside the door for a moment, and listened.