I was really psyched when Ned said I could go to his quad circle. There aren’t a whole lot of quads in rehab now and I was dying to talk to someone like me. I wanted to know what it was like in the real world and what I my life was going to be like once I got out of this place.
I made a lot of progress ever since I stopped being a dumbass and started trying to learn how to do things. Like for the very first time since I got shot, I actually ate a meal all by myself. I did need help getting the splint on my hand and then the fork in the splint, but after that, it was all me. It wasn’t easy or anything and half the time I wound up dropping all the food that was on the fork, but I did it.
I also worked with Fran, my PT, with some writing practice. She got me to write my name, which was really cool. Of course, it was all shaky and looked like shit, but now at least I could write my name. If I was going to get my GED, I needed to be able to write, so this was really important to me.
I don’t think any of this would have happened if not for Ned. Ned was just awesome to me once I started talking to him about stuff. Ned is just an awesome guy in general. It’s great that they got a shrink at this place that wasn’t some stuffy old man. Ned was only a little bit older than me, so I could kind of relate to him. Okay, Ned wasn’t really much like me at all, with his education and upbringing and stuff like that, but he was still a great guy.
Also, I mean, Ned was really sexy. Partly he was sexy just because he seemed to have no fucking clue how sexy he was. I’d been with a lot of older guys (like Julian) in the last few years because they were ones that gave me money, but I have to admit the younger guys are better looking.
I guess it was partially because I was so immersed in wheelchairs and stuff like that, but I also kind of got to thinking Ned’s amputations were hot. I liked how he always kept his pants legs tucked under his leg stumps and sometimes I could see his stumps bouncing a little. I even kind of thought his hook was sexy.
When I told Ned I was having sexual fantasies, what I didn’t tell him was that most of those fantasies were about him. I knew Ned lived on his own and sometimes I pictured him getting into the bath, taking off his arm prosthetic, and cleaning his little stumps. That was sooo hot.
I wanted to ask Ned how he did things by himself, but I could tell he didn’t really like talking about his own disability. Every time I’d ask him, he’d get all stiff and technical. I guess he wanted to separate himself from us, cuz we’re the patients and he’s the doctor. But the only reason he took this job in the first place is because he’s an amputee, so I think he’s kidding himself.
And you know, I got this feeling Ned was into me too. Maybe it was just because he was so nice to me, but it was just this really strong feeling I got. There was no way in hell Ned was involved in any kind of relationship. I didn’t want to insult him by asking if he was a virgin, but I kind of got the feeling he was. And since Ned was plenty attractive, there was definitely something else going on.
Anyway, Ned set me up talking to this guy Shane in quad circle. Shane seemed like a really nice guy, maybe in his mid-thirties, but he was a little worse than me since he couldn’t move his arms at all and I can. Shane had his arms strapped to his armrests, I guess so they didn’t fall. He sat all straight and proper looking in his wheelchair. He was wearing short sleeves and his arms were all skinny and strange-looking, even though he wasn’t a skinny guy (in fact, he had a pretty big gut). I guess I shouldn’t talk because I know my arms, especially my lower arms, are getting to look pretty skinny and weird.
Anyway, I told Shane about all the stuff I had been learning to do by myself lately. After I told him, I kind of felt bad because he can’t move his arms so I figured he couldn’t do any of these things. Still, I was really proud of myself and I wanted to tell people.
Shane was living in a nursing home now and he’d been there about five years. He said he had lived with his mom for the five years before that, so I guess he’d been a quad for ten years. “I was just a little bit older than you when it happened,” he told me.
“What’s the nursing home like?” I asked him.
“Not great,” Shane said. “I’d rather live with my mother, but she’s getting too old to take care of me and my insurance won’t cover someone coming to the house to help out all the time.”
“That sucks,” I said. “But what’s so bad about the nursing home?” Even though I didn’t have much of a choice, at least for the time being, I wanted to know what I was in for.
“The place I’m at now isn’t terrible,” Shane explained. “It’s pretty boring... I wind up watching TV most of the day. Most of the residents in the home are old people and most of them are kind of out of it. My mother comes to visit twice a week and she takes me out for food, so that’s pretty much the highlight of my week. Like I said, I’m at a decent home... it could be worse. The first place I was at, Cabot, was a fucking nightmare.”
“Because they don’t look at you,” Shane said. “If I was lucky, I got a shower once a month. And I wear these, you know, undergarments, and the nurses changed them like once a week. So I spent most of my time sitting in my own shit. I wound up getting a really bad rash from it.”
I couldn’t believe a place could actually be that bad. “Wow...”
“A lot of guys wind up getting placed at Cabot,” Shane went on, “cuz they have a lot of beds. I’m lucky I had my mother to help work on getting me transferred out of there, otherwise I’d probably still be there. Someone like you, you gotta make sure you don’t get placed there, because you don’t have anyone to help you transfer out.”
“Are we telling Cabot horror stories?” Another quad whose nametag said “Henry” pulled his wheelchair up to us. “I’ve got a good one...”
“Tell, tell,” Shane said with a smile.
“I was there for six months,” Henry told me. “And I think for five of those months, I was lying in a bed. It seemed like every morning, it was something new. Usually, they just said they didn’t have the staff available to help get me in the chair. But a bunch of times, they actually managed to lose my wheelchair. Apparently, some other residents took a joyride in it or some shit like that. Can you believe that? I mean, how hard is it to keep someone from stealing your chair? Eventually, they tracked it down, otherwise I would have been totally fucked because they were never replacing it. The best I can say about them is that they made an effort to turn me, because apparently some quad there died from a bedsore and there was a shitload of trouble.”
“Wow...” I breathed.
“Ronnie, man, don’t wind up in Cabot,” Henry advised. “Those are my only words of wisdom.”
I had to ask my big question now: “Hey, how often do you guys have sex?”
Shane and Henry both laughed. “Sex? What’s that?” Shane said.
“Seriously,” I said.
“I’m going to have to say never,” Shane replied. “Henry?”
“Yeah, never sounds pretty accurate,” Henry agreed. “Actually, there was that one time when I was still living with my brother. The bastard got me a stripper for my birthday and she wanted to make a little side money. It was pretty sweet.”
I got all quiet then. I knew they weren’t trying to make me feel bad, but this wasn’t stuff I wanted to hear. I think Shane was feeling a little bad about that. “Ronnie,” he said. “Look, you wind up not even missing it. The way I think of it, my body is like a machine that other people have to help me upkeep. You gotta wash the machine and change the oil and shit, but sex isn’t really a necessity to upkeep the machine. I can’t feel anything anyway, so it doesn’t even matter.”
“But what about relationships?” It’s funny, me asking that kind of question. I was always more about fucking than any kind of relationship stuff. Julian always wanted the relationship.
“I wouldn’t hold my breath,” Shane said. “It would take a very understanding woman to get into a relationship with a guys like us.”
“But Charlie’s getting married...”
Henry snorted, “Yeah, well, we can’t all have horseshoes up our asses.”
The guys had given me a lot to think about. Suddenly I didn’t really want to be at this stupid quad circle. I wished I were back in my room alone.
“I had this whole stupid plan when I was your age,” Shane said to me. “First, I was like, I’m definitely going to walk again. Then after I accepted that I wasn’t, I got this idea about how I was going to get a great education and support myself someday.”
“Oh, right,” Henry agreed. “Same here. It took about six months for that one to go down the toilet.”
It was like they were reading my mind or something. Maybe it was dumb, but I really did believe I was going to succeed where Shane and Henry had failed. All I knew for sure was that I wasn’t going to be spending the rest of my life in a nursing home. I don’t know how I knew this, I just did.
Later that day, I got a sponge bath in my bed. Jason gave it to me, which was really friggin awesome. When you’re in the hospital and stuff, bathing is something that doesn’t happen all that regularly, which I’m sort of used to, considering I didn’t even have a home for long periods of time after my dad kicked me out.
Jason put plastic under me so we wouldn’t wreck the sheets and then he got me completely naked. I had shit in the padding they put under me, which I wasn’t too proud of, but I remembered what Shane said about my body being a machine—so I told myself that my body is this machine that sometimes craps itself. Anyway, Jason cleaned it up without saying anything. He’s so cool. He left in my catheter, but I was hoping he’d still do a good job cleaning my dick. If he didn’t, I was going to say something like, “Oh, I think my penis is dirty too. Could you clean it?” Ha ha, I’m funny.
Jason was really thorough about cleaning me. I was all impressed. He soaped up a sponge and he cleaned my legs real good, even getting in between my toes. I couldn’t feel it, but it made me feel better that I was getting all clean. He was working his way up, so he got to my penis next. He soaped it up and cleaned it really good, including my balls, which I really liked. I was disappointed I didn’t get hard at all though. When Jason told me he was going to give me a sponge bath, I worked up this whole fantasy in my mind about how he was going to be cleaning my dick and I’d get real hard and he’d comment on my package, which would lead to something fun. But oh well, maybe next time.
He worked his way up my chest and when he got to my shoulders, I could actually feel the warm water and it was really nice. He lifted my arms to clean them too and I felt the water on my upper arms. I was like, “Jason, that really feels good. You’re doing a great job.” He thanked me. I had this feeling he wasn’t getting as turned on by this whole bathing experience as I was. I guess he bathes naked quads all time so it’s no biggie to him. It’s not like I’m so hot that he couldn’t resist me.
Jason spread apart my fingers so he could clean them too. My fingers curled up so easily now, it was actually kind of difficult for Fran to get the splint on me. I was worried about that, because I needed to get the splint on my hand if I wanted to be able to feed myself and write and stuff. Fran said we’d work on getting my fingers to curl less and maybe even try some medications. I was already taking so many medications, I figured one more wouldn’t hurt.
Jason was about to roll me over to wash my back when we got interrupted by the center’s social worker, Michelle. Michelle is kind of an old maid type who always seems a little pissed off, especially at me. She tries to pretend like she’s all concerned about me, but I know that’s bullshit. She came in without even knocking, which I thought was kind of poor. And when she saw I was naked and getting a bath, she didn’t even seem embarrassed at all.
“Ronald, I have some good news for you,” Michelle said to me.
“Do you want me to come back later?” Jason asked. He was trying to cover me up a little bit, at least my lower half, so I wouldn’t be completely naked in front of her.
“That’s all right,” Michelle said. “I just wanted to tell Ronald that we’ve placed him in a nursing home. So you’ve got a place to live now.”
That wasn’t good news to me though. I was beginning to really like it here and I didn’t want to get shipped to some home right away. “Which one?”
Michelle gave me this look like, What’s the difference? I guess she figured I should be happy just to be getting a place to live. “The home is called Cabot.”
“Oh no, I don’t want to go there,” I said. I remembered all the bad stuff Shane and Henry had just told me about Cabot.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Ronald,” Michelle said. “Cabot is the only nursing home that has a bed right now. We’ll send you there at the end of the week.”
Michelle didn’t give me a chance to ask any questions or anything, she just left the room. Jason continued giving me my bath, but I couldn’t even enjoy it anymore because I kept thinking about all the bad things the guys had said about Cabot. I really really didn’t want to live there.
“Cabot isn’t so bad,” Jason said to me. I guess he realized I was upset. “I know people say bad stuff, but I think they’ve gotten a little better recently.”
I hoped what he was saying was true but it looked like I wasn’t going to have much of a choice. I was probably going to be in Cabot for a long time to come.
As Jason was drying me off, I saw Ned wheel into my room. I was so happy to see him, I almost started crying. Unlike Michelle, he actually looked embarrassed when he saw I was naked. “I’ll come back,” he said.
“Nah, that’s okay,” I said. I really didn’t want him to leave.
“I’ll put your clothes on after Dr. Wilson leaves, okay Ron?” Jason said. He put some protective covering under my butt and he covered up my lower body with the blanket. “Come get me when you’re done in here, doctor.”
Ned wheeled up to the side of my bed. He rested his hand gently on my bare arm. “Are you okay, Ronnie? We didn’t get a chance to talk after quad circle.”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I said. I wondered if Ned knew that I got placed in Cabot. I bet he didn’t. Even though I liked Ned a lot, I got the feeling that he was out of the loop and a lot of the other staff didn’t like him all that much. Part because he’s so young, but also I think because he’s the only one who’s disabled like us.
“Don’t compare yourself to Shane,” Ned told me. It was funny, because that was exactly what I had been doing. “Every person is different and Shane has made certain choices in his life that I personally disagree with. He could have gone back to school, but he chose not to. If I had been his therapist, I think he would be in a better place right now.”
“Who was his therapist?”
“This old man named Rosenblum,” Ned said, shaking his head. “He was here for many years and he finally retired. I got his job and I’ve been systematically trying to undo all his damage. His philosophy is that we crips should just be satisfied with being alive.”
That was the first time I ever heard Ned refer to himself as a crip. It was kind of cool. “Hey, Ned, can I ask you something?”
“Would you let me see your arm stump?”
Ned seemed really surprised by my request. I guess it’s what I expected, but I had to ask. It was killing me thinking about it. He reached over and touched his amputated arm with his good arm. “Why?” he asked.
I wasn’t sure what to say. “Well... you’ve seen me, right?” I looked down at my still naked bod.
I didn’t expect Ned to agree so easily, but to my total surprise, he actually said, “Okay.”
Ned rolled up his sleeve and I could see now his prosthetic went up pretty high. He pressed a button on the upper edge and it kind of popped loose. Ned had a little sock thingy covering the stump and he took it off so that I could get a good look. I’d never seen a real stump before, but I liked Ned’s stump. His arm just came down a little longer than his shoulder, and his stump looked very soft and smooth. There was a light scar running across it, but it looked clean and not too painful. His stump seemed like it might be squishy if I squeezed it.
“Can I touch it?” I asked him.
“Uh, okay,” Ned said. He was blushing a lot, but he was still being really nice about this whole thing. Of course, we both knew that I couldn’t feel anything in my hands, so touching his stump wouldn’t do much good. But I managed to lift my arm so that I could brush my fingers against his bare stump. It was the best I could do. But Ned surprised me once again by taking my wrist and guiding my hand closer to his stump. Like I said, Ned is really cool.
Up until that moment, it was exactly like my fantasy. But instead of Ned climbing on top of me, he dropped my arm and started putting his prosthetic back on. Oh well.
“Can I ask you something else, Ned?”
He looked a little nervous. “What?”
“Do you think if you lost your other arm too, you’d still be a doctor?”
“I don’t know,” Ned said thoughtfully. “I’d really like to think I would. I think I would.”
To be continued....