Well, where i live it is now officially the 18th. Which i have on good authority is Layla's birthday. So for Layla i present a box of chocolates:
(I took the liberty of eating them for you Layla. They were delicious!)
as well as a new chapter of my fic:
(Lotsa exposition, but some Shippy too.)
Taco Bellevue Hospital, room 316
The heart monitor shrieked loudly as Fry ripped the electrodes from his chest. Bender watched in mild amusement.
“What are you doing all that for?”
“I need to see Leela. Now.”
“Not right now you won’t.” Came a stern voice from the doorway. The shrieking alarms had alerted his doctor who had come running accompanied by two nurses each expecting to find their patient in the middle of cardiac arrest instead of tangling himself in the various wires he was supposed to be attached to.
“Try and stop me!” Fry snapped as he continued to fight with the wires.
“You have just come out of major surgery. I highly doubt you’re strong enough to walk all the way to her room.” The doctor insisted with a rather condescending tone.
“Then I’ll just have to drag myself!”
“I’d highly recommend against that.”
Frustrated, Fry threw down the tangle of cords. “Look
,” He said bitterly, “I’m goin’ to her one way or the other. So either help me, or get outta’ my way!”
“Sir, thirty minutes ago you were flat on your back on an operating table. What your body needs now is rest.”
“What… I need… Is Leela
For a long tense moment the two glared at each other, the doctor trying to intimidate Fry into behaving, and Fry not buying into it. Absolutely refusing to back down Fry growled, “Not working.” Finally the doctor sighed. “Ms. Kellin, go to the nurses station and find out where this ‘Ms. Layla’-”
“‘Leela’ is located then grab a hover chair and escort him up to her.”
The nurse hesitated for a moment then left with a shrug. The doctor turned back to Fry. “I can’t keep you here against your will, but before I can allow you to leave you’re going to have to sign a release stating that you understand that what you are doing is Against Medical Advice and that this hospital is not liable for any accidents or complications that come up as a result of this.”
“yeah yeah yeah, whatever, I’ll sign away my soul if that’s what it takes. Now less talking, more signing, I’ve got somewhere to be!”
It was another fifteen minutes before Fry actually found himself being led down the fourth floor corridor towards the Intensive Care Unit. With each passing foot he felt his anxiety grow. It was one thing hearing that she was in a coma, but actually seeing her would make it real. He might even have to face the possibility of watching her die. The very idea of it chilled him to the bone. He always figured she would long outlive him. Living the reverse just seemed wrong, his brain was having a hard time processing it.
Leela’s doctor was waiting for him outside of her room, number 413. As they approached he nodded to the nurse.
“Thank you Kellin, you can leave him with me.” He extended his hand to Fry, “I’m Doctor Marsters and you must be the young man who threw himself between my patient and a charging Space-Bee.”
Fry’s eyes widened in surprise. “You know about that?”
The doctor nodded. “I’ve been talking to your friends. They filled me in on the circumstances. You’re the reason she’s alive right now, you realize? She never would have made it this far without you.”
Leela’s doctor seemed a lot nicer then his own, Fry liked him immediately. He was an older guy, probably someone’s grandfather, and he actually seemed like he cared for his patients. This was a major relief to Fry, who had worried that she would have wound up with some jerk who couldn’t care less if she lived or died as long as she had enough insurance to cover her treatment.
“I tried to save her but I didn’t do a good job.”
“You did what you could. And I’m sure she knows it...and so should you.”
Fry sighed sadly and looked down at the floor.
“Have you been told what her current condition is?”
“I heard that she’s in a coma and gonna die.”
The doctor frowned slightly. “She is in a coma, but her death isn’t assured.”
Fry looked up, suddenly very interested in everything the doctor had to say.
“We don’t believe she will ever regain consciousness but it is possible for her to live in a vegetative state for the rest of her natural life.”
Fry’s eyes filled with tears.
“But I will personally do everything in my power to stop that from happening.” He added gently, patting Fry on the shoulder. “Now before we go in I need to warn you. She is on a full life support system. She needs a machine to breathe for her and there are wires and tubes attached everywhere, and it may be a little scary to see her like that but all of that stuff is helping her stay alive. I’ll explain what everything does so it won’t seem so much like she’s being attacked by a reject from the Sharper Gadget.”
The doctor opened the door and stood back so Fry could maneuver his hover-chair through the doorway. As soon as he laid eyes on Leela he gasped. The doctor had warned him, but nothing anyone said could have prepared him for the sight. She was surrounded by machinery and seemed covered by tubes and wires. She looked so alone and little lying there like that. Fry drove his chair as close to her bedside as he could get and gently ran his finger along her arm. She felt warm to the touch and she wasn’t quite as pale as she had been on the ship. Her fingers and lips where no longer blue. It wasn’t much of an improvement but it was something positive for Fry to cling to. As the doctor began explaining equipment Fry gently took Leela’s hand and sandwiched it between his own.
“…and this is her IV and feeding tube,” Dr. Marsters pointed to the small tubes in her right wrist, the same wrist attached to the hand Fry currently clung to. “All of the fluids and nutrients her body needs will be injected directly into her bloodstream.” Then he pointed to a wristband type object around her left wrist. “That device monitors everything about her physical body. Her temperature, pulse, oxygenation rate, blood-sugar, cell count, everything.” He indicated a pair of small wires that disappeared into her hairline. “These monitor her brain activity. All of the information these and that wristband pick up are sent to this computer,” The doctor directed Fry’s attention to the large blue-green unit above Leela’s bed. “The information is decoded and displayed. This computer updates automatically and continuously, we will be able to see changes in her condition as they happen. This is also where she is given her Dzzada Coma Score.”
“Coma is the last stage of brain activity before death, but there are also several levels of coma. This device reads her information and scores her based on her brain activity and responses. In the old days we would have had to test her several times throughout the day and try to figure out where she stands but this machine monitors her continuously and is much more accurate. It scores on a scale of 0-10. 10 is perfect consciousness, it’s what we would be scored at, 0 is brain death. If you look at the display you will see that she is currently registering a 6. If you want to know her chances of survival just add a 0 to whatever score she has. Right now her chance of survival is 60%.”
“But that’s good right? That’s more than half! So she could possibly wake up?”
“I’m not going to discount the possibility outright, but people who score below a 6 usually never wake up.”
“But she’s not below
a 6, she’s at
a 6! You gotta have people who survived a 6, right?”
“Survived and woke up from, are two different things,” Dr. Marsters said gently. “We have had people regain consciousness with a score of 6, but none of them were ever on full life support, and they were in comas because of physical trauma and not neurotoxin poisoning. Most coma patients who are here because of poisonings who scored a 6 or below generally died or spent the rest of their lives in a persistent vegetative state. 80% of patients who scored between 3 and 6 spent the rest of their lives that way. 100% of patients who scored lower than 3 eventually died. But don‘t be alarmed if her score drops a point or two her score will fluctuate slightly throughout the day. It’s only when she drops to a lower score and stays there consistently that we become worried. That works with improvements to her score as well. Don‘t get excited about an improvement in her condition unless it sticks around for a while.”
Fry nodded morosely. “Is there anything I can do to help her?”
“Talk to her. Hold her hand, stroke her hair. Any stimulation is good. It gives her brain something to begin to respond to. We especially recommend anything that is familiar to her, a familiar voice or a song she particularly likes, or even hates, as long as it’s something she could recognize. It’s uncommon but we have had coma patients wake up able to remember conversations that went on in the room with them. So although unlikely she may be somewhat aware of what’s being said to her. And even if she’s not it won’t hurt her any to try.”
Fry gave Leela a hopeful look and began to smooth some stray hair away from her face, prolonging the contact as long as possible.
“Now I’ve got other patients to attend to, so I’ll leave you two alone. If anything happens there’s a call button on her bedside table.”
The doctor patted Fry’s shoulder supportively before walking out of the room. Once the door closed, leaving the pair alone Fry leaned closer to her and began to stroke the length of her arm.
“Hey Leela,” He whispered gently, “It’s Fry. I’m gonna stay here with you okay? I’m not gonna leave you alone or anything so you don’t have to be scared or nothing.” He slumped back in his chair. “I’m scared enough for the both of us.” He added softly.