Jake needed to get off his feet. He and his dad, Dr. Frank Sylvester, moved from the kitchen counter to the circular banquette and table where their breakfast was set. They had just been talking softly to not be overheard. Jake had just revealed that he was contemplating suicide again. After more than a year his condition did not improve.
The three lumbar vertebrae broken in the football accident by the impact of a helmet, that cracked the tensile strength of his spine, had not healed. The functional limitations of Jake’s body were many. At twenty-one, Jake was disabled. Treatment by some of the best doctors in the field wasn’t working on the chronic pain.
Every twenty seconds Jake suffered attacks by misfiring nerves that behaved as if they were still being crushed. Every few minutes his legs jerked like he had inserted wet toes in an electric socket equipped with maximum voltage.
His dad sat at his feet. Jake lay down. He lifted the torso and ate a piece of Canadian bacon with his fingers. He set back down.
“It’s different, dad. It’s different today.”
“I hear you, son.”
“In the bathtub a little while ago I wondered more than ever what it’d be like to die. What if my consciousness,” he stopped, lifted his head to look at his dad. “I became so dark. I have no perspective any more. I got out and crawled to the toilet to throw up. My stomach was empty. Just upchucked empty air.”
“We haven’t tried everything. There are still many options, medications, and interventions to nerve paths.”
“Dad, please don’t be my doctor.”
“I know. I’m not. But it’s time to round up your doctors. Is it okay if I pull your team together at the hospital and figure out next steps? You know, as we’ve talked about before, with long term pain you have to regular reassess the team, and it takes a team.”
Jake’s just tightened his closed lips. His dad said, “you should be there, though. We’ll make it short so it’s not too much. Your mom can bring you. Or do you want me to send a car?”
“No hospital today, please. Not today.”
Dad put his hands on Jake’s legs. Jake jolted and pulled away.
“It’s the nerves, dad.”
Dad nodded once.