Five Stages of Grief... Pt.4
A/N: This is the next part of the saga, you can find part one here, part two here and part three here. I’m not sure about this section but I’m posting it anyway.. just as a warning this has a few mentions of “stuff from the other end” so a fair warning. I’d love to know what you think about it. 💜
Jack’s feet arched as he twisted away from the pain of a thousand tiny needles being pressed into his soles. He knew there wasn’t – he could see his feet, and the only thing touching them was his duvet. Yet the pressure was still unbearable. His whole body was being assaulted by wave after wave of sensation, each one just as unpleasant as the last but in a different way. His arms were still tingling from the vestiges of what had felt like fire being sent through his veins. He was shivering; unable to tell whether he was too hot, too cold, or the right temperature.
He closed his eyes; he didn’t know what time it was. He’d been drifting in and out of consciousness for what could easily have been days. He relished the lulls, where could slip off to sleep and get some respite. Then the spasms gripped, cramping the muscles of his legs into strange, tight positions, and nothing Jack could do would make them subside. He just had to wait them out…
And when they receded, his bones were filled with a hollow ache that sapped all the energy out of him. All he could do was lie – trying to breathe through it, as the pain crushed down into him, becoming heavier and heavier until any tiny movement made him weak and shaky again.
It seemed never ending. His whole body crying out for some – any – kind of relief. But whenever he reached that low of horrific pain, so strong he’d rather be dead than face it – cool hands caressed his skin, mopping his face with a damp cloth, and sorting where he’d become entangled in the bed covers. Jack knew it was Blake – and that kept him going.
The needle sensation had morphed into a burning heat, rippling across his feet and searing up his shins. He was lying on his back, his eyes still closed and trying to breathe in an even rhythm. His insides were writhing, fighting within him like piranhas desperate for a feed, and Jack felt like the bed underneath him was pitching as he clung on. He just needed to get back to sleep for a little while, then this feeling would surely pass.
The back of his throat felt tight and sticky; and he could feel a muscle just above his belly button giving an involuntary jerk. Then again. And again. It sent a cold, creeping sensation of discomfort right the way up his chest; he closed his mouth tight and continued to breathe evenly through his nose. His stomach was doing its best impression of a washing machine, and swallowing while lying on his back was becoming uncomfortable.
“Hic-gnn!” A painful jolting of his stomach caused him to take a sharp intake of breath; he opened his eyes, floundering weakly to try and get in a most comfortable position. “Hmmmmlll…” The noise was involuntary, as was the rolling heave that travelled up his chest. Then a hand seized his shoulder firmly and rolled him over onto his side, his head flopped to the edge of the bed and a bucket was brought up towards his face. “Hrrkk!” He retched fiercely again, the quick movement over onto his side made the contents of his gut slosh alarmingly as he gasped a snatch of air in. “Hbbbrrrlllk!”
Bitter liquid flooded Jack’s mouth and he opened it, allowing it to spill into the bucket. He squeezed his eyes shut, not wanting to look at the frothy bile now pooling in the bottom of the bucket. His chest was aching, each breath caused another gag.
“K’hhhrrrr!” Jack’s eyes began to water as the sick feeling in his throat overwhelmed him. “Hicckkkll!” He brought up a small amount of chunky sick and the lingering taste of sour lasagna coated his mouth.
“That’s it,” a voice encouraged, giving his shoulders a squeeze as he spat into the bucket, “good man!”
“Huuuurrrkk!” More puke forced up his gullet, and because of the awkward position Jack was lying in he felt it travel the whole way up. “Bll-eeeuuurrkk!” He retched again, feeling like an iron band was being compressed around his chest; he whimpered as a trickle of vomit ran out of the side of his mouth and down his chin. His heaves were dry now, and each felt like nails scraping at the back of his throat.
“Alright…” A cool cloth wiped the sick from his chin. “Lie back now…” Blake very gently eased Jack onto his back and he gasped for air as his stomach kept jerking infrequently. “You’re doing really well Jack.”
It didn’t feel like it. Jack felt horrific – and he wanted it to stop. He groaned aloud, curling his arms around his midriff. His back hurt, his chest ached and his belly churned. This was torture…
Blake had known things were beginning to go downhill when Jack elected to go to bed. He wasn’t one to admit defeat easily, so it was a sure indicator that he must be feeling lousy when he crawled into bed and fell asleep. Blake had thought that’d be fine, until Aiden explained exactly what opiate withdrawal was like, and Blake could feel fear bubbling inside him as he took the seat in Jack’s room to watch him. He hadn’t realised that at any point Jack could stop breathing – so he really needed to be watched constantly.
Blake was used to living on only a few hours sleep – he was pretty much hardwired to that, but now every time Jack made any kind of movement, Blake panicked. By 5am his eyes were scratchy and red from him rubbing them, but he didn’t want to go to sleep. He couldn’t wake Aiden up either, he had a placement shift at the hospital in a few hours and Blake could do that to him. He was sagging, physically, when Aiden came to check in on them before leaving. Blake wished he wasn’t going. He wished Aiden could take over for him so he could go to bed, but he had to go – so Blake took the opportunity to brew himself a coffee and wash his face to try and reinvigorate a bit. Then, wrapped in a blanket, he settled back into Jack’s computer chair and allowed himself to doze gently.
When he’d come round from the brief doze, he’d been wondering about getting himself something to eat, he was sure it must be nearly lunchtime – then Jack made a noise. Jack was curled over on his front, his face pressed into the pillow and his duvet entangled around his legs. It was a strange burbling noise like a kettle just beginning to boil. Blake had approached the side of Jack’s bed, just as a geyser of brown liquid poured from Jack’s mouth. Blake had yelped in surprise but Jack didn’t rouse from unconsciousness. He slept on, emitting a small gargle as he breathed in, as the sick dried into his pillow.
Blake snapped into action, collecting a damp flannel to clean him up and a towel to go under his head in case of any more spillages. A bucket was placed beside the bed and Blake gently sponged away the vomit clinging to Jack’s face. He didn’t wake, but the clammy, sweaty feel of his skin told Blake just how his body was coping.
That had been over five hours ago, and Blake was desperate for Aiden to come home because he was worried and exhausted in equal measure. For how tiny Jack was he seemed to contain an alarmingly large amount of vomit. The first few waves had appeared with very little warning; a tiny wet belch which was the precipitate for a projectile amount of puke to come gushing from his mouth. Blake’s reactions had become super fast in order to get Jack over the bucket so the splatter of puke didn’t mess anywhere else, and he was able to identify an impending bout of sickness by the little flickering muscles that tensed in Jack’s belly.
What was worse now was Jack’s body was continuing to try and purge itself even though there was nothing left inside it; and the dry, grating retches turned Blake’s stomach, making him boke alongside Jack.
Jack was shivering now, panting as the urge to heave further passed, his eyes were open but he wasn’t fully awake. His unkempt hair was stuck onto his forehead, and his cheeks were flushed bright pink.
“Jack?” Blake said quietly, reaching out to mop the flannel across Jack’s sweaty face. Jack didn’t respond, he was still looking blank, like he wasn’t quite there.
“Uuurrp!” Jack let out a weak, airy belch, and rubbed his hand across his chest looking pained; Blake cautiously scooped up the bucket just in case. “Urgh…” He slumped back down onto his towel covered pillow and closed his eyes; Blake watched his chest rise and fall as he laid still. Eventually he opened his eyes again and looked directly at Blake, his mouth moved, but no sound came out. “Drink…” He forced out, his mouth moving slowly as the word took a lot of effort to squeeze out.
“Here,” Blake perched on the edge of Jack’s bed and brought a water bottle up to his lips; Jack gulped greedily at the liquid. “Careful!” Blake warned Jack, pulling the bottle away from him in order to slow him down. Almost instantaneously an ominous gurgle issued from Jack’s belly as it suddenly received the influx of cold water and sent it straight back up.
The bucket was planted firmly on Jack’s knees just as the spurt of water came gushing from his mouth; he hung over the bin, breathing raggedly, and a small whimper escaped from him.
“It’s okay,” Blake ran his hand across Jack’s shoulder blades, “it was just a bit too much, too quickly…” Jack gave a tiny nod of his head, still taking deep breaths.
Once his breathing calmed down and he rested back, Blake rose the bottle to his mouth again. This time he took small, gentle sips, and after a few he seemed satisfied.
Blake waited until he was sure that Jack was falling asleep again before he took the bucket to wash it out. He stared at the water from the shower head, cleaning away the residue of sick from the bottom of the bucket; his eyes were blurring in and out of focus and he found himself leaning forward so the mid section of his thighs were digging into the rim of the bath. He felt an empty sort of tiredness settle behind his eyes, like his body was acting on autopilot but the rest of him wasn’t even awake. And although he longed for Aiden to come home, a niggling part of his brain told him that it wasn’t fair for Aiden to have worked a twelve hour shift and then have to come home and look after Jack…
Jack was moaning in his sleep as Blake returned the bucket to beside the bed; every so often his whole body gave a judder and a pained groan would escape his lips. Blake felt slightly redundant – what could he really do? It was difficult, and Blake yawned, he could hardly keep his eyes open.
He started awake and knew something was wrong – Jack was covered in sweat and whimpering like a dog with a thorn in its paw; the room smelled awful. With a horrid realisation Blake saw the fear in Jack’s eyes and understood – he’d had an accident.
“Jack?” Blake started, keeping his voice low and gentle, but Jack looked like he might cry.
“Get out,” Jack croaked weakly, pulling his duvet right up underneath his chin to hide his soiled sheets.
“Jack, it’s okay,” Blake tried to reassure him, although the smell in the room was turning his stomach.
“Get out,” Jack repeated more forcefully; tears were leaking out from his eyes and mingling with the sweat on his face.
“I’ll get you a towel,” Blake told him, “you just come and have a shower to clean up. Leave your bed, I’ll sort it.” Blake left before Jack could yell at him. He stood in the hallway, breathing deeply, and trying to figure out how he was going to deal with Jack’s room. The bucket might come in useful for him too…
He moved to fish a towel out from their dryer and hung it over the radiator in the bathroom, then retreated into the kitchen. He didn’t want Jack to feel any more humiliated than he already would, but he listened carefully and after a few moments he heard the door to Jack’s bedroom open then a scuttle of feet across the hall. The sound of running water came through the wall and Blake knew he was in the shower. Blake flicked the kettle on, trying to avoid the task of cleaning Jack’s room for a little longer.
He was pouring the water into his mug when he heard the bang of the front door and his heart leapt into his chest.
“Blake?” Aiden’s voice was music to Blake’s ears and he practically dropped the kettle in his haste to greet him.
“Aiden!” Blake wrapped his arm tightly around Aiden’s waist and squeezed, reassured by the tight hug he received in return.
“Are you alright?” Aiden asked as Blake held on for a few extra seconds.
“Yeah, just tired,” Blake replied, trying to put aside all of his previous thoughts now that Aiden was back. “How was your shift?”
“Fine,” Aiden was looking at Blake with an odd expression on his face. “I got to put in another butterfly IV, so I’m not far from being signed off on them.”
“That’s super!” Blake grinned, but even he could hear that the tone of his voice wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as it should be.
“Has it been bad?” Aiden inquired.
“He’s…” Blake paused, checking the water was still running. “He’s had an accident.”
“Ah…” Aiden seemed to understand. “Is that why he’s in the shower?”
“Yeah,” Blake nodded, “I told him I’d clean his room.”
“Well, why don’t I do that?” Aiden offered.
“No, Aiden – that’s not fair on you,” Blake protested, but Aiden shook his head.
“I’m a nurse, it’s no problem,” Aiden insisted, but seeing the unsure look on Blake’s face he added: “I’ll do Jack’s room if you make me a cup of tea, deal?”
“Okay,” Blake answered. The selfish part of him was really pleased that Aiden was going to do that for him. He got out another mug for Aiden and hoped that Jack would stay in the shower long enough for them to enjoy their tea. But even if he did, Blake could feel the weight of responsibility for Jack’s withdrawal bearing down on him like a physical presence.
The tired, heavy sensation which he’d felt earlier seemed to dig in further. This was merely the beginning of a long way to go…