A new entry in the Omicron Matter – Rachael Rehabilitates. In the final part of Rachael Rehabilitates, Rachael tours her new quarters. During the tour she finds one more task that she needs assistance with and this is more than she can bear. The enormity of her challenges is finally sinking in and Rachael’s courage falters.
For those who are new to The Omicron Matter, the home page is a good place to start.
Author’s Note – It is here that I may have exceeded my experience. I can’t say for sure this is what Rachael would experience, but it seems likely. I will accept any comments to contrary and reexamine if my understanding is incorrect.
New Quarters for a New Reality
Rachael could no longer lift her arms, let herself be placed back in the wheelchair. She drank some more water and wiped down. She was so tired she let her father push her to her quarters. She had barely seen the old version, but she could see some immediate differences. Counters were all lower – she could roll up and be able to comfortably use them. Gone were all the extra chairs save for one tucked away in a corner. The bed was up on the side of the room with a night table next to it. The wall next to the bed had a handrail. A beautiful low cabinet of inlaid wood was close to the bed. It was tall enough that shirt and blouses could hang but trousers and dresses would drag. The opening was a roll away style like some office desks so she did not have to worry about swinging doors. On top of the cabinet was an inlay of different woods that created a most amazing cuckoo clock. She could see this room would feel comfortable with her new reality. Liam and Millicent pointed out features that let her access one thing or another. Her father sat next to her and held her hand. She could feel her eyes start to water again. Rachael asked, “Millicent all the water is making me aware of one more way I will need some help.”
Millicent nodded and said, “Yes. Right. Gentleman if you excuse us. Natures needs must be met.” Millicent pushed her into the now larger and far more open bathroom. Hand rails seemed to be everywhere. Millicent said, “For now, just let me help you and we’ll work on this task soon. “
Rachael looked around, felt suddenly helpless and said with a quaver, “Yes please help me.”
Millicent began to remove her breaches and Rachael tried to relax, but she felt tension with each tug. She looked at the ceiling as Millicent lowered her onto the raised commode, but her eyes started filling. Rachael held onto the rails on either side and finished her business as Millicent busied herself at the sink. The frustrations of the day, of the weeks, finally burst through and Rachael whispered, “Dammit, I’m going to be like this forever. Helpless.” Millicent straightened items on the counter as Rachael quietly cried. Rachael felt fear come on. Up until now, she was merely confined to her bed by Charles and Millicent. She wasn’t confined now and everything seemed to be an obstacle. She moaned, “I can’t do this. It’s too hard.” Millicent came over and touched Rachael’s head with her own wet face.
Millicent said, holding her, “I am so sorry child. I can’t make this any easier.”
The floodgates opened, Rachael’s voice shook as she said, “I can’t do anything. I can’t get in and out of the chair. I can’t dress myself. I can’t go shopping or tea without someone to open doors or lift me over stairs. I can’t shower or take a bath by myself. I can’t even take a shit without someone to wipe my bum.” She pulled in a deep ragged breath, “Millicent, I can’t do this.”
Millicent held her and was quiet for a bit and finally said, “You’ll learn, dear. It’s just the first day.”
“I’m scared. I don’t even know what I need to know.”
Millicent said, “Truthfully, I don’t know what you need to know either. Charles might know more, but this is your own path…God forgive me… your own path to wheel down.”
Rachael laughed and cried at the same time. “I’ve never had to ask for help. Never had to. And now I can’t do anything for myself.”
Millicent said gently, “You’ll learn. I expect you’ll yell at us when we do things for you that you can do on your own and you will be supremely frustrated with us all when we forget you can’t do some things.” Millicent took a handkerchief from her sleeve and dried Rachael’s face, “You will dress yourself. You will handle this matter on your own – at least here. You’ll shower on your own although you may find assistance in that has its own thrills.”
Rachael cried and laughed some more saying, “You’re scandalous.” Millicent handed her the handkerchief and Rachael dried her eyes and blew her nose. She sighed and said, “After this and the gym, I need to clean.”
Millicent said smartly, “Then it is time to learn how to shower. Take off your top. I’ll go tell Liam and your father you’re done for a while and we can all see you at dinner.”
Rachael eyes got long and she said, “My father?”
Millicent said gently, “I will make sure he stays for dinner. I may let him sneak in while you are resting. But you need some rest after everything today. Charles can call one of us if you need something more. Now finish getting undressed and I will shoo the men away.”
Millicent slipped out the door and Rachael removed her top and camisole. She shivered naked in the chair. Her legs were already starting to look small. She asked, “Charles, what will happen to my legs?”
Charles replied, “You will need to work and stretch them several times a day or they will become a problem.”
Rachael looked at the ceiling and said in a low, despairing voice, “something else to need help with.”
Charles said, “In this, no. There are things you can do without help. You need to learn swim. You will find a lot of freedom in water.”
She said, “I’m scared.”
There was a pause and Charles asked, “Of what?”
Rachael said, “That I will always need help. That I won’t be able to function. That it will all become too hard.”
Charles said, “That…is a lot to be afraid of. If you want, I could tell you that it will all be alright.” But he said nothing.
Rachael sounding a little annoyed, “But you aren’t going to?”
Charles replied, “I am told my utter honesty is one my most annoying qualities.”
Rachael laughed, “So what do I do?”
Charles asked, “When you worked in the shop, were you ever not able to fix a clock?”
Rachael snorted saying, “One can always grind new parts to replace the broken ones.”
Charles said, “Think about that while you take your shower. You never gave up on a machine that mattered to someone. You always found a way to make it work.”
Millicent returned to the washroom and asked, “Charles?”
Rachael still shivering a bit said, “He was just suggesting some exercises that will help. He is probably right.”
Millicent looked at her with her head cocked in question but asked nothing more. She opened the shower with its chair and explained its features and where the towel would be. She then levered Rachael onto the stool in the shower. The automatic machine began its cycle of washing and rinsing her. At the end, warm air blew her mostly dry. She was able to reach the towel from her stool. She looked at her wheel chair. It was positioned next to the shower. She pulled it a bit over and then levered herself into the wheel chair just as she had done so many times before in the gym. She moved herself to the counter where there was a brush and a comb. She combed and brushed her hair. She draped the towel over her front and said, “I guess if you can call Millicent, rest would be good.”
Charles said, “She will be here in a moment.”
Millicent got her in night clothes and helped her into bed. Millicent left the chair close by as she left the room. Rachael looked at the ceiling and said, “Charles, lights?” Rachael took a deep breath and tried to calm her mind as sleep over took her.