Short Stories

The man who didn’t want to get better

man

It has been quite a nice day at work and catching up with his mates was quite good too. Ash was an experienced electrician and was earning well at such a young age.He was only twenty years old.

School was never an exciting place to be, he would get in trouble quite often. When the headteacher saw that short blond boy approach, eyes on the floor, evasive look and cheeky smile, she knew there was trouble. He was always polite and very well spoken. You are a very capable boy, if you’d only listen…she’d said so many times. I am very sorry miss, he would reply. It won’t happen again.

When he was 16 Ash told his mum he didn’t want to go back to school; he really wanted to start working and making a living for himself. Mum insisted a couple of times, that he should carry on in school, it would be better for his future to have an education, but she didn’t have the stamina to insist too much. The divorce ten years ago left her alone and lost. Her ex-husband had, all of the sudden, realised he was gay and wanted nothing to do with her or the kid.

Ash grew up to be a very determined and strong willed person. His mum was so centered on him, that he never stopped thinking he was the center of the world and as such, everybody had to revolve around him.

At work all started well. Ash was very dedicated and eager to learn. He would work hours on end, never complain. His boss would pick him up at around 5am and bring him back late at night. Some jobs were far from  Essex, where he lived, and he stayed weeks away from home.

Mum called everyday, many times a day. He was not answering every call or replying every text, must cut the umbilical cord, he thought to himself many times.

Spending so many hours at work brought new relationships. Most of his colleagues were older, which made everything so much more exciting for the young boy. They would bring him everywhere, from pubs, bars, clubs, casinos. They worked hard and played hard. It was in one of this occasions, that Ash was introduced to cocaine.

At first he was a bit scared and thought about what mum would say, but after a while he decided to experiment. He was then nineteen and felt amazing. About an hours worth of pure joy. This was fun and he was sure all was under control, a bit of weekend fun wouldn’t make any harm.

The weekend fun started to happen on Friday as well. And then, why not go out Thursday and have some more? All happened quite fast and without noticing he was addicted. Ash was not in control anymore, but that didn’t bother him too much. He was earning good money and could afford the addiction without a problem.

He was able to keep mum out of it. She didn’t see, didn’t know, didn’t want to acknowledge. Life was good. Ash put on a deposit for a home, which he gave mum and took her out, once in a while. They both lived in the new house and she looked happier than ever.

Wednesday,  14 of August, 2002. Mum went out to meet some friends at the local cafe. She saw Ash was still in and though of making no noise. If he was in, was because he didn’t have work that morning and needed to rest. She went out smiling and feeling proud of her son. What she didn’t know was that she could have done all the noise she wanted, he would not wake up.

Mum came back near lunch time. Ash’s car was still in outside and she also saw the room door was still closed. She thought it was odd that her son was still asleep. She wondered in the kitchen to make lunch. She’d cook something of his fancy. And went to his room to ask him what he’d like to eat.

She noticed something was wrong as she open the door. There was a strong smell of sick and urine that would stick to your hair and clothes. Mum called out and got no response. She went to the window and let the sun in. When she looked back at her son the world started to spin around her.

The emergency services were very swift. Mum wouldn’t let go of his hand, his cold inert hand, her son. She didn’t remember how they got to the hospital. After an eternity waiting, a doctor came out and ask to speak to her in private.

It doesn’t look good. Did you know your son was using cocaine? She didn’t understand at first. No, I don’t think he was. Yes he was Ms. Your son had an overdose and a stroke as a consequence of it. I need to be very direct. We don’t know if he’ll survive. and if survives, there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually have him back as he was before. Mum was smiling and nodding. She stopped hearing after the word stroke. She needed to get out of there. She needed some air and some sanity back to her. This was not happening.

As soon as the doctor stopped moving his lips, she got up and left the room. Mum wondered outside of the hospital and walked for two hours. She didn’t know where she was going to, or even where she was.

Mum came back later. Her cheeks where rosy from the walk and her highlighted blondish hair was all messed up. She was smiling. And asked to see her son. A nurse took her to the intensive care room, where Ash was laying down, as a dead body. He was cold to the touch. There were so many machines  supporting him, that mum could not make out what most of them were doing. The nurse came to her side and put her arm around her. Mum started to cry like a child. She was like that for half-an-hour.

Dad got a phone call. It was mum. I know you don’t want nothing to do with us, but our son is dying. He was cold as a stone and just said he’d come and visit, to keep him updated.

During the next month, there was not a single day that mum didn’t visit. She’d spend her whole day there and got back home at night. She would clean him, shave him, read him magazines and the news. She’d put music on and just let him know of general things, such as the weather. The day came when the doctor announced they were going to take Ash out of the induced coma and there was the possibility that he would not cope with it.

First signs were good, but he barely opened his eyes. Day after day she could see life coming back to her son. But he could not talk. He could not walk. He could not eat, or drink. It was almost as having a newborn, in an adult’s body. The nurses told her ,that all of that was absolutely normal, now the challenge would be how and what would he recover. Being like a vegetable was always a very strong option.

Ash started recovering some movement on his right side. Eating and drinking became less of a struggle and the IV tube was taken off. He still could not talk. But he would try to communicate with sounds, head movements and with his eyes. Mum was feeling very hopeful all would end up well and he would make full recovery. The doctors didn’t give her much hope. But all she needed was to look into her son’s green eyes and see that he was alive. Every little progress was a huge victory and brought immense happiness.

After a couple of months Ash was discharged from hospital. He still could not walk, or talk, but any other progress would have to be made with the help of physiotherapy. Mum, resourceful as always, looked for help for her son. She found a stroke rehab center near her house and got all treatment for free.

In the meanwhile, due to her total dedication to her son, she lost her job as a receptionist at the local hospital. Her mortgage fell behind and she had to sell the house. Soon she was selling her son’s car as well, to help with expenses. She was living with her sister now. More going over there to sleep and then go back to spend the day with Ash.

Ash stayed in rehab for about two years. When he got out he was able to walk and was starting to speak. Her mom got him a council house, saying that her son needed independence, but now being disabled could not afford one. The council gave him a nice little flat, where mum was living as well. It had a nice entry hall, spacious enough to have a couple of sideboards. To the left they had a god double bedroom, where mum put a nice modern king bed and a large enough wardrobe. There was also space for a big mirror on the wall opposite the bed. To the right there was a nice living room, with a dining table, recliner 3 seat leather sofa and a couple of bookshelves, that she filled with a collection of Nature & Animals books collection from National Geographic. Ash has never been much of a reader, but they looked nice. She also put up several family pictures and a nice rug. The living room lead to the kitchen, were they had all basic appliances.

Her son was very happy when he came to his house. She could see the sparkle in his eyes, but she would not dare to leave him by himself for quite a while.Ash on the other side was feeling great, even with all his current limitations, he felt good to be alive and soon started to get back in contact with all friends, that would come and take him out quite often. Ash would come home drunk and unable to function at any level. After the stroke, alcohol would affect him heavily and all his disabilities would become two times worst.

One day he woke up and decided that he would actually make a change in his life. if he was given a second chance, we would actually make something of it. He started to go to the local gym. The membership was quite costly, so he suggested that he would do a part-time at the gym and they would let him have a free membership in return. The gym accepted and he started to spend all his free time at the gym, either on his part-time or working out. He was so dedicated that he ended up taking a gym instructor course and participating in bodybuilding competitions, where he done quite well, taking into account he was a stoke patient in recovery, still with partial paralysis on his left arm.

Life was looking good for Ash. He had a flat. Mum would make sure there was always food and that was always clean. She also stayed over most times, with the excuse that is was closer to her work place. The council also gave him an automatic car, because of his disability. This was cause of lots of criticism from some people in the gym. Ash could work there, participate in bodybuilding competitions and needed a car given from the council, under the disabled program?

Every year, the council will call him for a meeting where they would ascertain, if he would still be entitled to all the support that was being give to him. A month before the meeting, Ash would start the theatrical practice. He would stop shaving, would let him self to put on the pounds, stop working out. A few days before he went to the meeting he stopped having a bath and made himself depressed. That way he ensured all benefits would still pour in and he could continue with his perfect life.

Ash would tell them he could not work, not only because of his physical disability, partial paralysis of his left arm, but also because he suffered from fatigue. Every year he did the same thing and after assuring we would still get all his benefits, he would go back to his lovely life.

One they he received a letter from a hospital in London. They knew of his arm problem and thought they could help him fully recover. They were offering a 4 week treatment in London, to see how his body would react. He said he would like to have a go, but that he would not stay in hospital, as that made him stressed. They paid for a stay in a nice hotel, in Kings Cross.

The tests were a success. The Doctor was extremely happy with the results and after the initial 4 weeks, prescribed the physiotherapy that would led him to full recover. He came home with a stern face. Mum was very pleased with the news, but could see something was not right with her son.

In a month Ash was due in the London hospital for a first check up. He told mum we was not going. She asked why. He looked her in the eyes and said I have nothing to show them as I didn’t do the physiotherapy. Mum looked alarmed. He went on to explain:

Mum I can’t get better. I can’t! If I do, the council will take my flat and my car. I would have to go to work, as they will stop paying me benefits. I will have to stop going to the gym, as it would be to expensive for me to pay. I can’t start doing my GCSE’s as I planned. I will first do my GCSE’s and my university course and then when I’m able to get a good job, earning well, I will go back to the hospital and try to fully recover.

She had no words. But she could see his sense.

 

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13 thoughts on “The man who didn’t want to get better

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