Member No.: 366
Joined: 24-July 06
She’s placed herself under his right shoulder, but it feels like he’s not even trying to get up the stairs to the apartment. She’s got one hand braced on the wall and the other wrapped around his waist, balancing them both. Her hair keeps swinging into her face and catches in her mouth. By the fifth stair (halfway) sweat is trickling down her face and she has to stop to catch her breath.
“Honey, I gotta rest for a sec.”
This is a stupid idea- coming back to the apartment when Greg is in this shape. She should have never let him talk her into it. But he had been adamant. He wanted his bed, his bathroom. On any other day, she'd throw it back in his face. Today, the hurt and the pain dictate her silence.
“Okay.” He sounds out of breath too, and she lowers him to sit on the stair. He’s practically panting, red-faced, and he clutches at his leg. She knows it’s killing him, and shakes her head, wincing. She recalls a thousand times that Greg has run up these stairs, sweating and panting, after having already run ten miles on a Sunday morning. He’d done a marathon once- just to say that he’d done it. Stacy remembers how much he whined afterwards- about his legs, his back, the places where his clothing had rubbed his skin raw for 26 miles. Now, it feels strange that his agony is blatant, yet his mouth is pinched in a tight line. She has never seen him this weakened and she can’t stop the rising worry in her gut.
He was supposed to be at home resting, but when she called, he didn’t answer. Then Meg from the clinic had called her and told her that Greg was there pissing blood into a catheter and consenting to whatever Dr. Lorian suggested. In the end, the doctor suggested that Greg’s leg was a soft tissue injury incurred when he’d plunged a syringe full of Demerol through a layer of denim. The blood is from from a urinary tract infection and the prescriptions are in Stacy’s purse. She wants to be mad at him for doing this, for making their lives so complicated for a pulled muscle. But he’s practically writhing on the stair and he’s still not caught his breath. It seems like too much. They’ve got five more steps to go.
“You ready?” she says, pulling her hair behind her and into a ponytail.
He nods, still silent.
When she lowers him to the couch in the apartment ten minutes later, she is alarmed to find that his face is tear-stained. She can see the trail of the salt down his cheeks and his eyes are red. She gets him a glass of water and another full of cranberry juice and tells him to drink them both. He pushes the cranberry away, complaining that it tastes like crap and that he'll have to drink his weight in it to make a difference, but he gulps the water.
Stacy stands in front of him, her hands on her hips, watching. His hands are trembling and she’s not sure Lorian was right. But she’s not a doctor, afterall, and Greg consented, took the advice, and let her drive him home. He's barely said anything to her at all.
To House, the past two days have been one nightmare after the next. The inexplicable pain and a clinic doctor's incompetence had ruined a perfectly good round of golf. He'd been in so much pain that he hadn't even gotten through the admission forms before someone was helping him into an examination room. His name wouldn't even appear on the "watch" list. And the Demerol allowed him to go peacably- laughing even- as he walked out to get a cab home. In the evening, he and Stacy had laughed about it together as he'd allowed the lingering Demerol to mix with a few beers. The pain was completely gone and he felt good, despite Stacy's insistance that maybe he should take it easy for a few days. But this morning, the remains of the Demerol and the beer flowed into the toilet and the pain was back. So much for the power of positive thinking.
He'd struggled out of bed, already feeling weak and tired, and made up his mind to confront the clinic doctor about the incident the day prior. If anything, the kid could use a good talking to. You just didn't hold a syringe of Demerol up to a screaming patient's face and expect the patient to do nothing. But again, he found himself in the waiting room, fingers digging into his thigh, as a nurse guided him back to an examination room. The incompetent new doctor was nowhere in sight, but another, Dr. Lorian, was proving that anesthesia really wasn't necessary during catherization. House couldn't help but believe that the two doctors had talked.
Lorian wasn't one to hide his contempt of House and seemed nonplussed when the bag filled with urine and blood was held up in front of him by his belligerant patient and contemptable co-worker. "Yeah... and I'm a drug seeking addict," House had ranted as Lorian wrote in the chart.
"This is a UTI, House."
"In my leg?"
"You pulled a muscle. And stabbing yourself with a needle yesterday wasn't the best of ideas either. I'm recommending bed rest and I'll prescribe you an antibiotic for the UTI."
House had let his head fall back at Lorian's stubborn rationalizations. "Then test me." Lorian was nodding. "All in the work-up, House. Takes a few days- you know that."
"MRI then. To make sure I didn't do any real damage." The argument seemed borderline- even to him. But his leg actually hurt. It hurt more than any pulled muscle he'd ever had. To his recollection, it hurt even more than a broken leg in junior high. Lorian's response was another sigh and a shake of his head. "If you want a second opinion, then go get one."
By the time Stacy had wondered down to the clinic, he'd given up all hope of convincing Lorian to do anything besides tack on some high dose ibuprofen for the pain. Even Cuddy had stepped in and ordered House to go home. Resigned, tired, and still hurting, he'd let Stacy push him in a wheelchair out to her car. He'd needed help getting in the passenger seat. The stairs had been a third nightmare that he never wanted to relive, though he was glad to be home on the couch.
House has decided that if he'd done some kind of muscular damage to his leg, then it'll eventually heal. He'll ice down for a few days, lay low, take it easy. The UTI will clear up; the leg will heal. If Stacy will stop staring at him, then everything will be just fine.
“Take a picture- probably last longer,” he remarks. He half drops the empty glass onto the coffee table.
She sighs and collects the glass, placing it next to the sink for later. When she comes back she resumes her position in front of him. “Are you sure that Lorian…”
“What do you want me to say? I don’t have a better answer.”
“It’s just that…”
“What?” He’s angry now and he’s got nowhere else to direct it.
“You’re in pain.” He nods and makes to lift his legs onto the couch, grimacing. She goes to help him, feeling the tightness in his right quad. “This isn’t right, Greg…”
“Bed rest and antibiotics. I can’t think of a better way to spend my day.”
“Maybe we should get that second opinion.”
“It’ll be fine.”
Stacy is unsure, but what can she do? Wilson is across the country. Cuddy has sided up to Lorian. No one is listening and she’s terrified that this is something more serious. She’s seen Greg with a hay fever, the flu, with pulled muscles. He dramatizes the small stuff and he whines until she babies him. But he’s never cried before. And he’s not playing this one up- it appears he’s actually doing the opposite. She doesn't know what to make of it- but yet she's learned, somehow, to trust his judgment. Just because he's the patient this time shouldn't make it any different. But rationality and trust don't help dissolve the ball of worry in the pit of her stomach.
In the morning, he looks better. He says he’s in less pain, so she goes to work and leaves Greg with the remote control in his hand and Judge Judy ranting to a mother about the example she's setting for her kids. Stacy runs into Cuddy at lunch, who inevitably asks her about Greg. She tells her that he’s fine, but that it just doesn’t seem right to her. She tells Cuddy that Greg isn’t overplaying- he’s actually in pain. Cuddy tries to reassure her: he’s sulking because it was his fault, it’s nothing, and it’ll pass. Strangely, it does nothing to calm Stacy's nerves.
Four days later, House wakes up having dreamed that he's trying to talk to Stacy, but is so weakened he can't speak. The words are running across his mind, but he can't convince his mouth to move. The dream isn't far off from reality and his arms flop above his head and then curl under the cool pillows as Stacy sits on the bed smelling like shampoo and that lotion that he got her for her birthday. She puts a hand through his hair and he sighs at the feeling, wishing he was in the mood for something else. But he just isn't. He's tired. He needs sleep. He needs to get better.
As of last night, he was still pissing blood, though it was more brown tinged than red and there wasn't much. And his leg pain has diminished, but the heaviness has grown. His foot is all pins and needles. Maybe because he's lying down all the time. Maybe because of the swelling on a pulled muscle. Who knows? Who cares? Every rational bit of medical information he has gathered from his own body tells him that something isn't right. His ongoing symptoms don't match a UTI and soft tissue damage, but he keeps waiting it out because he can't think straight and god, but he really just needs to lay down for a little while and shut his eyes.
He mumbles that he doesn't feel so great and that he's taking another day off work. Stacy asks him, for the third time that morning, if they shouldn't get another opinion because he should've been better by now. But he shakes his head. He's too tired to go anywhere. Why won't she just leave him and let him sleep? "Must be the antibiotic," he mumbles, to get her moving. He wants to tell her more- that antibiotics sometimes leave the body open to other opportunistic infections. Throws off natural chemistry. Can make you tired, make you hurt. Maybe the infection moved to his kidneys. But his pillow is soft, and if he lies just right on it, the light coming from the window isn't too bad. His eyes won't stay open and he doesn't feel like conversation. "I dunno," he continues. "Go to work." She leans down to kiss him on the check and then he's sleeping before the door shuts.
At noon, Stacy drives home from work for lunch to check on Greg like she's done every day this week. She can't help but still worry and especially this morning when he openly admitted that he didn't feel well. He'd been so groggy. When she parks the car outside the apartment, she has an unexplainable sinking feeling in her gut. She practically runs up the stairs, opening the door quietly, trying not to wake him if he’s still sleeping (and he’s been doing a lot of that lately). “Greg?” she calls, tentative. There is no response. She sees that he hasn’t even made it to the couch today and there’s nothing but silence from the bedroom. “Greg.” More assertive now. She pushes her uneasiness aside and goes to the kitchen to open the fridge, thinking he’ll wake up and ask her to make him lunch. But he doesn’t.
She’s halfway through making two sandwiches, when she finally decides to go into the bedroom. He’s picky sometimes and she wants to know if he wants roast beef or turkey.
“Honey, roast beef or turkey?” She pokes her head around the door. He’s facing away from her, his back exposed, legs twisted in the sheets. He doesn’t respond.
She goes to sit on the bed, putting a hand on his shoulder. His skin is dry and clammy. “Greg…”
He’s not stirring. She rolls him to his back and gasps. There is blood running from his nose and smearing onto the white sheets. She taps his cheek and pinches his arm, but there’s no response. When she feels the pulse at his neck, it’s slow and erratic. “Oh my god…” she whispers. Then she runs to the telephone.
House comes back to consciousness as Stacy's movements cause the mattress to rebound. But when he moves his head to see where she is, the whole world shifts and he's gasping for a breath against the nausea welling up his esophagus. Maybe it wasn't the amoxicillin, because he can't remember getting this sick from them before. Vaguely, he wonders about the time of day, why there seems to be a smear of blood on his pillow, why he's too tired to get the glass of water on the table. "Honey?" It's Stacy. He struggles to open his eyes and sees a blurry outline of her before she descends and blocks his view of her face with her body. He tries to speak to her, ask her why she isn't at work, but it comes out as a "Whaaaydoere?" The bed dips again and the movement sends him into another spinning tilt-a-whirl. This time he can't help but retch. Stomach acid and the little he ate last night (chicken soup) burn his throat and nose. He hears a vague "God," and something about them coming soon. But he can't think of who it might be. No one should be coming- not when he's in this state.
When the retching stops, Stacy pushes him back against the pillows and is wiping his nose and mouth with a cloth. He tries to move his hand up to take the cloth, but his limbs are heavy. When he looks down, they appear swollen. As the cloth comes away from his face a second time, there is red against the white. Blood. For a moment, his mind is activated again. Bloody nose. Lethargy. Decreased urine. Swelling. The pain in his leg. Pain. Wasn't there before. He didn't pull it. Soft tissue damage. Brown urine- not red. Brown.
Stacy is still running the cloth against his forehead and he manages to move his hand up to catch it. "'s no good," he manages. "Need a hospital."
He realizes that she's nodding at him and saying "I know... they're coming." He sighs against the tired and sick consuming his mind and body and tries again.
"What is it?"
"'m dying." It's not exactly what he wanted to say, but it gets the point across. If he doesn't get treatment, he will die. And from the way he's feeling, it may be sooner rather than later.
She grabs for his hand then and squeezes so hard that he winces. "You're fine, Greg. You're sick, but we'll get you better."
"'s gotta be..." he pauses, swallows, "in my leg... the muscle."
"Shhh," she murmurs, still holding his hand. "The ambulance is coming. Save your strength."
"Stacy... muscle death," he gasps. "Killing my kidneys."
"Okay," she whispers, running a hand against his cheek.
He lifts his head from the pillow for a moment. "You tell them," he says with a force that neither of them thought he had left. It's desperate, demanding. His head drops back to the pillow and Stacy nods her consent at his instruction. The effort of the thought and talk are too much to continue. He focuses instead on breathing, on not puking, on staying conscious. She wipes his nose again and there is fresh blood on the cloth.
The doorbell rings and she stands, racing down the stairs to open the door for the paramedics. When they get to the bedroom, House is unconscious and unresponsive again and Stacy repeats what she's learned: "Muscle death," she says. "He says his kidneys are shutting down."
Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe.