If I Ain’t Got You – Chapter 5

Chapter 5 — Rehabilitation Much

Dec 22, 2002 – Orlando, FL – Florida Hospital – The Intensive Care Unit – Outside of Justin’s Room 
“Mrs. Hart, if he continues to act that way, I don’t think either of us will be able to help him,” Dr. Warrenton stated with a frown. “It’s like he’s accepted that he’ll never walk again and that’s his new gospel.”

“So he’s given up already,” JT said as he shook his head and then unzipped his backpack as he pulled out a laptop. “Let me check the schedule for tomorrow.”

“What do you have in mind JT?” Dr. Warrenton asked as he looked at JT closely.

“I’m going to see if I can get him in with Danielle. I think maybe she can talk to him a bit and hopefully he’ll open up and let us help him,” JT said as he typed some things into the computer.

“Who’s this Danielle person?” Lynn asked as she watched JT.

“Danielle Michaels is one of the psychiatrists here at the hospital besides JT,” Dr. Warrenton replied as he looked at Lynn. “Maybe she can get the point across to him that if he doesn’t give up and get started quickly, that there might be a possibility that he’ll walk again.”

“Is there really a possibility doctor?” Lynn asked as she looked at the doctor and then at JT.

“Yes, there’s a big possibility Mrs. Hart. Problem is, if he doesn’t try, then he won’t. I’ve looked at all of his scans and I truly believe that after the nerves along his spine heal from the trauma, that he’ll be back on the road to walking again. We don’t see any signs of permanent damage to the spine and there doesn’t seem to be a problem with his legs. The main issue lies with the nerves that sends the signals from his brain to his legs,” Dr. Warrenton explained.

“Thank God,” Jamie Banks said as he walked up behind all of them as Marshall followed close behind.

“Oh God, Jamie you’re here,” Lynn said as she turned and hugged him. “I’m so glad you’re here. When did you two get in?”

“We got in earlier this morning. We would’ve been here sooner, but there was some problems at the airport in LA and then another problem when we landed here,” Jamie replied as he pulled back from Lynn. “So how is he taking all of this?”

“He’s not taking it at all. He’s not in his right mind right now,” Lynn replied with a frown. “He’s closing us out and pushing us all away.”

“Is he sleeping?” Jamie asked.

“I don’t believe he is,” Lynn replied with a frown. “He’s only going to argue with you and ask you to leave if you go in.”

“You know as well as the rest of us do that you have to be rough with him to get him to behave Lynn,” Jamie said as he sighed.

“I know that, but don’t say I didn’t warn you beforehand,” Lynn said as she walked to Justin’s room door.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Hart, may I speak with you for just a moment?” JT asked as he rolled over to Lynn.

“Yes, sure you can,” Lynn answered with a slight smile.

“Right now, time is critical for your son. If he ever wants to walk again, then he needs to be prepared to work at it,” JT stated as he looked up at Lynn. “If he stays in his current mindset, he’ll never walk again.”

“What are you saying?” Lynn asked as she looked down at JT strangely.

“To put it simply, if he wants to walk again, he has to get out of bed and get to work,” JT stated. “I know he feels this is all too much to take in and that it shouldn’t have happened to him, but he has to look past all of that and make the effort needed if he wants to ever walk. If he doesn’t want to do that, then he can get used to one of these.”

“You’re saying he’ll have to get used to sitting in a wheelchair?” Lynn asked as JT nodded his head as she averted her eyes and then looked down.

“If he doesn’t want to sit in one of these forever or possibly be walking with a cane or crutches, then he needs to get up out of bed and see me downstairs in the gym as soon as possible so we can get him on the road to recovery,” JT stated.

“I—I don’t think he’s going to do that,” Lynn replied.

“Would you please let him know that I’ll be back with Danielle tomorrow morning to get him up anyway,” JT stated with a smile. “You have a good day Mrs. Hart.”

“You too Mr. Poole,” Lynn said as she shook JT’s hand again.

“Just call me JT, everyone else does,” JT said as he placed the laptop back into his backpack and then wheeled off down the hall.

“Dear God, how am I going to change Justin’s mind?” Lynn asked aloud as she looked down again as she wiped at her eyes.

A Few Minutes Previously – Justin’s ICU Room

“Talk to me Justin,” Jamie said as he held Justin’s hand. “You better snap out of it and talk to me or else.”

“Just leave me alone Jamie. I want to be left alone,” Justin said as he tried to pull his hand away from Jamie.

“Stop that Justin. You’re not a baby, you’re a grown man and there’s no reason for you sitting here, acting this way,” Jamie said as he shook his head. “Stop acting like a wimp. Do you want to walk again or not?”

“I’ll never walk again!” Justin screamed as he got his hand free from Jamie. “Just leave me alone damn it!”

“I’ll leave you alone when you can get up out of bed, walk across the room to kick my ass to make me leave you alone,” Jamie said as he poked Justin in the chest.

“Cut it out Jamie, just please leave me alone,” Justin pleaded as the tears streamed down his face.

“No Justin, I’m not going to leave you alone,” Jamie replied as he wrapped his arms around Justin, hugging him close. “You’re my brother and I won’t let you sit here and feel pitiful for yourself.”

“I’m not feeling pitiful; it’s hopelessness that I’m feeling and that’s totally different. I’ll never walk again,” Justin said as Jamie sighed. “Do you actually think I have a chance like this?”

“Yes I do Justin,” Jamie replied as he let Justin go. “Let us help you Justin. We’re all here for you.”

“Who?” Justin questioned as he looked at Jamie with wide eyes. “Who’s here?”

“Well I’m here, your mom, Chrissy, Donnie, hell practically the whole gang is here to help and support you,” Jamie stated. “Joey and his little army will arrive later on tonight and Chris will be here in the morning.”

“Everyone else is here?” Justin asked with a scared look on his face.

“Josh isn’t here and I don’t think he’ll come back here anytime soon, if he knows what’s good for him,” Jamie said as he kissed Justin’s forehead. “Don’t worry about him, me and Chrissy will keep him away from you. You can count on that.”

“Where is she anyway? I remember her being here earlier,” Justin said as he looked around and then back at Jamie.

“She went to go get food,” Jamie replied with a small laugh. “She said she was starving.”

“Jamie, where’s Marshall?” Justin asked as he struggled to sit up as he looked around the room. “Please tell me you two are still together.”

“He’s probably out in the hall with your mom. We’re still together man. I don’t think anything can split us up,” Jamie said with a smile.

“Good, at least you two are still together,” Justin said as he sniffled and then started crying again.

“What’s wrong?” Jamie asked as he wondered what made Justin start crying again.

“This is all wrong. How am I supposed to find someone to love me if I can’t walk?” Justin asked as he sniffled more. “There’s not a guy alive that will find me attractive like this or want to be with me, a cripple.”

“Stop talking like that Justin,” Jamie said as he shook his head. “You’re not a cripple and you’re so attractive.”

“Like hell I am,” Justin said as someone knocked on the door. “Whoever it is, tell them to go away.”

“Well hello, you must be Mr. Banks,” the young woman said as she walked into the room accompanied by Christina and JT.

“Hi and you are?” Jamie asked as he got up and looked at the woman and then over to the man.

“Oh, excuse my manners, I’m Danielle Michaels,” the young woman spoke as she shook Jamie’s hand. “This is one of my associates, JT Poole.”

“Hi,” Jamie replied as he shook JT’s hand, being officially introduced to JT.

“Hello,” JT replied as he wheeled over to Danielle.

“We’re here for Mr. Tanner,” Danielle stated as she looked over at Jamie. “I know JT was going to start things in the morning, but I think now is a perfect time to start things.”

“What is it that you do?” Jamie asked as he watched Danielle.

“I’m a psychologist and physical therapist, same as Mr. Poole here,” Danielle stated with a smile.

“I’m also a rehabilitation specialist,” JT added in.

“What exactly is it that you two do?” Jamie asked, looking at both of them strangely.

“I help guys in Mr. Tanner’s situation learn how to get started with the devices they have to use,” JT stated as he rolled over to the phone on the wall. “And I show them how to manage things, using those devices in everyday life.”

“What kind of devices?” Jamie asked as he watched JT.

“I help them use their wheelchairs, crutches, prosthesis or other things needed to help them throughout the day,” JT answered as he leaned up in his chair. “Danielle, let me see his chart.”

“Here you go,” Danielle said as she handed him the chart.

“Hey, what are you doing?” Jamie asked as he moved closer to JT. “Are you a doctor?”

“I’m looking at Mr. Tanner’s chart,” JT replied as he looked over the top of the chart at Jamie. “I’m not a medical doctor, but I know how to read charts. Is there a problem Mr. Banks?”

“I—I’m just checking to see what your qualifications are,” Jamie replied with a frown.

“Mr. Banks, I have a master’s degree in sports medicine and psychology. I also have eight years of experience working here in this hospital,” JT explained as he finished up what he was doing with Justin’s chart and then handed it back to Danielle. “Are those qualifications good enough Mr. Banks?”

“Ah… Yes—yes they are, I was just… Ah… well…” Jamie stuttered out.

“Trying to see if I knew my job and knew what I was doing,” JT said as he looked at Jamie as he looked down at the floor.

“No,” Jamie said as Justin grabbed his hand.

“Shut up Jamie, you’re failing miserably,” Justin said as he shook his head. “What is it that you two want?”

“Well at the request of your mother, she wants to get started with your rehabilitation as soon as possible,” Danielle stated.

“You guys are going to start that now?” Jamie asked as he looked over at JT and then over to Danielle. “He just had surgery like what, a day or two ago.”

“What I’m going to do isn’t going to hurt him,” Danielle said with a smile. “We’re going to start your counseling sessions and then I’ll turn you over to work with JT at some point.”

“Is it really possible for me to walk again?” Justin asked as he looked over at JT.

“You can if you want to walk again Mr. Tanner,” JT replied as he looked over at Justin. “If you want to walk again, you have to work at it.”

“My name is Justin,” Justin said as he moved a little bit in the bed. “Mr. Tanner is my father. What do I have to do right now?”

“If you’re up to it, we can have your first counseling session, only if you’re up to it,” Danielle stated as she looked at Justin closely.

“Ah… what will we do?” Justin asked.

“We’ll talk about you or anything you want to talk about,” Danielle told him.

“Okay, I guess we can do that,” Justin stated as he looked down. “So, when are we going to start?”

“Anytime you’re ready to start,” Danielle answered as she looked at him and then over to JT as she gave him the thumbs up.

“I—I guess we can start now,” Justin replied.

“Okay JT, you heard the man. Get to work,” Danielle said as she walked to the door, motioning for Jamie to come with her.

“What’s going on here?” Justin asked as he looked around.

“We’re starting your therapy session,” JT replied as he rolled over to Justin’s bed. “Hi.”

“Hi,” Justin said as he looked at JT strangely.

“Let’s see here. First things first, I need to remove the catheter,” JT said as he looked at the bed and all the different wires, pipes and other items around Justin’s bed.

“What?” Justin said as he looked at JT strangely. “What’s a catheter?”

“A catheter is this little tube right here that was inserted into your bladder to allow you to go to the bathroom while you were unconscious and such,” JT explained as he pointed at the tubing that disappeared under the sheets.

“A tube? What tube?” Justin asked as he followed JT’s line of vision. “How did it get into my bladder?”

“This tube right here,” JT replied as he grabbed the tube and then lifted it up slowly and gently, showing it to Justin. “When you were in surgery, one of the nurses inserted the tube into your penis, pushing it into your bladder, so that it could carry the urine and other fluids out of your body and into the small container down there.”

“So you’re saying that as long as that thing is down there, I don’t have to go to the bathroom?” Justin asked as JT nodded his head.

“That’s how it works, but you can’t keep it in for too long. You’ve already had it in for forty-eight hours. It’s time for it to come out,” JT told him.

“Is it going to hurt? It’s like down there in a very bad spot,” Justin said as his expression changed to a scared one.

“I will be gentle and I’ll go very slow,” JT stated, trying to reassure Justin that he would do everything in his power to keep from hurting him. “Let me know when you’re ready.”

“Regardless if you go slowly, I know it’s going to hurt anyway,” Justin whined as JT shook his head.

“Well it has to come out, rather I do it now or sometime later on,” JT stated as he looked up at Justin. “You don’t want it to come out? Do you think it being there is going to help you out?”

“No, but you’re doing your job,” Justin said as JT pulled out a pair of plastic gloves, pulling them onto his hands as Justin frowned. “Like you said, you have to do it anyway.”

“Well if you prefer someone else do it, then I can have someone else come in…” JT said as Justin interrupted him.

“No no, you’re okay. Let’s just go ahead and get this over and done with,” Justin said.

“Okay,” JT said as he moved the hospital gown up Justin’s body, exposing his private parts. “One… Two…”

“Just do it already,” Justin said as he held his eyes tightly closed, trying to anticipate the pain that was to come.

“Do what?” JT asked as he tapped Justin on his arm. “I’m already done.”

“You are? That didn’t hurt at all,” Justin replied as he looked at JT strangely as JT held up the small tubing. “I was sure it was going to hurt like hell.”

“Justin, can you feel this?” JT asked as he pinched Justin below his knee.

“A little bit, but it’s very soft,” Justin answered.

“How about this,” JT said as he pinched Justin’s thigh.

“I think I do, I felt a little tingle,” Justin answered.

“Okay, how about this?” JT said as he pinched the area above Justin’s private parts.

“Yes, I felt that,” Justin said as he looked at JT. “You’re pinching below the belt.”

“Okay, so at least we have a good idea of what you can and can’t feel and where,” JT said as there was a knock at the door as he pulled Justin’s gown back down quickly.

“Hi JT, here’s the chair that you requested,” a young man said as he walked into the room with a wheelchair. “I’ll have everything else you requested for Mr. Tanner in the morning sir.”

“Thanks Steve,” JT said as he looked at his co-worker. “Stop calling me sir, you make me feel like I’m old or something.”

“How old are you?” Justin asked as he looked over at JT.

“I’m twenty-nine years old,” JT answered.

“Can I ask you a question?” Justin asked as he looked down at his hands.

“Sure, you can ask me anything, well anything within reason of course,” JT replied as he looked over at Justin.

“How did you end up in a wheelchair? If you don’t mind telling me of course,” Justin said as he watched JT.

“It’s okay Mr. Tanner…” JT said as Justin interrupted him.

“Call me Justin, I’m not old either. Mr. Tanner is my father,” Justin replied as he smiled for the first time since he’s been in the hospital.

“Okay Justin,” JT replied as he rolled around to face him. “To answer your question, I have a hereditary illness called degenerative joint disease which causes my joints to degenerate, stiffen and sometimes lock up, making it difficult for me to walk. Tied in with that issue, I have a strange autonomic brain disorder that stops motor control in my body, mainly my legs, but sometimes it effects my arms too. Both disorders wreak havoc on my body and causes bouts where I’m wheelchair bound and other days I’m able to get around fine or use crutches or a cane.”

“Oh, so you weren’t in an accident or anything like me,” Justin said as he looked down again.

“Nope, just something I was born with,” JT replied as he put the brakes on his chair as he took in a breath. Closing his eyes, he grabbed the sides of his chair and then pushed himself forward and out of the chair as he stood up in front of Justin. “There are times that I’m able to do this and then there are times when I’m not able to do anything at all.”

“You—you can get up and walk?” Justin asked as he looked at JT with a confused look on his face.

“Yeah, I can walk when my brain and the joints let me. My legs hurt like hell right now, but I wanted to show you that I didn’t give up on walking. I still have the chair for times when I’m not able to get up and actually do this,” JT said as he walked a few steps away from his wheelchair and then stood in front of the door. “It’s pretty simple. Now all we have to do is get you up and walking too.”

“I’m sorry JT, but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Justin replied as he looked down as he shook his head.

“Don’t give up hope Justin. If I can get up and walk, so can you,” JT said as he took a few steps back in the direction towards his wheelchair, stopped and then grabbed his left leg, going down to the floor hard. “Owwww!”

“Are you okay JT?” Justin asked, showing concern for the person that tried to help him.

“I’m okay, it’s just a sign that I stood up longer than I should have,” JT replied as he crawled back over to his chair and then pulled himself up into it, resuming his previous position. “See, I’m back where I belong for right now.”

“Ah JT, we have a problem,” Justin said with a worried look on his face.

“What’s wrong Justin?” JT asked as he looked at Justin closely.

“I—I have to go to the bathroom,” Justin answered as the sweat broke out on his forehead. “I—I don’t think can hold it in for much longer.”

“Well good news, you’re about to get your first lesson,” JT said as he grabbed Justin’s wheelchair and then pushed it over to him. “First, you’re going to get out of bed and get into your chair and then go to the bathroom.”

“I… No, I can’t do that,” Justin replied as he shook his head.

“Yes you can Justin,” JT said as he crossed his arms, watching Justin.

“Isn’t there something I—I can like, you know, go in, like one of those containers or something,” Justin said as he looked around the bed.

“No, there isn’t one of those in here. You’re going to the bathroom,” JT declared.

“I can’t do what you want me to do. I have to go right now,” Justin whined.

“Get in your chair and go to the bathroom so that you can take care of business Justin,” JT sternly said.

“No! I said I can’t do that! I need help!” Justin screamed at JT.

“Justin, get your ass in that chair and go to the bathroom!” JT snapped back at Justin as Steve’s eyes widened as he waved and then walked out of the room. “Stop acting like a spoiled brat and get your ass in that wheelchair there and then get into the bathroom now! I don’t want to see any puddles in that bad!”

“What in the hell is going on in here?” Jamie asked as he and Marshall rushed into the room.

“Nothing’s going on in here. Justin is about to get up and go to the bathroom,” JT said as he looked over at Justin, not taking his eyes off of him.

“I can’t JT, help me Jamie,” Justin said as Jamie was about to move to help him.

“No, he’s going to do it himself,” JT said as he held his hand out in Jamie’s direction as he kept his eyes on Justin. “Justin, stop the whining and get into that chair so you can go relieve your bladder.”

“I can’t do it JT, just help me please,” Justin said as the tears streamed down his face.

“Mr. Banks, you and your friend need to exit the room please,” JT said, not moving an inch from where he sat.

“What? I’m not leaving here now,” Jamie said as he glared at JT.

“Mr. Banks, please leave the room,” JT said again.

“Jamie, just leave,” Justin said with a sigh.

“Come on baby, do as he says,” Marshall said as he grabbed Jamie’s hand as the two of them walked out of the room.

“Just get into your chair Justin,” JT said as he continued watching Justin.

“I—I can’t,” Justin replied.

“You must have very good bladder control Justin. You’ve wasted a good ten minutes of time, arguing with me about not being able to go to the bathroom,” JT said as he shook his head. “If you had to go to the bathroom as bad as you claim, you would’ve gotten in there already to take care of business.”

“I do have to go, it’s starting to hurt,” Justin replied with a frown.

“Well get your butt in that chair and move. No one in here is going to help you. The first part of your training is to get you to see that you can’t always get help when you need or want it. All you have to do is slide out of bed and land into the chair. Once you do that, roll into the bathroom,” JT said as he rolled over to the bed and pushed Justin’s leg. “Come on man, time’s a wastin’.”

“I can’t do it JT. Just help me please,” Justin begged as he looked at JT pleadingly.

“Oh alright,” JT said as he shook his head. “Give me your hand.”

“Thank you JT,” Justin replied as he grabbed onto JT’s hand as he slid off the bed and into the chair.

“Okay, you’re with your best friend for now. Get to it,” JT said as he rolled out of Justin’s way, pushing the IV monitor around the bed as he unplugged it.

“What do I do when I get in there?” Justin asked as he rolled towards the bathroom.

“I’m sure you know how to use the bathroom man,” JT said as he looked at Justin with a raised brow. “I know you know how to do that. I’m not about to go in there with you and shake it for you. Be careful of your IV line while you’re in there.”

“I can’t stand up,” Justin said as he stopped at the door.

“Um hello, you can sit yourself down on the bowel,” JT said with a sigh as he rubbed at his temples.

“You sure are making this hard for me,” Justin said with a frown.

JT’s POV

“It might be hard now, but you’ll get used to it, sooner or later,” I said as I rolled back over to the bed and then pulled my laptop out. Turning it back on, I loaded his file to make some notations on his progress notes. As I typed my notes, I picked up the phone and called for Steve to return. “Hi Steve, I need you to come back up to Mr. Tanner’s room.”

“Alright Mr. Poole, I should be back there in a few minutes, bye,” he said as I shook my head.

“That guy is going to drive me crazy,” I said with a laugh as the door to the bathroom opened as Justin came back out with a relieved look on his face.

“I did it JT, I did it,” Justin said as he rolled over and stopped next to me as he reached out and hugged me.

“Well I told you that you could do it all along and you did,” I said with a smile. “You have to be able to depend on yourself. You can’t always depend on other people being around to help you.”

“If this is all there is to it, then I guess I can do it,” Justin said with a smile as I shook my head.

“Oh this is just the tip of the iceberg Justin,” I said. “Wait until you have to manage your life like this all the time. This has just been a small sample of it all.”

“Say what,” Justin said as he looked at me with a sad expression on his face.

“You have to learn how to take your baths, learn how to get yourself dressed. You have to learn how to do all those things you are used to doing standing up, while sitting down, you know the normal everyday stuff,” I said as there was a knock at the door.

“Come in,” Justin called out as his mother, Jamie and another woman walked into the room.

“Hi Justin, how are you doing?” The woman asked as she walked over to where he sat.

“I’m doing okay at the moment,” Justin answered as the woman leaned down and hugged him as he frowned.

“What’s wrong Justin?” Jamie asked as he noticed that Justin’s mood had changed.

“Nothing’s wrong,” Justin replied, his frown noticeable by everyone now.

“Something’s wrong with you Justin, what is it baby?” His mother asked.

“Fine, this is wrong,” Justin replied as he pointed at his chair. “All of this is wrong, it isn’t fair!”

“What isn’t fair baby?” Justin’s mother asked as she looked at him closely.

“This! My whole life is different now. How in the hell am I supposed to go anywhere now? How in the hell am I supposed to show my face to the people that know me?” Justin asked, crying full out again as I turned and looked at him. “This is shameful.”

“Shameful?” I asked, turning to face him.

“I don’t think he means it that way JT,” his mother said as she shook her head.

“I do mean it, it’s shameful! Chrissy just had to bend down to hug me! She had to bend down to hug me! That means from now on, everyone that wants to give me a hug or something will have to bend down to me and it also means that I’ll forever be looking up to people,” he said as he shook his head. “Everybody get the hell out! I want to be left alone!”

“Justin stop,” his mother said as he turned his head and then looked down.

“I said everybody get the hell out!” He snapped again as everyone moved back and then started filing out of the room. “I would appreciate it if you didn’t come back either JT. I’m not going to be doing anything that requires your services.”

“Say what?” I said as I looked at him, my expression probably showing how pissed off I was with him.

“I said I’m not going to be using your services, so that means you’re not needed here any longer,” he said as he wiped at his eyes.

“So that means what exactly Justin?” I asked.

“It means I’m going to just sit in one spot and disappear from the world altogether,” he said as he wiped at his eyes again. “Just go.”

“Alright Justin, I’ll leave now, but I’ll be back in the morning,” I told him as I grabbed my bag.

“It’ll be a waste of your time. I give up,” he said as he looked down again.

“You can’t just give up Justin. If you give up now, you might not ever walk again,” I said as I watched him closely for any possible body language responses.

“Well then I won’t walk again. Goodbye JT,” he said as he rolled to the windows in the room and continued crying.

To Be Continued…