Chapter 5 – The Diagnosis
A/N: The bulk of the medical information used in this chapter was obtained from WebMD.com. Other sources were used and there’s some speculation on my part so it may not be 100% accurate but please just go with it. I hope you enjoy and please review.
Chapter 5 – The Diagnosis
Sunnydale General Hospital
Friday, March 5, 1999, Evening
It’s been a couple of hours since the confrontation between Jack and the Scoobies. Each side is in their respective half of the waiting room casting the occasional furtive glance across the room. While the tension between the two groups has lessened, neither one is willing to trust the other so they’re still on edge. In the interest of maintaining civility, for Xander’s sake, both groups are keeping to themselves.
Dr. Matthew Russell, a good-looking black man in his late thirties, wearily enters the waiting room and is immediately set upon by both groups demanding to know Xander’s condition. After immediately assessing who’s in the room, Dr. Russell turns to Jack and Daniel stating “I’m sorry sirs, but unless you’re family, I’m afraid I can’t discuss Mr. Harris’ condition with you.”
Jack, tired, cranky and just plain ticked at taking the back seat to a bunch of teenagers for the past few hours, growls at the doctor “You WILL talk to me. Xander is my nephew and if ANYONE has the right to be here it’s me! Now, I’m willing to let them hear what you have to say because they’ve been sitting in this damn room for as long as I have. So, talk!”
With a fleeting glance at Giles and the others, Dr. Russell begins “Xander has multiple contusions and abrasions throughout his body. While he’ll be very sore for awhile they aren’t serious. His left ankle has a second-degree sprain, which means the ligaments were partially torn. He’ll need to stay off of it for awhile and he’ll be given a splint to help immobilize the ankle to promote healing. He may also require some physical therapy, but we’ll be better able to assess that later on. I anticipate that the ankle will fully heal within anywhere from a couple of weeks to about a month if my instructions are followed.
“His left ulna is broken, that’s one of the bones in his lower arm. Fortunately, it was a clean break. We’ve put a cast on it and it should heal on its own and be as good as new in about 6 weeks. Unfortunately, that shoulder was also dislocated. The good news is we were able to set it back into place and we’ve seen no indication of blood vessel or nerve damage. Some physical therapy to stretch and strengthen the surrounding muscles is going to help.
“Xander also has several hairline fractures to at least three of his ribs. Basically, all we can really do for that is to try to relieve his pain as much as possible. We’ll ice the area and give him some mild pain meds, but rest is the best thing for him. Again, the bones will take about 6 weeks to heal. It appears that the damage to his ribs didn’t affect his internal organs. His kidneys, though, are bruised and while this doesn’t usually involve long-term affects, the short-term affects are pain, a lot of it, and there’s usually some discomfort and bleeding while urinating at first.” Dr. Russell gives them all a moment to let what he’s said sink in before continuing.
“Okay, those were Xander’s less severe injuries, and quite frankly, the one’s I’m not really worried about. While they involve a lot of pain, Xander’s a tough kid and can handle that. What I AM concerned with are his head injuries. Apparently, Xander received a severe blow to his right eye, the force of which caused a break in the bones of his nose. Because his eye is swollen shut, we’ve been unable to determine as yet if any of the pieces have punctured the eye. There could be damage to muscles, nerves or blood vessels. We’ll have to wait until the swelling dissipates a bit before we can determine the extent of any damage. We’re reducing the swelling with an ice pack and we’re monitoring its condition closely. Best case scenario, he has a broken nose and a black eye; worst case scenario, he has bone fragments in his eye causing injuries which require removal of the eye. As they say, ‘we’ll hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.’
“He also received a blow to the side of his head. This blow was hard enough to rupture his right eardrum. This will affect his hearing for a bit, but it should heal in about a week or two. He may experience Tinnitis, which is a ringing in the ears, but otherwise his hearing should return to normal.
“My concern is that with at least two such serious blows to the head, there could be some brain damage. We need to keep a very close eye on him, especially in the next 24 hours.” With a heavy sigh and compassion-filled eyes, Dr. Russell looks at Xander’s loved ones wishing he could ease their burdens. “We’re moving him into the ICU. Once he’s settled, I’ll let you go in, but no more than two people at a time and only for a few minutes. He needs his rest. One of the nurses will let you know when he’s ready.” With that, Dr. Russell bids them goodbye and leaves the stunned occupants of the waiting room.
There is utter silence following Dr. Russell’s exit for several protracted minutes. No one says a word, no one moves, they barely even breathe.
“Oh, God!” Buffy sobs. This is so much worse than anything he’s suffered before. ‘I didn’t expect this. I’m used to Xander being hurt, but it’s never really that serious. He’s always able to laugh it off and joke about it. It’s usually just some shallow cuts or scratches, a couple of sprains, he had a concussion that once but nothing he hasn’t been able to recover from relatively quickly. That’s not gonna be the case this time,’ Buffy thinks. “Giles...” she says turning into her mentor’s arms for support and comfort. Giles pats and rubs her back soothingly but the movements are mechanical. He’s in shock and his thoughts have completely shut down.
Faith’s mind flashes back to the short time she’s known Xander. He’s always full of energy and spirit. She remembers how readily he accepted her into their group and really made her feel welcome. She also recalls the one time they slept together over a month ago, right after he saved her from a demon, and how she turned him out immediately afterwards. She didn’t even let him get dressed first, she just handed him his clothes and shoved him out of her motel room in his boxers. Not for the first time, she thinks to herself ‘that was a mistake. He deserves better than that.’
Oz’s thoughts are divided. Part of him is focused on Xander, on the horror he must have gone through, that he’ll have to go through to get better, and another part of him is worried about how Willow is taking this: she and Xander have been best friends since the day they met in kindergarten. He’s her support system and right now she’s alone and Xander’s the one who needs support.
Oz remembers seeing Xander around school, even before he hooked up with Willow. He’s seen how Xander places himself between the “cool” kids and their intended victim of the moment, turning their attention onto himself. He’s seen how he’s put himself out there in the fight against demons, how he took it upon himself to start patrolling after Buffy ran away this past summer. None of the others were happy about that, especially Giles, but there was no stopping Xander. As he’d said “somebody has to do it.” Of course, there was no way they were going to let him do it alone. So next thing Oz knew, he and Willow were out there patrolling along with him, and once Cordelia got back from her vacation, she had joined them as well. It’s sobering to think that he may never go on another patrol again.
Daniel is horrified by the extent of Xander’s injuries. How is someone so young supposed to deal with this? God, what if he doesn’t recover from this? Daniel takes a look at the other people in the room, sees the shell-shocked expressions on their faces and realizes that if Xander doesn’t recover from this, they might not either. He turns to Jack and his blood runs cold. Jack’s just standing there, his face emotionless. Daniel’s seen that look before...during the first mission to Abydos.