A/N: I'm sure Aiko already called this, but here it is: a rehab fic from a remi currently being a rehab doctor (though I have to put my acute hat back on when I'm on an afterhours shift lol).
Written for the Diversity Writing Challenge, c34 - write a fic that mentions science in some shape or form
Leaning to the Left
The bag, unsurprisingly, slips from his left hand.
He's been careless again. Luckily there's nothing fragile in there. Luckily he's right handed to begin with and there aren't too many habits that lead him to pick things up with his left hand, or step left foot first. Stepping left foot first is bad luck anyway… or maybe that only applies to the school roof. He can't test it anyway. Not right now. He can't focus enough on his left side without completely ignoring the right, and that's just counterproductive.
It might be a couple of weeks, the doctors said, or a month.
It also might be forever. It's been three weeks after all. But he can walk, even if he's unconsciously leaning to the right a little still, putting more weight on that side, resting more on that foot, leaning against that wall. It's for the best, maybe, because he trips more with the left foot too, bumps into things more with the left shoulder, drops things more with the left hand.
Bad luck, they say, hitting the right side of his skull. Bad luck, they say, bleeding into the right side of his brain. But he's young and fit and otherwise healthy and much more likely to recover full function than the eighty year olds with strokes who are still in the hospital. Some of them won't ever be going home.
He's home. He's even back at school, even if the feeling of eyes constantly on him is rather foreign. They don't tease, though. They don't offer to help, either. They stare like they don't quite understand.
Well, he's never been close to them anyway.
Someone does grab his bag this time, though. He only notices because his hand's scraping against gravel and he can feel that much, at least. Though he has to turn to make sure it's not there, to see the straps dangling from someone else's harms.
'Sorry,' his brother says, and moves towards his right side instead.
'Stay. It's good practice, apparently.'
It doesn't make much sense, except it does. He's tricking his brain somewhat. He knows his brother is walking on that side and it's so awkward to twist his entire head every time so he needs to focus more on that left side. It's clumsy and awkward too but it's all part of the healing process, and when he can only go to the hospital after school and only three days a week, what he can accomplish outside of that is so important too.
They walk together. Dodge signs and dips in the sidewalk and people walking to and fro. And his brother waves him in when they arrive. Taps his phone at the questioning glance he receives in return. 'The others are coming,' he says. 'They'll be here by the time you're out.'
He goes in alone. But that's not a big deal; the others aren't allowed in with him anyway. The waiting room is full, but not with other children like him. All adults. Some as young as their twenties. Others he's amazed are able to get here at all.
He doesn't wait long. The perks of being a child, perhaps. There aren't as many child patients. But the specialists aren't always there.
Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy. And psychology, once a week. Thank goodness he's already graduated from Speech Therapy and maybe part of that is that need to speak that had welled up the moment he'd seen his brother's face. The brain is a remarkable thing, the doctors said. They knew he needed to get those words out so badly so the brain quickly fixed the wiring.
It's also not a miracle worker, though, so he needs to help it along.
It's the OT who's first, today. He explains how he dropped his bag today. They practice with the blocks again. Draw the clock. He manages a full circle, today. Puts the hands on the left side, even, but he hasn't numbered them. The neglect's getting better, though. And he can pick up a block with the left hand, as long as he's not looking at or doing anything else.
Those big foam blocks are for children, though. Still, he was dropping even those last week.
'You're getting there,' the OT encourages, before sending him to the next room.
He's getting there. He's walking on his own two feet, after all. How long did he spend in the wheelchair? Four days? But he's walking and the physio's impressed he walked here from the school, too. Still, she makes him do more. Rails – and he keeps on forgetting to hold on with the left. Then the cones and he's still knocking most of them down. All but one, really. But that's still one more than last week. And he's been doing his exercises, too.
'You're a good kid,' the physio says, before sending him to the final room.
It's almost like one of those game dungeons. But this is real life, and so was the Digital World. Pity none of the fighting skills translated. Or maybe they will have once the left side of his body syncs in with the rest of him. And that neglect. That's the most dangerous thing now that he's not consistently tripping over his own feet. But he's getting there too. Still getting headaches, though.
Panadol and ibuprofen do the trick, though. He doesn't need to go back to the doctors for those. And the tablets aren't getting stuck anymore either. And maybe they'll improve by the time he sees them next, in a month's time. Or maybe they'll be a permanent fixture, but he can deal with the headache if it means his brain is still knitting itself back together.
Last stop, for today, is psychology. Theirs is only a brief chat. Making sure he's coping with the impairments, the limitations, the stares…
He's got friends and family now he didn't have before, though, and that makes it all that much better.
And the psychologist agrees. Sends him on his way with a smile… And with far bigger, brighter, smiles are his brother and his friends waiting, waving through the glass, outside.
Post A/N: Some medicalise to (possibly) be translated…
The right side of Kouichi's head is in contact with the floor, in the anime. Doesn't mean he hit it, but we'll take what we see. And brain injuries are funny that way. Where you hit it isn't necessarily where the bleed will be. Some areas might be more fragile, and therefore damage more easily. So the deficits for this fic mimic more of a minor right middle cerebral artery stroke, which leads to deficits in left sided motor function as well as left sided neglect. Essentially, left arm and leg weak, and the brain ignores the left side of the body and field of vision if there's anything else grabbing its attention.
On the topic of visual fields, interestingly if you knock off the left side, you don't get the same deficits because the right hemisphere covers both visual fields. The left hemisphere only covers the right visual field.
OT = occupational therapy. Amongst other things, their focus is restoring functionality of the upper limb, which often includes blocks, utensils, dressing, grooming, etc. Because the deficits are on the left side, things like brushing teeth and writing don't apply as much here as they would to the right side.
Physio = physiotherapy. More commonly known, but they focus more on mobility (and often focus more on lower limb, but they focus on upper limb as well). Work quite closely with OT. Main things are transferring from bed/chair/standing position and walking, and that includes walking around obstacles and upstairs.
SP = speech therapy. Actually cover swallowing as well so their name is a tad of a misnoma. I left them out of this one because a speech impairment would have complicated the story, but they are no less important than the other allied health workers!
Psychology is fairly common but not compulsory in rehabilitation medicine after illnesses or injuries leading to deficits. People are known to go through stages of grief in regards to their loss of function and independence. Very common in strokes and bleeds, especially older people with poor prognosis that wind up in nursing homes at the end of the day.
And there's a bit of rehab 101. Hope you enjoyed!