“Reading the research Aunt Casey got her seemed to help Mom a little bit. I hope it can help me.” Victoria whispered quietly before opening up the binder to read. “The Human Brain–From front to back, the three swellings at or near the front of the head, which will later develop into the brain develop into the forebrain (otherwise known as the prosencephalon, the midbrain (otherwise known as the mesencephalon) and the hindbrain (otherwise known the rhombencephalon). The brain gets nerve impulses from the spinal cord and twelve pairs of cranial nerves.”
“Now she’s got you doing it?” Casey asked as she sat beside her niece.
“I thought it might help take my mind off what’s going on in Dad’s room.” Victoria told her half-truthfully before continuing. “The Hindbrain–The principle structures of the hindbrain are the medulla oblongata, ponds and the cerebellum.”
“I’m here if you need any questions answered,” Casey told her trying to be helpful without overstepping the boundaries that it was clear from Victoria’s posture and facial expression, she was doing her absolute best to keep in tact.
“Thanks Aunt Casey,” Victoria replied quietly before continuing. “The Forebrain–The human brain or prosencephalon” she looked up at her aunt briefly and said, “I’m not even sure I’m pronouncing half these words right.”
“You’re doing fine. I’m here if you need to ask me anything.”
“Thanks,” Vicki told her before continuing. “The prosencephalon is made up of a pair of large cerebral hemispheres known as the telencephalon. Because the spinal tracts cross over, the left hemisphere of the brain controls the right side of the body and the right controls the left.
“Diencephalon–The diencephalon is made of many parts, four of them being the thalamus, the lateral hypothalamus, the lateral gen…gen…”
“Lateral geniculate nucleus LGN for short and the Posterior lobe of the pituitary.” Casey finished for her before continuing. “The thalamus– all sensory input, except for what has to do with your sense of smell, passes through here on the way to the somatic-sensory regions of the cerebral cortex and then goes back to it from there.”
“The LGN–All the signals coming into the brain from the optic nerves–the nerves in your eyes–com into the cerebral cortex. The Hypothalamus–This is the seat of the autonomic nervous system. Damage to this part of the brain is quickly fatal because the normal balance of body temperature, blood chemistry, etc. goes out of control.”
“The Cerebral Hemispheres– Each cerebral hemisphere is subdivided into four lobes that can be seen from the outside: the frontal, parietal, occipital and temporal lobes. Hidden underneath them are the olfactory bulbes that get input from the olfactory epithelia. The striatum–This part of the brain gets input from the frontal lobes and from the limbic system.”
“What’s the limbic system?” Vicki asked confused.
“The Limbic System–is a term that refers to a group of structures in the brain including the hypothalamus, amygdala, and hippocampus. It plays an important role in regulating of people’s moods and emotions.” Casey replied before going on to explain a little further. “The hippocampus–is a portion of the brain found inside the temporal lobe, people have two, one in each side of the brain. It forms part of the limbic system and plays a part in memory and navigation.
Its role in General Memory–There’s some dispute with psychologists and neuroscientists as to what its exact role is, but they generally agree that it’s got a critical role in forming new memories about personally experienced events. Some researchers would rather think of it as a larger medial temporal lobe memory system that’s responsible for general declarative memory–that refers to memories that can be explicitly verbalized–which would include, for example memory for facts, as well as episodic memory). Damage to this part of the brain usually results in great challenges in forming new memories, and generally also affects access before the damage. Damage to the hippocampus doesn’t affect some aspects of memory like the ability to learn new skills i.e. learning to play a new instrument, which suggests that these depend on a different kind of memory and different brain region. Its role in Spatial Memory and Navigation– Some evidence implies the hippocampus has a role in storing and processing spatial information.
Without a fully operating hippocampus, people might not remember the places they’ve ben and how to get where they’re going.” “That would make it really hard to travel. It would make his work at Newman Enterprises a lot harder,”Vicki thought to herself aloud as she began to hate what she read. “Yeah, but not impossible.” Casey told her before continuing. “Researchers think that the hippocampus plays a particularly critical role and finding shortcuts and new routes between familiar places.”
“Thanks.” “You’re welcome. Ready for a break?” “No, let’s keep going.” “Okay, if you’re sure.” “Yeah, I’m sure.”
‘She’s just like her mother! She won’t cut herself any slack or stop to take care of herself, not even for a minute!’ Casey thought to herself before trying to get through to her niece. “I know you want to help but the best thing you can do now is to take care of yourself and try not to worry.”
“Aunt Casey, I knew what was going on with my dad and I still didn’t do anything about it when I saw Bradley walking to his office that night. I knew he was there to cause trouble and I didn’t do anything about it. it’s my fault he’s here in the first place, that’s the bottom line. This is my fault! And I’m damn well going to find a way to fix it! If it’s the last thing I do, I will find a way to fix this an make Bradley pay for what he did to my father!”
“Victoria, listen to me! I know you want revenge, or maybe you just want justice, I don’t know. Either way, you’re not going to get either of those things if you keep this up! All you’ll be doing is splitting your focus at a time when all your energy, all your focus has to be concentrated on your father and helping him through his recovery!” “Exactly how am I supposed to do that when I know he’s the reason my father’s here? How do I do that? Damn it! Everybody just expects me to sit back like a good little girl and let him get away with this! No way! No way in hell am I about to do that!”
With that, Victoria stormed off, furious and fuming that, for reasons that escaped her, nobody seemed to realize what was going on and just how much responsibility Bradley bore for bringing about the situation they all found themselves in. ‘If I ever see that little worm, that scum, anywhere near anybody I care about, especially either of my parents, he’s a dead man!’
“Victoria, wait a minute!”
“Aunt Casey, I’m sorry, but I can’t stick around. I’m going for a walk. I’ll be back later.” Still furious, Vicki got into the elevator without another word.
Frustrated, with her heart breaking for her niece, Casey let the nurses at the front desk know she’d be in her office if anybody needed her before passing by Victor’s room and stopping for a few moments to say a little prayer. “I hope whatever’s going on in there is a whole lot better for then what’s going on out here! Especially for Nikki’s sake, she can’t take much more of the waiting and she definitely can’t take any more bad news!”
Nikki’s breath caught in her throat as she stood at the foot of the bed scarcely able to take in the sight in front of her. ‘It doesn’t even look like him. That’s not Victor. He’s always been so energetic, always loved being active and living life on his own terms. This…this just isn’t him-this isn’t my husband!’ She silently railed with a fury she’d never experienced.
Victor lay there, chalk white, the beeping and clicking of the many machines surrounding him echoing in the deathly silent room; the rise and fall of his chest the only signs of life as she stared at him intensely.
Gingerly taking his hand in hers, Nikki whispered tenderly, “It’s me, can you hear me? Victor, it’s me. Darling, I’m here, I’m right here with you. The children are outside and we’re all going to stay right here until you wake up. Victor, the doctors have done everything they can so it’s up to you. You need to fight, you need to fight to beat this. That’s the only way you can come home. So, you fight! You fight to come back to us. We can’t lose you, do you hear me? We can’t lose you! Please darling, don’t let that happen, don’t let that happen!”
Taking a deep breath and trying to calm herself, she continued. “How many times have I told you how stubborn you are? How many times have people written you off and you’ve proven them all wrong? You need to do that now. You need to prove us all wrong! Victor, I need you to prove me wrong, for once, I need you to prove me wrong! The doctors are telling me that you won’t make it. I’m trying my best, I’m trying so hard not to believe them, but I’m not so sure. As much as I’m trying to be strong-for all of us-I just can’t do it. I just can’t pretend everything’s okay. I can’t pretend there isn’t this little voice deep down inside of me telling me to let you go. I can’t pretend that that same little voice isn’t telling me to quit being so damn selfish and let you go. I…I don’t know how I’m supposed to do that. I know it’s selfish, but I just can’t let you go.” Trying to swallow the bitter rage and resentment that had balled in her throat making it hard to breathe, Nikki wiped stubbornly at the tears flowing freely from her eyes and whispered, “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, how I’m supposed to handle all this. I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up, how much longer I can keep away the doubts running through my mind. Victor, I need you to wake up! I need you to prove us all wrong!”
With a watery smile, Nikki whispered, “Whenever I’ve been scared, or felt alone, you’ve always been there, always made me feel safe, always shown me that I wasn’t alone. You promised me that I’d never be alone again and damn it, I’m going to hold you to that!” As tears slipped silently down her cheeks, she continued emotionally, her voice small and almost quavering. “I am not giving up on you, do you hear me?! I am not going to lose you! Not now, not after everything we’ve been through to make it this far! I’m not ready to let you go. I am not letting you go!” Although it was clear how terrified she was, there was an unmistakable note of sheer determination in her voice as she spoke, her eyes never leaving his face.
“We need you, we all need you, darling. Nicholas, Victoria, Abby, Cassie and Noah, we all need you to come back to us. Your family needs you, I need you. I need you here with me.” Swallowing hard, trying to rid herself of the bitter taste of fear now in every corner of her mouth, Nikki sighed and dug down deep within her for the strength to continue. “We all need you, especially your children.” With trembling hands, Nikki took his hand and pressed it to her stomach as one of the babies kicked. She smiled a bittersweet smile as she felt it and said a silent prayer that everything would turn out okay. Then, taking his hand in hers, she brought it to her lips and gently kissed it, whispering “I love you!”
In the waiting room, Nicholas had just walked back in after having talked to Sharon.
“How are you holding up?” Vicki asked eyeing him worriedly.
“I’m numb, I’m still in shock. Is this real? It can’t be.” Nick answered honestly as he let out a heavy sigh and sat beside her on the couch.
“I wish I could tell you it isn’t. I wish I could tell you it were just a dream.” Vicki answered honestly.
“Where’s Mom?” Nick asked tiredly as he rubbed his eyes and wished he’d gotten a large coffee instead of the medium decaffeinated one he was now holding.
“In with Dad.” Vicki told him as she rose and started walking out.
“Vicki, what’s going on? Where are you going?” Nick asked her confused as he tried to catch up with her and finally did as she waited for the elevator.
“Nick, I can’t stand this waiting, I can’t take it. I need to go, I need to get out of here. I’ll call you later.” Without another word, she stepped into the elevator, leaving a confused Nick standing in the hall wondering just how much more Victoria was keeping from them all.
Knowing, to some extent, just how she felt, Nick left a message for his mother at the front desk and headed home.
For the next few days, Nikki stayed by Victor’s side in the hospital, hoping to get good news soon.
Nicholas and Victoria called often to check on their father’s condition and came by almost as often as they called.
Nicholas had just left when Dr. Thorton walked into the waiting room to talk to Nikki. “Mrs. Newman, I’m sure you’ll remember me, I’m Dr. Thorton. Dr. Cornwell brought me in to consult on your husband’s case shortly after she had his initial tests done and got the results, long before any of this happened. And we’ve seen each other once or twice since then. I’m sorry we’re meeting under these circumstances.”
“So am I. How is Victor? How is my husband?” Nikki asked, hoping for more good news.
“As you know, he’s been moved to a private room, room 201. He’s still resting though, but, you can go and see him if you’d like. Though, I’m afraid that it should be just one person at a time for now. We don’t want to tire him out. ”
“Thank you doctor.” Nikki replied, somewhat relieved.
“You should go first. You’ve been worried sick, you haven’t left since he was brought in,” Vicki told her wisely.
“Are you sure?” Nikki asked, not wanting to upset her any further. ‘She’s trying to act like nothing’s wrong, but she’s scared to death. If she wants to go see him, she should.’ Nikki thought to herself as she studied her daughter, zeroing in on her pale skin and puffy red eyes.
“Yeah, go. You need to see him, so go. Don’t worry about me. I’m fine.” Vicki tried and failed to sound normal, to sound strong. As much as she wanted to, she couldn’t fool her mother into believing she was anywhere near as strong or as hopeful about her father’s future as she pretended to be.
“Okay, I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere.” Nikki replied tiredly, hesitantly before following Dr. Thorton down the hall and into Victor’s room.
The room was dimly lit, as she and Dr. Thorton made their way in.
“If you need anything, just tell one of the nurses and she’ll page me.”
“Thank you.” Nikki replied as she sat down at Victor’s bedside and said a little prayer that, at least for now, he was doing fine.
Slowly, a groggy Victor awoke and looked at her, clearly unfocussed and disoriented. As he looked around, clearly confused as to why he was in the hospital, he opened his mouth to try to talk, to try and ask her what was going on. But, the harder he worked, the more he tried to talk, the more frustrated he got–nothing would come out, not a single word.
Stubborn and unwilling to give up, he tried to sit up, but, when he tried to move his legs, it was as though they were lead weights, lead weights that hung at his waist, unwilling and unable to move even the slightest bit. He tried again–and again nothing happened.
“Victor. Victor, listen to me, it’s going to be okay. I don’t know what’s going on, but we’ll find out.” Nikki tried to reassure and soothe him the best she could before walking out into the hall and having the nurse page Dr. Thorton and Dr. Cornwell.
“It’s alright, I’m right here and we’re I’m right here and we’re going to find out exactly what’s going on.” Nikki told him again, hoping she was making him feel at least a little bit better.
Stubbornly, Victor tried again to sit up–still nothing.
Again, Nikki did her best to soothe him as she saw the fear and uncertainty shining in his eyes.
Finally, Dr. Thorton and Dr. Cornwell entered and, after examining Victor said, “It appears that what we’re seeing is the effects of the stroke.”
“We’re sorry, Mrs. Newman.” Dr. Thorton told her sympathetically, regretfully.
“What are you talking about? Are you telling me he’s paralysed; permanently paralysed? Is that what you’re trying to tell me here? And why can’t he talk? Why can’t he say anything?” Nikki demanded shocked, angry and wanting answers.
“We’ll need to do more tests to be sure. It may be that the breathing tubes we put in are interfering with his ability to speak. But then again, it may not. It appears that at least one area of the brain that controls speech, either the Broca’s area or the Wernicke’s area, may have been affected, as, it appears, has his motor cortex–the portion of the brain’s cortex that controls involuntary muscle action. Different regions here are responsible for controlling different muscles in the body. I’m sorry, Mrs. Newman.”
“Thank you. How do we fix it?” Nikki asked, determined that this would not be a permanent situation.
“We’ll know more about exactly what we’re dealing with once we do the tests.” Dr. Cornwell told her quietly, unable to keep the pity from her voice.
“Thank you,” Nikki replied, deliberately ignoring the pity she’d heard in both Dr. Cornwell and Dr. Thorton’s voices as she watched them leave.
Then, turning back to Victor, she whispered emotionally, trying her best to sound convincing, “This doesn’t mean anything. You’re going to be just fine, you hear me? You’re going to be just fine!” Calming down a bit and trying her best to get through to him, in spite of all he’d been through and how exhausted and terrified she knew he must be, she told him, “The doctors and nurses have done everything they can-it’s up to you, so you need to fight. Can you do that? Will you do that for me?”
Groggily, still disoriented and very frightened, Victor nodded silently as tears fell from his eyes.
As tears rose in her own eyes, Nikki kissed him tenderly, lingeringly.
“Dr. Cornwell, what are you doing here?” Victoria asked surprised to see her.
“I thought I should let you know what’s going on with your father.” She began cautiously.
“Judging by the tone of your voice, I can tell it’s not good news. So, what is it? What’s wrong now? What happened?” Victoria asked fearfully, with an angry, hostile edge to her voice.
“There’s good news and bad news.” She continued still very cautious.
“What’s the good news?” Victoria asked, thankful to be getting some good news for a change.
“The good news is, your father is awake, he’s out of the coma.”
“That’s great! That’s fantastic!” Victoria exclaimed smiling brightly. As the grave expression on Dr. Cornwell’s face and her sombre, sympathetic gaze finally registered with her, Victoria asked quietly, fearfully, “What’s the bad news?”
“I’m afraid we’re beginning to see the affects of your father’s stroke.” Dr. Cornwell carefully explained.
“Meaning what?” Victoria asked, her voice far more scared and small than she’d expected it to sound as tears once again rose in her eyes.
“It appears that your father is paralysed from the waist down. We still need to do some tests to be sure but, based on what your mother told me and what I found out when I examined him, that’s what Dr. Thorton and I suspect. And-” Dr. Cornwell stopped short, unable to find the words she needed to tell the young, terrified woman sitting in front of her that, not only was her father paralysed, but the stroke had left him unable to speak.
“Whatever else you have to tell me, I wish you’d just tell me! I can handle it, what I can’t handle is people keeping things from me because they want to protect me!” Victoria told her firmly, emotionally.
“I’m sorry, but aside from the paralysis, it also appears that the portion of the brain that controls speech and language, either the Wernicke’s area or the Broca’s area has also been affected, I’m very sorry, Victoria. But, if it’s any comfort, there’s a good chance the paralysis won’t be permanent. We’ll know more once we do a few tests. We’ll just have to wait and see.” Dr. Cornwell answered her honestly, sympathetically.
“Thank you.” Victoria replied softly while she thought to herself, ‘That’s cold comfort! The bottom line is my Dad could still die! Damn you Bradley! You’ll pay for this! No matter what I have to do to make sure it happens, you’ll pay for what you did to my father!’
“If there’s anything I, Dr. Hoffman, or Dr. Thorton can do, please don’t hesitate to let us know.”
“Just take good care of my father, do whatever you can to make sure he pulls through.” Victoria told her firmly, intent on putting all her energy, all her focus into her father’s recovery.
“Don’t worry, we will.” Dr. Cornwell vowed before walking off in search of Dr. Thorton and Dr. Hoffman.
Still reeling from what she’d just been told, Victoria slumped onto the couch and sighed heavily, exhausted.
“What now?” Vicki muttered angrily as she searched her purse for her cell phone after hearing it ring a few times.
“Hello?” Vicki answered very irritated!
“Vicki! Where the hell are you? What’s going on and why haven’t you called? Why are you avoiding me? What kind of game are you playing?” Gary barked incensed.
“Gary wait a minute, there’s a lot going on you don’t know about.”
“Save it! I’m not interested! I’m done playing games, Victoria! You made a big mistake! You made a big mistake and you’ll live to regret it!” Gary replied, his voice low and menacing, his eyes ice cold.
“Gary, listen to me! Please just listen to me!” Vicki begged almost frantically.
“NO! You’ve been jerking me around long enough! I’m done playing by your rules. Now, we play by mine!” Gary’s voice was low and menacing, so much so, it sent chills coursing through her!
As her heart jack hammered in her chest, Vicki whispered fearfully, “What does that mean?”
“You’ll find out soon enough!” Gary replied cryptically, maliciously before hanging up.
“Hello? Hello? Hello?” Vicki said almost hysterically and strained to listen for any sign that he was still there, only to hear the haunting sound of the dial tone answering her.
With trembling hands, she hung up and was about to put the phone back in her purse when she got another call.
“Hello?” She answered and thought how strange her voice sounded. ‘What’s wrong with me? Why am I still sounding so scared? I can’t afford to do this! I have to stay focussed on Dad! I can’t afford to let these two sick bastards get the best of me!’
Although she didn’t recognize the voice, it sent chills through her and made her stomach lurch.
“Who is this? What do you want?” Victoria asked, trying her best to keep the fear that had wrapped itself around her heart out of her voice.
“You know what I want. But, you haven’t given it to me. I don’t know why, I don’t understand it, Victoria. You’re a very intelligent woman so why are you still playing these games with me? It’s not very smart, you know.”
“I…I don’t know what you’re talking about and I don’t care! I don’t have time for you or your petty little games! I don’t have time for your stupid little mind games!” Vicki exclaimed, fed up with being victimized by both men.
“That’s too bad, isn’t it?”
“What are you talking about?” Victoria snapped hotly.
“Time’s up, Victoria. You had your chance to make up for the mistake you made, but you didn’t. You chose to ignore me and my demands. I even gave you an extension and you still didn’t take advantage of the chance I was gracious enough to give you.”
“Gracious, gracious?” Vicki echoed indignantly, unable to believe what she was hearing. “What world are you living in? There’s nothing gracious about the sick, stupid little mind games you’ve been playing! You’re nothing but a coward, a useless coward!” She shot back, finally fed up with all she’d had to deal with at this man’s hands.
“That was a big mistake, Victoria. You’ve made a lot of mistakes and now you’ll have to pay the price fo them.” With that, the caller hung up leaving Victoria slack jawed and chalk faced.
Parchment white, as her heart raced, Victoria whispered, her voice small and terrified, “What do I do now? What do I do now?! How do I keep them from coming after Mom and Dad? What have I done? God what have I done?”
Author’s Note: All medical information used in this fic, directly quoted and otherwise, was taken from the following sites:
National Institute of Neurological Disorders
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (BC) http://ww2.heartandstroke.bc.ca/images/eng…boutStrokeE.pdf
Stroke Everything You want to Know http://ww2.heartandstroke.bc.ca/images/eng…boutStrokeE.pdf
Blood&Urine Tests: http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca/Page.asp?Page…rom=SubCategory
Carotid Ultrasound (Doppler) http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca/Page.asp?Page…rom=SubCategory
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)/Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca/Page.asp?Page…rom=SubCategory
Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE) http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca/Page.asp?Page…rom=SubCategory
Let’s Talk About Stroke: http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca/Images/English/LTAS-EN-2006.pdf
Stroke Everything You want to Know http://ww2.heartandstroke.bc.ca/images/eng…boutStrokeE.pdf
Heart&Stroke Foundation of Canada Warning Signs http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca/Page.asp?Page…rom=SubCategory
Prevention&Risk Factors Risk Factors You Can Do Something About/Risk Factors You can’t control http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQL…isk_factors.htm
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca/Page.asp?Page…Fom=SubCategory
Heart Disease (Atrial Fibrillation) http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQL…ibrillation.htm
Excessive Alcohol Consumption http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca/Page.asp?Page…rom=SubCategory
Physical Inactivity: http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca/Page.asp?Page…rom=SubCategory
American Heart Association-TIA Warning Signs http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4781
Surgery And Other Procedures http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQL…_procedures.htm
Medications&Other Drugs http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQL…other_drugs.htm
Stroke Rehabilitation http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQL…abilitation.htm
Speech Therapy http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQL…ech_therapy.htm
Surgery&Other Procedures http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQL…_procedures.htm
Central Nervous System http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/…ages/C/CNS.html
Cerebral Cortex Definition http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=11490
Oxytocin Definition http://www.3dchem.com/molecules.asp?ID=355
Nucleus Accumbens Definition http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nucleus_accumbens
Parts of the Brain, Brain Stem, Cerebellum, Cerebrum, Right hemisphere/Left hemisphere, The lobes, Frontal lobe, Parietal lobe, Temporal lobe, Occipital lobe http://www.heartandstroke.on.ca/site/c.pvI…WJwE/b.3581867/
Anatomy of the brain-What are the parts of the brain?, Brain Stem, Cerebellum, Cerebrum, The lobes, Frontal lobe:, Parietal lobe:,Temporal lobe:, Occipital lobe http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca/Page.asp?Page…rom=SubCategory
More on Brain’s Lobes http://www.faculty.washington.edu/chulder/lobe.html
Central Nervous System http://www.emc.maricopa.edu/faculty/farabe…ioBookNERV.html
Central Nervous System http://www.emc.maricopa.edu/faculty/farabe…ervous%20System
Central Nervous System Functions http://www.users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma/ultra…/CNS/html#brain
Corpus Callosum Definition http://www.answers.com/topic/-corpus-callosum?cat=health
Limbic System Definition http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionar…m/limbic+system
Hippocampus Definition http://www.abacci.com/wikipedia/topic.aspx…tle=Hippocampus
Motor Cortex Definition http://www.answers.com/topic/motor-cortex?cat=health