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All Kevin was aware of was pain for the first few hours he was awake, this being the main reason that he didn't listen when told to sit still. He couldn't stop rolling side to side and he was distantly aware he was making noise. Hands held him down, something pressing into his arm. The pain of a needle sliding in didn't even register on his scale, so overwhelmed in the pain of his leg. Hands held him down while he struggled, heart hammering. Distantly, he heard someone talking about how the pumping blood would help the painkillers work faster. Something was placed over his face and chilly air tickled his nose and then he was no longer aware of anything.
Kevin woke up almost exactly forty two hours later, the pain having turned into little more than a throb. He groaned while waking, trying to turn over but a gentle hand on his arm kept him from doing so. His eyes, a bit harder to control than he remembered from before, slid up to stare at his mother.
Blinking, squinting, he smiled at her and giggled. Why he was giggling, he is not sure but it came out. His mother smiled, releasing his arm to rub a section before sliding down and grabbing his hand.
"How are you feeling?" she asked, her voice strained but he didn't catch it.
"I'm all fuzzy," he managed, the words deeply slurred but he couldn't stop himself to fix it. Frowning, he shifted and tried again. "Real fuzzy." This time, he was easier to understand and his mother nodded.
"Good, I"m very glad. There any pain?"
"No, no pain. Why?" He smiled, chuckling lightly at the idea he could be in pain. He'd never felt so high above the clouds before and it was making his world sparkle.
"There was... well, there was an accident—" she started but Kevin's reaction stopped her. He tried to sit up but couldn't, his leg stopping him. Paused up on his hands, he stared down at himself. Most of his lower half was covered in white hospital sheets while his right leg was hoisted up. For a moment, he stared, dumbfounded, before turning to look at his mother.
"Tell me... it's just broken." Even on pain killers so strong he was basically high, this news was starting to sober him up.
"It was broken really bad, Kevin. The bone was out of the skin and the doctor spent seven hours trying to fix everything up the way it should be."
"What happened?" He lied back down, hands shaking a bit as they itched to reach down and feel but he was too afraid to actually do just that.
"You were skiing and they think something—maybe a deer—ran out in front of you. All your friends saw was a blur and then you were down. You fell all the way down but the rest of you is just bruised and cut up. The leg must have taken the brunt of—"
"A rock," Kevin murmured, fragments of agonizing fear and pain coming back. Closing his eyes, he willed the memories away, face turning from his mother. "What does the doctor say about my leg?"
"He is speaking with the others tonight about your leg."
"He has to confront to committee and see what they want to do with you, mostly because you're underage and not from New Zealand. But he wants to take your leg."
"... T-take?" Kevin turned his face back over, eyes huge with fear. His mother didn't seem as worried about it as he felt which only made him want to get angry but he was still stuck on fear.
"Isn't it a bit early to make that call?"
"Sweetie, he could tell that it was likely you'd need it removed when you came in. They're much better than they used to be with medicine. It's not like it's the 21st Century." Kevin stared at her, not amused, but she just shrugged. "He tried his hardest, now they have to do what needs to be done."
"Take my damn leg? I won't be able to do any sports!" He started to try sitting up again but the hold on his leg stopped him just like before. Growling and throwing a glare at the contraption, Kevin sneered.
"You can learn. The leg will kill you if you keep it," she said simply and he sighed, eyes closing. Leaning back, he relaxed and had no idea the pain killers knocked him out.
When next he woke to full consciousness there existed a nurse taking his blood pressure. He stared at her and she jumped when realizing he was awake.
"Ahh, Kevin, you're awake."
"Yeah," he groggily answered, eyes rolling to see if he could see anyone else in the room. There was a pile of clothes in one corner but no one else.
"Your mother went to get dinner with your father," the nurse explained, removing the cuff from his arm. "They shouldn't be long. Are you hungry?"
"How long has it been since I've eaten?" He asked, stomach feeling almost like it may have eaten itself.
"You've... been mostly in and out of consciousness for about four days. We've had you on an IV that's been giving some nutrients and you ate some protein bars yesterday."
"I don't remember that."
"We figured you wouldn't. You had a mild reaction to the pain killers and you've been a little loopy since."
"Ah." There was silence between them as she packed up her things to go. "Oh, before.. you go. What... what was decided? About my leg?" The nurse eyed him before smiling gently in a way that told him what he knew he was going to get before she even opened her mouth.
"I'm not supposed to relay any information to you about that. He'll be in shortly now that you're awake. Are you feeling okay to wait for him to come in?"
"Yeah, I don't think I'm going to pass out again soon. Can I get some food in, too?"
"Sure, I'll get some food brought up. Would you like your parents present when the doctor comes in?"
"No, it's not needed." She nodded her understanding and left. He was left alone only a short time before a man he had never seen came in. There was a large smile on his face and Kevin tried to smile back but some pain had made it through and it came out more of a grimace.
"Feeling a little pain, mm?" the doctor said and Kevin nodded. The doctor came to the side of the bed, a nurse the teenager didn't know standing by the door simply to watch. "My name is Dr. Trubuhovich. I did the surgery on your leg when you first came in."
"You're the one that tried to save it."
"Yes," the doctor smiled, patting the side rail of the bed gently. "I am also the one that voted to have it removed. I'm not going to sugar-coat it, Kevin. The leg doesn't look good at all."
"You'd recommend it removed?" Kevin didn't want to have this talk, really. Maybe he should request to wait until his mother was back. There was a thickness in his chest that didn't want to go away and it was spreading outward to make it hard to breathe. He swallowed in a desperate attempt to fight the panic and it worked, for now.
"Yes." Trubuhovich appeared to see, or maybe even sense, the panic in the youth for his tone of voice turned far gentler. "I should have when you first came in but you're young. I thought there was a chance."
"So there no longer is? Even a hint?"
"Every scan and test we ran through the system to find the right surgery came up with nothing. It's a quick way to figure out if it is worth spending money to repair and cause you a lot of pain and years off your life." The doctor motioned to the nurse who walked up. She grabbed the clipboard at the end of Kevin's bed and then handed it over. Briefly, the teen wondered why Trubuhovich couldn't have done that himself.
"Seeing as your leg shattered in three different places: ankle, knee, and roughly three fourths up your fibula, also known as your calf bone." The doctor continued, reaching to point to Kevin's good let to show the places he spoke of. "There was a minor break on your tibia, the bone under your fibular, that I managed to correct all the way."
"Is that good?" That sounded like hopeful news despite hearing the word shatter.
"Yes and no. Yes only in that one bone could have been saved. No in the fact that it doesn't change the other damages." The doctor was watching Kevin curiously, slightly concerned he may be overwhelming the boy. Kevin isn't sure if he's as pale as he felt or maybe that was just the pain killers.
"So... basically..." Kevin took a slow, deep breath while he played with his nails in his lap, giving small tugs on them. "There is no hope for any of my leg."
"Everything from this point and down," the doctor placed a finger so gently on Kevin's leg he was pretty sure he couldn't have felt it even without the pain killers. It was nearly four inches up from his knee, the finger drawing an invisible horizontal line. " That's what we need to remove. If we take much longer, there will end up being more."
"That's pretty high."
"It's more a guess, really." Trubuhovich said gently, removing his hand and clasping them over the paperwork he held against his lap. "When I go in to remove the limb, I'll have to take accurate measurements of skin temperature and damage."
"Is it likely there's more damage?"
"Yes. When your knee broke, shards went upwards into your leg. We did x-rays when you first came in and it's always likely that the shards move even if you twitch in your sleep."
"Oh. There's... no way around it?" Kevin shifted a bit, elbows pressing into the bed. He looked down at himself and focused on the feeling of the clean sheets under his hands and shoulder blades. He focused on the way it felt to have his leg where it was, though he couldn't exactly feel anything. Thank all the heavens for pain killers.
"I'm afraid not."
Silence swallowed the room as Kevin kept looking over himself, kept wondering how it would be without a leg. He had so much of his life left.
After a few moments, realizing the teen was grasping the reality of the situation, the doctor spoke: "The process will be fairly easy. I've done it multiple times. In your legs stead, there will be metal and somewhat grafted ligaments. There will be feeling on the skin, but no deeper. You will bleed if cut, bruise in most places. You'll have more strength because it won't give out easier, but you'll need to work it out just like your other leg. There will be no soreness but you'll have to do stretches to make sure you keep limber."
"You're giving me a cyborg leg?" For some reason, he hadn't realized he was eligible for that kind of surgery.
"Oh, yeah." Trubuhovich waved a hand, making a face. "Your mother insisted that there was no other choice."
"Ah." Which meant his mother was faster for this than he was.
"I can explain the whole procedure to you before, after, whatever works for you. We have to offer you choices that we have and there is even the option of Viewing."
"...V-viewing?" Kevin was unsure what that was supposed to be but he had a weird feeling in his lower stomach.
"Yes. It's where we have a screen up so you can watch what we do. For the removal of a lower limb, we will only numb your lower half. There will be a spinal anesthesia and we'll have real-time viewing. Hence the name." Kevin blinked, wondering if he could handle that but he isn't grossed out by the idea. He was sort of interested. Maybe it would help him move past the trauma of not having a leg?
"I... okay." He murmured, clearing his throat and then lifting his head up a bit to show that he was serious. "I'd like to watch." Trubuhovich looked a bit startled, much like the nurse in the back of the room, but he nodded that he understood. "And I'd like to know what you're doing beforehand."
"Perfect." The doctor smiled and nodded, pulling up a chair. For the next few hours, the doctor explained what they would be doing, and how, plus what they would be using. Sometime half an hour in, Kevin's mother came in and held one of his hands while they spoke. Kevin allowed the hand holding even though he didn't need it, because he knew she gained more from it than he did.
When the doctor left, Kevin asked if he could sleep and his mother left him alone. They would be doing the surgery later in the evening as there was need for prepping and Trubuhovich would take a nap so he was bright eyed for it.
The clock turned to eight at night and a nurse came into Kevin's room. He was rolled to his side carefully with a few other nurse's help and they slid the needle into his spine. He winced, hating the feeling, but it was over as fast as it started. He smiled as they took out the IV drip from his hand but kept the needle in just in case he would need blood or more drips later. He was pushed from his room to the OR and spent the whole ride smiling at the passing lights.
When in the OR, they set him up by moving him from one bed to another. He was then unwrapped around his leg but a large blue sheet was put up between him and his lower half. Immediately right after, a screen was put into his view and it clicked on. He smiled, half out of his mind on pain medication, but he could see his leg and it was nice.
While the bandages and straps were removed, blue was put in its stead. Kevin didn't get to see the grotesque mess his leg had become and, perhaps, that was best. He watched a view of red flesh high up on his thigh become visible and they started the preparations. Kevin was unable to feel anything while the doctor started to do what he had explained earlier. The skin showing from the hole in the blue around his leg was being poked by what Kevin could only assume was a thermometer. He had been told they'd try and take the temperature of his skin because they couldn't test what Kevin could feel because the pain of the leg was too intense. When a nice section was found, yellows spread over his leg but he couldn't remember what it was called. The realization that his mental speed was slow had him giggle a little and a nurse responded with her own.
The murmurs of the team working on him soothed Kevin's mind so he had an odd, detached look on his face. He watched, eyes half lidded and a bit lazy, when the cutting started. There had been reason to believe that he would get sick or change his mind about watching but he didn't respond all that much. Since he couldn't feel anything, it was almost as if it were happening to someone else.
Dr. Trubuhovich sliced cleanly through skin and muscle and closed them off in turn. Kevin remembers the names the doctor had spewed out: rectus femoris, adductor magnus, iliotibial tract. His mind wandered after listing those off only briefly before he felt a mild tug and those unfocused eyes zeroed in on the doctor working on a bloody part of muscle. There was no way for Kevin to know which muscle was which, or where any of the blood vessels Trubuhovich had spoken about, were on the screen at this time so all he saw was red. Then white appeared and he wanted to shift, wiggle, even squirm.
"Doctor, his heart rate just skyrocketed." The hands on the screen paused and a few faces came into view. Kevin looked to each of them, feeling a bit of panic rising in himself because he couldn't feel his leg and that tug he felt was weird and he didn't like it.
"Take the monitor down."
"No!" Kevin shook his head so hard he could hear the material under his head make a soft squeak. Hands going for the monitor to move it out of the way paused and looks were made towards someone the teen couldn't see. On the screen, blue-gloved hands continued to move.
With Kevin still aware enough to know he was fine, the talking went back to a gentle hum. The teen watched as the bone saw sliced through his bone and the sharp edges were filed down. The rest of his leg was removed and everything was double-checked for dead flesh. There was a few moments where extra parts were removed and then they had to remove some more bone but then there was nothing.
The lower part of his leg was moved out of the way, blood was starting to be cleaned up far more than during that part of the procedure, but they weren't done. For some reason, Kevin grew antsy at the thought of being able to get out of this room in the next few minutes, maybe, but that hope was killed when a metallic leg was pulled into view.
"His heart rate spiked again." The same voice came and Kevin knew if he didn't control himself, they'd remove the screen with or without his consent.
"I'm okay, it just looks weird," he managed, the words slurred and a bit strung together. He had to repeat a few a few different times but the room seemed to get the idea.
Watching, Kevin felt his fingers knead into the sheets at his sides though he hadn't realized there were any. Each sealed off nerve, artery, and muscle was reopened only to be attached to the corresponding part on the metal leg. There were dozens of curious wires and odd looking connections that the teen wanted to run his fingers over but he knew he would not even be able to sit up.
Smiling lopsided, he recognized the femoral artery only because of the placement and, maybe, there was a small mumble from the doctor to a nurse to hold it for a moment. There were murmurs about if the deep femoral, one that wrapped to the bone, was still viable and the murmurs turned into something the teen couldn't hear well enough. He assumed it was all fine given the fact that they kept moving forward. There was a small space between each connection from his flesh to thick wires that were all on the outside, which appeared odd to him.
"What is that?" he murmured, words still thick. His hand rose a bit to point but didn't get very far before flopping back down to the bed. A nurse watched him and then looked at the screen.
"Those are goat spider silk tendons. They use them mostly for whole tendon removals but you need them to make sure they reach far enough to the outer area where the feeling will be returned. Did Trubuhovich explain them?" The nurse beside him answered, her voice sweet and warm. Kevin nodded because he did remember that part of the conversation, it was just the tendons being put inside of him looked so normal. He'd expected something more alien but he supposed that would freak people out.
"You're going to feel a lot of pressure, but there shouldn't be any pain." Kevin was warned by the doctor, a comforting hand on his arm from the nurse beside him. The teen frowned, wondering what they were talking about, but watched the metal leg shift and the femur bone of his leg connect with the metal one.
Kevin felt more than heard the click and snap of something pushing into his bone. The amount of pressure was unbelievable and he arched a bit off the bed, inhaling hard. Not a single prick of pain, however, but the pressure started to slide away. He was aware of hands keeping him as still as possible, helping lead him back down to the flat surface he laid upon.
"There. It'll be sore for a while but you'll get used to the pressure. One day, you'll never feel it." Trubuhovich said from somewhere behind the blue curtain. Kevin made a soft humming noise in response as his eyes stayed glued to the screen. Nothing had changed save the fact that the metal now was latched to his bone. This view was slowly changed as the doctor continued to piece metal to goat spider silk milk to what remained of his leg.
This next part had been explained to him, like any other, but it had made less sense to him. There was no way, according to his own knowledge, that the skin that would cover his leg would have any feeling. Yet the screen showed a machine being rolled forward. The mechanical part of his leg was covered and even part of his still-remaining limb.
A nurse reached up and moved the Viewing screen, explaining there would be nothing else to watch and that Kevin would be more focused elsewhere to have the screen up. The teen frowned, wondering what this "elsewhere" could possibly be but was too sluggish to ask before she was out of sight. A hum started and then a surge of pain shot through him.
Kevin had not been told about this part, at least not in detail. He had been told they would apply skin that would have some bleeding ability and regular feeling but he hadn't been told that it would feel like he was being skinned alive. Arching off the bed, hands holding him down, Kevin screamed. A mask was put over his face and cool air filtered in, someone angrily snapping that he should have been put under, first.
Whatever the words were, the teen couldn't understand or recall them after the initial few. The world swirled, blurring, and he was once again put out. At the time he reawoke, there was nothing but a soreness in his lower half and down. The world around him was fuzzy, lights above looking free-floating. He rolled his head to the side and tried to see where he was.
The focus started to return and blobs solidified around him. He was back in his hotel room, his mother sitting on the a chair, passed out. His eyes rolled to the window and streetlight spilled around the curtains rather than sunlight which meant it was night. There was no way to tell how long he'd been out, at least not without consulting someone, so he tried to sit up.
The ache of his body centered around his thigh and he winced when sitting upright. Kevin wasn't in a sling or full wrap anymore but there was a light wrapping of gauze around the cut sight. The leg under it, where he knew was metal, looked perfectly normal. At the age of seven, he'd cut himself pretty bad close by the ankle on a bike pedal but this leg didn't have the scar he had gained that day.
Reaching down, his fingertips ghosted along the side of his knee and he gasped when he could feel the touch.
"Ahh, you're awake," a familiar voice said gently, mindful of the sleeping woman in the corner. Kevin raised his head to look at Dr. Trubuhovich, smiling when he saw the male come closer.
"I am. How long was I out?"
"A required sixteen hours under the gas and then you spent nearly seven just sleeping. So twenty three give or take some minutes." The doctor stopped right beside the bed, looking over the leg Kevin had revealed to himself. "I see you learned it can feel."
"The machine you saw placed over your leg is a rather new invention. It isn't available in the US—even most of the world—because the science is so new but it is very sound. I apologize for the pain you felt in the beginning, you were supposed to be put under when it started.
"But what the machine does is take your real skin and multiply it, pushing it and encouraging it to grow. It's a rapid process that follows the object put inside of it: your leg. I had the tendons linked to the outer sections that will help stimulate realism. So the skin all over your leg is technically real and it has a thin layer of blood vessels throughout it—because of the tendons." A hand goes down and points to toes that did not have nails. "It can't grow hard nails, however, but you will be able to have scars and such."
"Mhm. Are you confident enough to stand on your leg?"
"So soon?" Kevin started to pull the sheet off more, sure that he could manage standing. Sure, he'd just gotten out of major surgery but he had no pain. There was only the singular drip into his IV to dull any pain but he assumed that wouldn't hurt anything.
Kevin nodded and slowly worked himself to moving one leg over the bed and then the other. It sure felt weird, not having as much feeling as before, but he managed. With a nudge, he put his feet on the floor and the feeling under his foot made him throw up a brilliant, goofy smile to the doctor. Trubuhovich smiled back just as warmly and Kevin dropped his attention back down. Relying on his hold to the bed and one of the doctor's offered arms, Kevin pushed to stand up.
There was no sound of metal when the teen took a step, and then a second one. He had expected more but was glad there wasn't because it helped the mental healing. Kevin couldn't do more so the doctor helped him back on the bed and then looked over his leg, running some simple tests.
"You're healing just fine." Trubuhovich concluded after a short time poking around and peeking at the cut. "If you keep healing this way, you'll be out of here in under a week."
"I thought it was two weeks."
"Yes, they don't account for the healing process of a teenager and graphed skin." The smile on the doctor's face had Kevin snort and nod, raising a hand to cover a yawn. "I'll leave you to take a nap. A nurse will be in but I'll see you in a few days. Take it easy."
"Yes, sir." Kevin was asleep before Trubuhovich was out of the room.