“So.” Her voice was stern, but her eyes sparkled with kindness. “Here we are again.”
“Here we are again.” He echoed, nodding to the dull thumps of her tapping foot. He tried to study her, but as soon as he focused on a single feature, the others blurred into a flesh colored haze. Giving up, his eyes wandered to his surroundings. It struck him that he did not know where “here” was, nor did he have any recollection of being “here” before, but he decided against voicing his concerns, expecting that she will soon explain what was happening.
“You really need to take your medication on time.” She chided.
Medication. He patted his pockets nervously, searching for the rectangular object that he had learned to hate, but couldn’t live without. He found it in his jacket pocket. He cracked it open and tilted his head back, greedily gulping down its contents.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, returning the capsule to its spot. When he opened his eyes, the world was sharper and he could see her face clearly. It seemed to him that he was in an examination room, talking to a doctor.
“There is no need to be so nervous. Loosen up.” The doctor jotted something down on her clipboard. “You have to release some of that tension before you pop, Ethan.” She stared at him reproachfully.
Was he really Ethan? She was talking to him, so he must be, right?
He nodded again. Noticing that his left leg was shaking, he shifted his weight onto it to quell it.
“Will I be alright, doctor?” His question came out as a hoarse whisper, in a voice he did not recognize.
The doctor looked at him curiously, pausing in her note taking.
“What makes you think that there is something wrong with you?”
She saw the confusion in his face and smiled.
“You’re just here for your checkup, remember?”
A check-up. That must mean something had been wrong with him. He could feel his stomach churning as panic slowly crept up his back. Both of his legs were shaking now, and it took a considerable amount of effort to still them.
“I don’t-” He coughed violently as the words caught in his throat. He wobbled as the coughing wracked his ribcage, and he struggled to regain his breath.
“Please, Ethan, take a seat. Would you like some water?” With a concerned look, the doctor guided him towards the chair he had been sitting in. He did not recall standing up or leaving the chair, and the discrepancy bothered him. Perhaps he was a bit more ill than he thought. His throat tightened and his mouth dried as he sat back down.
“Thank you.” He tried to steady his irregular breathing. He took his meds, didn’t he? Everything should be fine. He’ll be fine. There’s no reason not to be, right?
The doctor handed him a plastic cup. He downed its content, the coolness soothing his parched throat. He had not noticed his thirst until it was quenched. He leaned back and closed his eyes, focusing and willing himself to regain his composure. His ragged gasps gradually eased, but something else felt off. Chills jolted through his body as he realized he could not feel his pulse.
He hastily grasped at his chest, but there was nothing where his heart was supposed to be beating. The chills brought on shivering and his blood ran cold. He felt his head spinning. Or perhaps it was the room. The doctor looked concerned.
“Ethan. You need to breathe. Slowly.”
At her words, he realized that his lungs were screaming for air. To lost control of his autonomous body functions, was he going insane? He took a deep breath. No, he wasn’t. He should be used to this by now. After all, this wasn’t the first time, was it?
His heartbeats thundered in his ears as he shook off the dizziness. His head was throbbing now, and his body still does not feel like his own. But the pills finally seem to be working, and in spite of his turmoil, he smiled.
“Thank you, doctor.”
The doctor smiled at him as she jotted a few more notes down. “I’m glad you seem to be improving. Your next appointment is two weeks from now.”
She set her notepad aside and guided him to the door.
“You’re almost done with the recovery process. You’ll feel normal in no time.”
He turned to nod at her before leaving. “I know.”