Once Simon and Angelique finished visiting Jacob before his procedure, a receptionist informed them that the social worker was on his way to meet with them. While they were sitting in the lobby, and Simon took the time to check his phone, and Angelique watched the game show on the TV.
Almost half an hour later, they were approached by an older bald-headed man in his 50s. He was wearing a polo shirt with khaki shorts and had a sizable beer belly.
"Simon and Angelique?"
"Yes, that's us," Simon replied.
"Hello, I'm Mr. Hammond. I'm the social worker for the unit." He reached out to shake hands with the couple. "I was sent to talk to you two about some things to expect from Jacob during this first week after the procedure. If you two will follow me to my office, I have some paperwork we will need to go over."
They silently walked with Mr. Hammond down a few hallways until they made it to his office. It was on the same wing as the room they had visited Jacob in. While the room was spacious, he had a collection of trinkets taking up almost all of the space on the desk which was cluttered with dog-eared papers, some even coffee-stained as well.
"Please, have a seat." Mr. Hammond gestured to the coffeemaker on a table in the corner of the office. "May I offer you both some coffee? I was just getting ready to get a cup for myself."
Angelique responded, "Thank you, but we just had coffee and breakfast at the hotel."
"Alright." He poured himself a cup of coffee and sat in his desk chair facing the couple. "First, I'd like to offer congratulations on becoming regressed Jacob's caretakers. Just like parenting, it's a tough job, but it's certainly rewarding in its own right."
"Thank you. We are looking forward to it." Simon responded, and Angelique nodded.
"I'd like to talk about the options for care during the month that it will take the Restalsis to finish emotionally regressing young Jacob."
Simon tilted his head and furrowed his brows. "There are multiple options?"
"Certainly. Because many of our patients are resistant to this treatment, it puts quite a burden on their caretakers to constantly deal with the fighting and blatant defiance, not to mention thwarting their persistent escape attempts."
Mr. Hammond paused to take a sip of his coffee. "Many caretakers choose to simply medicate their toddler with tranquilizers for the month."
"So, he would basically be an unresponsive zombie for an entire month?" Angelique questioned.
"Yes, and that's one of the reasons why we don't really recommend that as the gold standard for care. Not to mention that it is significantly likely the child will continue to have a dependence on the drug after they have completed the passive stage."
"What are our other options, Mr. Hammond?" Simon asked.
"Well, we recommend setting firm rules and enforcing strict discipline. It's important to remember that Jacob will not be an average toddler. During the first week, he will have the awareness of his 22-year-old self."
Angelique leaned forward in her chair. "Wouldn't it be nearly impossible to discipline him then? If he's consciously choosing to disregard rules rather than just acting out due to frustration or overwhelming emotions?"
Mr. Hammond nodded his head and leaned back in his chair. "Yes, that is why we often advise caretakers to use more direct and immediate forms of chastisement for the first week."
Simon widened his eyes and shook his head. "Surely, you are not advocating for corporal punishment, Mr. Hammond."
"I know it's rather old-fashioned, but until he is at least slightly emotionally regressed, punishments like time-outs simply won't work on him." Mr. Hammond paused to take a sip of his coffee. "It's important to remember that initially, he will want nothing more than solitary confinement and that doesn't help him to regress seamlessly."
The room was silent for a minute while Mr. Hammond reached for some papers on his desk.
"Don't worry. After this first week, it's unlikely you will ever have to use corporal punishment again. Actually, I think this would be a good time to talk about some of the expectations that I'd like the two of you to keep an eye out for during this first week."
"Expectations?" Angelique asked.
Mr. Hammond nodded. "We do have certain 'markers' that we are looking for each week. For this first week, the hope is that Jacob will lose a significant portion of his resistance. This will mean that by the end of the week, there should be much less aggressive behavior and fewer escape attempts. We are also expecting to observe a decline in his ability to regulate his emotions."
Simon quietly clasped his hands together in his lap. "How drastically should we expect emotional changes to be in the first week?"
"For now, we should see him move from the level of a young adult and back into the level of a teenager. It's fair to expect much more intense and frequent mood swings from Jacob."
Angelique nodded. "We'll keep an eye out for that then."
"Excellent." Mr. Hammond reached across his desk to hand them some papers. "I've created a list of some items that you two may need to buy today while Jacob's procedure is in progress."
Simon skimmed through the paperwork until he made it to the last page. He looked up to make eye contact with Mr. Hammond. "This will certainly be very helpful. I guess we should get started on the shopping right away."
"Yes, I will let you two go to start on that. Do remember that above all, the goal should be to engage him in routine. He needs to get used to playing the part of a child again, and if he has to rely on his caretakers to get his basic needs met, he will be less resistant when it's at least predictable."
Right as Simon and Angelique were gathering their items to leave, Mr. Hammond sat forward in his chair. "Oh! I forgot to mention that it's required that I meet with you both and Jacob at least once a week to check in on the progression of the passive stage. For this next one, I would like to do a house visit. Are you two open to that?"
Simon and Angelique shared approving looks with each other before Simon responded for the two of them. "Of course. When would you like to schedule it for?"
"Today is Tuesday. So, let's say next week Tuesday around midday. Does that work?"
"Yes, that date and time works for us." Simon replied.
As the couple stood up to leave the office, Angelique smiled at the social worker. "Thank you so much for your information, Mr. Hammond."
"You are welcome. Good luck with this first week. You'll need it."
"Thank you, Mr. Hammond." Simon replied, holding the door open for his wife.
Simon and Angelique left the hospital and headed to the nearest shopping center, intending to purchase the items Mr. Hammond recommended and find a restaurant for lunch.
Later that evening, the couple returned to the hospital, and when they made it to the lobby, a nurse came out to escort them to the recovery ward.
Simon and Angelique stepped inside the room in the recovery ward, and they were astonished by what they saw. Lying on the bed and soundly asleep was a little boy who looked to be just under two years old. He had only a diaper on his little body, and there were wires all over his chest.
Walking closer to the bed, they were both able to verify that the child's facial features all matched Jacob's except they were all smaller and less defined. While his facial hair and body hair were almost all gone, the hair on his head seemed to have remained the same length as it was before. He had an Afro about five inches long, and baby fat all over his body.
Angelique sat on the edge of the bed, and affectionately rubbed the little boy's cold arm a few times before the nurse came back into the room and handed the two of them the discharge forms.
"I'll just need the two of you to go over these papers and sign your names at the back while I get all of these wires off of the patient."
Simon nodded, and the couple took a seat on the sofa in the room and went over the paperwork together, occasionally looking up to watch the nurse remove the equipment attachments from Jacob's tiny body.
They had finished the paperwork at the same time that the nurse pulled the IV port out of Jacob's arm. After she disposed of the needle and removed her gloves, she took the paperwork from the couple.
"Thank you. That should have been everything we needed from the two of you. You're all set to get him dressed and take him home."
"That's great. Thanks." Angelique said, while Simon rummaged through the shopping bag he brought with him.
As the nurse walked through the door, Simon pulled out the pair of pajamas that they brought along with them and handed them to his wife.
Angelique slowly put the long sleeve shirt and matching pair pajama pants on Jacob. When she finished, she held him in her arms for a bit until Simon reached out to pick up the little boy.
"I'll carry him to the car," he offered, lifting Jacob into his arms and resting the sleeping boy's head on his shoulder. The couple slowly walked through the hallways of the hospital and out into the parking lot.
When they got to the car, Angelique opened the door to the backseat for her husband, and he deposited Jacob into the car seat they had just bought. He adjusted the toddler's head so that it was in a comfortable position and buckled him in.
Angelique took the driver's side this time, and the trio began the three-hour drive to the lakeside vacation home.