#52weeks52stories: Week 31
Word prompt: saw
Word count – 2581
Reading time – 4 min, 10 sec
The paramedics burst through the bay doors rushing the gurney down the hall while firing off details to the ER team.
“Male, white, 59 years-of-age. He was using a rotary saw with a frayed cord in his garage. The saw overheated, the frayed wires arced and shocked him. His son said he tried to drop the saw as he was falling but he didn’t let go in time. His left arm is almost completely severed at the elbow. His eyes are open but he’s unresponsive. His wife, Carol, is on the way and,” he tilted his head toward a young man entering behind them, “that’s his son, Will, twenty-two. Watch out for the attitude.”
Shouts from ER staff filled the area as the wounded man was pushed into the trauma area and transferred to the treatment table.
“BP’s 70 over 40, thready pulse.”
“Breathing is rapid and shallow. Respiratory is on the way.”
“Sir? Sir? Can you hear me, sir? What is the patient’s name?”
“Mr. Henderson? Can you hear me? Do you know the date?”
“Get him typed.”
“Lab is on the way.”
“IV’s are placed.”
Trauma doctor Tim Koskins tried to assess the wound without removing too much of the pressure dressing. “Do we have a history?”
The paramedic held up his clipboard. “No hypertension, diabetes, asthma or known allergies. That’s all we got.”
“Thanks. Start a norepinephrine push and page Dr. Cole, stat.”
“What are you doing to my father?”
Without raising his head, Dr. Koskins spoke to the nurse at his side. “Would you mind? Please?”
RN Rayanne Downes stepped away from the table. “I’m on it.”
She approached the frowning young man.
“It’s Will, right? I’m Rayanne and we’re trying to assess and stabilize your dad to get him into surgery. They may be able to save his arm, but the clock is ticking. Let me show you where you can wait -”
“I’m not leaving my dad.”
“Will, sometimes it’s easier on family -”
I’m not leaving my dad.” He glanced over her shoulder. “What’s he doing?”
Rayanne turned around to see vascular surgeon Aric Cole had arrived and was examining Dan Henderson’s arm. She turned back to Will.
“Dr. Cole will lead the team who reattaches your father’s arm.”
“No. He’s not touching my dad. Tell him to step away.”
“Will, what is the prob -”
“No blacks, none. Or Mexicans or Muslims. And only Asians from Japan or China… none of those shit-hole countries.”
Rayanne Downes had dealt with hundreds of people who refused treatment for a variety of reasons during her twenty-four years in nursing. However, this arrogant young man was going on her short list of most outrageous.
She backed away, unable to mask the contempt in her eyes.
Rayanne walked over to the doctors and murmured something the rest of the staff couldn’t hear. However, they all knew it wasn’t good when both men stopped examining Dan Henderson to stare at his son.
Aric Cole and Tim Koskins exchanged smirks before Aric left the table and washed his hands in the corner basin.
Tim worked to control the rage building inside his head, knowing to lash out at the young man would only make the situation worse.
Instead, he gave instructions to Rayanne for Mr. Henderson, then approached the man’s son.
Will Henderson smirked as he puffed out his chest.
“I suppose you’re gonna give me a lecture on tolerance and loving my neighbor now, right?”
“No. I wanted you to know that other than the injury he sustained, your father appears healthy, which works in his favor.”
“So, what’s the problem?”
“The type of injury is the problem. He’s in danger of not only losing his arm but his life. His blood pressure is too low, his pulse and heartbeat too fast. He’s in shock and has lost a lot of blood and -”
“Yeah, he’s in bad shape. So, why aren’t you over there helping him?”
“Because the doctor you don’t want to treat your father is his best chance to come through this alive and with his arm intact.”
Will Henderson scoffed. “You doctors all stick together, good or bad. I don’t want some affirmative action scholarship darkie anywhere near my dad. So, you get him stable and into surgery – “
“I’m not a surgeon.”
“This is a hospital! I’m sure there are surgeons all over – “
Koskins’ patience ran out. He turned with clenched fists and walked away from the belligerent fool before he decked him.
Not trusting himself enough to get close to the kid again, the doctor looked over his shoulder.
Will pointed at a nurse next to his dad hanging units of blood from the IV pole.
“What’s she doing?”
“Your father has lost a lot of blood. Lauren is preparing a transfusion for him.”
“She needs to step away too, and where did that blood come from?”
Tim glanced over at Lauren, but the pretty young African-American RN was already walking away from the table.
“Lauren, wait. Please.”
She stopped near the door and exhaled roughly. She folded her arms across her chest and leaned against the wall, her angry glare focused on Will Henderson.
Dr. Koskins addressed Rayanne. “Is Mr. Henderson responsive yet.”
“No, doctor. He’s still foggy and confused.”
“How’s his BP?”
“Not much improvement, doctor.”
“Increase the norepinephrine.” He turned to Will. “Your father needs blood… now.”
“You still haven’t told me where it comes from.”
The doctor threw his arms out at his sides. “The hospital blood bank.”
“No, I mean are you sure you’re giving him blood from his own kind?”
“His own kind?”
“You know. White.”
The trauma staff froze and stared at Will Henderson, incredulous.
Tim Koskins shook with rage. Not looking at any particular staff member, he spoke through gritted teeth.
“Get someone from admin in here. Now.” He took a step toward the defiant man.
“Blood is stored by type, not ethnicity.”
Will threw up his own arms, amazed. “And that’s the problem. That’s why our people are getting so many strange illnesses. You mix our blood with theirs.
Tim was done. “We don’t work in ours and theirs here. Our job is to help everyone anyway we can. If you’re refusing the transfusion, you have to sign a form. But know you’re jeopardizing your father’s life.”
Before Will could respond, the doors behind him opened and the medical receptionist entered, an attractive but harried middle-age woman close at her heels.
“Doctor, the patient’s wife is here.”
Seeing her son first, Carol Henderson stopped and grabbed him.
“William, what’s going on? What happened?” She noticed Tim Koskins and rushed toward him. “Doctor? Are you working on my husband? How is he? What happened?”
Tim reached out and gripped her arm to steady her. “Yes, ma’am. I’m Dr. Koskins. We’re trying to stabilize Mr. Henderson and slow the bleeding.”
“I don’t have all the facts, Mrs. Henderson, but your husband has a partially severed arm.”
Carol drew back in horror, covering her mouth with her hands. She looked past the doctor to her husband lying on the treatment table.
The doctor gripped her arm again with a firmer hold. “Mrs. Henderson, time is very important right now. May I speak with you in private, please?”
He led her to a small consultation room. Will tried to follow.
“I need to speak with you alone, ma’am.”
Will tried to protest. “Hey, wait a minute. This is my family – “
“Now is not the time, William. For God’s sake, just wait.”
No one missed the glare the distressed woman threw at her son before entering the room.
Time stood still as the ER team continued to work on Dan Henderson while casting looks of worry at the closed consultation room door and looks of contempt at the chastened young man still smarting from his mother’s reprimand.
Four minutes later, the door opened. Tim Koskins took one of Carol’s hands into both of his.
“Thank you, Mrs. Henderson. Wait right here. There are forms for you to sign, and I’ll have a patient advocate come and sit with you.”
Overwhelmed and eyes brimming with tears, Carol Henderson nodded once.
Koskins turned to his team, issuing a flurry of orders.
“Page Dr. Cole back to Trauma. Alert surgery the patient will be there as soon as he’s stable.” He glanced over at Lauren still leaning against the wall.” The transfusion’s not going to start itself.”
He hadn’t finished his sentence before she was at Dan Henderson’s side looking for a vein in his uninjured arm.
Carol watched the team move around her husband, every movement with determined purpose.
She only caught glimpses of Dan’s face, but she didn’t miss the large blood-soaked bandage on his arm.
Or the small puddle of blood on the floor.
She watched a nurse lean over and say something to Dan, but he didn’t respond. The nurse tried again, and Carol saw Dan’s lips move but she didn’t hear anything.
Clutching her bag in one hand and her chest with the other, Carol stepped closer to the table.
Dan was speaking, but it was gibberish and made no sense.
The tears she’d held back fell as her heart broke for the man she’d spent more than half her fifty-two-years with.
Tim Koskins raised his head and saw the poor woman falling apart.
“Folks hang on just a second.”
He reached out his hand, motioning for Carol to come closer.
She stepped around Lauren securing the needle in place with a Tegaderm. Standing at her husband’s head, Carol was grateful to be near him.
The doctor encouraged her. “It’s okay. Go ahead. Talk to him.”
Gripping his shoulder, Carol leaned close to his right ear.
“Danny? I’m here, honey. You’re going to be okay, sweetie. These good people are giving you their best.”
Dan Henderson took a large gulp of air.
Tim Koskins motioned for her to continue.
“They’re taking you to surgery, sweetie and you’ll be back to your old self in no time, and then I want that four-star lunch you promised me.”
Soft chuckles from the staff stopped seconds after they began when Dan Henderson turned his head for the first time since arriving for treatment.
Carol leaned over farther so he could see her face. Her tears flowed faster seeing tears in his eyes.
“You’re going to be fine, baby. And you’re wearing a suit to lunch.” She kissed his cheek and the staff was in awe of the recognition and love in their patient’s eyes.
Rayanne swiped a tear from her face. “There are some things modern medicine will never be able to do.”
Carol squeezed Dan’s shoulder again. “I’ll be here when you get back.” She stepped away from her husband’s side just as Aric Cole rushed back into trauma.
“Surgery is prepping, ortho and anesthesia are ready. We’ll stop at radiology on the way for a couple of scans and x-rays. How is the star of the show?”
“BP and pulse are improving, doctor.”
“That’s what I like to hear.”
Koskins and Cole stood off to the side talking for several minutes. Tim tilted his head and Aric’s gaze followed to Carol Henderson. He smiled, then looked toward the unit doors. Will Henderson was still there, but his stature had diminished. His shoulders were slumped and his hands were shoved deep into pockets.
Aric approached Carol. “Mrs. Henderson, I’m Dr. Cole. I’ll be leading your husband’s surgical team.”
“Dr. Koskins told me you’re tops in the city and you started in Afghanistan. I know my Danny’s in good hands.”
Aric Cole looked over at Koskins then leaned closer to his patient’s wife. “I’m putting him in charge of my PR team.”
Carol smiled. “Dr. Cole, about earlier, about you treating my husband – “
“Ma’am, it’s forgotten. Your husband’s health and full-recovery is the focus and always will be. The procedure will be long, but we’ll keep you updated. I’ve called in a special patient advocate to stay with you. Daria Melrose. We worked together in the middle-east and she’ll take care of you and can answer some of your questions.”
“Y-You did that… and arranged all those things I heard you mention even after my son – “
He cut her off. “Mrs. Henderson, the procedure is the most important part, but it’s not the only part. We have to have everything in place to give your husband, or any patient, the best opportunity for a full recovery. And we have to take care of family because you’re the first level of support.”
“Thank you, doctor.”
“You’re welcome. We’ll talk again soon.”
He returned to the charts and monitors surrounding Dan Henderson. His vitals were improving.
A young nurse appeared with a clipboard and an electronic tablet for Carol’s signature in several places.
After signing, Carol glanced at her son. He still looked like a sullen child upset over not getting his way. Gone was the shy, introverted child who had trouble making friends. So desperate for acceptance, Will latched on to the first group which welcomed him—an alt-right group of hate-mongering racists who weren’t above using violence to deliver their warped messages. Carol was disgusted but she walked over to him.
“Mom, you don’t understand.”
“What, William? What don’t I understand? That you were taking advantage of a situation and exerting your authority over something you know your father wouldn’t want? Is that what I don’t understand?”
“You and dad won’t take the time to listen. If you did, you’d understand it’s past time we took a stand and stop letting these liberals walk all over us – “
“No, mom, Mr. Milner said – “
“Stop it, William.”
“But mom, Mr. Milner said -”
“Shut up! Mr. Milner said this, Mr. Milner said that… I’m sick of it. Your dad and I raised you and told you the right things, and this hateful jackass erased it all from your head in less than a year.”
“Mom, you’ve missed the big picture – “
Carol’s soul shattered. He was lost to her.
“William, the big picture is you had no right to overrule your father’s rights. He was unable to speak for himself and it was your duty as his son to act on his behalf, not your own twisted agenda.”
He tried to respond, but she continued.
“All that garbage propaganda you spout talking about rights miss one key point—your rights are no more important or come before anyone else’s. I-I… could have l-lost my husband today because of your selfishness. What has – “
“Mrs. Henderson, I’ll show you to the surgery lounge. Daria Melrose is there waiting for you.”
Carol smiled at the receptionist. “Thank you, I’ll be right there.”
“It’s going to take some time for me to find forgiveness in my heart for you, William, and I can’t be around you right now.”
She reached up, took his face in both her hands and pulled him close, kissing his forehead.
“I love you. But I miss the bright-eyed, compassionate kid I raised with the easy smile. You? I don’t know who you are, so easily swayed by words and believing in whatever you’re told. But if that is the case, please believe me when I tell you-you’re an idiot.”
Carol Henderson walked away, leaving her only child standing there in confused disbelief… and alone.