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I’m not used to being put on hold. I don’t think it’s ever happened in my professional life ever. In fact, I’m usually the one having to put people on hold or quickly tell them I’ll have to call them back because another emergency has come in. When Paul tossed me on hold quick as a whip my first instinct was to hang up, but I wasn’t going to spend more of my day trying to get him back on the phone, re-verifying who he was, etc. I needed to get the man to commit to coming in and I had no idea how. Without him, however, I couldn’t very well help the other Easton who could very well die in my care. So I waited. On hold.
I’d been on hold for roughly two seconds when there was a rap on my door and it opened. Curdish poked his head in and looked at me with a question, could I talk? I nodded.
“Easton,” he said.
“Yes, I’m hold,” I said.
“No, doctor Voss. There are Easton’s coming in. Just got a call from the medic.”
“They can’t be the same,” I began.
“I’ll be right there,” I waved at him with the back of my hand. If these were the same Easton’s I really needed to talk to Paul. He’d be wanting to talk to me. What the hell was taking him so long? I couldn’t wait any longer. I hung up the phone. And then everything outside my office got loud, the sneakers squeaking on the floors as people turned sharply, the wheels on the gurneys, the not quite shouted information from the medics to my team and from my team to one another.
I took a moment to catch my breath and get my bearings. Then I stopped at the station to ask Curdish what exactly we had on our hands.
“Two boys under ten and their mother. Appears to have been a car accident, one fatality. Body at our morgue awaiting autopsy.”
“Thank you. Which rooms?”
“Ditmire wanted to keep them close, doctor, so they’re in across the station there.”
I nodded and turned to head into the first room across the hall. Walking in I saw both boys in the first room. I was a bit startled, but pleased. The boys would need to be together to keep their fear under control and to make life easier on their father when he arrived. After saying a few words of introduction and greeting, I told the boys I’d be back in a little while and went next door to check on the mother.
Ditmire followed me in, so after looking at her charts I asked the usual question about stability. When Ditmire mentioned the medic had called an emergency contact I knew instantly why I’d been put on hold. Shit shit shit. That poor man. I dropped the charts on the bed and took off for my office. I needed to find Easton’s number right away.
“Doc? I have Easton on two?” I heard Curdish call.
“Got it!” I called back as I turned through my door towards my desk and swiped up the phone. “Mr. Easton?”
“Talk to me, Voss! No one will tell me a damn thing. How’s my wife? How are my kids? What the hell is going on?” I could hear a horn honking and assumed he was driving.
“I’m so glad you called back. I was just getting ready to call you. Your boys appear to be fine. We’ll most likely check for concussion, but nothing broken, no bleeding. Amazing considering I’m told it was a fatality accident…”
“Fatality? My wife?” Paul interrupted.
“No, sir, no I’m sorry I didn’t mean,” I took a deep breath, “I wasn’t there but I’ve been told the driver of the other car didn’t survive. Your wife is here, too, and she’s a bit trickier. I’ve not had a chance to finish reviewing everything but it appears she is stable now but that it’s difficult keeping her so.”
“I should be there in a couple minutes,” Paul said.
“Excellent,” I began to say before realizing he’d hung up.
Paul Easton would be arriving shortly. That was both excellent and terrible. I needed the man to give me permission to take his father off the drugs. I needed the man to sit with his wife and talk to her, keep her here, as they say. I needed the man to hug his children and reassure them that everything would be okay. And in the meantime, I needed to verify that he could say that. I needed to be sure it would be okay.
Heading back into the mother’s room and reexamining the charts I searched for a reason that this perfectly healthy woman wasn’t remaining stable. Everything about her vitals cried healthy, so why wouldn’t she stay with us, why wouldn’t she wake up? I went round to the boys’ room. Better start checking for concussion and perhaps I could make them laugh loud enough that their mother would hear.
But the boys were asleep. Sound asleep. A part of me wanted to wake them, if there was risk of concussion they should really be made to stay awake for as long as possible or until concussion had been ruled out. But I couldn’t wake them. I didn’t have it in me. They’d been through so much and there was hell to go. Why not let them enjoy their slumber a bit longer.
It was so quiet in their room. The boys didn’t snore and weren’t hooked up to anything but saline drips to keep them hydrated. There was no beeping, just the occasional whir of the saline machine. It was so peaceful. I wondered how often their mom and dad had stood looking in on them like this at home. Two wild boys finally quiet and calm and relaxed after another day of chaos.
My favorite part of each day is standing in Janey’s doorway when she’s sleeping. Listening to her breathe, sometimes sneaking in to pull covers up or replace a stuffed animal that’s fallen to the ground. No matter what happened during the day her breath in sleep is the same, soothing.
I enjoyed the silence while I could. Paul would be here any minute.
~~~This is one hour~~~