By Melisa Read
Kel was standing in the back of the exam room. He looked at his father, Neal, with great concern. Because of rules and regulations a doctor is not allowed to perform care for a family member. He could help with making decisions. He could also suggest things but it would be up to his friend and colleague Joe Early what his father’s treatment would be. Dixie looked him once and gave him a reassuring smile. He smiled back but she noticed the worry in his eyes.
“Mr. Brackett I am going to order some tests that will help me determine what is going on.” Joe said. “Meanwhile, I am going to give you some medicine that will ease your breathing.” Neal, who was having a tough time breathing just nodded his understanding.
Within 5 minutes the medicine that Joe had Dixie administer, Neal’s breathing began to improve. He was finally able to lay back and finally relax. He glanced over at Kel. He noticed his sons worried expression. Apparently Joe caught it also, for he looked over at Dixie and crooked his head toward the door. Joe walked over touched Kel on the arm and walked out with Dixie following.
Neal asked Kel, “OK out with it, what do you think is wrong?” Kel cleared his throat and said “From what you told us in the hall and from Joe’s preliminary exam it appears there is a possibility of a clot.” Neal thought about what Kel was said. Kel and his father had always had a hard time showing their feelings for each other, but that had changed over the years. Kel took his dad’s hand and squeezed it. “Dad, lets not worry about it right now. Dixie is going to get you moved to a room once the tests are done. Joe will talk with me. As soon as I know anything I will come talk with you and explain it all. OK?”
Neal just smiled and patted his son’s hand. The medicine had made him relax and he was beginning to get sleepy.
An hour later Joe and Kel were going over the tests in Kel’s office. He just sat there numb all over. He felt so helpless. “We have to find out if the clot has moved don’t we?” he asked Joe in a tone that showed how scared he was. Joe put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. He knew Kel was scarred. “Kel would you like me to talk with your father? I will if you want me to. It might be a little easier.” Kel looked away from Joe. He realized that Joe knew how vulnerable he was feeling right then. Kel shook his head no. After a minute he said in a quivering voice “I told him I would talk with him and explain things. But how do I explain to my own father, my last living parent that if we don’t move quickly he may die.” From a voice in the back of the room he heard with conviction “Tell him the truth! That’s what he wants the only thing he wants from you.”
Kel and Joe both looked up and realized that Dixie had entered the room. Kel started to say something, but the look in her eyes melted his heart and he couldn’t say anything. Dixie walked over to him and hugged him. Kel realized that Dixie was right. He kissed her and walked out.
Joe looked at Dixie saying, “you are not only beautiful, but loving and smart.” “Thank you” she replied. “He is going to need your support in the next couple of days” Dixie gave Joe a kiss on the cheek and said, “He is going to need both of us.”
Kel stopped outside his father’s door. He had the chart with the results. He peaked inside and noticed that his father was reading a magazine. He took a deep breath, knocked and walked in. His father looked up and smiled when he realized who it was. “Kelly” he said with love. “I see you are settled in” Kel replied trying to avoid the subject. Neal looked at the chart and then looked at his son. Kel sighed and said, “We’ve got the results. It shows that you have a clot that’s located in your leg. That’s what is causing your pain. From what we can gather it looks like the clot is growing. It is possible that the clot is traveling to you heart and lungs and that’s why you were having trouble breathing this morning. We have one more test that we need to do to confirm this. If it confirms our suspicions then we have to do surgery. We have to repair that area so the clot would decrease and get blood flowing to your lower extremities, if we don’t get to the clot in time there is a possibility you could die.”
Neal took off his glasses and wiped his eyes. He really thought about what Kel was saying. He looked over at his son and with all seriousness said, “This surgery could be tricky for someone my age, couldn’t it?” Kel would not look at his farther directly. “Son. Kel, you are not going to start kidding me now are you?” He looked at his father and grinned wistfully saying, “No, it’s not the time. The odds against you would make a gambler from Vegas take cover.” Both of them laughed at the attempted humor. Kel looked at his father saying “Why don’t we wait and see what the second test will show. There is always a chance that we can treat this with medicine.” Neal agreed. But Neal knew that surgery was inevitable.
Two hours later Dixie and Kel were talking about something related to the hospital when his office phone rang. Kel answered. He listened very carefully. Not saying a word. Finally he said, “I’m going up to check on him, I’ll meet you there. Thanks” Kel hung up the phone and looked at it like it was poison. “Dixie, they have to do an immediate repair. They discovered the clot has moved further than they anticipated.” “I’ve got to go talk with him, they are going to prepare him for emergency surgery.” He looked away from Dixie and she noticed his shoulders started to shake. She reached over and took him in her arms and just held him while he cried. Within a few minutes he got himself together and walked out of the office.
When Kel got to his father’s room he noticed how woozy his father was. He realized they had given him a shot to get him ready for the surgery. Kel bent down and took his father’s hand. Neal opened his eye’s saying in a sleepy tone “Hey there” “Hey yourself how do you feel?” “Woozy, and getting woozier by the minute” “that’s from the shot they gave you a little bit ago. They are going to do surgery in just a bit.” “Yeah!” “Are you going to be there?” Neal asked hopefully. “No, but I will be close by. Dr. Jamison is the best in the field and he will do the surgery.” Neal replied in a drunken state “Well lets not keep the good doctor waiting.” Then he said something that scared Kel. “Always wonder if I am going to wake up from these things. Just never know, never know” Then he looked at Kel saying, “I love you”. Kel cleared his throat “I love you to Pop. I will be there when you wake up.” Neal just nodded. The orderlies took him away.
Kel stepped into the wash area. Tom Wilson and Bill Jamison both looked up at the same time. They watched him as started the routine of someone who was going to do surgery. Bill turned the water off, took the soap out of Kel’s hands. Kel looked up at Bill pleading. Bill said softly “Not this time. We have it. He’s in good hands.” Tom put his hand on his shoulder and said “you can be close to him by standing in the observation room. You will know the whole time what is going on, OK.” Kel nodded OK. He couldn’t find his voice.
Kel never felt so scarred in his whole life. He had been watching the surgery, listening to what was going on from the speaker. He knew someone had been standing by him for quite some time but just now realized that it was Joe. He was glad to have him here. They both listened and knew from the way Bill and Tom were talking that there was some difficulty. Joe put a reassuring hand on Kel’s shoulder. He could feel the tension.
Two and ½ hours later Kel watched as his father was being wheeled out of surgery to recovery. He knew that he would be there possibly for an hour, then moved to ICU. Bill came up too him told him things looked good. Kel exhaled the breath he was holding. Bill good-naturedly said, “Hey did you forget your father had the best” Kel grinned for the first time. “Give it about an hour and your dad should be in ICU. I’ll make sure that the nurse lets you know”
Joe talked Kel into getting coffee, but Kel just played with the cup. He finally excused himself and went up to ICU. Gloria the ICU head nurse saw him and smiled. “Your dad was just brought in. I was going to page you. His vitals look good. Recovery said he came to for a second but really didn’t know where he was.” Kel nodded his thanks. He knew from experience that someone who had been under anesthesia as long as father was that it would probably be another hour before he woke up completely. He sat down in the chair by his bed. Picked up his dad’s hand, felt the warmth and almost cried.
An hour later Neal was waking up. “Welcome back.” Neal looked over at his son saying sleepily “Hey.” Kel told him surgery went well. He squeezed his father’s hand. Neal nodded his understanding. Kel stood up, leaned over and kissed his father’s forehead saying, “I love you. You go back to sleep I will be here when you wake up.” Neal closed his eyes and within a minute Kel could hear the steady rhythm of his breathing. He just sat there and watched his father.
Three hours later Dixie walked into the ICU nurse’s area. Gloria pointed over to where Kel was sitting. “Dixie he is not in the way, but you and I know from experience that he will not be any good to his father if he doesn’t take care of himself. To be frank we are a little worried about him.” Dixie just smiled knowingly.
She walked over to him. She noticed he was dozing in the chair. His hand was resting on his dad’s hand. She got a chair and sat it next to his. She put her hand on his shoulder and gently nudged him. He sat straight up with a jolt. She noticed he was scared. “Hey, its OK. I just thought you might want some company.” He smiled and gave her a kiss. “Don’t you think you ought to get some rest, your not going to be any good to him if you don’t take care of yourself?” Kel shook his head. “Kel be reasonable.” Kel looked at her with tears in his eyes. His voice barely above a whisper “I can’t leave him. I promised I would be here when he woke up. Don’t you understand Dixie? I love him so much. Besides you he is the only family I have left.” “Kel, sweetheart. He will understand.” Kel just shook his head no. “Dixie last year when I had my car wreck I remember the endless nights he stayed up with me when I was in pain. Between the two of you I felt so loved. I can’t let him down. He helped me, I’ve got to help him now.” He was startled by a weak voice from the bed “Listen to her son, sounds very smart to me.” Kel was so startled he couldn’t speak. “Kelly get some rest. I love your determination but you don’t need to prove anything to me. I know you love me. Now scat. I have a lovely lady to talk to.” He winked at Dixie. Kel finally realized he had been overpowered. He leaned over the bed railing and kissed his father on the head. “I love you pop. I will be back later” He took Dixie’s hand squeezed it lovingly and kissed her on the cheek. “Watch out for him. He maybe flat on his back but he will surprise you.”
Kel walked out and watched through the glass door windows with love at Dixie. She fussed over his father and he could tell his dad loved every minute of it.
Within three days Neal was moved out of ICU into a room. One night Kel slipped into his father’s room. It had been a long day down in the ER. He sat on the bed across from his father and just watched him sleep. He couldn’t believe how close he came to losing him. Tears came from nowhere. Neal was very intuitive when it came to his son. Neal watched his son out of the corner of eye. He cleared his throat so as not to scare him. “Kelly I know your there son. Its OK to cry. I know how you feel. I felt the same way when Dixie called me after you were hurt in the wreck last year.” With that statement father and son forged a bond that would never quit. Kel sat down on the edge of the bed and gathered his father in a hug and just cried.
Two weeks after surgery Kel took his father to his home. His dad was to stay with him for a month. Kel had made arrangements that at the end of the month he was taking vacation time. He and his father were going to go fishing. Something they had not done together since Kel was a child. While Neal was a guest in his son’s home Kel made sure that he was out of the ER by the end of his eight-hour shift. He, Dixie and Neal would often eat out together. Kel realized how precious life is. So did Neal.
They went on the fishing trip. Kel enjoyed himself so much. Neal asked him one night “when are you and that beautiful lady going to make it legal.” Kel told his father “I have asked her, she has said yes. We plan to do it Christmas Eve. Joe is going to be my best man. Dixie and I want you to give her away at the wedding. Would you do that for us?” Neal of course said yes.
Four months later Neal walked Dixie down the aisle to good-looking young man. Neal sat down and listened to the minister during the ceremony. He thanked God for having a son that was good to him. Now he was gaining a daughter-in-law that was just as precious. He was so glad to be alive to see this day. Thank you again Lord.
Kel and Dixie were getting ready to leave on their honeymoon. It was all expense paid trip to the Bahamas courtesy of his father. He couldn’t understand why. His father said, “that life was to short. Your mother and I never really had a chance for something like this. Go out enjoy.” Kel gave his father a big hug and said into his with affection “I love you papa. Thank you for giving me life” Neal started to cry and said to his son “No son thank you for giving me a chance to live to see this day.”