By Carl Start
Dix, Joe, and Kel sat in Kel’s office looking through each others old photos albums. Dix giggled as she compared childhood photos of Joe and Kel. “You two were, shall we say cute,” she giggled. Kel snatched picture and said, “I was handsome, not cute.” Joe picked up his picture from Dix and commented, “I don’t know about cute, but as a boy I always wanted to be like my Uncle Bob, he is handsome and talented. He is the one who turned me on to music and the piano.” Both Kel and Dix nodded, Dix said, “I remember you introduced him to us a couple of years ago at the fireman’s picnic.” Kel laughed, “Yeah, I don’t know who had more fun, you, Uncle Bob, the firemen, or us that day.” Joe then picked up a picture from Dix’s book and said, here is a “real cutie.” Kel looked, as Dix hid her head and blushed. Kel said, “My, my Dix what is that you were wearing, a tutu?” Before she could answer the PA called, Dr. Brackett to the base station. Kel smiled at Dix and said, “I’ll be back for an answer” and left. Joe and Dix kept looking at pictures, having the occasional laugh.
Kel got to the base station and Sharon gave him the patient vitals that Sqd. 51 had called in. Kel looked at the vitals and asked, “51 is the patient in any visible pain?” Roy answered, “affirmative Rampart.” Kel said “start D5W with 5MG M.S. and transport as soon as possible, and 51 what is the patient’s name?” Roy answered after a pause, “Robert Early.” Kel’s mouth about hit the floor, Kel said “repeat 51.” Roy sternly repeated, “Robert Early, Dr. Early’s uncle.” Kel looked at Sharon and keyed the base station, “get him in here 51.” Roy said “10-4.”
Roy and John were having a slow Saturday for a change, then they got this call. As a rule, paramedics don’t get emotionally involved with a case. However they had met Dr. Early’s uncle at the fireman’s picnic a couple years ago and with in a half an hour, he had stole the show. Uncle Bob, as he insisted on everyone call him, told jokes, played banjo and guitar and told stories. Now here they were sticking him with an IV and he did not look good. He was pale and shocky, his traveling companion said he had thrown up blood a couple of hours earlier and had been complaining about nausea and weakness. As they loaded him into the ambulance, Roy climbed in with him. John told the ambulance driver not to spare the siren. John also let the siren wail to the max on the squad also.
Kel, having snapped to at Sharon’s concerned voice. He told her to get a treatment room ready and be ready to make a lab run. Sharon said “Treatment 1 is ready.” Kel said “good” and went to get Joe and Dix. Kel walked into his office and both Joe and Dix could tell Kel had bad news. Kel told them both about Uncle Bob and he would be back when he knew more. Dix asked which nurse was assisting Kel and was told Sharon. Dix said “good.” Dix would stay with Joe as long as she was needed. Kel told Joe he would get Dr. Morton to take over for him until things settled down. Joe said thank you to his friends and then picked up a couple old pictures and began to remember back to something Uncle Bob had said:
Uncle Bob sat next to young Joe Early and asked,” what is bothering the 10 year old today?” Joe shrugged, “just feeling down that’s all sir.” Uncle Bob patted his back and said “you know I miss your grandfather also, he was my and your dad’s father. You know what helps, looking at old photographs, try it.”
Joe wiped some tears from his face and went back to the album……………….
The ambulance backed to the e/r doors to a waiting Kel and Sharon. The attendants unloaded Bob and he was rushed to treatment 1. Sharon already had the empty vials for the blood samples and other specimen containers as need be. As expected, Kel drew blood, and sent Sharon on the lab run to check for everything under the sun and twice on some things, stat. Sharon walked quickly out and passed by Dix going into the room. Dix walked in and smiled at the semi-conscious Bob and said to Kel, “any notions?” He gave her a grave look as to say he knew but wanted proof before saying anything. Kel gave Bob another dose of MS to keep the pain in check and told Roy and John thanks and he would call when he knew something, He then turned to Dix and said, “all we can do is wait and hope I am wrong.” About 30 minutes later the room phone rang, Kel answered and after a couple minutes hung up the phone gently. Kel plopped against the wall, and Dix’s head dropped. She said, “you were right about what?” Sharon walked in and handed the written results to Kel and was given instructions to move Bob to ICU, stat, and to have a 24-hour nurse with him. Sharon did as she was told. Kel then took Dix by the hand and said, “time to tell Joe.”
Joe had finished going through his photo album for what seemed like the 100th time, when Kel and Dix walked in. Joe could tell from the look on Kel’s face that it was not good news. Kel took a deep breath and said, “there is only one way to say this Joe, LEUKEMIA, advanced.” Joe felt his face go white as Dix squeezed his hand. Kel continued, “He is in ICU with a 24-hour nurse. You can probably see him for short periods at a time.” Joe asked quietly, “how long?” Kel shook his head in his hands, “24, 36 hours, maybe.” Joe said, through the tears, “I bugged him to get looked at now and then even if he traveled a lot, performing to whomever, wherever.” Joe could not hold it any longer; he laid his head on Dix’s shoulder and cried………………………………
After about half an hour, Joe collected himself, washed his face in Kel's private washroom and went upstairs to see his uncle. When he reached the private ICU room door, Joe slowly pushed the door open and saw the ICU nurse on duty, Lynn Rose, at a small desk with Uncle Bob’s chart. Behind her was a small drug tray, set up to provide medication as necessary to keep Uncle Bob comfortable. Joe smiled a false smile at Lynn as to put a brave face on. Lynn said, you can have fifteen minutes every thirty minutes. Joe knew this was to allow his uncle to get as much rest and to be under as little strain as possible. Joe looked at the drug tray as he walked by it, he recognized the drugs on the tray. Morphine and Dilaudid, for pain. Reglan, for nausea and Halcion for sleep. Joe figured the Halcion would not be needed since Uncle Bob was so pumped with pain medication, he was expected to be groggy at best. Joe pulled up a chair next to his uncle’s bed and held his hand. Uncle Bob woke up and half-smiled at Joe. “My little Joe, why the long face?” Joe shrugged, “just a little down Uncle Bob.” Bob managed a quiet laugh. “I know Joe, the good Dr. Brackett told me everything. Good man that doctor.” Joe said,” well he should be he is a friend of mine.” Bob said, “have you been looking at photo’s like I told you years ago?” Joe said “yes, and I want to thank you.” Bob said “for what?” Joe shrugged, “for everything through the years.” Bob smiled, and then winced, “that’s ok Joe.” Lynn came over and tapped Joe on the shoulder, “your fifteen minutes are up for now.” Joe’s head dropped, “ok” he said. Joe looked at his uncle as Bob said, “don’t worry, I sure as heck ain’t going anywhere.” Joe smiled and backed out of the room.
This routine went on for the next 30 hours until 10:30 pm the next day, Uncle Bob was holding Joe’s hand and finally went to the big road show in the sky. Joe covered his uncle’s head with the sheet as the Lynn, back on duty, turned off the monitors and notified Dr. Brackett. She then put her hand on Joe’s shoulder and said, “if you need anything.” Joe stopped her in mid-sentence and said, “thanks.”
A week later after Joe had scattered Uncle Bob’s ashes over Catalina Island, he was in the lounge at the emergency room looking through his old photos of Uncle Bob and his younger self, when a female hand placed a cup of coffee next to him. Joe looked up and saw Lynn Rose. Lynn smiled and said, “I thought you could use a friend.” Joe smiled, a real smile, and said “Thank you…”
Written by Carl Start