Prince Ali – Wonder Horse Book One, Second Edition
BY Victoria Hardesty and Nancy Perez
Writers of Action and Adventure with Arabian Horses
When Caroline arrived with Becky, the emergency waiting room was empty. As the news spread, more and more people came. The emergency waiting room was now filled. People were standing around in little clusters. More people were outside the doorway, talking quietly in small groups as they waited for news.
Finally, a door opened, and a tall, slender older gentleman in a white lab coat over scrubs stepped out, looking around the room. “Mr. and Mrs. Howard?” In blue lettering, D Spencer was embroidered above the left breast pocket of his lab coat, and he had a stethoscope draped around his neck. His graying hair was neatly trimmed, his blue eyes behind dark-framed glasses were soft and compassionate.
“We’re here,” said Walter as he stood and helped Caroline to her feet. They walked toward the doctor. He escorted them to an empty conference room near the emergency room waiting area.
“I’ve just been with your daughter, and you can go in and see her in a minute after we’ve had a chance to chat about her condition,” Dr. Spencer said quietly. “I thought a little privacy would help.”
Caroline’s eyes filled with tears again, and she began to shake as she and the doctor took a seat at the small conference table. Walter stood behind her with his hands on her shoulders. “How is she, doctor?”
“Becky took a tough blow to the top of her head, right about here,” he answered. He pointed to a spot about the midline of his skull and just a bit forward of center on the top. “It looks to us like she hit her head on some kind of building because we found stucco debris in the wound. We’ve done skull x-rays and a CAT scan. She has a fracture under the wound site but no displaced bone. In other words, the bone is cracked; all of the pieces are still intact.”
“She has bruised her brain in that area. There is some bleeding inside her skull, and her brain may be swelling some. We’ve given her medication to help with that for now, but we need to watch it for the next 48 hours closely. If her brain swells too much, there’s nowhere for it to go inside her skull. We may have to remove a piece of her skull to give it more room until the swelling goes back down.”
“If she bleeds inside her skull too much, it will put extra pressure on the brain. We’ll have to relieve that pressure by drilling a hole into her skull to allow the blood out. We are doing what we can right now to stop the bleeding.”
“She is breathing on her own, and her heart is strong. We couldn’t find any other injuries. But she is in a coma right now. There’s no way for us to know how long she’ll be in a coma. These brain injuries are difficult to predict. She could wake up five minutes from now, or it could be five weeks from now. All we can do at this point is give her body the best medical support we can and hope for the best. She’s young and strong, so she has that going for her.”
The doctor looked directly into Mom’s eyes, “And, many of my patients have told me prayer works when medicine doesn’t. I’ve been around long enough to believe that myself.”
Dr. Spencer took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose, looking tired. “Is there anything else you’d like to know before I show you to her room?”
“Is she going to be okay?” asked Caroline with great concern and anxiety.
“I wish I had a guarantee for you,” answered Dr. Spencer, “but there are no guarantees here, just a gut feel from an old man who thinks she’ll recover just fine. As I said, the next 48 hours are the most critical. She’s in a fight for life. We’ll do everything we can medically to support her. The rest is up to her and the Man Upstairs.”
“Thank you, doctor,” Walter said quietly. “Can we see her now?” He steadied Caroline as she got to her feet.
“Right this way” Dr. Spencer led them down a hallway into the ICU. “She’ll be here in ICU until we control the bleeding and swelling in her brain. The nurses here will tell you that you can see her for five minutes every hour, but give me a call if you have any trouble with them. I can arrange for a folding bed in the room so one of you can stay if you’d like. Please keep the other visitors to family only. I’d rather not get on the bad side of the nurses.”
Walter and Caroline followed Dr. Spencer into Becky’s room in the Intensive Care Unit. They were shocked at what they saw. Her head was swathed in bandages, and she had tubes running into her body from everywhere. Her eyes were closed. Bruises were forming underneath them. She was going to have a pair of “shiners” by tomorrow. She wasn’t on a respirator, but she did have a tube inserted in her nose and taped in place.
Machines beeped and chirped as they monitored her vital signs. One large screen above her bed kept pace with her heartbeat, blood pressure, blood oxygenation, and respiration. IVs dripped medication into each arm. Becky looked small, helpless, and so pale. Caroline broke down in quiet sobs again.
A nurse walked in and introduced herself. “Hi, I’m Joanne. I will be Becky’s nurse for the rest of the day. I get off at midnight, and another nurse, Susan, I think, will take over for me. If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.” Joanne checked the monitors, typed something in Becky’s chart, and left the room.
“I know this looks a little scary to you, so I’ll try to help you navigate some of the stuff we are doing for your daughter,” said Dr. Spencer. “We cleaned her wound and stitched it, but we did have to shave off quite a chunk of her hair. Sorry about that, but it will grow back.”
“We are feeding her a high protein supplement to keep her body healthy. That’s what the tube in her nose is doing. It goes directly into her stomach. We have an IV line in one arm with saline solution to keep the vein open for medication we have to inject. The other IV is for the medication I talked to you about for the swelling and bleeding in her brain. She is getting some steroids, antibiotics to prevent infection, and something to keep her sedated for a while.”
“If she stays in a coma for more than a week, we’ll have to put in something else. IV lines go into veins. We must reposition them every couple of days, or the veins collapse. The monitors here tell us that her heart is beating strongly, her blood oxygen level is excellent, her blood pressure is good, and her heart rate is fine.”
“Now I do have something else to talk to you two about. We have a firm belief that patients in a coma are aware of their surroundings. I have a feeling that Becky hears every word spoken in this room. She knows you are here. She may not respond to you, but I believe she knows what goes on in this room. My advice is that you talk to her, read to her, and sing to her. Let her know you are here and that you love her. I think knowing you are here to help her fight will make a difference.” Dr. Spencer said softly. “Do you have any questions before I get back to the ER?”
“Oh, and before I forget it,” he reached into his pocket and took out two business cards handing one to each of them, “here’s my card. You can reach me on that number 24/7. If I don’t personally answer, my service will, and they can track me down. If you need me, I’ll be here. I also want to assure you we have excellent doctors here that will assist me.”
Dr. Spencer left the room and closed the door. Walter and Caroline were left alone with their daughter. Caroline began to cry again, and Walter put his arms around her and held her tightly. Once she stopped crying, she took a chair next to the bed and held Becky’s hand. Walter stood across from her and held Becky’s other hand. They both talked to Becky and told her how much they loved her. Mostly they just held her hand and prayed.
Joanne poked her head into the room. “The Sheriff’s Detectives are here to speak with you,” she told them. “I got you a conference room near the ICU, so you have some privacy. It would probably be better if they conduct their interview with you in another room, not in here with Becky.”