“Doctor Benson, please report to emergency.”
His pager buzzed a few seconds after the intercom announcement. Doctor Trevor Benson the head paediatrician had a particular interest in anorexia nervosa. The emergency department sometimes requested his expertise with outpatients showing symptoms of the disorder. He glanced at his watch with a desire to go home to his family.
The announcement came again. “What is this?” Impatiently he signed the last of the patient medical charts.
The paediatrics nurse smiled. “I’ll finish up here doctor.”
The elevator opened revealing a wards-man, an empty gurney and two nurses. Feeling his pager vibrate repeatedly Doctor Benson mumbled under his breath and opted to utilize the stairs.
Twenty one years today. He remembered it as though it was yesterday and anxious to see his bride Jillian. Their daughter Susan added to their celebrations by turning sweet sixteen. Precious memories filled his thoughts as he descended the stairs.
He opened the door to the ground floor and hurried down the corridor. “I wonder if it’s the Collins' girl. She wasn’t coping last week. This eating disorder is becoming an epidemic.” The emergency supervisor hurried to meet him.
“Doctor Benson, this way, she’s in examination room two.”
“What’s the emergency Margaret?”
“She’ll need surgery. The bullet grazed her spleen.”
“What in the world is going on around here? Where’s the on-duty doctor?”
Margaret stopped suddenly almost causing the doctor to collide with her.
“I’m sorry Trevor…. It’s Susan.”
He ran down the corridor and burst opened the door of the emergency room.
“What happening and where’s my wife?”
Margaret reach out and touched his arm.
“They were caught in a drive-by shooting. Fortunately, the bullet dislodged itself. It’s the spleen that we are concerned about. We need your permission to operate.”
“Where’s Jillian, is she out side?” He turned to look for his wife.
Margaret became tearful and drew him aside. She had known Trevor and Jillian before Susan was born. Margaret actually assisted in Susan’s delivery while attending their fifth wedding anniversary celebrations.
“I’m sorry, she didn’t make it.” Her voice trembled. “Apparently, Jillian pushed Susan to the ground and lay across her taking the full impact of a stray bullet. It penetrated her heart, through her back and into Susan. I’m sorry Trevor.”
His legs weakened and Margaret guided him to a chair. He stared at the medical team frantically trying to stop the bleeding and hook up intravenous tubes. It was a dream; it had to be.
Trevor paced the corridor outside the theatre. Head Surgeon, Dr Michael Drysdale would not allow him to enter because of his emotional state. He had been to see the love of his life and wept uncontrollably until Margaret ordered him to take a break and led him to the doctor’s lounge.
Like any demanding doctor’s schedule his family often went on outings without him including church. “I should let the Pastor know,” but he couldn’t bring himself to make the call. Not yet, not until he knew more about Susan. “What’s keeping them, Lord?” He prayed silently. He wandered distractedly into the waiting room. Sitting in an uncomfortable lounge-chair he hung his head, waiting and praying.
Hours later Dr Drysdale appeared in the doorway. Trevor looked up to see his colleague’s tired, serious expression as he entered the room and collapsed into a chair opposite.
“She’s going to be alright. We had to remove her spleen to stop the bleeding but she’s going to make it. It’s you I’m worried about. Have you called anyone, Jillian’s family?”
His throat tightened. “It’s going to be tough on Susan. I’ll wait until I can tell her in my own way before I telephone Jillian’s mother. She’ll want to see Susan. I’ll call our pastor as well. I think we’ll all need him.”
Early the next morning the sun shone into the little room which smelled of disinfecting chloride. Still dressed in his surgical robe and hair tousled he sat stiffly in a straight backed chair, his head slumped on his chest. He looked up to see Susan watching him. They smiled bleakly at each other. Trevor had broken the news to his daughter about 3am before telephoning his mother-in-law and their pastor.
“Hello yourself, how are you feeling this morning?”
Tears trickled down her face. “Sad.”
He took her hand and sat quietly until she slept. His pager vibrated and heard the announcement.
“Doctor Benson, please report to emergency.”
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