Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: CHILL (10/29/15)
TITLE: One Chance
By Holly Westefeld
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"Cool, Grammy. Can we watch Frozen?"
Dorothy smiled. "It's already in the DVD player, baby girl. Let me get the popcorn." She placed a bag in the microwave and pressed the "popcorn" button.
With Letisha nestled next to her beneath a cozy fleece throw, Dorothy pressed "play" on the remote, and set the volume just loud enough to block out the racket of the city.
Dorothy had just stepped in to the kitchen to get a glass of milk for Letisha, when she heard a horridly familiar popping, followed instantly by glass shattering. She dove back in to the living room, spotted Letisha's wide, glassy eyes and crimson spreading across her tiny body, and grabbed the phone to call 911. "Drive-by! My grandbaby's hurt bad!"
The speed of the paramedics' arrival made up for all the siren noise Dorothy had ever complained about from living so close to the trauma center. Grabbing her guardianship papers, she scrambled in to the back of the ambulance.
"You're the grandmother?"
"Yes, but I have guardianship. Her mama's gone."
"They'll need to get her right in to surgery, so you'll need to sign for it right away."
While Dorothy was signing forms, a doctor interrupted with another page in his hand. "Mrs. Harris, we have only one chance to save your granddaughter, but it is experimental, and I don't have time to explain. Will you trust us?"
"I am trustin' the good Lord. Give me that paper." She scrawled her name quickly, and the doctor sped away.
"I'm ready for the cannula." Dr. Brahms deftly inserted it in to the aorta. "Start the saline."
As the chilled saline replaced the blood in Letisha's circulatory system, the surgical team watched the thermometer with one eye, and the clock with the other.
"Mrs. Harris, my name is Fran. I am a trauma nurse, and can give you a brief explanation of the experimental procedure. The doctors are cooling Letisha's body rapidly to suspend her functions to give them time to do surgery. She still may not survive, but no traditional surgery had a chance."
"Okay. Let me call my pastor, and get our church prayin'."
When the thermometer reached fifty, and all signs of life had ceased, instruments flew as the team probed the extent of the bullet's havoc, closing each perforated organ, and finally the muscles and skin.
Dr. Brahms glanced at the clock. "Just within the hour window. Start the heart-lung bypass, and replace the blood."
Collective breath held, they watched the thermometer and monitor for vital signs. Seventy-five ... eighty ... eighty-five ... "There's a heartbeat!" Ninety ... ninety-five ... ninety-eight ... "She's stable."
Dr. Brahms scrubbed, and headed for the waiting room. He paused by a trio with clasped hands and bowed heads, placing a gentle hand on Dorothy's shoulder. "Letisha has made it through the surgery, and is back to normal body temperature. It could be hours or days, though, before she awakens. She is being moved to ICU."
"This is Pastor Rollins and his wife Tina. Can we go see her now?"
"Yes, but only two at a time. Follow me."
Dorothy and Tina each took one of Letisha's small hands. "It's gonna be okay, baby girl, Grammy is here, and we've been prayin."
As their vigil drew toward morning, Dorothy's eyes drooped. "Sister Dorothy, let me watch while you rest," urged Pastor Rollins, who had traded posts with his wife. "I'll let you know if there's so much as a wiggle."
Dorothy stretched out in the recliner, but it wasn't long before the pastor shook her awake. Her eyes are fluttering!"
Dorothy sprang to her feet. "Hey, baby girl, Grammy's here."
"Grammy, did I fall asleep?"
"Kind of, sweetie."
"I had a funny dream. I was so chilled, like I was Olaf."
Author's note: This procedure is still in experimental phases.
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