I couldn’t just leave it like that for a day, I’m not that cruel.
Hope you enjoy this,
Three hours and fifteen minutes, and two phone calls later, Dr. Jennings came through the doors to the OR suite still dressed in green hospital scrubs. They all stood as he came into the waiting room.
“He’s going to be fine physically, his temperature is normalizing, and his vitals are all solid, and I don’t think he will have any more seizures.” he told them.
“Will he have deficits?” Rick quickly asked.
“I don’t know the answer to that. It will take some time to see what, if any difficulties he has in function. This procedure was a very delicate one due to the location of the cyst. I was, however able to remove the capsule as well as the fluid, but any time you go poking around in the human brain, there can be complications. He’ll be seen in the PICU by Dr. Richardson. He’s a very capable Neurologist, and he will be better able to tell you what to expect. I need to get back to recovery to see to Billy. Someone will come take you to the PICU waiting room.” he told them.
“Thank you Doctor.” Sharon said through relieved tears as she started to move toward him. Rachael grabbed her arm, holding her back.
He backed away a step and said “Your welcome.” then turned and walked back through the OR doors.
Rick looked angry and asked Rachael “What was that all about?” referring to his abrupt response to Sharon wanting to thank him.
“He’s an ass,” she said. “he doesn’t like to interact at all on an emotional level. Fortunately for Billy, he’s a very talented ass. If he wasn’t someone would have put him in his place a long time ago.” she explained.
Relief filled the room as what he told them sunk in. “What is this PICU?” Sharon asked Rachael.
“Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.” she answered. “Most pediatric surgical patients go there when they leave the OR. They have a lower patient to nurse ratio so the nurses can keep a much closer eye on the patients there.” she explained.
“How long will he be there?” asked Rick.
“That I don’t know. It depends on how he does.” Rachael answered as a nurse came into the waiting room.
“Mr. and Mrs. Avery?” she asked.
“Yes?” Rick and Sharon answered at the same time.
“I’ll take you up to the PICU waiting room.” she told them pleasantly.
“Thank you.” Rick told her as they all moved toward the hallway.
They were only in the PICU waiting room for ten minutes when a younger looking man in a lab coat with a stethoscope hanging around his neck walked toward them. With a smile, he asked “Mr. and Mrs. Avery?”.
Rick and Sharon stood up with Rick offering his hand saying “It’s Rick” as he shook the hand.
Sharon immediately added “And Sharon.”.
“I’m Dr. Richardson. I’ll be looking after Billy. Can we go sit down and talk about all that’s happened?” he asked.
“Sure.” Sharon told him.
Dr. Richardson opened and held the door to a small conference room as Sharon and Rick entered. Rachael and Frank introduced themselves as they went through.
Once they all were seated, Dr. Richardson began. “I need to know more about what’s happened with Billy over the last few days. I understand from his chart he was dressed as a toddler when he came in, to include a pacifier. Does he have developmental delays?” he asked.
“That’s is a bit of a long story.” Sharon told him.
“That’s fine.” he said with a smile. “I’ll make the time. I need to understand so I know not only how to treat him, but also what he should and shouldn’t be capable of.”.
Rick went into the same explanation of the events of the last three days that he had given to Dr. Brandon, but this time, covered the discussion with Cathy and ,with the prompting of Dr. Richardson, included more detail as to Billy’s behavior and reactions to the treatment as a toddler. “…and then we came here.” he finished.
“I see.” Dr. Richardson said with a speculative expression, making notes on a pad of paper.
“Is there a problem?” Sharon asked.
“No, not at all. In fact this is great information you’ve given me. I was just making a note to make sure to enter in the chart that the staff should expect to see behavior at the two year old level, to include the use of a bottle and pacifier.” he responded with a reassuring smile. “It will be easier for him. Fact is, what you’ve described shows not only a desire to be treated like a two year old, but his fear of being away from you” he told Sharon “indicates there is more than just a simple desire to regress. It tells me that there were times he essentially became a two year old, emotionally, if not intellectually. This indicates there’s a clinical issue, probably caused by the Cyst considering where it was located. We’ll be doing some tests to see where he’s at now, and if anything isn’t what it should be, we’ll try to find a way to help him get there.” he explained.
Looking directly at Sharon, he said “There’s a good chance when he wakes up, that he won’t want you to go anywhere. I suggest one of you go get his comfort items, like his pacifier, blanket and his bear, he’s probably going to be scared silly when he wakes up, and some clothes for Sharon to change into.” he finished. “You might want to grab a favorite toy or two as well.” he added.
The relief she felt brought tears to her eyes. Sharon loved this man at that moment, for several reasons. First, he just confirmed what her mother had told her, that she had made the right choice. Second, he wasn’t like Dr. Jennings! He was genuinely concerned with Billy and was making it easier for him. And third, He cared. He cared enough to listen and try to make this make sense to them. She couldn’t help it, she reached out as the tears made their way down, took his hand in hers and with a thick voice said “Thank you.” unable to say any more.
Reaching out and covering her hand with his other, he said “That’s alright Sharon, considering the stress you two have been under today, I understand.” with a kind expression. “Let me go back and let the folks there know what to expect. I will have them come get you when we’re ready to wake him up. I don’t want to do that without you there.” he told her, getting up and giving her a gentle pat on the shoulder.
Rick stood up and offered his hand through tear filled eyes as he said “Thank you Doctor, thank you so much.” with a grateful smile.
“No problem, that’s why I’m here. I’ll see you shortly.” he said as he shook Rick’s hand, turned, opened the door and walked out of the room.
As the door closed, Rick, sitting down said “For a minute downstairs, I thought we entered the Twilight Zone where no one cared in this hospital. Thank God for him!” he exclaimed with a smile.
All Sharon could do is smile as Rick put his arm around her and kissed her wet cheek.
“I’ll go to the house and pickup what you and Billy need.” Frank told Sharon as he stood.
Rachael stood and added " And I’ll call Mom now and ask her to get it together and bring the stuff out to you when you get there. It’ll be faster." as she pulled her phone from her purse, and they left the room together.
Twenty minutes later, Frank and Rachael returned gym bag in hand.
Sharon saw Pooh Bear’s head sticking out of the bag. She reached over and pulled it out, and held it, staring at this symbol of what Billy had become today. They had come a long way in three days, it had been both wonderful and terrifying. She wondered now if Billy, when he woke up would still want to cuddle with her. That worried her. With the surgery, she knew that things could be very different. Surprisingly, she found herself praying he would want his binky and his ba-ba when he woke up. She wasn’t ready to give that closeness up, after having just gotten it back. Her mother’s words ran through her mind and she felt a bit better. “Mom was right, He wouldn’t give Billy back to me only to take him away again so soon.” she thought.
The door opening interrupted her thoughts, as Dr. Richardson entered and told them “He’s doing really great. His temp is normal, His heart, lungs, and blood pressure are also normal. They were able to take him off the breathing machine in recovery, so the tube is gone. Come on back so we can see how he responds when he wakes up and sees his mommy.” he said with a smile.
The five of them left the small room, walked through the waiting area where Dr. Richardson paused to swipe his badge and two doors opened. As they moved into the PICU, Sharon noticed what must be a dozen glass enclosed doorways surrounding a circular nurses station with several staff members sitting writing in notebooks. Everything was painted in bright colors that a child would choose. He led them toward room 8 and she was startled and stopped when she saw a crib in the room.
“It’s hospital policy that anyone with a developmental level of three or younger be in a crib. It’s for the child’s safety.” he told them softly.
“What if he wasn’t so small?” she asked.
“We have larger cribs.” he told her.
The crib looked like a steel cage. It had thick flat vertical bars running from below the mattress, to a top made the same way that completely enclosed the child. There was an unlocking mechanism that Sharon saw would be impossible for Billy to open. It would require an adult hand to squeeze together to release the side so it would slide down.
And then she saw him. He was laying there dressed in just a diaper. Both arms were restrained by a foam cuff wrapped around each little wrist. On the back side of his left arm he had a rectangular board that ran from just below his armpit to his wrist, taped in several places to prevent his arm from bending. There was gauze wrapped around the elbow joint, Sharon assumed, to keep him from messing with his IV. Tubing ran from there to a pump and then a bag on a pole, both outside the crib. The tube that was in his mouth earlier was not there, but his head was bandaged completely from a point above his eyes to the base of his skull, covering a small part of the tops of his ears. He had a tube coming out from under gauze at his collarbone on the left that split into three different ports.
He looked so small laying there. She wanted so badly to pick him up and cradle him.
“I’ll give you folks a minute.” Dr. Richardson said, and walked to the nurses station. Two seconds later, a matronly nurse came in and took Sharon by the arm, leading her over right to the side of the crib as she said “Come over here hon, he needs to know you’re near.” with a smile. As she lowered the crib side, she told Sharon “Make sure that if you aren’t standing or sitting right here,” pointing to the spot where Sharon stood, “that the crib side is up. We wouldn’t want the poor baby to fall out.” she finished.
“But he’s…” Sharon tried to correct her about his age.
“I know how old he is Dear, but we don’t know where he’s at yet after the surgery. For now, let’s leave it at that.” she said with a smile.
Sharon smiled back gratefully. Shifting her attention to her little boy, she leaned down and kissed his cheek, while taking his little hand in hers.
Rick moved up along side her and gently caressed his leg.
“My name is Terry. If you have any questions, or need anything this evening, I’ll be glad to help.” she told them.
“Thank you Terry.” Rick said not looking away from Billy.
Terry left as Dr. Richardson came in and asked “Are you ready to wake him up?”.
Rick looked at Rachael, standing by the door as he said “One sec. Rach, can you hand me his blankie and his binky?” motioning to the bag on the floor.
“Sure.” she responded as she reached in the bag and pulled both out and handed them to him.
Laying the blankie across his tummy, he handed the binky to Sharon.
Sharon asked “Is he going to need to stay restrained?” with a worried look.
“Yes, I’m afraid.” Dr. Richardson told her. “At least until we see how he’s doing. This is why it’s important that you be right where you are. Just try to soothe him as best you can.” he explained. He looked at both of them and when they nodded, he took a syringe from a tray on the far wall, walked to the the IV pump and stuck the syringe into a port that was between Billy and the pump. “We’re gonna take this slowly.” he said as he pushed a small amount of fluid into the tubing.
When Billy moved his hand, Sharon gripped it gently to let him know she was there, and leaned in a bit so she would be right in his line of site when he opened his eyes, gently laying her hand on his blankie. Ten seconds later, he opened his eyes, after a second, fear crossed his face and he started to cry. “Mommy.” he cried, gripping her hand tight. He tried to move his arms and found out he couldn’t and that just made him more afraid.
Thinking quickly, Sharon brought the binky up to his lips and pushed it into his mouth. “It’s OK Baby, I promise. I know you can’t move your arms, but their held down for a reason Sweety.” as she gently caressed the side of his face. Reaching down, she brought his blankie up and put it between her hand and his face.
Between the comfort of Mommy’s voice, the feel of his binky and the soft blankie on his face, he managed to calm down enough to listen to Mommy.
“Mommy’s right here Baby, and I’m not going anywhere, I promise.” Sharon told him. “I need you to listen to me now. You’re fine Baby, but you had an accident and we had to take you to the hospital.” she continued and with that statement she saw him increase his nursing. “It’s all done now, Baby. You’re fine, but you have a bandage on your head because they had to operate. It’s over and you did just fine, you were such a good boy.” she told him watching as his nursing slowed down.
Dr. Richardson motioned for Rick to move around the crib to the other side. As Rick came to the side, Dr Richardson lowered the side, and Rick took Billy’s other hand, leaned in and said “Hi little fella, you did great, I’m so proud of you.” with a big smile.
As soon as he heard Daddy’s voice, he turned to see his big smile and knew everything had to be alright. Daddy wouldn’t let anything bad happen to him. With that understanding, he smiled back at Daddy.
Rick saw that smile and almost bumped heads with Sharon as he leaned down and gave Billy a kiss on the cheek saying “I love you baby boy.”.
“Lub you Daddy.” Billy replied and then dropped his binky with a big yawn. Then quickly afterward said “Binky.” In an instant, Sharon brought his binky back to his mouth.
“I think somebody’s a very sleepy baby.” she told him. “Just close your eyes Baby and sleep for a while, I’m gonna be right here, I promise.” as she gently caressed his face with his blankie. “Pooh Bear is gonna be here too.” she told him, as she brought the stuffed animal to his face and made a kissing sound and the placed it in the space between his arm and his chest.
Billy gave a sleepy smile and closed his eyes.
Dr. Richardson injected another substance in his IV and then motioned for Rick to move to the other side of the crib. He raised that side and locked it in place, then came around, leaned in and squeezed Billy’s leg firmly. When there was no reaction, he turned to his parents.
“He will be out for a while. He needs to sleep now, it will help his body heal. He appears to be doing fine, but we won’t know his full mental status for a day or so. I’m going to go chart some things.” he said as he gently moved Sharon over a bit to slide a chair so she could sit at Billy’s crib side. “That should make it easier on your feet. If either of you need anything, please let Terry know. If you have questions, I’m around until eleven, just let Terry know and she’ll find me.” he told them.