Wednesday morning they woke to a flurry of activity. The whole floor was buzzing. Brett slid out of the bed and opened the hall door. There were people everywhere. Emmy was intrigued. “Wonder what’s going on?” After a good night of sleep held in her father’s protective arms she felt better than she had in about a month.
“I’m not sure. There were a lot of people out there.”
“What time is it?”
She got up slowly and disconnected the infusion pump and pulled the IV along as she went to the bathroom. Brett followed closely but let her do it herself. Reaching the door to the bathroom she stopped and smiled at him. “Made it.”
He smiled back “You sure did.”
She closed the door and he waited, listening for just a moment. He walked over to the little bag that he had brought a few days ago and pulled out another pair of clean clothes. This was the last clean pair of clothes in the bag and Brett really hoped that this was the last day they’d be there.
Once he heard her finish brushing her teeth he knocked on the door. “Emmy I have some clothes if you’d like to change.” She took the clothes and closed the door back.
After twenty minutes Brett began to get worried. He knocked gently. “Emmy are you OK?” There wasn’t an answer right away so he opened the door, afraid something had happened. Emmy was sitting on the stool from her shower yesterday with her shirt half on.
“Sir I’ can’t get my arm up and through the hole. The stitches hurt too bad.” She was near tears.
“Hey its OK. Here let me help.” He helped her get it off and then put it on her arms first and then stretched it over her head. “There how about that?”
“Did you mention the stitches to Dr. Hatcher?”
“No I thought it was just because they were new. But its not getting any better.”
“Lets ask when he comes in this morning.” Emmy nodded.
Brett helped her finish changing and then back to the bed. On the way back she needed a little help. After ten feet from the bed she slowed and actually reached out for him, which was a big step.
Her breakfast came a few minutes later. After the young lady form food services left Emmy looked at Brett, “Am I supposed to eat this?”
“I guess. Does any of it look good to you?”
She lifted the gray dome covering the plate to peek at what they’d brought. On the plate was a small pile of scrambled eggs, a piece of toast, and a bowl of fruit. The fruit was cantaloupe and honeydew with two grapes thrown on top. “I could try the toast.”
“I say go for it.” Brett watched as she picked up the dry piece of bread. Placing the bread in her mouth she bit off a piece and chewed slowly. “Other than the applesauce yesterday, when was the last time you had real food?”
“I don’t know.” Brett knew that for the last several rounds of chemo she’d just been drinking protein shakes. “It’s been a while.”
She was finishing the last bite when the door opened. “Well look at that. She is trying to get home today.” Dr. Hatcher watched as she took a drink of water. “So how do you feel this morning?”
“Emmy?” Brett was motioning for her to go on.
“The stitches are still really sore.”
“Lets take a look.” Dr. Hatcher lifted her shirt. “Is one side worse than the other?”
“The right.” Dr. Hatcher looked at the left first this as he walked around to the other side Emmy tried to lift her arm and her breath caught. “Hang on.” Dr. Hatcher took her arm and helped her move it. He removed the bandage and pressed around the site of her chest tube. This simple pressure brought a whimper. “Yeah we’ve got a little something going on here. This is going to hurt a little.” He pressed again and Emmy used her other arm to cover her eyes while her teeth bit down on her bottom lip.
“Ok, some of the underlying stitches have pulled through. The muscles aren’t going to heal correctly if we don’t fix this.”
“That means I can’t go home today doesn’t it?” Emmy slid her arm up. The tears in her eyes nearly broke the doctor.
“Not necessarily. Here’s the deal. We can knock you out and handle this in the operating room, which will be easier on you, but it means your going to be here longer. Or I can just numb the area and we can do this right here. It’s harder on you, but if everything goes ok you can go home this afternoon.” She immediately smiled and he knew what you were going to choose.
“I want to go home.” She looked at Brett and his heart melted.
“OK I’m going to finish my rounds while Holly gets everything set up. I’ve only got one other patient to visit so I should be back in about an hour.” Emmy nodded and pulled her shirt back down gently.
“Aren’t you glad I made you mention it. After this the pain should start going away and you’ll start feeling a lot better.”
“I should call Steph and let her know what’s going on.” He pulled his phone from inside his back pocket and placed the call.
After several rings she answered. “Hey how did the night go?”
“She did great. Are you on your way back in?”
“Yes, just left. Did you need something?”
“No Dr. Hatcher just came by and he had some good news and bad news. Emmy had some trouble this morning with raising her arm. We asked him about it and he took a look. Something has happened with the stitches and they’ve separated inside.”
“I knew she was in pain.” Steph wanted to say something yesterday, but she seemed to be so much better she didn’t want to rock the boat.
“He gave her two choices to be put to sleep and spend another day here or to tough it out and go home today. She chose to go home.”
“Yes, she told him she wanted to go home not to Mr. And Mrs. Miles house.”
Over the phone he heard Stephanie sigh. They were finally making progress, she was letting them in. “When are they going to start?”
“About an hour.”
“Excellent. I’ll be there in about twenty minutes. Love you and Emmy.”
“Love you too.”
As he looked over to the bed Emmy had fallen asleep again. Holly came in moments later trying to be quiet as she readied things for Dr. Hatcher. She pushed in a rolling cart with all the tools he would need. Then she left and came back with a rolling light. The third time she returned she brought Stephanie.
Greeting Brett with a hug and kiss. She resisted kissing Emmy to allow her to sleep.
“Holly, how bad will this be?”
“Shouldn’t be too bad. He’s going to numb it so it will be like getting a cut stitched up. The only difference is that there are several layers of stitches in there. He’s going to have to go until he finds the problem. The deeper he goes the worse it will get.”
Holly cleared off the tray by her bed. Lifting the plastic dome she noticed the missing toast and smiled. “Did she eat the toast?”
Brett smiled back “She did and it hasn’t come back up.” She gave thumbs up.
“That’s awesome. After Dr. Hatcher finishes we will speed up the pump and see if we can get a tube in in three hours. Last night we got it to 4. Less time attached would be nice for going home. I’m going to go see how much longer and we’ll wake her and get started.”
Emmy slept on and another hour passed before anyone returned. They knew that up here things went wrong quickly and doctors were pulled away often.
Dr. Hatcher finally returned and went straight to work. He sat on a tall stool beside the bed and Holly positioned the light and the cart with all his instruments. “Emmy.” He tapped her on the shoulder. She woke slowly wincing as she pulled her side again. “Lets get those stitches taken care of and get you out of here.” She nodded.
He positioned her on the edge of the bed with her right side up. Then he directed Brett and Stephanie around to the other side to hold onto her hands. Brett helped her lift the right one up out of the way.
“Here we go.” Emmy closed her eyes and Brett and Stephanie tried not to look.
About a half hour later it was over. He and Holly cleaned up while Emmy began to relax.
“Well Miss. Emmy. That went great. Some of the stitches had failed. May have been all the struggling before you woke from sedation. So this time I’m going to ask you to take it really easy. To help with that I’m going to put a shoulder restraint on you to go home. It goes around your waist and your arm will slide through the Velcro loop to hold it in place. That way the muscles on your side won’t stretch. When you change your shirt you’ll have to put it on this arm first and take it off last.” Emmy nodded. Brett and Stephanie watched absorbing everything. They wanted her home and for her to have a real Christmas, but they also worried about her hiding pain and them missing something.
“So I can go home?”
“You really are in a hurry to get out of here aren’t you?”
She looked over at Brett and Stephanie. “Yes.”
“Well then, let me get the paperwork moving and we’ll see if we can’t get you home for Christmas Eve.”
Emmy’s eyes go as big as saucers. “Its Christmas Eve?”
Dr. Hatcher laughed out loud. “It sure is and this year you’ve got something to celebrate, so lets get you our of here. Holly is going to go over all the care of the central line and NG tube and I’ll go try to get the paperwork people moving.”
As he began to leave Stephanie caught his hand. “Thank you so much for giving her back to us.” He just nodded.
The next two hours were a flurry of activity. Brett and Stephanie took notes on everything. Emmy fell asleep again. It was amazing but her side felt better already.
Just before 5:00 Holly came back in with the restraint that Dr. Hatcher was talking about. It was just a band that went around her waist and then her arm slid into a little loop that held it in place. “Well that’s about it.” Holly smiled. “You go home and rest. All three of you.”
“Really that’s it I can go?” Emmy was ready.
“Yes. Go enjoy Christmas and we’ll see you on Monday for clinic.” Holly hugged her gently and helped her off the bed. There was a wheelchair waiting by the door. She didn’t want it but knew that by the time she made it downstairs she’d be asleep on her feet.
As they exited the elevator into the lobby Emmy couldn’t help smiling. The doors opened and the cool breeze hit her face and she knew everything was going to be OK.