He had three messages left when Michelle returned. He glanced at the time and realized that it was nearing 6 am. He got up and went over to the doorway where she stood. “I am so sorry.”
“Don’t be as you can see none of them have even moved.”
“Well surgeries are going to begin here in about an hour and this place will fill up quick. So I want to get you all out of here before that happens. Someone from transport is on his way up and we’ve got a room all ready for Emmy.” She motioned for Lucy, who’d been there all night with them checking Emmy’s vitals and changing the IV’s. “Lucy and I are going to get Emmy ready to move and we’ll just let you all follow.” Brett nodded and headed back over to wake everyone.
He started with Stephanie. After Michelle had come back to tell him it might be a while. Lucy and mentioned that Stephanie didn’t need to sleep like that. She wanted her to elevate her leg. Brett agreed and Lucy went to find an office chair for Stephanie. So now she was leaning back in it with her leg propped up on the stool. He brushed the hair back from her face and kissed her on the cheek. “Baby, they are read to move Emmy.” Stephanie didn’t jump this time his embrace and warmth reassuring her as she woke. “Lets get you up slowly, OK?” She gently put her leg down and sat up. She grimaced, the pain having quadrupled overnight. After a moment he helped her stand and got her set on Taylor’s crutch. The boys woke with all the movement and stood back as well.
Michelle and Lucy went to work unhooking all the wires and making sure that everything that was attached to Emmy’s body was on the bed and going with them. Moments later a young man arrived in the hospital’s signature black scrubs. He said hello and shook Brett’s hand. “Heading to 412 correct?” He directed the question to Michelle she nodded and they were off. Lucy told them good luck as they left.
They rode the elevator up two floors to the fourth. Then turning left the young man pushed Emmy past a nurse’s station and down a hall. Brett watched the numbers as they ticked up. Finally when they ran out of hallway he turned and carefully maneuvered the bed into the room.
Michelle moved all the medical contraptions over to the new bed that was waiting for Emmy. Then she gently woke her. “Emmy, its Michelle again. Can you open your eyes for me?” Emmy didn’t respond at first. So she repeated it. “Emmy. Listen we’ve got you a room and I need to move you OK? It’s probably going to hurt.” With that Emmy head turned to her and her eyes opened only a little. “Emmy. Gregg and I are going to move you to the other bed. We are just going to lift the sheet you’re on and swing you over OK?” Emmy nodded. “As soon as we get you over there I’ll hook everything back up and I’ll give you some more pain medication OK?” Emmy nodded again, but her eyes had slipped closed again.
Brett stepped up. “Is there anything I can do to make it easier?”
Gregg was a big guy but Michelle wasn’t much taller than Stephanie. She assured him they’d do it quickly and as painlessly as possible. They positioned themselves between the two beds. Gregg pulled the sheet up near Emmy’s head and Michelle grabbed it near her feet. They lifted her and swung her over to the other bed. Emmy moaned as they lowered her onto the bed. “Sorry honey. I know that hurt.” A single tear slid out of her eyes on both sides.
Gregg checked the old bed and made sure that all of her things were cleared off. “Emmy you get better, OK?” Emmy nodded her eyes still closed. “You all take care.” He directed that comment to the rest of the family.
“Thanks Gregg.” Michelle waved as he backed the bed out of the room. “I’m glad he was here this early. He’s one of the best we have.” Michelle checked her iPad and went to work. Hooking everything up to the machines in the room and then giving Emmy the promised pain medicine. She explained that Emmy was being attached to a patient controlled pump. That whenever she needed she could press the button and a dose of pain medicine would be administered. The pump would administer some in the background at set intervals to make sure that if she were asleep for a while she wouldn’t wake up in tremendous pain.
Brett and Stephanie knew that this was what Emmy needed. She wouldn’t ask for more medication, but might press the button to give it to herself. “She’s getting the good stuff right now.” With the sleepiness Brett and Stephanie figured she was on morphine. “But later today Dr. Wallace will start backing off on the dosage, just to see how she does. Hopefully we can back down to codeine or just acetaminophen within a couple days. Once she’s waking more, which may be later today or tomorrow we’ll send a physical therapist up and work with her on moving around in the bed and try to get her sitting on her own. I know its sounds horrible but moving will keep her lungs clear, take pressure off the exit wound on her back, and lessen her recovery time.”
“I’m going to go try to meet up with Dr. Wallace before his rounds. Here is my cell phone number if you need anything. I’d suggest some of you going home for a while today.” She gave Brett the head nod toward Stephanie. “At least get cleaned up and rest. Emmy’s going to be out this morning, but really need you for reassurance and distraction as the week progresses.
Dr. Wallace came in a little before 9:00 and the whole family was asleep somewhere in the room. He and Michelle tried to be quiet but the door squeaked when he tried to close it. Stephanie and Brett were immediately awake. “Mom, how are you feeling?”
“Sore, but OK.”
“Before I get started with Emmy, why don’t you let me take a look just to make sure?”
“Um ok,” she knew that the doctor had enough to do without adding her to his plate as well.” He had her sit on the end of Emmy’s bed and put her leg up on it too. Gently unwrapping the gauze Brett and Stephanie both grimaced as they looked. “First time you’ve seen it?”
“Yeah I couldn’t really look while they were working in it.”
He poked just a little. “The front looks good.” He had her lean to the side so he could get a look at the back. “There’s a little more drainage than I’d like to see on the back. I noticed it last night and just wanted to take a look. Exit wounds are always worse in terms of skin damage. They did a good job sewing it back up but there wasn’t a lot of skin left to work with. Also the skin on the back of your leg naturally stretches more when you walk. That’s why it is so important for you to stay off it for 24 hours or so to give the stitches time to work. They prescribed an antibiotic right?” Brett nodded. “Make sure you take those regularly and finish it completely. I heard that you waited quite a while to go get yourself looked at. Plenty of time for germs to settle in.” Stephanie wondered who had told him and how big a story it was in the hospital. Surely other parents refused to leave their kids.
“Well since we aren’t going to have to amputate Mom’s leg yet, lets take a look at Emmy. He helped Stephanie off the bed and back to the chair she’d been sitting/sleeping in while the boys slipped out of the room.
Dr. Wallace took a look at the chart in his iPad. “Her numbers are really looking good. Michelle, how did she do with the move?”
“She didn’t say but I could there was quite a bit of pain when we changed beds. I gave her a breakthrough dose. It took a little bit extra to wake her downstairs, so after the extra dose, I cut back her PCA dosage.” She checked the pump, “And it looks like she hasn’t even tried to use any yet. That was two hours ago.”
“Good. Lets take a look and listen.” He doused his hands in hand sanitizer and then blew in them to warm them back up. “Emmy. It’s Dr. Wallace here to mess with you again. Sweetheart can you open your eyes for me.” She drew a deeper breath and winced then slowly opened her eyes, much less drowsy than before. “There are those blue eyes. Emmy how are you feeling?”
“OK I guess.”
“What about pain can you give me a level. Remember 1 is no pain at all and 10 is the worst pain you’ve ever felt.” Brett and Stephanie both looked at each other wondering what that was for Emmy. Waking in the ICU a month ago with tubes everywhere or being shot yesterday. Her pain level was probably much more skewed than most.
“5” at least she gave him a number
“OK so we are going to say 8, since Dr. Hatcher already warned me about you and your incredible pain tolerance.” He asked her about dizziness, nausea and a host of other things then began to examine her. Michelle helped him move the gown back to reveal the incision. “Mom and Dad we didn’t get to go over this before. Emmy’s situation was life threatening when she came in. Instead of taking lots of time and doing CT’s and X-rays we ran an ultrasound and found lots of blood and fluid in her abdomen. An emergency laparotomy was done so we could get to everything at once. Stopping blood loss was our first priority.” He removed the gauze and showed them the incision. It ran from the bottom of her breastbone to just above her bellybutton. “Thankfully all the injuries were limited to the upper abdomen.” He pressed around the site and Emmy squeezed her eyes closed taking shallow breaths and gritting her teeth. “Sorry sweetie I know this isn’t fun. But it looks really good.” He stopped and Emmy’s breathing slowed and a few tears slipped down her cheeks. “Emmy can you lift our left arm for me?” She did and he gently laid it above her head. “Here is where the bullet entered. You’ll notice Stephanie it looks a lot like the one on the front of your leg. With one difference there are burns around the wound. I’m guessing that she was in contact with the gun when it went off.”
Stephanie looked at Emmy’s face. “Yes, she dove on the gun.”
Dr. Wallace nodded and added something to the chart. “Emmy, this is going to hurt like crazy but I need to roll you to the side just a bit to check the stitches on your back.” Emmy nodded. “I’m going to place this pillow here on your front you can squeeze it if it helps put pressure on the incision.” She held the pillow to her and Michelle helped. Dr. Wallace gently turned her onto her side and Emmy let out the saddest little whimper Stephanie had ever heard. “That’s good.” He removed the gauze “Here is where the bullet exited. It’s a bigger wound than the entrance. That with the amount of damage to her spleen and kidney tells me that when the bullet hit her rib it started to tumble end over end instead of just shooting straight through. We will have to keep an eye on this one and make sure she changes position often to keep pressure off these stitches. In fact,” He reached over and grabbed another pillow and slid it under her left side as he laid her back down. “Is that OK?” It took a minute but she nodded.
He checked lots of other things including her lungs, which meant big breaths, and lots of pain. “Ok sweetie I’m done with you for now.” He helped Michelle get her gown situated and the blanket brought back up.
“You are one amazing kid, Emmy. Now you rest OK, and make sure your Mom does too.” She tried to smile but was already getting so tired. “Mom and Dad any questions?”
“Well we thought of one last night. When we discussed the dialysis, you mentioned that was what the incisions on her arm were for, but why not use the central line?”
“Good question. There is a possibility that this will be a long term. A central line isn’t something that you want in for a long time. I’m sure Emmy is ready to get rid of it already.”
Brett looked at her and noticed that she had already fallen back asleep. “She was supposed to have it removed today.” Dr. Wallace sighed. “Now she back here with it still there and we’ve added the NG tube again. I’m not sure she’s noticed it. I think she’s going to hate that.”
“Its just there to drain fluid from her stomach while the sutures heal there. We’ll remove it tomorrow, if all goes well. As soon as we’re finished with it, assuming Dr. Hatcher agrees, we can get that central line out too. Either way I’ll make sure she leaves here without any tubes coming out of anywhere.” The PCA pump beeped behind her. “Michelle, was that her?”
“No it was background.” Michelle noted it in her iPad. “Since she didn’t push it herself the pump went ahead a administered a small dose so she wouldn’t wake up in horrible pain.”
“OK guys if you think of anything you let Michelle or I know. She’ll be in and out all day and this afternoon a physical therapist will be up to try and get her sitting.”
Michelle added. “I know we are still in wait and see on her own kidney, but I’ll let you know as soon as the results of your tests come back and when I get an answer on the waiting list.”
By 10 am Kim was knocking on the door. Her eyes drawn to Stephanie. The woman, a few years younger was still wearing a Bruins basketball polo and what was left of her khaki pants. Her shirt was untucked and had huge smears of something, Kim could only assume was blood. Her pants here covered too and the lower part of the left pants leg had been cut away. Now her gauze covered leg showed. She was still wearing one of the slip on shoes she had put on Thursday morning. Where the other one was she had no idea. She didn’t even remember losing it. Hugs and tears were shed and everything was explained again.
Emmy stirred at the sound of Kim’s voice. “Sweetie there has to be an easier way to get me to come visit.” Emmy smiled. “How are you feeling?”
“Are you in pain?”
“Not really.” Kim looked at Brett who nodded.
“You know you all are pretty popular. There are like 12 news vans out there.”
Stephanie had slept through the conversation last night. “Why are there news crews here?”
“They are trying to confirm who was shot.” Kim had been watched the coverage last night and caught some this morning on the radio.
Brett told Steph what Michelle had said last night. “We probably need to get a hold of Linda, and find out what they want to release.” Stephanie could only imagine what Mr. Woodson was going through. “It might lessen the stress for Mr. Woodson and everyone at Lincoln.”
“Stephanie, what can we do to lessen the load on you? Honey you’ve been through hell and back and you’re starting to look it.” Kim’s words were spoken in love, but Stephanie looked at herself wondering how bad she looked.
“Is it that bad?”
“Mom we didn’t want to say anything but you’ve got to go shower. Seeing all that blood just keeps reminding us what happened.” Jake was trying desperately to hold it together this morning. Last night after she’d fallen asleep he couldn’t take his eyes off his mother. He’d come so close to losing her yesterday.
“I guess I could run home for a little while.” Brett didn’t think it would be this easy so he didn’t delay in getting her out of there.
“Yes, I’ll stay and Kim you drive her home. Stephanie remember keep those stitches dry. Kim make sure she lays down a while and sleeps.”
“I’m on the job.” Kim saluted and Tyler laughed.
“You guys go too and rest up. Sounds like Emmy is going to need us a lot more later this week when they start making her get up and the pain really kicks in.”
They both kissed Emmy on the forehead and left with Stephanie and Kim.
Downstairs Kim went out to get the car and she drove it around to a side door the nurses had told them about. This allowed them to get out without running into all the press. Their avoidance only lasted so long. When they turned down their street they immediately saw four other news crews parked in the street near their house. “Mom!” Tyler was shocked by the sheer number of people in the street.
“Stephanie, what do you want to do?”
“Turn around. We’ll go through the back.” She directed Kim to the next street over and they pulled in to Mr. and Mrs. Wilson’s drive. Their living room window overlooked the drive and as soon as they parked Stephanie saw Mr. Wilson’s face appear in the window. “Tyler, run up and tell Mr. Wilson what we are doing.” Tyler opened the door and hopped out. Other than Kim he was the only passenger who could easily make it to the door and Mr. Wilson wouldn’t know who Kim was.
Before Tyler could even knock Mr. Wilson opened the door. Tyler explained everything to him and Stephanie watched as he nodded smiling at the car. Stephanie opened her door and began to get out. Mr. Wilson walked with Tyler back to the car. “Stephanie are you OK?”
“Yes sir. Is it OK if we sneak through your yard? The news crews are camped out on our street.”
“Absolutely young lady. You be careful though. The moles have been working overtime and the backyard is very uneven.”
“I’ll help her Mr. Wilson.” Tyler put his good arm around Stephanie’s waist.
“Is it Ok to leave the car there?” Kim didn’t want to be in her way.
“Yes ma’am. We aren’t going anywhere but if something comes up I can get around you.”
“Thanks.” Kim grabbed her bag from the trunk and followed Stephanie and the boys.
Three feet into the back yard Stephanie slowed and turned around. She knew that Mrs. Wilson would be watching them through the window. Sure enough she was right there. Stephanie waved and Mrs. Wilson waved back. She could see the kind older woman standing there washing dishes asking her husband what in the world we were doing hiking through the back yard.
When they reached the back of their property there was a thin area of trees and an old fence row. The boys had found a break in the fence long ago and often used the pathway to go between their house and several of their friends that lived one street over.
Tyler led them directly to the break in the fence and helped Stephanie and Jake through. Once in their backyard they hugged the detached garage and then it was a straight shot to the back door.
Thankfully they had been running late Thursday morning for school and hadn’t raised any of the blinds on the front of the house. Stephanie peeked out the front door at the crowd that had gathered in the road. “Steph what are you all going to do?”
“I’m not sure Brett is trying to get a hold of Emmy’s social worker and have her make a statement.”
“This was on the national news last night and it sounded like they already have most of the information. I’m not sure you’re going to be able to put the genie back in the bottle.”