Please forgive meee! I swear I am off hiatus (i'm calling it that but in truth i've just been lazy). Don't forget to follow me on snap (and backup acc) amesmaxx so you can message me! And to possibly remind me to get off my ass and write more. It's easier to chat on Snap.
Elena Consuelo had bright brown eyes and an expressive, tanned face. Her wild curls were swept up in colorful little bows, and the laughter that radiated from her small body had not been dimmed by her unfortunate plight.
She'd suffered her second atonic seizure this morning alone, setting her parents on edge. And, come early afternoon, when her head suddenly dropped and her body became limp with another attack, Dr. Naiman decided to move up her surgery date to tomorrow night.
I was at a loss. I thought I'd have a week to prepare and overcome my hesitation. I even tried to convince myself that only having one day to rehearse would be fine. But one look at the desperation on her parents' faces told me all I needed to know. I was not going to kill their child.
I told Dr. Naiman as much, which kind of hurt my pride a bit.
"I can't do it," I bluntly stated. "I can't and won't do Elena's surgery. A-and I don't mean to just... quit, but I need more than one day to prep."
"Dr. Larsen, I'll be right there beside you." His eyes were understanding. "This is a surgery I know you can do. I've seen you operate dozens of times." His bushy eyebrows flew up. "And I'd never push you into something you couldn't handle."
"I..." My chest rose as I drew in a breath. "I don't wanna gamble on a little child's life."
"I hope you aren't letting fear decide this for you."
"You always said that a good surgeon knows when to operate, but a great surgeon knows when not to. Well, this is me attempting to be great."
"No. This is you cowering. Deciding not to open up a patient because it's the right thing to do makes you great, not because you're afraid to operate on a child. Dr. Larsen, you must learn to keep your emotions under control. That is what will get your patients killed, and you don't want that burden. Take it from me."
I huffed, looking away in embarrassment. I was so tired of everyone telling me to be a robot. "What am I supposed to do? Just pretend I don't care?"
"No," he answered patiently. "Of course not. We are in the healthcare field, after all. You need to maintain a balance. I wish I could tell you how to find that balance but everyone is different. And, just a little advice, don't tell yourself that you can't do anything. Next time, say you simply aren't ready and that you would like to learn. Always strive to be better. This will give you the confidence you need to kick your fears aside."
I nodded, soaking in his wisdom. I respected Dr. Naiman for that reason. He was my mentor, and one day I'd be in his position. He wanted me to be the best surgeon I could be, and I didn't want to disappoint him.
So I stood a little taller and exhaled. "If you would let me, I'd like to assist you on this surgery so that I can be prepared in the future."
He smiled, pleased that I took his advice. "Go home. Get some rest. We will rehearse first thing tomorrow morning."
I definitely wasn't going to argue with the chance to return home early and see my family. I found a couple of my friends to say goodbye for the day and headed out.
Once I arrived home, I was met by Athena sitting in the living room with Royce and Dawn, singing along to a Disney movie.
My babies rushed me in a hug as my goddaughter stood to greet me happily.
"Uncle David went to visit his brother. I think he left you a message," she informed me.
"Probably. Haven't checked my phone in hours. Thanks for watching them; I know they're a handful." I picked Royce up in my arms.
"Ew, are you sure you don't have brain juice on those scrubs?" Athena strode over to take my son from me while I playfully rolled my eyes.
"I didn't operate today and I always change my clothes before leaving work."
"Did you have a good day?"
I sighed. "Good days are rare. It wasn't bad. None of my patients died at least."
"Ah, well, I'd call that a successful day. We had fun on this end of things. Dawn has good news."
"Oh?" I gazed down at my girl and she bounced excitedly in her spot with a silly grin on her face.
"My dance recital is coming up!"
"Oh wow!" I exclaimed. "When is it?"
"Next week. We're doing a lyrical group dance."
"Lyrical." My eyebrows rose. "That's difficult; are you practicing?"
"Yeah Athena's been helping me all day. Look!" She backed up a few feet and positioned herself carefully before doing a triple pirouette.
"Beautiful, sweetheart!" I applauded and Royce clapped his tiny hands as well.
"Your lines are practically flawless," Athena praised, tossing her long hair over her shoulder.
"I can't wait to see you dance, baby girl." I gave her a high five. "Alright. I'm gonna take a shower and wash the day off then I'll come join you guys."
By the time I showered, dried off, and changed into comfortable clothes, David had returned from his visit and was making dinner.
The last time I'd been around for dinner was over a week ago, which was sad to think about.
I approached him from behind as he faced the stove, and gave him a hug.
"And how was your day?" I asked as he squeezed one of my hands.
"Spent it with my brother and niece. His wife was working so she couldn't be with us."
I pouted in understanding. My brother in-law's wife was a busy woman. "Mm, us doctors can only dream of more free time."
"I couldn't be happier to have you at dinner." He turned to face me and gave me a tender kiss. I groaned when he separated, wanting much, much more of him. "I know for a fact there's no way you'd be home this early under normal circumstances. Something happened at work?"
"Not exactly. I can't tell you the details but there's a little girl I was supposed to operate on and I backed out of it."
"Oh no." He turned down the stove to give me his full attention. "Were you scared? Simply unprepared?"
"Both?" I laughed dryly. "I know that I'll have to learn surgeries on children and adults before finding a focus but I'm dreading the children for obvious reasons."
David nodded. "I hear you."
"Yeah, so this is the part where you impart that good old wisdom and tell me what to do."
His arms tightened around me as he sighed. "Remember when we started seeing each other? I told you that you'd never, ever feel ready to hold a life in your hands. The pressure is unbelievable and honestly, you're the picture of bravery."
"I feel like a complete coward," I mumbled.
"Casper, you are not a coward," he firmly insisted. "You're a hero. Every day you put on those scrubs, you're dedicating yourself to somebody else's wellbeing. It's okay to be a little afraid. That's someone's child; it's a big deal."
My lips tightened. That didn't make me feel any better, but I smiled it off. There was nothing he could say to ease my mind anyway.
"Why don't you help me finish cooking? We can talk about this more after dinner, hm?" He pecked my forehead and I nodded.
I wished I could say the next morning at work was better.
Elena was getting a lot worse, and a lot quicker too. Her seizures were practically back to back, so she had to be rushed into an emergency callosotomy.
I was making my way toward the operating room to start scrubbing in when someone called my name. I paused and turned around to find Lyanna approaching, an urgency in her expression.
"What's up; are you okay?"
"Y-yeah, I'm good. I just thought you'd like to know..." She pushed her brown hair behind her ear, furrowing her eyebrows. "That patient you were fond of—Avery, I believe? He's back."
I blinked. At first I wanted to be happy I'd have the chance to see him again. Then it took me a minute to register that him being back here so soon was definitely bad news. 'What happened?"
She shrugged with a sad sigh. "He can barely breathe on his own. Ugh, I so hate seeing cute, genuine guys suffer." She rolled her eyes, trying to make light of the situation, but I couldn't bother to brush it off.
"Is there anyone with him at least?" I queried.
"Not that I know of. He's alone."
My heart sped up in concern. That was the opposite of what I needed to hear.
"Wait, were you headed to the O.R.?" She gazed past me, pointing her finger. "Oh no. Please don't tell me you have a procedure."
"I-I... yeah, Dr. Naiman's patient needs an emergency surgery that I'm assisting on."
Lyanna's face fell. "And I totally just ruined your focus. I am so sorry; I should've waited to tell you."
I shook my head. "No, I'm glad you did. Where's his room?" I started moving down the hall.
"Casper, you have surgery." She rushed to match my pace.
"Not anymore. Are you gonna take me to him or not?"
She sighed, but thankfully didn't try to argue.