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New Referral

It’s been three months since I’ve started my new career and moved into my apartment here in Bismarck. Life has been pretty good and I’m really getting into a good routine. I get up, make myself a nice breakfast, go to work, come home for dinner and just relax the rest of the day.

Occasionally I go out with some co-workers for dinner or dancing at the club. Other nights, I drive home to see my parents or hang out with Vicky and her son, Bobby. Vicky finally told me her story of how Bobby came to be and why she stayed away from family for so long, but that’s another story to share when she is ready.

This Friday is my 23rd birthday, so I plan on going to my parent’s place after work for dinner. I really have nothing else planned and I am OK with that.

Today is Wednesday and I just got settled in my office and reviewed my emails and replied as needed. In the last three months, the music therapy program has become a huge success. I currently do group programming in several of the units as well as individual visits on all of them. There are days, I am a little overwhelmed, but was told that if things continue to grow, we can look at hiring another MT.

Just as I was about to leave my office, I heard my email alert, letting me know a new email came through. I went back to my desk and saw that it was a new referral. I opened it up, clicked on the attachment and I reviewed the referral. It looked great, except there was no name on it, just a room number and a note that said I was specifically requested by this patient.

I was curious, so I decided to head over the rehab unit and meet this patient. I assumed it was a family member of someone I treated in the past, but when I arrived at the room, I froze.


Ian’s POV:

“Olivia, I can’t do this anymore,” I started. “All we do is argue over stupid shit and …”

“It’s her, isn’t it?” Olivia interrupted me. “It’s that girl from the mall, she is the reason…”

“She has nothing to do with this,” I yelled, cutting Olivia off. “I don’t love you and honestly, I don’t think I ever really did.”

Olivia opened her mouth to say something, but closed it.

“I’m sorry Liv, but I’m calling the engagement off; I can’t marry you,” I said before grabbing a bag from the closet and throwing as much as I could into it.

“You are just going to throw away the last few years we have spent together?” I nodded, but didn’t look at her. “I knew this would end this way, I just knew it. You never wanted to marry me did you?”

I sighed and turned around, “No, Liv, I never wanted to marry you.”

“Asshole!” she yelled back at me before throwing her ring on the bed and storming out of the room.

I picked up the ring and threw it in my bag. I had no intention of keeping it, but I knew Olivia and I didn’t want to leave it here for her to use it against me later on. I finished packing as much as I could and loaded everything in my car.

Olivia was in the living room when I came back into the apartment. “I’ve taken what I want so you can do what you want with the rest of the things in here. I left a check for my portion of rent through the end of the lease on the nightstand, so do what you want with it. I already called the landlord and took my name off of the lease.”

“I hope she is worth it,” I heard Olivia mumble on her breath.

“Oh one more thing: tell Steven he’s welcome over here anytime without worrying if I’ll show up or not,” I said with a smirk and turned around and left; leaving Olivia with a shocked expression on her face.

Little did Olivia know, I caught her and this Steven multiple times sneaking around behind my back. She may think I’m some small town idiot, but I knew exactly what she was doing and honestly, I wish I would have called this off a long time ago.

I got in my car, cranked the radio up and headed back to my hometown. I finished my training at the academy and was hoping to join the force back home so I decided now was the best time. I called up my parents and told them I was on my way home after four years of being away.

It was getting late, but I only had about an hour before I got to my parent’s house, so I decided to keep driving. As I stretched out my neck that was getting stiff, I didn’t see the deer crossing the road until it was too late.

I woke up in an ambulance in complete pain in every part of my body.

“What happened?” I croaked out to the paramedic sitting next to me.

“You were in an accident. Do you remember what happened?”

“I saw a deer cross the road and went to slam on my brakes and then nothing until just now,” I moaned when I went to move my arm.

“Stay still, you have some broken bones and other injuries, but we won’t know the extent until we get to the hospital,” the EMT responded.

“What about my car?”

“It was totaled, but will be towed to town. Were you traveling? I saw a lot of bags in the back.”

“I was moving back home,” I mumbled through the pain.

“We are here; hang tight and we’ll get you taken care and give you something for all that pain.”

I nodded my head and moaned again. I noticed we were in Bismarck at the medical center ER as they pulled me from the ambulance and into the building. They took me into a room where doctors and nurses immediately treated me. I had x-rays taken, a CT scan, blood drawn and so many other tests. They called my parents to tell them what happened, and they arrived shortly after crying and asking me a hundred questions about what happened.

It took all night and by the time I got admitted and sent to a room, I had a cast on my right leg and left arm, bandages just about everywhere and a neck brace on to help with the whiplash I received. I looked and felt miserable and just wanted to sleep, which I did once I got settled and sending my parents home.

I was woken up several times by the nurses checking my vitals and asking about my pain. I wish they would just leave me alone, but by noon when they asked about having lunch, I realized just how hungry I was and accepted a tray. I saw my phone lying on bedside table and went to look at it, but it was dead and the charger was still in the wrecked car.

As the day went on, I met with a few doctors who told me everything that was wrong and what I needed to do to heal. It wouldn’t be overnight and I would probably need some rehab care since I can’t use one arm and one leg at this time. Thank God I still can use my good arm, but it was still difficult to do a lot of things on my own.

It was later in the afternoon and nothing on TV so I turned it off. That’s when I heard the most beautiful voice singing nearby that could only belong to one person; the one person who I could listen to all day. I pushed my call button and waited for the nurse to come in.

“Who is that singing?” I asked her.

“That is Sarah, she’s the music therapist here and is working with someone down the hall,” she answered my question. “Why do you ask?”

“I was just wondering, she has a beautiful voice,” I replied with a smile. “How does one get her services?” I asked with a smirk.

“Usually a referral is made upon request or need; if you would like that as part of your treatment, I can send in a request,” she replied.

“Yeah, I think I will have you fill out that request,” I said. “Oh, but can you please not put my name on it?”

“Pardon me? I have to include it as part of the process,” she said.

“I’m sure you do, but I’m asking you to not put my name on it. Please?”

“OK,” she said hesitantly. “I’ll fill out the form and send it to your doctor for the official referral. I’m sure he’ll send it to her in the morning.”

“Thank you. Oh, and please don’t say anything to her until then about me.”

“Do you know her?” she asked curiously.

“Yes, I do and I want to surprise her,” I replied.

She nodded her head and left the room.


“Ian?” I whispered as I stood in the doorway to his room in shock. He was covered in scratches and bruises and had a cast on his arm.

“Come in Sarah,” he said with a smirk.

I cleared my throat, grabbed my cart and entered his room. “What happened to you Ian?” I asked him.

“Nothing much; I just decided I wanted some venison so I took a deer out with my car,” he replied with a chuckle.

“That’s not funny,” I said as I walked up to the side of his bed.

“Sure it is,” he responded.

I shook my head; he still hasn’t lost his sense of humor.

“Do your parents know you’re here? Why are you in Bismarck anyway? Where is ‘what’s her name’?” I kept asking questions.

“Woah, slow down Sarah,” he stopped me. “Yes, my parents know I’m here; they came by the ER the other night when it happened. I’m here because I was heading home, but didn’t quite make it. Olivia is still in St. Paul,” he said the last part without emotion.

“How long have you been here?” I asked scrunching my eyebrows together.

“I came in on Monday night, but got to this room yesterday morning,” he answered me.

I had so much I wanted to say and ask him, but I couldn’t. I stood there like an idiot checking him over and taking in every injury I could see thankful that he was OK.

“Do you like what you see?” he asked me with a smirk on his face after catching me looking him over.

I shook my head, “Ian, how can you joke about this?”

“It keeps the pain away,” he answered with a slight grimace as he moved his arm that was in the cast.

“Is that why you requested to see me: to help with the pain?” I asked him.

“Maybe,” he answered me. “I heard you down the hall yesterday and asked the nurse if I could see you. I wanted to surprise you and I guess it worked.”

“It sure did. I wasn’t expecting to see you again, especially like this.”

“So do you think you can help me?” he asked with a silly grin on his face.

“I don’t know Ian; I mean I can help you, but I know you too well to work with you as your therapist and it just doesn’t feel right,” I replied nervously.

“I had a feeling you would say that, and I can’t blame you,” he said with a frown.

“I’ll talk to my supervisor and see what she thinks, but I can’t promise anything,” I offered.

“Thank you,” he said and took my hand in his since I was still standing close to the bed.

I felt the tingly feeling through my arm that I once felt all those years ago and immediately looked away from Ian and tried to pull my hand from his. He held on tighter, but didn’t say anything.

“Look Ian, I have to go see another patient. I’ll see what I can do to help you, but…” I paused not knowing what to say.

“It was good to see you Sarah; even if it was just for a few minutes,” he said. I nodded in agreement and smiled.

I turned around and was just about to exit his room when he spoke again. “Sarah…would you be able to come see me after work, as a friend?” he asked me.

I turned back to look at him. “I’ll see,” I replied and left the room.

I took a few moments to compose myself before heading to see my next patient. I continued with my caseload throughout the day and caught up with my supervisor towards the end of my shift.

“Kim?” I asked her from the doorway of her office.

“Come in Sarah,” she answered. “What can I help you with?”

I took a deep breath before I spoke. “I received a new referral today, however, it was from someone who I know personally and I’m not sure if I should take him on as a client.”

“How well do you know him?” she asked me.

“We used to date…years ago. He heard me singing yesterday and asked to see me, but I told him that I didn’t feel comfortable without talking to you.”

“Could he benefit from your services?”

“He is in a lot of pain and will be seeing other therapists for rehab, so he probably could, but…”

“It’s difficult to decide,” she finished for me. “We don’t have another therapist like you, but I don’t want you to be uncomfortable either. Would be comfortable if he was in a group, rather than one-to-one?”

“Yes, I could be comfortable with that, if he is agreeable to that as well,” I replied.

“When is your next group in the rehab unit?” she asked me.

“On Friday,” I answered her.

“OK, I will talk to him and see if will agree to that for now.”

“Thank you Kim,” I said before leaving her office and returning to mine.


I didn’t see Ian anymore that day or the next since I didn’t have any other clients in the rehab unit that day. I wanted to see him as a friend, but I didn’t want to cross any boundaries at this time, especially since he was a patient in a place where I work.

On Friday morning, I headed to the rehab unit for our group session. This session usually involves movement activities to assist with gross and fine motor skills as well as interventions to help with emotions or feelings during their recovery.

When I got to the small activity room, there were about six people present including Ian who was sitting there with a smile on his face watching me come in. I gave him a look that told him to respect me as a professional, to which he gave me a small nod in understanding.

After all these years, we could still communicate without speaking and I admit I was a little nervous at this point. I knew I had to keep things strictly professional between us no matter what.

As I was setting up my supplies, I heard a couple of the participants who had been there a couple weeks tell Ian and the other new person about what we do. I smiled to myself taking that as a compliment.

I began the session with an opening song, and then proceeded with some movement and music exercises to get everyone warmed up and moving. Then I opened up to the group to choose a few songs that expressed their feelings.

Generally we either sing the songs together, or listen to them before discussing the lyrics and the reason for choosing the songs. The few members that have been here a few times requested their songs first, which is usually helpful to the new participants.

After a few songs, I asked if anyone had a song they wanted to sing or listen to. Ian raised his hand with a smirk.

“Yes Ian, what song do you have in mind?”

“Happy Birthday,” he replied. I internally groaned as I knew why he chose that song, but the others didn’t.

“Who’s birthday?” One of the others asked him.

I shook my head slightly so only he could see it, but he ignored me. “Sarah’s,” he said while looking right at me.

“It’s your birthday?” another member asked.

“Yes, it’s my birthday today,” I said with a smile and chuckled.

“So, will you play the song I requested?” Ian asked.

I nodded and started playing the chords to “Happy Birthday” while the group sang to me. “Thank you,” I said as they finished. Thank goodness, no one asked Ian how he knew it was my birthday.

We finished the session after a few more songs and another movement exercise. As I was packing up my things, everyone left the room but Ian, who sat in his wheelchair watching me.

“Thank you for letting be a part of this group,” Ian said as I felt him wheel up behind me.

I turned around to look at him. “You are welcome Ian. Do you need a ride back to your room?”

“If you don’t mind,” he replied.

“Not at all.” I pushed him back to his room and told him I’ll see him on Monday.

He wished me ‘Happy Birthday’ again and told me to have a good time with the family since he knew they liked to take me to dinner in the past.

I went back and grabbed my cart and moved on with my day. When Kim saw me later in the day she asked how things went and I told her they went great. She said she was glad to hear that and if I needed anything else to let her know.

After work, I headed to my parent’s place and enjoyed a nice birthday dinner with them and my grandparents. Stacy called and we talked for a bit. It was quiet and simple and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

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