Sirens circled the building, signaling the arrival of a new patient. Another life was at risk and needed treatment. Patients came in and out every day, some for minor colds, others for serious surgeries. Chaos echoed through the halls in the form of heart monitors and oxygen tanks while doctors and nurses worked together. Some situations were easily fixed turning the chaos into comfort. Prescribing an antibiotic was easier than replacing an organ. Life in the ER could be hectic but Scott made sure each life was able to be saved.
Since starting as a surgeon work was smooth sailing. Scott would set a broken bone and be done working some days. Others proved to be more challenging, but none were as bad as his last. A child came in complaining she had been having migraines every day, making school and other activities complicated. This situation was new to Scott; he rarely worked on children due to the lack of children needing surgeries. The girl's head was examined, uncovering a small tumor. Though the tumor had not proved to be cancerous, removing it was necessary.
The day began just like the others, morning coffee, a newspaper, a set of lost keys, and finally the fresh scent of the new office. Today was the first day Scott would begin surgery on a minor, a girl by the name of Katie. She had been prepared for anesthesia when Scott entered in his gear, a clean smock, fresh gloves, hat and mask. Children were not his specialty but he did all that he could to make her comfortable, he even bought her a teddy bear. This surgery would be risky so no chances could be taken. All staff members in the room were aware of the stakes and prepared for the worst.
"Now Katie, I need you to count down from 10, can you do that for me?" The anesthesia was prepared all Katie had to do was fall asleep.
"Ten-Mississippi, nine-Mississippi, eight-Mississippi, seven-Mississippi, six-Miss."
Heart monitors beeped to the hum-drum of her heart while others measured her blood pressure. Scott had just begun the procedure, finally getting through the scull. There was no sign of trauma and all vitals were clear. After the first incision the room went haywire. Steady tones turned into stretched out calls of panic. Nurses raced around the room to get the proper tools and fix what went wrong. The damage was done, soon the crazed sirens turned to a low hum; Katie was gone. Scott had lost his first patient and she was only a child, his heart lurched and he ran out of the ER. Nausea made its way into his stomach and the nearest bathroom would become his sanctuary.
Days had passed since the incident but Scott was haunted by the images. He had nightmares where he would consistently lose patients without warning. The worst part of the trial was explaining to the little girl's parents what had happened. They understood the risk involved with the surgery but never expected it to end so badly. Tears were shed and Scott took it all terribly, the memory would haunt him for years. He shut himself down, hardly speaking about the trauma he felt. His friends did not know how to comfort the guilt struck surgeon and he did not reach out to them.
In the work place, Scott was able to maintain composure and proceed with his normal routine. Caution was taken when he was in the surgery room to prevent another loss. Bodies are unpredictable but Scott was determined to do his best. He denied surgery on children and his colleges began to worry about his need to perform perfectly. Scott refused to speak about it and filled his day with work to avoid people.
Scott's wife, Sam, did all she could to make him more comfortable. She prepared his breakfast, filled out his paper work, even took charge of his patients. Sam could see the grief he was feeling and wanted nothing more than to make the pain stop. His nightmares woke her in the dead of night and she would have to wake him, assuring that it was only a dream. Most nights he would not sleep and she would stay up all night to make him feel safe. He could not speak of what happened, no matter how much Sam wished he would. Maybe opening up would help him release the pain, if she could explain that it was not his fault things would be better.
A painful shriek echoed through the halls of the household, reaching the kitchen where Sam had spent her night baking pastries, a habit of hers. She quickly dropped her spatula and ran to the bedroom where Scott was having another nightmare. The bed shook as he shivered beneath the covers. Sam placed her hand on his shoulder and lightly shook him.
"Scott wake up, you're having another nightmare."
Scott sat up in a panic, sweating profusely. His black hair was disheveled and there were rings under his eyes. "It was the same one."
"Honey, it's going to be okay,' she sat beside him and leaned into him.
"Is it? These nightmares won't cease and I'm hardly sleeping, soon I'll lose my job because I won't be able to perform to my best ability," he wrapped his arms around her, looking away to shield the hurt in his eyes.
"No one blames you, it was your first loss and she was only a child, but listen: the surgery was risky from the start. You knew the chances of her survival yourself, with odds like those there was no telling the outcome. Even the best of surgeons could have lost this one."
"She was just so young, it just doesn't seem fair," he buried his face in her hair.
"No one said it was fair but it happened. We're all hurting after this loss, you know?" She lifted his head and looked into his eyes. Tears had formed and stained his cheeks. "Open up to me a little, you shouldn't feel so alone in this," she wiped the tears from his cheeks.
"I know I can open up to you and I want to. It just hurts so much," he gripped her within his arms and let the tears pour. He was finally able to let some of the pain out and she was there to eradicate it.