* * * * *
As Jacob anxiously paced the waiting room floor on their first night in the hospital, and as Eva nervously but tenderly watched over Kezia, their minds replayed the events of that morning.
“Something must be seriously wrong,” Eva had said to her husband as the receptionist approached them in the waiting area.
Jacob and Eva stood to their feet.
“Please, how is she doing?” Eva asked.
“Please have a seat,” the receptionist said. “Dr. Huntingdon is still with her. He’ll be in to speak with you as soon as he finishes his examination. Have you finished filling out the forms yet? Dr. Huntingdon will need the information on her.”
“There’s not much to tell of her medical history,” Jacob said, glancing down at the clipboard with the forms which he held in his hand. “She came to us in an unusual way.” He scanned the front sheet.
“Well, do the best you can,” the receptionist said. “You can hand it to me when you’re done. I believe your daughter will be okay. Dr. Huntingdon is the best family doctor in the area. He specializes in children’s health.”
After she exited the waiting room, Nurse Mikia met her at her desk. As they conversed in low tones, Eva looked through the open door to see Nurse Mikia glancing in their direction. She had a disturbed look on her face that added to Eva’s already anxious state.
“Here, help me fill out these forms,” Jacob said, handing the clipboard to Eva. “Although there’s not much information we can give them.”
Eva absentmindedly took the clipboard without breaking her stare at Nurse Mikia. Nurse Mikia smiled as she approached them.
“How is she doing?” Eva asked, leaning forward.
“It’s too early to tell. Dr. Huntingdon is still with her,” Nurse Mikia said in a cheerful tone.
“Please, you must know something,” Jacob said. “How much longer do we have to wait?”
Nurse Mikia swallowed. “It will be a while longer before Dr. Huntingdon comes out.”
“And?” Jacob said.
“Dr. Huntingdon had to perform emergency surgery.”
“Oh, Gott!” Eva gasped clutching her husband’s arm.
“But all is going well,” Nurse Mikia quickly added.
Jacob laid a reassuring hand on his wife’s arm.
“What kind of surgery?” he asked.
“A tracheotomy,” Nurse Mikia said in a more sober tone. “It’s becoming a rather common procedure. Dr. Huntingdon will explain it to you in more detail. He had to open up her airway so she could breathe freely. She’s a strong and sturdy baby so that’s a plus for her.”
“Yes, but that does not guarantee that she’ll pull through,” Eva said, not satisfied with the explanation.
All three fell silent.
Jacob placed his arm around his wife and drew her closer to him.
“I’ll take the clipboard if you’re done filling out the forms,” Nurse Mikia said. After scanning the scantily filled out forms she said,“I can give you more time to finish filling everything out.”
“Denke, but that’s all the information we have on her. She’s . . . well, she’s adopted,” Jacob said.
“That’s no problem. If you’ll excuse me, I have to return to Dr. Huntingdon. He asked me to check on you and let you know he’ll be out to talk with you soon. I know it’s hard having to wait.”
“Denke,” Jacob and Eva both said.
“She’s not telling us everything,” Eva said to Jacob as soon as Nurse Mikia was out of earshot. “Something is seriously wrong.”
“Just hope and pray,” Jacob said, tightening his arm around her. Just hope and pray.
The ticking clock on the wall captured Eva’s attention. Tick. Tick. With each tick came a fresh wave of despondency. It felt as if each tick signaled one step closer to their hearing the news of Kezia’s death. What’s taking the doctor so long? Is she not going to make it? How will I let her mother know she died? She will never get to wear that beautiful white lace dress her mother must’ve sent for her dedication to the Lord. Dear Gott, why give her to us only to take her back in this way? You did not give us enough time with her. What will I tell her mother if and when she returns for her? Life is not fair. Her thoughts were interrupted by the receptionist who brought them each a glass of water.
After another hour of waiting which felt like an eternity to Jacob and Eva, Dr. Huntingdon met with them in his office. He was of a pleasant countenance with a calm, reassuring twinkle in his eyes. His hands felt warm as he shook both Jacob’s and Eva’s hand.
“My apologies for not being able to meet with you sooner, but time was of the essence. Let me get straight to the issue at hand. Your daughter’s breathing passage was closing. We had to surgically open it up with what’s called a tracheotomy,” he said.
“I’m afraid we’re not familiar with that procedure,” Jacob said. “What does it all entail?”
“The trachea is the main breathing tube leading into the lungs. We had to cut a hole into the trachea via her neck,” Dr. Kensingdon said pointing to his neck, “so we could open up her breathing passage to allow air to flow into her lungs. Right now she’s on a machine that’s feeding oxygen into her lungs. The procedure has been successful, but it being that she’s our youngest patient so far who’s had this done to her, I had to stay behind to make sure she responded properly to the operation.”
Eva’s eyes widened as Dr. Kensingdon spoke.
“We normally discuss all procedures and treatments with the parents or a responsible adult guardian before we perform an operation, but in this case we didn’t have a minute to spare. And I do thank you for acting so promptly and bringing her in as quickly as you did.”
“It happened so suddenly,” Eva said. “We were asleep and I woke up to her heaving and gasping for air. Do you know what caused it? She was doing great as usual when I laid her down to sleep.”
“We are still running tests on her. We drew some blood which we sent to the lab. We’re still awaiting the results. I’m guessing it’s some kind of allergic reaction or a bacterial invasion of her lungs. Let’s wait on the lab results to confirm my guess.”
“Where could she have gotten something like that from? I’ve been feeding her nothing but powdered milk since she came to live with us and she’s taken it quite well. I have not let her out of my sight except on those days when I come in to work here in town. My sister-in-law keeps an eye on her then at our haus, so she’s not interacting with other people,” Eva said. “I try to keep her as clean as I can and provide a clean and safe environment for her. I do take her outside for walks. The only other place she’s been to is our church, and not too many people handle her there.”
Dr. Huntingdon nodded his head as he listened. “Please don’t take my next question the wrong way, but are you her natural parents?” he asked.
“No, we’re not,” Jacob said. He proceeded to share with Dr. Huntingdon how Kezia came to be a part of their family.
“Mmm. It might stem from something hereditary. But this is just a thought. Let’s just wait and see what the lab results will reveal,” Dr. Huntingdon said.
“May we see her now?” Eva asked.
“I’ll let Nurse Mikia take you to see her although you won’t have any physical contact with her just yet. She’s still under anesthesia and is in the critical care unit. These next few hours are critical to her recovery and we have to do all that we can to ward off any further infection, so we have to limit her contact with the outside world, so to speak. As I shared with you, she has a tube inserted in her throat and another smaller tube directing air through her nostrils, and she also has an IV tube feeding nutrients into her body. I just wanted to prepare you for that. I don’t perceive any complications going forward. She’s strong.”
“When will I be able to hold her?” Eva asked.
“Give her a good twelve to twenty-four hours,” Dr. Huntingdon said. “Possibly any time after midnight you should be able to.”
“Will I be able to spend the night with her?” Eva asked.
“Sure. But you should try to get some rest first. There’s nothing you can do for her now. If you have no further questions I’ll say good day as I have to see my next patient. In the meantime, please direct any concerns to Nurse Mikia. You both have a good day.”
Kezia’s recovery was a slow one. She had suffered a sudden and severe bout with bronchitis. With her being so young the bronchitis attack had affected her trachea, almost closing off her breathing passages.