Daniel lay limp on the gurney as it raced down the corridor. The lights above him sped past like headlights on a highway. His body felt cold and limp. Daniel was unsure of his surroundings and his eyes became heavy and he…
“Mr. Brown? Can you hear me?” a loud voice came from beside him. “Mr. Brown?”
He strained to focus his eyes on the figure, but they failed him and it was a blur.
“You’re in the hospital, Mr. Brown.” Her voice became soft and concerned. “Do you remember the accident?”
Accident? Daniel’s mind struggled as he tried to remember the last hour of his life. He remembered driving. He remembered a sharp bend in the road. He remembered the railing. It had been raining, but what happened next?
Daniel attempted to move his lips to respond. He tasted a salty substance on his mouth and realized it was his own blood. His body delivered an immediate shot of adrenaline and he sat up on the gurney.
A pair of hands grabbed his shoulders “Mr. Brown! You have a head injury and we need you to lay down”. His shoulders were slowly and deliberately lowered back to the gurney.
Daniel began to drift off again and he didn’t fight it. He let the fatigue wash over him like water from a warm bath. It swallowed him and he was motionless.
Beep, beep, beep, the unrelenting sound continued and got louder as Daniel regained consciousness. He could hear the tip tapping of shoes on the tiled floors and the rustling of clothes. He knew he wasn’t alone in the room.
“Hello” he managed to say from his parched mouth.
“Oh my God, Daniel, you’re awake!” He recognized her voice. It was his mother. There was a breaking to her speech that only occurs when she first wakes up or when she has been crying. He assumed it was the latter.
“Mom, what happen?”
“You’ve been in an accident dear. Just relax.” She was breathing over him and Daniel could smell the faint aroma of coffee on her breath.
There was something wrapped around his head and eyes and it was obstructing his vision. He raised his hands to touch his face, but his mother seized them.
“You’ve had a head injury honey…and …and” silence as he lowered his arms.
“And what Mom?”
“ You’ve had a head injury and the laceration…cut into your left eye.” It was all she could manage to say before starting to cry again. She tried to mask her tears by clearing her throat, but there was no mistaking it.
“My what?” Daniel’s words still hanging in the air when someone came tip tapped into the room.
“I heard our patient was awake. Hello Daniel. My name is Dr. Wright and I will be taking care of your eye. I see they stitched up your head nicely. Looking good.” Dr. Wright said as his voice moved across the room.
“My eye? What happened?” Daniel managed to murmur.
“Your cornea experienced some trauma as a result of your accident and it’s beyond repair. Good news is, I have donor tissue being helicoptered to us as we speak.” The doctor continued to talk of graphing tissue and surgical procedures, but his voice began to fade as Daniel’s mind went back to the accident.
“A deer!” Daniel blurted out. “A deer was in the road!”
There was a brief silence as Daniel’s mother slid her cold hand into his. “Ok honey. Everything is going to be ok.” Her voice was soft and soothing. “Dr. Wright here is an excellent surgeon and he’s done this procedure a hundred times”.
“That’s right Daniel.” Dr. Wright continued. “You’re in good hands. We would like to prep you for surgery. Just relax till then.”
Daniel’s mother cupped his hands in hers and gave them a squeeze before releasing them and walking away. Daniel felt the coldness of isolation, as he lay there in the empty room. He could hear the faint conversation of his mother and the doctor just outside in the corridor. He couldn’t hear everything, but he managed to make out the words immune system and rejection and probably odds.
He wished he could tell them what he knew. Would they understand? Would they believe him? He would wait till after the surgery to tell them.
Daniel began to awaken from his narcotic induced sleep. He didn’t remember falling asleep, if that’s what you call it, more like passing out. He was groggy now, but conscious. He tried to focus on the florescent light on the ceiling but the rays of light were scattered and fragmented.
“Hello Mr. Brown. Did you have a nice nap?” The nurse said with a little giggle to her voice.
“The surgery… how was it?” he managed to mumble with his eyes closed.
“It was a success.” She continued. “I’m going to put this patch over your eye incase it’s sensitive. You can expect some glare or blurry vision for a while.”
Daniel raised his hand and felt the rough fabric of the patch. “So it’s in there, huh?”
The nurse offered no reply, as she unlocked the wheels on the gurney and they began to make their way out of recovery and down the corridor.
As Daniel was rolled into his room, he could hear his mother say in her best cheerleading voice, “Oh honey, you look great”.
His mother often took a rah-rah approach to everything in Daniel’s life. Even when Daniel’s grandfather died, she took him out for ice cream to celebrate how sweet his grandfather’s life was.
“Thanks Mom. I heard girls really dig the pirate look,” Daniel replied in a sleepy voice.
“Oh, I see your sense of humor has returned,” she said as she stroked his hand.
“How’s our patient?” Dr. Wright came gliding into the room. Daniel found the remote control to his bed and began elevating his head to get a better look at the doctor. The doctor was shorter then he had imagined and older too.
Daniel must have looked perplexed because Dr. Wright didn’t wait for a response. “The surgery was a success Daniel. However, I always have to warn my transplant patients of possible tissue rejection.”
“It won’t be rejected.” Daniel spoke in a gentle whisper. “She gave me her eyes as a gift.”
The room went silent for a few moments as Daniel’s words still lingered in the air.
“Sir?” The doctor said as he approached his bedside and laid his hand on Daniel’s forearm. “Your donor died 48 hours ago and the cornea was harvested hundreds of miles from this hospital. There is no way you could have met your donor.”
The room when silence again, with only the faint beeping of the machines. The doctor continued “However, I am very pleased with the surgery and the probable odds of rejection are…”
“But I did. I did meet her. She had long, blonde hair and she was in her school uniform when she came to see me in the ambulance. Her name is Olivia and she said she wanted to give me a gift.” A wave of gratitude washed over Daniel and tears began to stream down the sides of his face.
“She was just a little girl and yet, so aware of what was happening to me and the accident.” Daniel gained some composer and continued, “She said she would not need them where she was going and that her body and my body would work together now. Her only request was that I would see the beauty in the world.” Daniel’s became emotional again and breathing was laborious as he tried to continue.
He mother approached him and wiped the sides of his face with the back of her hand, “Shhh…now, now honey. Your getting yourself all worked up. Just breath.” Daniel’s chest moved up and down slowly and deeply, as he followed his mother’s instructions.
“Ahem…how did you… ahem…how did you know she was a young girl?” the doctor stopped himself. “Daniel, unfortunately I am unable to discuss the details of your donor at this time.” “I hope you can understand.” The doctor took in a long deep sign and continued, “The nurse will give you all the information you need, but if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call. “
The nurse began to discuss discharge procedures, how to care for the injuries at home, and follow-up appointments. She said she would be back with the paperwork, but for now to just sit-tight.
Daniel’s mother leaned in and whispered to him “Honey, are you ok?
“Yes, I believe I am.” He answered. “I believe I am mother.” Daniel lowered the head of his bed and closed his eyes. He remembered the girl with her long, flowing hair and pristine uniform. He imagined her waving and he whispered “Goodbye.” The tears billowed up in his eyes again, “Thank you for your gift, Olivia. Thank you.”
Story writen by: Hetie Burt
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