Shortly after Rudy had disappeared down the hall with Steve. Jim appeared in the lounge or the OSI section.
Helen ran to greet him. “Jim I’m so glad you’re here. Rudy just took Steve into surgery. Where are the twins?”
“I left them with Beulah. She said she would keep an eye on them for the night.”
“That’s good. Here, sit by me.” Jim joined Helen on the couch while Cassie preferred to pace back and forth across the room. They had already put the children to bed in the children’s ward and Calvin had gone straight to sleep. Cassie had left the number at the nurses’ station where she could be reached should Calvin wake and want his mother.
Oscar sat across from Jim and Helen. “Cassie.” He gently called out to her. “Come sit down. That’s not going to do Steve any good. And it will just wear you out. You have a baby to think about, don’t forget.”
“Oscar’s right Cassie.” Helen soothed. “Come sit by Jim and me. There’s plenty of room.”
“I suppose you’re right.” Cassie sat between her mother and father-in-law. “How long has Rudy been gone with Steve?” Cassie nervously looked at her watch.
“About an hour. I don’t expect to hear anything for quite some time.” Helen patted her shoulder. “Everything is going to be just fine. You wait and see.”
“Give him two CC’s of adrenaline” Rudy ordered.
The anesthesiologist injected Steve with the drug and Steve’s vitals came back. They were very weak, but they were back.
“Can you give me a BP reading now?” Rudy asked.
“Yes Doctor. 90 over 30. Pulse is 30.”
“Increase the blood flow.” Rudy turned back to Steve “Come on Steve hang on till I get this out of you.”
Two hours later Rudy emerged dripping wet from the OR. The gang pounced on him.
“Well?” Cassie demanded.
“It was touch and go, but the surgery was a success.” Rudy announced his face still grim.
“What’s the matter then?” Cassie grabbed Rudy’s arm.
“He’s still unconscious.” Rudy mouthed.
“What?” Oscar shouted. “Come on Rudy he can’t be.”
“He is. I don’t know when or if he will ever wake up.” Rudy paused for a moment.
“There’s more isn’t there?” Cassie cried.
Rudy nodded. “I lost him. It was only for a moment mind you, but I lost him. “ Again Rudy became silent “I don’t know how he’s going to be when he wakes up. If he wakes up.” Rudy added.
Cassie gasped and her hand flew over her mouth. “Oh Rudy. No!” She cried.
Rudy caught her as she collapsed into his arms. “Get a gurney over here!” He shouted to a passing orderly.
The orderly brought the gurney and laid Cassie down on it.
“Is she going to be all right Rudy?” Helen asked.
“It’s just stress. She’ll be fine.” Rudy assured.
“What about Steve?” Oscar asked.
“Like I said Oscar I don’t know.” Rudy went on “Right now the prognosis is not good. The concussion was severe. If he doesn’t regain consciousness in the next 24 to 48 hours I may have to operate again.”
“It’s that bad?” Oscar whispered.
“It’s that bad Oscar. If Steve ever does regain consciousness he may never be the same.”
Oscar’s legs became like jello. He could barely stand. “If we hadn’t come here this would never have happened. It’s our fault Rudy.” Oscar chided the two of them.
“No it’s not Oscar. I just went through that in my own mind. Our being here had nothing to do with it.”
“The hell it didn’t!!” Oscar screamed. “He was on his way to get us. Did you hear me Rudy. Us. If we had stayed in Washington he would never have been driving to the airport!!”
“Oscar calm down.” Rudy started. “Look it would probably have happened whether or not we were here.”
“You’ll never convince me of it Rudy.” Oscar sobbed.
Rudy put his arm around Oscar’s shoulder. “Come on. You need to simmer down. I’ll get you a cup of coffee or something. You can sit in my office. Look when Steve does come out of this he’s going to need all of us. Do you hear me? All of us.”
“I understand Rudy.” Oscar continued to weep uncontrollably.
“Cassie is going to need us too. She’s pregnant and very emotional right now. We have to stay strong for her.”
“I understand Rudy. Now what do we do for Steve?”
“Like I said He may come through it, but he may never be the same again.”
“That’s the part I don’t understand Rudy what do you mean ‘never be the same’? I don’t understand what you’re saying.”
“There could be severe brain damage.” Rudy explained.
“Brain damage. What sort of damage?” Oscar grilled.
“I won’t know until he wakes up. If he wakes up.” Rudy added.
“I really wish you wouldn’t put it that way Rudy.” Oscar stated.
“I’m sorry Oscar I don’t want anybody to get their hopes up.” Rudy sighed. “I guess what I’m trying to say is only time will tell.”
“Well we have plenty of that.” Oscar noted.
Rudy walked over to where Helen was sitting. “I’m sorry I was so blunt. I just…”
“I understand Rudy. Can I see him? Helen’s voice trembled.
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea right now Helen. My advice is that you go on back to the ranch.” He turned to Jim. “You’ll see to it that she gets home? I’ll keep Cassie here. Besides Calvin may wake up in the night and need her.”
“Sure Rudy. You’ll call if there is any change?” Jim stood and took Helen by the hand. “Come on, we’ll do more good at home with the other kids.”
“Of course I will Jim.” Rudy assured.
Helen allowed herself to be led out of the lounge and down the hall.
Rudy turned to Oscar. “Why don’t you go get some rest too? I’ll call if there is any significant change in Steve’s condition one way or the other.”
“Thanks Rudy I’d appreciate that.” Oscar turned and left the room. Rudy headed for Steve’s room.
Steve remained motionless. Rudy noted he hadn’t moved since surgery. “This is not good Steve. You need to come back to us.” Rudy urged. He bent over Steve and began once again to examine him.
“Well at least your vital signs are stronger.” He said as he completed the examination.
The next morning Cassie regained her composure and first went to check on her son. He was doing just fine. Helen and Jim showed up. Jim took Calvin home while Cassie and Helen resumed their posts in the lounge.
They had just finished eating breakfast when Rudy stepped in. “Cassie he’s slowly coming around. I think you should be in the room with him when he wakes up.”
“Thank you Rudy.” Cassie stood and followed him to Steve’s room. Moments later Rudy reappeared in the lounge. “Helen I assure you once Steve comes all the way back I’ll let you come in.”
“Thank you Rudy I understand he needs all the rest he can get. And Cassie should be with him. Just keep me informed.”
“Try and stop me.” Rudy patted her shoulder. “I’ll give you hourly reports regardless of any change. Oscar called he’ll join you in just a bit.”
“Thanks again Rudy.” Helen sat back in her seat and started knitting booties for her new grand child.
She had been working for several minutes when a voice interrupted her. “Any news?” Oscar asked.
“Rudy says he’s coming out of it. Cassie is with him.”
“Well that sounds like good news to me.” Oscar sat next to her.
In Steve’s room Cassie watched as her husband began the slow process of making his way back to them. “Oh Steve. Please.” She pleaded. “I need you. The kids need you. You have to beat this.”
Rudy stood beside her. “I’m telling you Cassie don’t get your hopes up. The last brain scan I did does show significant brain damage.” Rudy tried to explain to her his face was still grim.
“I’m not interested in what your brain scans say Rudy. Listen I know my husband. He’ll be fine.” Cassie hissed. “Why don’t you just leave us alone?” Cassie shouted. She tried to shove him out of the room.
“Cassie I know how hard it is to accept the fact that…”
“That what?” She screamed. “You’ve been wrong before Rudy. You know you have. Admit it.” She screamed. “You could be wrong this time!” Cassie continued to shout. “Steve has been through much worse then this. You know that. And this isn’t the first time you tried to tell me it was hopeless.”
Rudy shook his head. “I know that.” Rudy paused. “Look Cassie, just don’t build your hopes up. I don’t know if Steve has ever been through anything quite like this.” Rudy kissed her gently and left her alone.
“How’s Steve?” Oscar demanded when Rudy stepped into the lounge.
“No real change since I last talked to Helen.” Rudy said. “I told her I would give her hourly reports no matter what. I’ll try to stay true to my word.”
“She would appreciate that Rudy.” Oscar stated. “I really should head into LA and get some work done. Would it be better if Steve were in Washington?” Oscar asked.
“No. I have what I need here.” Rudy told him.
“You did say he is starting to come out of it though?” Oscar voice rang a note of hope.
“Just starting. I’ve been going over the last brain scan I did. It shows there is some brain damage. How much I won’t be able to…well you know…till he wakes up.” Rudy sat by Helen. “Is there anything I can get for you right now?”
Helen shook her head. “No Rudy but thanks.” Her voice was calm as her mind digested everything Rudy and Oscar had just discussed.
In Steve’s room Cassie watched Steve slowly begin to move around. His head snapped back and forth. But his eyes remained closed. Cassie grabbed his hand. “Steve it’s me darling. I’m right here.”
Steve’s body began to thrash about. “Steve calm down. I’m right here.” Cassie spoke softly.
Standing outside the door Rudy could hear what was happening. He quickly pushed the door open. “What’s going on Cassie?”
“I don’t know. All of the sudden he just started thrashing around like this. Rudy, what is wrong with him?”
Rudy gave a quick smile. “That’s a good sign.” He commented. “I mean it’s a good sign to a point.” Rudy added.
“It is?” Cassie was perplexed. “How can it be a good sign Rudy?”
“Yes it shows that he can move.” Rudy explained. “I mean there was no damage as I had figured. No damage to his spine.”
“Well then maybe we’re on the right track after all.” Cassie noted.
“Yea maybe.” Rudy was still skeptical “But his spine has nothing to do with the brain damage the brain scan shows.”
“Yea but…come on Rudy. If he’s able to move…” Cassie started. “Surely the brain is involved in that.”
“There is more to life than just moving around Cassie and you know it.” Rudy reminded. “I mean think about it Cassie.” Rudy started to explain.
“No You listen Rudy. Steve is…”
They were interrupted when Steve called out Cassie’s name.
“Cassie.” He muttered.
Rudy and Cassie stopped their arguing and moved closer to Steve. “Yes Steve I’m right here.” Cassie stood next to his bed. She gently stroked his cheek to let him know how close she was to him.
“Steve? It’s Rudy.”” Rudy called “I’m right here to. Just take it easy.” he reached out and was about to take Steve’s hand.
Steve’s eyes shot open and he grabbed for Rudy’s hand. “Calvin. Is Calvin ok?” Steve mouthed as he tried to sit up. His voice barely audible but he still tried to sit up grasping at Rudy’s hand.
“Yes Steve.” Cassie assured. “I can hardly believe it but he hardly had a scratch on him.”
“That’s good.” Steve whispered.
Again Steve’s eyes closed and his grip on Rudy’s hand loosened. Rudy reached out and grabbed Steve’s wrist. “He’s just sleeping Cassie.”
“I’m staying with him.” Cassie continued to caress Steve’s cheek. “I’m still here darling.” She whispered.
“I’ll be back in a while. Call if he wakes up.” Rudy stepped out of Steve’s room and into the hall.
“I will.” Cassie promised. ‘Brain damage my eye.’ She thought to herself.
“That’s great!” Oscar cried when Rudy told him Steve was awake. “What about the other problem though. You mentioned brain damage?”
“Yea I know. As soon as Steve is strong enough I have to run a number of tests on him. I have to see exactly where it occurred.
“Rudy can I see Steve?” Helen stood behind him.
“As soon as he wakes up Helen.” Rudy promised. “He has a long way to go though.”
“Ok Rudy I’ll trust your judgment on this one.” Helen continued to knit.
Rudy headed back down the hall toward Steve’s room. Again he pushed the door open and stepped inside. Steve was still moving around on the bed.
“Has he woken up again Cassie?” Rudy asked as he moved closer to Steve.
“Not yet Rudy.” Cassie remained at his side.
“I need to wake him up. I’m hoping he can answer some questions for us.”
“What sort of questions Rudy?” Cassie asked.
“You’ll see.” Rudy moved closer to Steve He gently shook him. “Steve.” Rudy called “Can you hear me?”
Steve opened his eyes and looked directly at Rudy. “Yea” Steve moaned. “Cassie?”
“I’m right here.” Cassie continued sitting next to him.
“Steve do you remember what happened?”
Steve nodded “I wrecked the car.” Steve winced.
“That’s right Steve.” Rudy commented. “Do you feel strong enough to answer a few questions?”
Steve nodded. “I guess so.”
To Rudy’s shock Steve answered every question correctly. “Ok Steve now let’s try another avenue.”
“What would that be?” Steve’s voice was gaining in strength.
“Ok” Rudy said as he set a number of objects on the tray table across Steve’s bed. I want you to pick up the blue pencil.”
Steve stared at the objects on the table. Then turned back to Rudy. “What was that again Rudy?”
“I said pick up the blue pencil and hand it to me.” Rudy watched him closely as well as Cassie.
“Come on honey, do what Rudy asks.” Cassie encouraged.
Steve stared at them. “I’m trying I just don’t understand what you want me to do.”
“Steve” Cassie gasped. “It’s a simple request. Here…” She reached out and lifted the pencil off the table and handed it to Rudy. Rudy replaced it.
“Ok Steve. Now you do it.” Rudy requested once again.
“Sure.” Steve reached out and handed the pencil to Rudy.
“Good job Steve. Let’s try it again. Now pick up the red pencil and hand it to Cassie.”
Again Steve gave them a blank look, then reached out picked up the blue pencil and handed it to Rudy.”
“Ok Steve. That’s enough for now. Why don’t your rest.” Rudy and Cassie quietly left the room.
“Alright Doctor what the hell is wrong with him?” Cassie screamed when they were back in the hall.
“I told you there was a significant amount of brain damage. Now I know where it is located.”
“Will he get better?” Cassie wondered.
Rudy nodded. “At least I think so.”
“You think so?” Cassie stared at him.
“With the right therapy he will.” By now Oscar joined the conversation and Rudy updated him on Steve’s condition.
“But you’re sure he’ll get better?” Oscar demanded.
“Oscar it will be a long time before Steve is ready to back out into the field.” Rudy handed down the bad news. “If he’s ever ready.”
“How long are we talking? Days, weeks?”” Oscar persisted.
“More like months.” Rudy interrupted.
“Months?” Oscar was shocked. “How many months?”
“It could be anywhere between six months to even a year. The problem Steve is having is that he doesn’t even know what a pencil is, much less the difference between a red and a blue one.”
“You mean he’s going to have to relearn everything?” Cassie gasped in horror.
“That’s about it.” Rudy surmised.
“Well then I guess I’ll do what I have to do. I’m teaching the twins there colors and numbers and all of that. I suppose I’ll include Steve in the lessons.”
“That’s a great idea.” Rudy exclaimed. “He should catch on very quickly. Faster than the kids.”
“Really?” Oscar and Cassie spoke together.
“Yea, because down in the recesses of his brain he already knows it. We just need to bring it to the surface again.”
“I’ll do what ever I can.” Cassie promised.
That’s good, because Steve is going to need all the support he can get. You may be shocked at what he doesn’t know.” Rudy explained.
“When can I take him home?” Cassie wondered.
“I say the sooner the better. He needs to get back into his own space. Maybe that will even help.”
“Well I hope so.” Cassie muttered.
Two days later Rudy released Steve from the hospital after celebrating Helen’s birthday in Steve’s room.
“Well Cassie he’s made a lot of progress in the past two days.” Rudy said as he released Steve from his care. The rest is up to you. “You have all the pamphlets and materials I gave you?”
Cassie nodded. “We will start first thing in the morning.
Cassie started her lessons the minute they arrived home. She was very patient teacher and he pupil was very willing.
“Ok Steve.” Cassie said the next morning after she sent Calvin off to preschool. She sat with Steve and the twins at the kitchen table. “Now let’s start at the beginning.”
“Ok “ Steve replied. “I’m ready….”
Rather than lay objects on the table as Rudy had done. Cassie laid out several cards with different colors. “First we learn your colors.”
As Cassie pointed to each card she said the color that was on it. “Now it’s your turn Steve. You point to the cards and tell me what colors they are.”
Steve caught on quickly. The first time around he made only two mistakes and none the second time through.
“Ok teacher. Ready for the next lesson.” Steve grinned at her.
“Sorry honey, Rudy says just one lesson at a time. Tomorrow we will learn your shapes. You might want to work with the twins on their colors. They aren’t as quick as you. Plus it will reinforce what you just learned.”
“Well I guess you’re just following orders.” Steve sighed.
Later that night Cassie spoke to Rudy on the phone. “He really caught on that quick?” Rudy was shocked.
“Yes Rudy. I’m very pleased with the progress he has made just today.”
“All right I still want only one lesson a day. Because as time progresses he will have to retain more and more.”
“What do you mean Rudy?” Cassie wanted to know.
“Each day he has to review what he has learned the previous days. It is one thing for him to respond so rapidly, it is another thing to remember all that he has learned.”
“I see your point.” Cassie agreed.
The next morning when Steve came down to breakfast he was outraged to see the color cards on the table again.
“I thought we did this yesterday!!” Steve shouted.
“We did Steve. This is just a review. I spoke to Rudy last night. He said if you show us you remember what you learned yesterday we can move on to something else today.”
Steve rapidly flipped through the cards naming each color. “I wish our sons picked it up that quickly.” Steve snorted. “Now onto the next task!”
“Ok as soon as I feed the children.”
Steve waited for what seemed like hours. “Are we ready now?” He shouted.
“Yes Steve.” This time the cards she set out had every shape you could think of on them. As she had done the day before she named each one for him.
This time through Steve made no mistakes on his first run.
“Steve you are really catching on.” Cassie exclaimed.
“Of course I am. What do you think I’m stupid? I’m getting tired of this one at a time crap.” He got up from the table and headed for the living room.
“Steve what are you doing?” Cassie asked when she saw him pick up the phone.
“I’m calling Rudy. I want my lessons in one shot, so to speak…Rudy? It’s Steve. I need to see you get your tail over here.”
Rudy arrived within the hour followed by Oscar. “What’s the problem Steve?” Rudy asked.
“I am sick and tired of this one-lesson-a-day crap. I want to…no I need to get it all at once.”
“Steve I don’t think that would be a good idea.” Rudy cautioned.
“Why not?” Steve cried.
Rudy turned to Cassie. You willing to give him the full load?”
“Only if you feel he’s up to it.” Cassie agreed.
“With the attitude he has now he’s up to it. Go for it.” Rudy gave his consent. “Oscar and I will take the kids for the next couple of days.”
“Ok Rudy.” Cassie smiled. She turned to Steve. “Let’s get started.” She ordered.
“Anything you say boss.” Steve followed her back into the kitchen.
The progress Steve made in the next week astounded everyone.
Two weeks later he was in Rudy’s office for his tests.
“I can’t believe it Steve. I thought this would take months maybe even up to a year.” Rudy commented as Steve ran on the treadmill.
“Yea I know. I knew there were things I needed to do. I just hated doing it a dribble at a time.” Steve started slowing his pace on the treadmill.
“That’s good Steve. You can stop anyway.” Rudy told him. “Go get a drink.”
“I think I will.”
They were interrupted when Oscar strode into Rudy’s office. “Steve, glad to see you’re up to speed. I have something for you.”
“Ok Oscar.” Steve replied after he took a long drink of water. “What is it?”
“It’s very important and very dangerous. Think you’re up to it.”
“Yea I’m up to it. When do I go?” Steve asked as he set the glass on the counter.
“As soon as possible.” Oscar told him.
“I’m on it.” He turned to Rudy “As long as Doc give the go ahead.”
“Go on, get out of here.” Rudy teased. “You’ve done great Steve.”
With a slight wave Steve was off.
Oscar turned to Rudy one more time. “He is up to it isn’t he?”
“I would never have given the go ahead if he weren’t.”