Will stood in the hallway lost in thought. His lunch with Luna went phenomenally well and he felt energized to tackle the rest of his day. An aide passed him in the hall wheeling a patient on a stretcher and he felt a wave of pride well up within him. He always loved the hospital, the smell, the appearance, a place where everyone was so hopeful for the best. Clean, efficient, a well-oiled machine; patients came in damaged or ill and left repaired and well. And the ones that didn’t make it… he thought with a smirk. Well it was expected anyway, nothing that could’ve been done to help, they were destined to be lost. These halls and the people within them could accomplish anything, bright, clean, orderly, usually fairly vacant too, he noted, people didn’t get sick much anymore.
Will pulled himself out of his internal monologue when he arrived at room 29. He activated his kit and its chart said Jessica Contino aged 8, severe multi-system trauma, four prior surgeries since admission, and another recommended, her condition remained unimproved. Will considered the opposition this family would mount against him at suggesting another operation, and rightly so. Those previous procedures hadn’t appeared to outwardly help her. So far she had lost an arm, gained numerous scars, and was medicated into a coma, Will frowned. He wished that it was rare for children to have injuries like this near the hub, but with rising frequency of terroristic attacks on government buildings by anti-mod groups people often were caught in the crossfire.
Will needed to convince the patient’s parents of the drastic measures he needed to take next, the blast badly damaged Jess’s legs. At first the team tried to combat compartment syndrome by flaying her legs open but it was to no avail. Will needed to now remove them from above the knee. He began to plan out the best way to make this family come around to his impending proposal. He pulled up his kit to tap into the room’s internet access log form to get more information on this family. It fed him back a report that no doctor would’ve wanted to read, the girl was an only child, on the fast track for a leadership position. She was all this family had. Room 29 had researched numerous malpractice sites, second opinion forums, alternative medicine options regarding a substance known as the Obodongo bush, they were even dabbling in anti-mod propaganda. Sites which portrayed surgeons such as Will as people who intentionally removed parts of patients in order to augment them for profit and some sense of accomplishment. Will realized that his family was smart enough to look for other options, so he opted for the subtle approach; allow them to believe that they had suggested the idea of permitting another operation on their daughter. He didn’t like the deception of this plan, but he knew it would be the best bet for this little girl. He knocked on the door.
“Who is it?” Called a female voice harshly
It really is a shame how tragedy can muddle people’s minds Will thought.
He was sure the nurse told them he’d be there in ten minutes and he was certain he was on time… he was never late, he felt it unprofessional.
“Dr. Orson” Will replied monotone, he knew that in these situations it was best not to show emotion until he had the family properly mapped out. So far it appeared the mother would be the most difficult to bend but he had no idea what the father thought of the situation, he thought with optimism.
“Oh! Please, please come in!” Said the female voice, with over the top politeness
Already this woman was off to a bad start with me, thought Will. He never enjoyed how people instantly changed their demeanor just because of his title. William thought more on the present situation. He scarcely had the opportunity to exchange 10 words with these people. All they knew was the work he’d done and not one detail about his personality.
I could be an absolute terrible person not deserving of even the most basic pleasantries he thought yet here they are placing bounties of respect on my head all because of a title. Will could comprehend their distress, he was responsible for their daughters health care and they wanted to make sure he was in a position to do the best job possible. However he was hung up on an idea now. It wasn’t just people in stressful situations he’d seen behaving this way, he’s seen it happen all the time. It made him wonder, how many people are faking what they feel? How many people are just being polite to further their own needs? How could one even detect genuine politeness?
The mother was staring him straight in the eye from her daughter’s bedside, apparently expecting him to start the conversation. William figured the best option would be to open with a stern appearance, his smile wouldn’t help him here, at least not until the parents were warmed up.
“Good morning Mrs. Contino, how are you today? Asked Will
“Oh fine, you know, just hoping for the best for our little girl.” Replied Mrs. Contino clutching her child’s hand.
“Yes any news that you have for us is greatly appreciated” Piped up Mr. Contino from the corner of the room. Will picked up on this small clue of seating arrangement, Mr. Contino would not be a problem, his wife was in charge here and he would follow whatever she said.
William glanced over at their daughter who remained motionless in her bed at the center of the room. It was a very scarce open room, her dad in the corner chair, her mom in the bedside one and her right in the middle of it all, a girl of slight frame with a plethora of machinery connected to her chest, various tubes carrying fluids in, out, a few just working to maintain negative pressure in her lungs to allow air in, various IV’s 7 different drip bags, all criss-crossing and interconnecting, yet not a single one crossed her small face, they almost framed her face actually, Will noted. It was such a shame to see such a small child in this state, she should’ve been outside playing, in the classroom, practicing her life skills, anywhere but here. She lay motionless due to an induced medicated coma to allow her body a better chance for recovery.
“About that, Mr. and Mrs. Contino, I feel it’s best you both come into the hall with me, don’t worry about your daughter, the monitors will make sure she’s safe.”
Immediately the parents faces dropped it was clear they were in distress, Will picked up on their cue and shot in quickly.
“It’s okay Mr. and Mrs. Contino, I’ve actually got some good news, I thought you may want to hear it in the hall so as not to disturb your daughter and to better clear your minds.” Will said reassuringly.
The Continos faces lit up, Will averted a small bump that may have otherwise caused his objective to fail, he couldn’t be distracted now though he smiled at the Continos, and they received it well. As they exited into the hall Will pushed a button on the side of the door activating the monitors, two very slender humanoid robots with staffs of Asclepius painted onto their chests rose out from underneath the tile floor one on each side of her. Their bodies were very gentle and sloping. While thin they did not gain that angular look to them that most people displayed they remained motionless as they stood watch over the girl; their electronic faces lit up with blue pixelated smiles.
Will decided to start with the negatives and work to the positive for a strong finish with her parents. People only ever remembered the end of a conversation; he started with the so-called good news.
“ Your daughter has significant fluid build-up in her lungs, we’ve got a surgical procedure that can take care of that in 10 minutes tops, the kidneys and liver that she has in her right now are on I’d say about their last leg, however, we have duplicated the organs and have fresh specifically crafted organs completed and waiting for her to transplant in. This would tack another hour onto any surgery that would be done. Should you want to do it all in. If we operated in one shot that is, and that method usually works best. Also she could do with another dose of nanomachines in her abdominal cavity to assist in the cleanup of toxin build up, the fastest most effective way of administering these would be during a surgery. Now I say add on because I’m sorry to say but we are unable to save her organic legs.” Will stopped to make sure the parents were able to weather the news. A slight look of horror crept across their faces but they were determined to get all the information they could before reacting. Their expressions pushed him onward.
“This is an unfortunate situation but our advancements can give her a better option, with available bio-augment prosthesis her legs will look, feel organic, and behave organic; albeit they’ll have machinery within.There are of course the standard pitfalls of surgery, however in an operation such as this there isn’t as much risk as a normal routine. Her just laying here is more deadly than us taking some affirmative action, as those legs decay even the nanos won’t be able to keep up with toxin production. Now I’d like to know, what do you think we should do for the next course of action?”
Will caught an expression of confusion on their faces, he figured his colleagues never asked them what they thought the next course of action should be. Not surprising, you don’t learn much about social interaction from the wrist kits or schooling he thought. He was staring at the parents waiting for their response, Mrs. Contino was the first to come around.
“Well doctor you seem to be making a fairly strong argument for surgery.” She said curtly.
Here we go Will thought, time to call upon all that I’ve learned from observing daytime work drama and watching old 20th century romance movies.
“It’s just the data ma’am I’m sorry if it seems like I’m trying to sway your opinion to one side I just wanted to make sure you had all the facts.” Said Will apologetically.
Mrs. Contino stared Will down expecting to see a break in his act but he was well versed in these situations, Will looked straight into her pupils pleadingly and continued.
“Mrs. Contino I have to admit it is quite rare that we get a child with these extensive injuries such as your daughter’s, this is the primary reason why care for her has been coming along at such a sluggish pace. We had to order special equipment just for this treatment, now while we still can’t give a definitive time stamp for when she’ll be up and moving again we can say that she is returning to her normal state very slowly, the combination of IV’s and coolant in her system have returned her temperature to a normal level and her pulse and respirations are closely following suit, however if we don’t take affirmative action all of this progress may be for naught” Will finished with the a look of sorrow and regret.
“Doctor Orson-.” Started Mrs. Contino, but already Will saw she was not going to say what he wanted so he interjected bringing up the issues she wanted on his terms.
“I know it may seem like I’m pushing for surgery Mrs. Contino but I do want you to know there are other options, we could wait it out, with her progress there is a slight chance that she may continue on her route to recovery. I don’t believe that it is statistically worth the risk, however in all things there is always a chance. There are also non-conventional herbal remedies that I would be more than happy helping you with are you familiar with the Obodongo? And there is also electro-stim and chemical-stim therapy that we can try, and as I said before there is surgery” Said Will almost convincing himself he was truly offering these people other treatment options.
As he spoke he pulled up electronic pamphlets and articles on each option from his kit carefully selecting the longest most confusing articles for the alternatives and leaving the surgery option as the shortest most friendly pamphlet comfortably at the bottom but still very visible. Mrs. Contino hungrily grabbed each of these articles trying to read and make sense of them flipping through them quickly, she was looking for something familiar and Will knew he had her right where he wanted her. She scanned the Obodongo pamphlet trying to see something that she read about in her online research, but she turned to the side-effects page and was greeted with illustrations of treatments gone sour from paranoid stupor. Finally she came to the surgery pamphlet shorter, but not noticeably so, a feature only the subconscious would pick up on and cling to, she skimmed it and immediately it was familiar to her, she read it more intensely than the others, when she was done she looked up at William.
“Now this surgery, you’re positive it will be the shortest most effective option?” She demanded attempting to appear an authority on the matter.
Will looked at her and wished she wasn’t wearing long sleeves, he was sure her symbol would confirm his suspicions of her being in the governing caste, the way she wanted to make decisions and do his job for him, taking over without truly understanding the situation, it was typical of those people.
“Mrs. Contino I have reviewed and studied all of these options thoroughly and I am convinced that surgery would not only be the safest but the quickest, I’d just like to know what do you think we should do that would be best for your daughter?” Said Will softly
He thought it may have been over the top but he knew it would be the final haymaker to this woman’s decision against surgery, he threw a concerned glance into their daughter’s room and gave a ginger touch to her mother’s forearm and said. “I just want her to make it, no child should be in this place.”
Sure enough he was right, Mr. and Mrs. Contino followed his gaze and started to tear up, after a few moments they snapped their faces back to Will their stared at him with an intensity that said we are trusting you with the most important person in both of our lives please don’t let us down. It was an intensity that told him they would both be destroyed if anything were to happen to their child. Will stared right back almost piercing their souls with understanding waiting for their choice.
“We want you to operate on her” Said Mrs. Contino slightly choked up tears welled in her eyes
“I will, and you can count on me to get her through this” Will looked at both of them, gave them a nod and said “She’s a strong girl, together we can pull her through, we’ll start prepping her in an hour, why don’t you go inside and spend some more time with her.”
Mrs. Contino stifled a sob, Mr. Contino took her by the shoulders and led her back into the room, as they entered the monitors retreated back into the floor and the parents resumed their previous posts before Will had entered the room. Will watched them enter with a feeling of accomplishment burning inside him. This accomplishment, however, was quickly replaced with frustration towards the anti-mod groups. Their presence had begun to pop up almost everywhere in the city be it through violence or speech. Will let out a short sigh as he turned to look at his next chart. He walked towards his next patient, the irony not lost on him that another augmented human would be entering the world as a direct result of their anti-mod actions. “Idiots” He spat.