A heads-up to those who have been faithfully reading this story. I wrote all that I have so far of The Travelers over a year ago. This chapter I am now posting is the last one I’ve written. I do want/hope to write more and eventually finish this story, but the characters have not spoken to me for awhile. I’m hoping that posting this might give me the push/inspiration/words to finish it. I’d love to know anyone’s thoughts on this story, as well as any others I’ve written and posted. Feedback does help with the inspiration sometimes. Thank you!
*micro-needle – An exceptionally small needle used in delicate surgeries
*Biosealant – A special type of bonding agent that can be used both inside and outside the body. Often used in surgeries.
There was an intense soberness in their quarters as Oz and Cay settled together in the room’s small sitting area. Amrynn lay sleeping on their bed, still oblivious to what Cay had discovered. Neither man had said much since leaving the med unit, and the silence continued as they sat side by side drinking hot cups of nectar.
Neither was aware of how much time passed until the quiet was disturbed by a knock at their door. Oz rose halfheartedly to see who was there. A concerned-looking Seren greeted him when he opened the door. Respectfully, but in a subdued manner, Oz welcomed him inside.
“Charge Seren, come in.”
“Thank you, Oz. I just came to check on the three of you and see if I could be of any help.”
The men offered Seren a seat, and Oz shrugged rather disconsolately while looking to Cayson to answer the Charge Pilot’s offer.
“Have you seen the results of the brain scan?” the young doctor questioned.
“No,” Seren acknowledged. “But I talked with Backer Eris and he told me what was found.” He paused briefly, seeming to examine his next words. “I know a blood clot is serious, but Eris said you have a treatment plan already.”
“It’s tentative right now,” Cay corrected. “We want to discuss the options with Amrynn first.”
Seren nodded in understanding. “What exactly are the options?”
Cay looked across the room to his wife’s sleeping form as he answered. “There are no medications to cure clots, so that’s not even in the game plan, although once we’re settled on Neveah I’d really like to focus a lot of research and testing on this area.” He sighed. “But since that’s not an option right now, we’re looking at two risky choices. One is to simply keep on as we did before we knew of the clot. If she’s had it since her injury when she was twelve, then it’s already been there on her brain stem for seven years. It’s small, which is one good point, but it’s not dormant. She’ll continue to get headaches and be at risk for innumerable other problems should the clot grow or shift. We can try to treat what we can as they happen, but the root will never be corrected.”
Seren took that information in. “What other problems could potentially occur if you do nothing about the clot?”
The smallest of noises came from Oz, and Seren’s look at the man showed him how stressed and afraid his co-Traveler was. Cayson’s eyes had gotten damp at his question as well, but his voice kept a professional quality to it.
“They’re all only ‘maybes’ right now, but a clot located where it is could eventually cause brain damage, impaired motor skills, depleted vision and hearing, vertigo…and it could end up being fatal.” Cay took a shaky breath. “If the clot grows, it could completely cut off oxygen to her brain. She’d be dead in hours if that happened.”
At those words the obvious but muted sound of tears could be heard. Oz had covered his face in both hands and was straining to control himself. Seren ached for the man and had every sympathy. But Cayson, who knew that tears were a rare thing for his husband, put his arms around the slightly taller man and held him. For a minute, Oz cried into his neck, but then seemed to be able to pull himself together and bring the tears to a halt.
“Sorry,” he choked out.
Seren shook his head at him. “Don’t apologize, Oz. There’s no shame in feeling emotional about this.” Taking his attention off Oz so the man could have the sense of gathering himself together without being the focus, Seren looked to Cayson. “What’s the other choice, Cay? You said you had two options.”
Cay nodded and with one arm still around Oz, told Seren of their other choice. “I could perform a surgery on her,” he said hesitantly. “The incision itself would be small, but the surgery is very delicate. I’d have to insert a micro-needle into the clot to drain it, and then follow that up with a special biosealant to prevent the clot from reforming. With the clot being so small and at her brain stem, it will be very difficult to do, and if I’m off even a little I could cause damage to her brain and innumerable other parts of her body. If I slip, I could paralyze or kill her while trying to save her.”
“But if you’re successful…?” Seren asked encouragingly.
Cay managed a barely hopeful smile. “If I’m successful, then the clot will no longer pose a danger to her, and she shouldn’t be any more prone to headaches than the rest of us.”
The three men were silent for a few minutes at that thought. Seren took the time to run his mind through memorized data and ways to help.
“Cayson…Oz,” he said quietly after several minutes. “Offering my own medical services wouldn’t be much help, but we have several highly qualified medical personnel who I would make sure were available to you. You know Backers Eris and Eli would be top-quality assistants. Eris especially is good with anesthesia practices. Charge Ionna is another who is very qualified, and you may or may not be aware that Charge Kel from Culinary actually has a first ranking in medical service. According to his records, he’s been involved in several types of surgeries. Nothing in the brain if I recall, but draining a blood clot isn’t a new operation and I know he’s been involved in at least two drainings in other body locations…one in the leg and the other on a lung.”
Cayson’s eyes met his. “I worked with Kel in our med training. He’s exceptional, but I didn’t know he was experienced in blood clots. I’d like to talk with him.”
Seren nodded. “I know he’d help any way he could.”
Cayson’s gaze grew determined. “I’ll try to meet with him tomorrow, but Oz and I can’t make any plans until we discuss all this with Am.”
“I understand, but I want you to know that I’ll do anything I can for all of you. I’ve no intention of losing even one Traveler. We’re each other’s friends and family even more than coworkers, and we’re going to do everything we can to provide a new and advantageous life for everyone.”
The certainty with which he spoke encouraged the two men, and small but much more real smiles appeared on their faces.
“Thank you, Seren,” Cay said gratefully. Oz didn’t speak, but he nodded in obvious appreciation as well.
“You’re welcome, gentlemen. I hope you’ll get some rest tonight. Please keep me informed of your decision, and if you do get together with Charge Kel, I’d like to be a part of that meeting. It can never be harmful to have my own knowledge grown, even if I’m not a good choice to help with the surgery.” He stood as he spoke. “I’ll take my leave. Contact me anytime if I’m needed.”
The two men nodded and Seren left with one last wish for a good night’s sleep.
Oz and Cay leaned back into the small couch, with Oz soon resting his head on Cay’s shoulder.
“You’re handling this much better than I am,” Oz commented.
Cay tilted his head and rested his cheek on Oz’s hair. “It helps me to focus on the medical aspect of it,” he confessed. “Instead of worrying, I can be constructive in my thinking and be better prepared overall.”
Oz’s voice dropped to a low whisper. “I don’t have the extensive medical training you do, so that doesn’t work for me. All I can think about is that we might lose her. My mind keeps flashing back to that day she got hurt.”
Cay felt a pain in his chest at just the mention of that day. The three of them, as was typical, had been playing together after school. It had been the cold season and snow covered the ground, but that hadn’t bothered them. Building snow forts and impromptu snowball fights were an enjoyed part of their childhood.
On that day, the three of them had been working on a fort and been building it against several trees that grew in Oz’s yard. None of them had paid much attention to the icicles hanging from the branches above them. It had been a shock to the two boys when one of the icicles dropped and gouged Amrynn in the back of the head.
She hadn’t made a sound when it hit her; just dropped to the ground in an unconscious heap at Cayson’s side. Blood from the fresh wound had stained the snow around her and Cay remembered screaming for Oz to go get his dads to help them. He’d fallen to his knees next to her and ripped off his scarf to hold it against the wound and try to stop the bleeding.
Later, he and Oz had watched as medics worked over Amrynn’s unconscious form before hurrying her to the hospital. She’d lain in a coma for three days while the doctors worked to prevent bleeding into her brain. Eventually she’d turned a corner and began responding well to treatment, but that image of Amrynn bleeding into the snow and looking like she was already lost to them was a picture that the two men would always have in their heads.
“We’re not going to lose her, Oz,” Cay said definitively. “I won’t let it happen.”