Married by Mistake Chapter 38. Emergency Room Visit


Chapter 38. Emergency Room Visit

“We will have to go back to get our bags when we have the car.” Kaylee, taking command of the situation. She had noticed that Tom look more pale, but was not saying anything.

Kaylee contorted herself to look through the tunnel that separated from the front to the patient compartment.

He definitely favored the arm and he rubbed the fingers lightly. The occasional yelp of pain was testament that his arm caused him more agony than before they left the plane.

“Tom, why don’t you admit something is wrong? You picked up that bag with that arm, did it hurt then?” Kaylee called back.

“No. But that is the only thing I did. I didn’t even think about it.” He admitted. Tom Looked at the medic. “I really didn’t feel anything was wrong after I picked up the bag.”

“I’m married, I am not about to get in the middle of an argument. You just stay cool, you can always argue later.” The medic shook his head with a wry grin.


“Yup. Big rule: Do not get involved with husband-wife spats.” The medic chuckled. “I always lose.”

“My arm hurts worse, I thought it was the plane and decompression.” Tom moaned.

“Is it throbbing or is it a steady pain?” The medic asked as he taped down an IV on Tom’s good arm. “Your blood pressure is lower than I would expect.”

Using pillows, the medic raised the arm above Tom’s heart.

“Oh, I had a bit of surgery on my arm and it started to hurt after I picked up a bag to carry. I shifted it to my good arm, but I think I pulled on something too much.” Tom said, his voice stronger, doing his best to hide his discomfort. “Actually, that makes it feel better.”

“Okay, it’s just a short trip to Mountain View hospital, just a couple of miles.” The medic said as he looked forward, his name was George, he looked like a man who had many miles in an ambulance. “How long have your fingers been cool like this?”

“Cool? They felt warm in the airplane.”

George pressed on Tom’s fingernails of his good hand.

“Uh-huh.” Then his fingers went to Tom’s pained hand. “Can you feel when I touch your fingers?”

“It tingles a bit.” Tom said. “That’s okay, it has been like that for a while.”

“Define a while?”

“Most of the day, but my fingers have stayed warm and red.”

Nodding, George let no concern show behind his brown eyes. He might as well been talking about the weather.

“Well,” George pressed on the bandage, leaving the bandage on his arm. “We will get the doctor to open this time-bomb carefully.”

“Why don’t you do it?”

“Ah yeah, no. What if I release the pressure and turn you into a firehose of blood?” George chuckled. “That would be a bad thing. I can see it leaking through the gauze now. This close to the ER, you are better off to have a surgical team look this over to release the pressure.”

Tom laughed nervously, unsure if he was joking.

Backing into the ambulance bay at the ER Entrance, Kaylee watched a conversation between George and an older woman in a white coat about surgery and sudden and increasing pain got the doctor’s attention while the medic crew rolled Tom in on a bright yellow ambulance gurney.

“Mister Harte? I am Doctor Octavia Guzman. Is it okay if I examine you and your arm.” The white coated woman smiled as a nurse walked close and started taking notes on a computer stand.

“Do your fingers tingle?” The doctor said

“Yes, a little.”

“Have they been cool or warm?” She asked touching them. Her raven-black hair was almost blue, the black eyes of a local native tribe. She had an air of professionalism mixed with deep caring. The crew rolled Tom to a separate room off to the side and moved him to a hospital bed.

“Cap-refill is greater than four-seconds. We need to get a view of his surgery site.” She directed to the nurse.

Giving orders for a host of tests, she sat down with Tom and Kaylee .

Answering all her questions, the original trauma and surgery to fix the wound.

“Donna?” He turned to the clerk. “Get me his surgeon on the phone.”

“Let’s open this bandage and see what the trouble with the arm is, shall we?” The Doctor trimmed away the white bandage, stained a slight-brown with the fluids soaking through from the suture line.

“You say you picked something up?”

“Yes,” Tom hissed in pain when the doctor pulled back on the layer of bandage she cut. “My other hand was full and I was just going to hang the bag on my good wrist. It wasn’t heavy. Maybe seven-kilos. My elbow popped, but it always pops after not using it much.”

“Hm. Fascinating.” While she trimmed more of the wrapping away. “This is rather tight, did you wrap your arm this tight to begin with?”

“Kaylee , my wife, she was in the other room when I started the wrap with one hand.”

“Well, now I have looked a little deeper, you would do well to let her do it from now on. You wrapped it too tight and restricted the return circulation.” He pressed a fingernail, blanching it white. The color returned quickly. “You might be having more pain in the hand now?”

Tom moaned slightly.

“Yeah, it aches.”

“How long has it been since you changed the dressing? When did you wrap it so tightly?”

“Um.”Tom thought, looking at the clock on the wall. “About three-hours now.”

“Blood is returning, but I am still worried about the extensive surgery you had on this arm and the bandage being tight for so long. The popping sound you heard also bothers me. I’ll be talking with your surgeon and ask his opinion. I recommend you see him as soon as possible over this incident.”

The doctor looked at his fingers again, the color had returned to reasonable facsimile of normal and were warming up.

“I will get a vascular consult on this and make sure that no lasting damage resulted from the bandage.” She smiled at Tom. “I think you get to thank your wife for saving the arm. She told the nurse that you wanted to go to the hotel and instead she brought you here in the ambulance.”

“That’s true.” Tom said. “But I wanted to change the bandage at the hotel room, so we could have cured the problem.”

“Maybe. But you did not know. You had gone all the way around with the tape when you put your bandage on, the tape acted as a constricting band and cut off the return of the blood in your arm. ” With that, the Doctor walked out.

Two hours later, they were in a rental Tesla and driving towards the courthouse.

“Seriously, Tom.” Kaylee said in an irritated voice. “You wrapped that thing too tight. Doctor Tribbing told Doctor Guzman that you’ll be okay, but you need to let someone else dress your arm. It was lucky I paid attention when they said how to check the fingertips.”

“You are my hero.” Tom winked but winced when they hit a bump. “It’s still tender to bumps.”

“I will not have you behaving like an idiot teenager, you will hire a home-care person until your arm is fully healed.” Kaylee sounded threatening while wheeling the Tesla Model X into a parking spot set aside for electric cars.

“We need to get going.” Tom nodded. “I can arrange the home care in a blink.”

“Well, we are here. Let’s get this done and go party. We also have to check in to the hotel room.”

“Just one? Not two?”

“I plan to have one more night, I’ll party with someone who’s not my husband until you pass out.”

“I will drink some espresso, then.”

“I’ll make you some chamomile tea, instead. It’s healthier for you.”

“Maybe.” Tom said. “Ugh, arm is throbbing.”

Standing in line for five minutes, they discussed their party plans for the evening.

The clerk was slightly disbelieving to the intent and the friendliness of the couple. They paid cash for the forms, and followed the instructions on the printed paper. They finished in a short time.

Walking back out to the car, they found a citation on the windshield for parking in the electric-only car stall.

The parking enforcement officer was just getting back to his vehicle.

“What is this for?” Tom asked.

“You can’t park there, sir. Electric only.”

“This is electric.”

“Sorry, sir. I don’t it says four-wheel-drive on the back.”

“It’s all electric…”

“Bring it up in the courts, it’s not my call.” The young man said.

Kaylee sighed. An urge to kick someone was growing, like she not had kicked a man in the chest in a month.

“Let’s go to an un-wedding party of our own. Forget this place. We’re done with business here.” Tom suggested.

“Yeah! Let’s get out of here.” The wife-that-never-was agreed.

Climbing into the eSUV, Kaylee found the large tag that hung on the mirror which had a large blue lightning bolt emblazoned on it that would be visible from the sidewalk and have avoided the parking nazi from citing the rental.

“Kay, it’ll be interesting to have that conversation, but I will make sure it’s passed on to the rental company.” Tom smiled. “We were in a hurry and wanted to get me out of the ER. So if they told us, I don’t recall.”

“Neither do I. And I don’t remember getting a receipt.” Fishing through her purse. “But here it is.”

Reading the slip, she gasped.

“It says where the electric tag is. Ugh.”

“Nothing to worry about. It doesn’t go on anyone’s driving record.”

“Just annoys me,” Kaylee said as she tapped in their destination to the hotel in the GPS. “But I came here with a good time planned and I will not have anything distract me.”

“Oh? Want to lay out by the pool?” Tom said as he looked out the window. “It is a nice day, a bit hot. We can always go gambling.”

“Gambling is good, I didn’t bring my swimsuit or many clothes. Some nice pants and a top so we can have dinner out somewhere.”

“But you brought a bag that’s kind of heavy.”

“Tom, those are bandages and other supplies for things.”

“Other things? What do you mean… Ooh!” The meaning of what his ex- sank in…

Well, he couldn’t call her an ex-wife, in the eyes of the government, it never happened. So she has no ex- in relation to her other than as an ex-girlfriend.

Still! Oh, smoking crap on a cracker!


Jeeze. She was serious about this being a one last time to remember.

“Um, be gentle with me?” Tom asked.

Laughing cryptically, Kaylee just drove.

The Overconfidence Effect


The Confidence of Committee

Remember, they were confident the Titanic was unsinkable.

‟The virus is simply that: A virus. We know it is not airborne and can live outside the body for some time. This virus hazard time is in days, before it becomes inactive. But it is not airborne or dust-borne. We can handle this.”

Doctor Azrae Calnau, head of the Biosafety labs in the government. A dark agency within the CDC, not only charged with finding treatments, preventions and cures of a particular pathogen, but to find a way to treat such illnesses for soldiers. Whether enemy or ally, Dr. Calnau cared not. It was information that the ,government would choose to share.

But he was confident that the reports of this new pathogen that was moving through the communities of the poor, but highly populated planets were accurate. The crushing poverty since the collapse of the economy of the Gliese had come suddenly and left those that were heavily invested in the worlds with no funds to leave for new lives.

The result of crowding of families with poor ventilation and non-existent medical care.


The planet Sapphire, once the most violent planet in the outer systems enjoyed a resurgence in prosperity and peace. The government’s need to find an effective vaccinations against such a lethal illness quickly before it spread to Sapphire was a serious and growing threat .

Laymen called it red-sweat. Infected victims began to perspire heavily, the sweat turning crimson as the red blood cells broke down and hemoglobin leaked from the smallest of blood vessels— the capillaries— and flowed out of the sweat glands. The sheets of the bed turned red, while the patient turned the color of a sheet. Death followed quickly with organ failure on a catastrophic level.

After the patient began to perspire, even clear sweat, contaminated everything by contact or touch. Clammy hands typing spread the disease from a keyboard or mouse being touched by someone else,  from touch screen menus at restaurants to the handles on doors of transport systems to call buttons on elevators.

Even the air could be contaminated with aerosols of an innocuous sneeze or cough. Even the filters of the ventilation systems of Gliese were inadequate for the task since the failure of the economy.

Teams of scientists volunteered, fully aware of Gliese’s limitations with sanitation and ventilation filter systems that dated back hundreds of years.

They were talking of two MD’s. Now infected, the illness was far more virulent than they ever expected.

A meeting, the best minds of the commitee of infection control.

‟We have the technology, we know how to control this. We can bring the two doctors here, under our controls in a class 3-I underground facility. There is no exposure to our open atmosphere, they would live or die on their home soil.” Paige Brach MD, Ph.D, D.Sc., president of the southern hemisphere research station. Located in a desert, the one area of the water planet where the perpetual high pressure system remained stationary in the last four-centuries. The desiccated land where the facility sat was billiard-table flat and no measurable water content in the soil until they drilled through bedrock more than a thousand meters deep, it was the only source of water for the facility.

‟We can treat them here.”

Raffe T’mbua, MD, Ph.D spoke up.

‟And if either one of them does not live? The bodies remain a vector, even if you mummify them. Do you have a plan?” He spoke softly.

‟We have two proposals, one is absolutely safe for the planet, even if the family may object.” Doctor Brach said.

‟Care to elaborate?”

‟Incineration, on the lab floor of three-eye, the ‟I” stands for incinerate. The body would be cremated in a fire so hot that the remaining ash would be melted into a glass.”

‟You would do this to the body of one of our own?”

‟It is an option, it would be sterile, to say the least. The plasma torch used, reaches temperatures in excess of twenty-thousand Celsius at its center to reduce the body to ash and then to a glass slag approximately five to ten-percent of the original mass, perhaps less.”

‟That’s…” Tsing Mao-Smith shook her head. ‟Wrong. That is no way to treat a human body. What is the other option?”

‟High-energy ionizing radiation, we would irradiate the body for a period of time to sterilize it.” Paige described the procedure. ‟We are fairly certain that this would prevent spread of the virus to the population at large.”

Fletcher Steel Ph.D. coughed and spoke up. Professor emeritus at the Northern University of the biological studies and research school.

‟That is not a zero-percent chance. It is impossible to irradiate and say with absolute conviction that nothing will live.”

‟No, the math is not absolutely zero. There is always a small chance.”

‟Even if the chance is vanishingly small, I am not willing to introduce a virulent life form into this planet that is already an artificial biosphere, we have not addressed everything yet. Our oxygen event is still happening. The planetary systems are showing signs of cooling down, this in turn will tend to cluster our people closely— a prime setting for a plague to wipe us out.” Professor Steel said softly. ‟We would not have time to develop a defense to fight back.”

‟So you support incineration?” Doctor Mao-Smith said, incredibly. ‟Fletch, I would have never thought you would support that.”

‟I’m not, I oppose either of these people brought back to our planet. One mistake, one leak, a single aerosolized droplet on a worker that goes home, it will spread in this world like wildfire.” The Professor said. ‟It is safer to send our equipment there.”

‟And expose more of our people to the illness?” Paige shook her head. ‟How do you justify that? We have the technology here, ready. There is nothing we cannot handle.”

‟They stay underground until they are clear of the viral bodies.” Tsing said. ‟We will not use any of the equipment again. Everything is incinerated in the plasma furnace, gurneys, bedding. Anything that has direct contact with the patient.”

‟That would be a challenge, Doctor Mao-Smith.” Paige said formally. ‟We can irradiate with UV-c and gas with Cyto-tox. And non of the equipment would ever be brought to the surface.”

‟You are confident in your assessment of containment, then.” Mariko Wong, Ph.D looked directly at Paige.

‟Yes, there is nothing that can go wrong. We have quadruple redundancies.” Paige smiled softly. ‟Nothing can go wrong.”

Quietly watching the circle of highly educated minds grapple with the issue, Doctor Calnau tapped on his PDA, spoke to Paige.

‟Explain this to me as if I were a child, I have confidence in you— but convince me anyway.”