The White Haired Doctor
An hour later Reid sat in the
waiting room under the low ceiling trying to recall exactly what had happened.
The air was thick with the stench of sickness and cleaning fluid thick, too
claustrophobic to think clearly. The ceiling was supposed to be white but was
stained yellow from decades of nerve-wracked smokers. In the corner there were
some children throwing around toys and people spoke to each other in loud
voices. The television was loud and oppressive. He could hardly sit still. He
didn't feel grief, only a numbing impatience. Taylor had biked down from the
house after Reid had called him but he didn't say much because there wasn't
much to say. Reid had also called Drake's parents.
"Reid McFetridge," someone
said. He jumped to my feet. From the waiting room a nurse led him to a small
room with an armchair and some cheap paintings hanging on the wall. There was a
Bible under the lamp beside the chair that looked like it had never been
opened. Three doctors stood in the room as he entered, but it was the
white-haired doctor who spoke to him.
"Reid, I'm Dr. DiLeo."
Reid didn't catch the name nor did he care who he was. He sat in the chair
across from him but couldn't look at him in the eye for some reason.
"I know this must be painful...
Drake is breathing now with the help of a machine. He was what we call D.O.A. Do you know what that means?" Dead on Arrival! His stomach churned and
he could feel the dried sweat becoming moist again on his forehead. He nodded.
"Could you tell us what
happened?" he asked. "You were out running and..." His paternal
voice sounded caring and wise. He trusted the voice so he lowered my head and
told him everything that had happened. There were no interruptions while he
spoke. Only his voice resonating against the four walls, the three doctors and
God. After he finished, the doctor spoke softer to him.
"Did you know of any health
problems Drake had?"
"None. He's the fittest guy I
know. We've been running together for years." The doctor didn't say
anything. "He never complained of anything, and I don't think he had any
injuries, at least none that I know of." Again there was a silence that
deafened. Reid couldn't take the silence. "What happened to him
"He suffered a heart
"Heart attack!" He felt a chill go down his spine like piano
keys. "That was a heart attack?"
"We don't know what caused it,
Reid. He appears to be a healthy, strong young man with no previous history of
heart trouble." The white-haired doctor dipped his chin towards the floor
and sighed, and then one of the young doctors spoke.
"Did you attempt C.P.R.?"
His question made Reid shake suddenly, adrenaline stirring. He looked at the
young doctor and wondered if he knew those words would remain in his mind for
the rest of his life.
"No," he replied to the
white-haired doctor. "He was contorting too much. I mean his whole body was in
spasm to breathe. I couldn't have given him CPR." The deadened
pause caused him to struggle for air. His lungs suddenly felt like lead.
"We're not saying you should
have son," DiLeo assured him. He could feel beads of sweat covering his
upper lip. "Drake is in a coma." A deep pang of guilt shot through
him to the far reaches of his soul.
"Coma? I, I don't understand." All of it defied logic.
"Neither do I Reid," said
the sad blue eyes under the bushy white eyebrows. "Neither do I."