“Madam, is that your final decision?” Duke asked the woman.
“Please, call me Gina.” She looked at Loretta crying in Lola’s arms and she returned her gaze at Duke. “Yes. It is my final decision.”
“No!!” Loretta cried.
“I will get you the consent forms for you to sign.” Duke told her.
Duke marched away with Ahmed. Duke could not look at Lola. It wasn’t his fault. What he did was the normal procedure.
Lola looked at Loretta. “You have to stop crying.”
“You won’t understand. My father is all I have. My mother cheated on my father and left us.”
“Loretta!” Gina uttered. “She is a stranger, you can’t tell her that.”
She stared at her mother with enraged eyes. “I can tell her whatever I want. You are the one that is a stranger. Dad was ready to give you a second chance but you said the marriage wasn’t working!”
“I had to leave.”
“Then leave and never come back!”
“Loretta, please don’t shout at your mom.” Lola said. “I will leave both of you to talk. I will be right back.”
She held Lola’s hands very tight. “Promise me he won’t cut my father’s leg.”
“I will do everything I can to persuade Dr. Duke to change his mind. You can stay here.”
Lola hiked away to look for Duke. She sighted him with Jidenna and Ahmed. They were in a conversation. She stood behind them and waited.
“I have told Oliver to get me the consent forms for the surgery.” Duke said to Jidenna.
“How is the patient now?”
“He is stable, although he has not woken up because of the volume of anesthetic administered to him.”
“You have to see Dr. Wendy about this before the wife signs the consent form.”
“I know. I will talk to you later.”
“Dr. Duke.” Lola called him.
Jidenna was about to walk away when he heard Lola’s voice. He paused. The three of them faced her.
“What is it Dr. Bello?” Duke asked.
“It’s about the patient.”
“What about him?”
“I wanted to ask if it’s possible not to cut his leg.”
“What kind of a request is that? This is not the first hospital you have worked before. You are talking as if I am in the position to make a choice for the patient because his daughter wants the surgery. If I do otherwise and something goes wrong, she can sue not only me but the hospital.”
“I know the procedure but I am confident that you are capable of saving his leg without amputation. I trust you.”
Duke gives her a look and thought for a quick moment. “Right now, I don’t trust myself.”
“What if you do the surgery without letting the wife know?”
“This is unethical. You are emotional about this and crossing the line.”
“I am sorry.” Lola said calmly.
“The wife is the right person to make a choice for her husband.”
“What if you carry on with the surgery and he survives it?” Jidenna asked Duke.
“It is possible he survives or dies during the surgery.” Duke replied.” The only way I can do the surgery is if the wife changes her mind about the amputation.”
“I can talk to her.” Lola quickly said.
“No problem but I don’t have time to waste. You need to be fast about it.”
Okay Dr. Duke.” Lola managed to smile at Jidenna for trying to back her up. Duke informed Ahmed that they should go to the cafeteria.
“Loretta, you have to listen to me.” Her mum said. “This is the best decision.”
“No! I can’t accept for my father to lose his leg.”
“He will use a prosthetic leg.”
“You are just selfish! You don’t care about him. You care only about yourself. Dad lost his job because he couldn’t concentrate after you walked out on us. He was able to get back on his feet because I told I would never leave him. I know I am young but I am wise enough to know you don’t have the right to order the surgeon to take one good thing in his life. He needs his leg to walk!”
“I am only trying to help him.” Gina said.
“You don’t know what the word help really means.”
“I do. What if your father dies during the surgery? Have you thought about that too?”
“I am not going to give up on him!”
Lola cleared her throat. She had been standing there and they didn’t notice her presence. Loretta speedily moved towards her.
“What did he say?”
“I have to convince your mom to change her mind.”
“She is not my mother anymore.” Loretta said.
Gina appeared upset and folded her arms. “What do you think you are doing doctor?”
Lola looked at her. “I don’t understand.”
“Are you trying to come between my daughter and I?”
Loretta pointed at her mother. “Don’t put the blame on her. She is trying to help!”
“I am not trying to come between you and Loretta.” Lola defended herself. “I am simply trying to bring peace between both of you.”
“You are not in the position to do that.”
“I am sorry. I know your daughter has been disrespectful to you but you have to understand that she is hurt…”
“By her betrayal.” Loretta didn’t allow Lola finish her sentence.
Lola looked at her. “Loretta, you are only making matter worse. Calm down and allow me talk to your mom.”
“Doctor, there is nothing you will say that will make me change my mind. When you need me to sign the consent forms, see me in the waiting room.” Gina walked out on them.
Loretta stared at her Lola. “She is unreliable. I knew she won’t listen to you.”
Lola took a deep breath and stare at her for a moment. “How old are you?”
“I am seventeen.”
“When is your next birthday?”
Loretta realized because of the situation she had forgotten her birthday and in a split second, she remembered.
“As a matter of fact, my birthday is next tomorrow.”
“You will be eighteen by next tomorrow?”
“You can go to the waiting room, I will see you there.”
Lola and Loretta left the room together and separated. Lola searched for Dr. Duke, went to his office but didn’t find him. She went to the emergency ward and sighted Zara with her young patient. She had discharged him and was giving the child’s mother his prescriptions. They left and Lola questioned her.
“Have you seen Dr. Duke?”
Zara gives her a curious look. “Why are you looking for him?”
Lola turned around and saw Jidenna but he was talking to a man. She decided to check the cafeteria. She went there, and surveyed. The aroma of food made her very hungry but she wasn’t there for that. She touched her stomach and heaved a sigh. Lola saw Ahmed and Duke eating on the same table and she moved to meet them.
“Dr. Duke.” She called him.
Duke peered into her eyes. The look in her eyes gave him the answer he needed. He didn’t even allow her to talk further. “She refused, right?
“How did you know?” Lola asked him in a surprised tone.
“Never mind,” he said. “We will do the surgery.”
“The patient’s daughter will be eighteen by next tomorrow. We already know they don’t want the same thing. We can have a board meeting to cast a vote to support between mother and daughter.”
He dropped the spoon on his plate and drank the remaining water. He wiped his mouth with a clean napkin and rose. He stood in front of her. “Do you expect me to wait?”
“Can the patient be strong to wait till next tomorrow?”
“No. We have to perform the surgery today. I’m done talking to you Dr. Bello.” He looked at Ahmed’s direction. “Are you still eating?”
“No doc.’ Ahmed stood. He had placed his spoon down.
Duke began to walk away.
Ahmed stared at Lola. “I’m sorry.” He hurried to walk with Duke.
Lola thought of Loretta. She wasn’t going to give up.
Wendy Fayemi’s was working on her desk in her office when she heard a knock on her door.
“Come in.” She ordered.
Lola entered and closed the door.
Wendy looked up and dropped her pen on a document. “Dr. Lola Bello, what can I do for you?”
Lola became short of words. She didn’t know what to say anymore.
“What is it?” Wendy asked. “You can talk to me about anything.”
“It’s about the surgery?”
“Which of them? Who is the surgeon?”
“Oh I see. I’m expecting him to bring the consent forms for me to sign before the wife of the patient does.”
“But the daughter doesn’t want Dr. Duke to amputate her father’s leg.”
“I know but she does not have to power to give the order. His wife does.”
“She is still his wife. They are not divorced yet. What exactly do you want me to do?”
“I want you to talk to Dr. Duke and persuade him not to do the surgery.”
“You know the protocol and you are still insisting Dr. Duke shouldn’t cut his leg. I am not happy with you. You got close to the daughter. I am sorry, I can’t do anything.”
“But you are the chief of surgery.”
“I know. If I agree, I can lose my position here.”
Duke knocked and opened the door. He appeared surprised to see Lola. He said nothing and gestured to Wendy’s desk. He dropped the documents and she signed straight away.
“Let the woman sign.”
Duke turned and started walking towards the door when Dr. Wendy spoke to Duke. “Won’t you ask why she is here?”
Duke sighed, turned back and faced her. “Why is she here?”
Wendy explained. Lola couldn’t look at him. He moved closer to Lola.
“Why are you so stubborn?” Duke asked her. “How could you go behind my back to talk to Dr. Wendy about my surgery? You had no right.”
“I am sorry, I just wanted to help.”
“This is not the best way to help.”
Lola stared at him. “I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”
Duke saw tears hovering around her eyes. “It’s okay.” He gestured to the door, put his hand on the handle and hesitated. Duke looked at Wendy and spoke. “What if I wake the patient?”
Lola gazed at him surprised.
Wendy rose on her feet. “You want to wake the patient?”
“That is risky and unethical.”
“I know but it’s worth the risk. I can ask him what he wants.”
“Dr. Duke, I am not disappointed in you. I am surprised at your actions. The patient won’t be himself. Whatever you tell him, he will say yes to.”
“Let’s give the daughter what she wants.”
Wendy looked at Lola and pondered on how she did it to convince Dr. Duke. They knew him to be stubborn when it comes to making decisions for his patients. She glanced back at Duke.
“No. As the chief of surgery, I want the leg amputated. It is the wife’s decision and I want you to go and meet her to sign the papers. Immediately you do that, amputate it.”
“I will talk to his wife and if she refuses to listen to me, I will wake him up.”
“Dr. Duke don’t do it. It’s an order.”
Duke gazed at Lola. “Dr. Bello, come with me.”
He opened the door and Lola followed.
“Dr. Duke, I don’t want you to have issues with Dr. Wendy.”
He stopped walking and faced her. “I am not doing this because of you. I am doing it because of that girl that believes in her father.”
“If only I know what it means to have a father.” She said almost in tears.
Duke stared at her surprised. He didn’t say a word.
Lola sniffed her nose and quickly wiped under her right eye. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t supposed to tell you that.”
Duke and Lola walked towards the waiting room and met Ahmed and Melvin coming their way.
“Dr. Duke, I have been looking for you.” Ahmed said.
“I was with Dr. Wendy.”
“Can I assist you Dr. Duke?” Melvin asked him.
Oliver whistled at them, they looked at his direction and he ran down to meet them. He stared at Melvin. “Dr. Jidenna needs you.”
“Okay.” He went with Oliver.
Duke, Lola and Ahmed went to meet Gina. Loretta motioned closer to listen.
“Where are the papers for me to sign?”
“They are with me but I will like to talk to you.” Duke answered.
“I am not going to change my mind if that is what you want to talk to me about.”
“I want you to ask yourself, what if both of you were still together as a happy couple, would you agree to amputate the leg?”
“I want you to ask yourself, what if both of you were still together as a happy couple, would you agree to amputate the leg?”
“I don’t know.”
“You can amputate his leg if that is what she wants.” Loretta said in a teary tone.
They were surprised at the words that came out from her mouth.
“Do you want to give up like that?” Duke asked her.
“I am not giving up. I am just tired of everything.” She looked at him with tears falling from her eyes. “Maybe I am wrong. Maybe he will die if you go ahead with the surgery.”
“We don’t know that.”
Loretta wiped her face with the back of her left hand. “What if it was you? What if it was your father? What would you have done?”
Duke smiled. “That is a brilliant question. My father and I were very close before he died. He was my best friend.”
Lola looked at him pitifully.
He added. “He was a strong and wonderful man and I wouldn’t agree for any surgeon to amputate his leg. I know my father will fight for his life because he knows he has a family to return to.”
“What if he dies? Will you be able to forgive yourself?”
“What if the leg is amputated and he doesn’t survive it? And what if he survives and he feels useless despite using a prosthetic leg?”
Loretta looked at her mother. “Mum, please do this for me. I am sorry for disrespecting you. I promise to love you. If you amputate his leg, he will never forgive you.”
All eyes were on Gina. She was fighting hard not to cry. She heaved a long sigh. “Even though my head says no, my heart says yes. I want you to do the surgery.”
They were all surprised. Loretta hugged her mom and they started crying together. Duke walked away faster. Lola and Ahmed quickly went to meet him.
“Ahmed, get ready, we are going in. I want you to page Dr. Zara, she will join us.”
“What about me?” Lola asked.
“I can’t allow you.”
“Dr. Duke,” Ahmed said. “If not for her we would have amputated the leg hours ago.”
“Please, I want to assist you.” Lola pleaded.
“You have involved yourself with the family. You are too close to this. You have to step back.”
“What will I be doing?”
“Convince my patient’s daughter to go home, rest and eat. You should eat too. We are going to be in the OR for more than ten hours.”
Lola’s face fell but she understood. “Okay.”
He was about stepping away with Ahmed when Lola spoke to him.
“I am sorry about your father.”
“Why are you sorry?” Duke asked in a puzzled tone.
“You said you lost your father.” Ahmed reminded him.
“Oh.” Duke chuckled. “I told her what she wanted to hear. My father is not dead. He is alive.”
Duke marched away and continued to laugh. Ahmed and Lola stared at each other speechless. They had never seen him laugh like that.
Loretta refused to go home. She and her mother followed Lola to the cafeteria to eat. Loretta took her drugs too. Lola called her mother she might return home late.
At 8:21pm, Jidenna saw Lola sitting alone and looking very worried. He sat down beside her and she looked at him.
“I understand how you feel.”
“I don’t think anyone does.”
“Yes I do. When I started working here, I assured a family about their father. I promised them he would survive. The surgeon in charge did everything she could to save him. We lost him. I couldn’t face his family. When they received the news, they blamed me.”
“I am sorry to hear that.”
“It took me a while to get over it. I hope the patient that is making you to get worried survives it.”
“I hope so.”
Jidenna touched and squeezed Lola’s hand slightly. He smiled at her and left. She saw Loretta coming her way. She stood.
“Have you heard anything about my dad?”
“No. Where is your mom?”
“She went home to get some items for us.”
“That’s okay. Let’s sit down together.”
They sat and Loretta rested her head on Lola’s shoulder.
Damn it!” Duke uttered. “We are losing the patient!”
The patient was losing blood and Duke was trying to stop the bleeding.
“Doc, the patient is not stable.” The anesthesiologist stated.
Duke, Ahmed and Zara remained focused and determined to save Mr. James.
“Stay with me, don’t give up on me!” Duke said.
11.12pm, Duke came out and saw Lola and Loretta sleeping. He called her name. Lola woke and Loretta did immediately. They rose.
“How did it go?” Lola asked.
“What about my father?” Loretta questioned. There was fear in her eyes.
“It might take some months for him to be able to walk properly. He survived.”
Loretta hugged Duke tightly with tears dropping down her neck. “Thank you, thank you, thank you so much! I’m grateful!”
“I simply did my job.”
“Where is he now?”
“He is in the intensive care unit. Dr. Bello will take you there.”
Loretta looked at Lola. She was unable to express herself. She embraced her.
Lola held her hand. “I will take you there.”
Lola smiled at Duke as she strolled away. Duke nodded and smiled back.
Ahmed walked to meet him. “Dr. Duke, did you tell Dr. Lola?”
Duke heaved a sigh. “I did not. Don’t mention it to her.”
“Okay doc.” Ahmed left Duke.
Duke was exhausted. He could not tell Lola what had happened in the OR. They had lost the patient but something happened. Something he couldn’t explain. It was probably what his father would call a miracle. Mr. James died for a moment and came back to life. Duke thought of his father. What would happen to him if his father lost his life? They were very close. Duke avoided going home because his mother won’t stop talking about marriage.
He dipped his hand into his pocket to get his phone and called his number.
“Hello Duke.” his father said in a tensed tone. “Are you okay?”
“I’m okay dad.”
“It’s 11:30pm. I thought something had happened to you.”
“I’m fine. I just wanted to check on you and tell you what I did.”
“What did you do?”
He narrated to his father what he told Loretta.
This dad laughed over the phone. “You owe me three bottles of beer!”
It was time for Duke to laugh about it again. “I will buy you a crate!”
Lola watched Loretta enter the ICU to meet her father. He was sleeping peacefully. Lola Bello wondered what it felt like to have a father. Her mother told her he died but never accepted her as his child.
To be continued.....
To be continued.....