Kelly Brackett was driving home after working 36 hours straight. All he wanted was to go home, slip into bed and sleep for the next twelve hours before he was due back to the ER. He thought about the date he missed with Dixie. He felt really bad about it. Dixie understood as always. He was thinking of some way to make it up to her when he looked to his right. Out of nowhere a car was coming straight for him. Last thing he heard was screeching metal before he blacked out.
The cars skidded to a stop almost a 100 feet after impact. Kelly’s car was slammed into a telephone pole with the driver’s side against it. A police officer that witnessed the impact immediately called the wreck to dispatch.
Within ten minutes after the officer’s call Station 51 arrived. Captain Stanley issued orders to his men. One was to spray the area with foam in case of gas leaks. As Johnny and Roy got their equipment out they decided that Roy would go check out the person or persons in the vehicle that was against the telephone pole. Chet would help Roy get into the car. After a minute Johnny joined them. He explained that there wasn’t anything wrong with the other guy. The driver was fine. In fact there wasn’t a scratch on him. He was drunk. Johnny reported with glee that the gentleman was being arrested.
With Chet’s help they were finally able to get the passenger door open. Roy got in and gasped. “Roy what’s wrong?” Johnny asked. “Johnny contact Rampart quick. Its Kelly Brackett and it looks bad, really bad”. Johnny took a look for himself. He just couldn’t believe what he saw. Kel was up against the steering wheel, passed out. You could tell from the visible injuries that it was going to be a long recovery. His head had hit the windshield and from the looks of it his head had whipped around and hit the driver’s side window. One arm was lying across the dashboard, the other one lay limply. Johnny and Roy quickly got the backboard, neck brace and other equipment. Johnny looked at Roy and asked, “What do I tell them?” Roy understood Johnny’s predicament. “Tell them the truth and then we will have Cap relay for us.”
Johnny set up the bio-phone, then took a deep breath. “Rampart, this is Squad 51 how do you read?” Johnny heard Joe Early’s voice come over the line. “Squad 51 we read you loud and clear.” “Rampart we have a victim of a two car accident. The first victim is fine. He was arrested on DUI charges. The second victim is a male approximately 38 years old. He has multiple lacerations and abrasions on his face, arms and hands. He is unconscious. We are in the process of his getting his vitals and hopefully getting a better assessment of his injuries. Rampart be advised that the victim is Doctor Brackett.” Johnny could almost hear the seconds tick by. After what seemed like an eternity Joe Early asked with a shaky voice “Squad 51 repeat that transmission.” “Doc the victim is Kel Brackett.” Squad 51 please keep us advised.” “Ten-four Rampart”
Joe stood there stunned. Mike Morton couldn’t believe what he heard. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Dixie enter the nurse’s station. Mike tapped Joe on the shoulder and pointed in her direction. Joe sighed and stepped out of the bay station. Mike watched with great concern as Joe told Dixie what they had just heard from 51. She stumbled and then braced her self. Joe kept a protective arm on her shoulder. They both entered the bay station. Dixie had tears streaming down her face asked Mike “Have you heard anything yet?” He shook his head no.
Back at the wreck Johnny and Roy had their hands full. First they took his vital signs. His BP was a little low, but not enough to worry about. His pulse was OK. Next as a precaution they put a neck brace on. The whole time they were working on Kel neither Johnny nor Roy said a word. Roy cleaned up his head wound while Johnny was trying to figure a way to get Kel out without any further injury. This was especially important since Johnny found Kel’s right foot pinned underneath the brake. They suspected he might have a back injury and didn’t want to add to the injury. Chet was amazed at first then realized that they were working on someone that was not only their mentor and colleague but also a friend.
Roy noted that Kel started to stir. “Doc, can you hear me?” Kel opened his eyes. Everything was blurry. He kept hearing a voice, plus a steady comforting hand. He tried to concentrate on the voice. Realization set in who was talking to him. “R..Roy?” Kel asked weakly. “Yeah, Doc, you have been in an accident. You understand me?” Kel nodded. We’ve contacted Rampart. Can you tell me where you hurt, I need to know?” Kel moved one hand to his neck and looked at Roy. “It’s a precaution we think you may have whiplash, you understand?” Kel slowly nodded. He started to mentally assess what hurt. With great difficulty he spoke. “My.” Kel stopped for a second swallowed hard then resumed “my head really hurts, I feel a little nauseous, my left shoulder maybe dislocated but I’m not sure. My left side hurts, maybe my ribs, it’s hard to breathe deep.” Kel closed his eyes for a second. Total panic swept across Kel’s face. “Doc, what is it, what’s wrong, please tell me?” “I can’t feel my legs.” He started hyperventilating. “Doc slow your breathing. That’s it. Good.” Roy was quiet for a second then found his voice. “OK, Johnny get the backboard will ya and get the guys so we can move him out of here. Oh, and here are the vitals.” Johnny just nodded and gave the information to Cap.
Cap took a deep breath as he watched with admiration what Johnny and Roy had to deal with. He got on the bio-phone. “Rampart this Squad 51. We have vital signs now on Doctor Brackett. He is now conscious, BP 100/70, pulses 120, respiration 60. He has a laceration that may require sutures on his forehead just above the right eye, has bruises and cuts everywhere, he says he thinks is left shoulder is dislocated, possible broken arm, possible broken ribs saying its hard to breathe deep. Possible broken right foot. Rampart he also states he has no feeling in his legs. My men are in the process of putting him on a backboard. They await instructions after he is brought out.”
Joe looked at Dixie and Mike with the utmost surprise. It was hard to think. “Squad 51 start an IV with D5W with ringers wide open. Make sure his back and neck are aligned. Please advise when ready to transport.” “Ten-four Rampart, Squad 51 out.”
It took about 5 minutes with precious care to get Kel out of the car. Kel was only semi-conscious. He was having a hard time concentrating. They finally got him out. They had to cut his shirt off so they could tape his ribs and immobilize his arm. Kel knew how good a team John and Roy were. But by watching them now he was fascinated. They worked, as they were one person, feeding off each other. He watched Johnny with admiration as he was starting an IV. He knew this was hard on them. He looked at Johnny and said in a quiet voice “ The student finally gets to get even with the teacher.” Johnny knowing that Kel was trying to ease the situation said with humor and a twinkle in his eye. “Well, well I get to finally practice my bedside manner on you.” Kel laughed then winced in pain. Johnny put a reassuring hand on Kel’s. Kel grabbed John’s hand and held on for dear life. Once the pain subsided he let go of his hand. Johnny looked at Roy saying “OK IV is started, lets get his wounds cleaned up as much as possible.” They got him cleaned up. “OK let’s transport. He’s got some anxious people waiting for him. Cap let’em know we are on our way.” Roy said. Cap contacted Rampart then told Chet to take the squad in they would pick him up at the hospital.
Johnny and Roy did everything they could to keep Kel comfortable on the way to Rampart. They could tell he was in considerable pain and that he was having a hard time staying conscious.
Within 15 minutes they were at Rampart. The paramedics looked out the windows of the ambulance and noticed three anxious faces. Within seconds they had Kel out of the ambulance and into the hospital. He opened his eyes and tried to smile at Dixie. “Hi, how are you?” he ask weakly. She looked at him smiling saying “Don’t you have that backwards, I should be asking you that question” The techs got Kel moved from the gurney to the exam table with great care and ease. Joe looked up at Johnny and Roy asking them to stick around that he would like to ask them some questions. They nodded okay and left the exam room.
Joe looked down at his friend with great concern. “Kel, I am going to start examining you now. First I want you to tell me where everything hurts. OK?” Kel was tired and groggy but nodded his understanding. It took Kel a minute to get his thoughts together. He knew that Joe had to have an idea where to begin. With difficulty he started speaking. “My… my head really hurts. I, um see two of you. My shoulder feels like it is on fire. My neck feels stiff.” He stopped speaking a minute. He closed his eyes trying to fight off the pain. Dixie took his good hand in hers and squeezed it carefully. When he opened his eyes she noticed tears forming at the edge. Joe said “Kel, 51 said you were feeling short of breath, that you thought that may be to due to your ribs.” “Yeah, I think so” Kel responded weakly.
First Joe gave him something for the nausea. Within a few minutes Kel didn’t have that awful feeling in his stomach Joe carefully took off the bandage from chest area that 51 used to help stabilize Kel.
He carefully started palpitating the ribs when Kel grabbed Joe with his left hand like a vice. Joe stopped and looked at Kel with a reassuring nod. He and Mike began the assessment of other injuries. Joe told Carol to call X-ray and have a CAT scan done. The works. Dixie was officially off duty.
“Kel, listen to me I am going to start touching areas from your chest very carefully and working my way down to your legs. You told Roy that you couldn’t feel anything below the middle of your back. So I want to check and make sure. You tell me when you don’t feel my touch, OK?” Kel nodded his understanding.
Joe touched from the shoulder down to his chest. As Joe was doing this he looked at Mike. Mike removed Kel’s shoes and socks. He touched Kel’s foot with a tool. No response. Then he touched Kel’s ankle, again no response. Dixie noticed. Kel had been concentrating so much on Joe’s assessment that he finally noticed the look of concern in Dixie’s eyes. “Joe where are you touching me now?” Kel asked with fear in his voice. “I am touching your hip. Mike has touched your feet and legs.” Kel was scared. Oh my God, I’m paralyzed!” Dixie tried to reassure him. She knew this was not Doctor Kelly Brackett speaking but Kelly Brackett her fiancee. It was tearing her up inside.
“Kel, look at me” Joe said. He sat down on the stool. Joe touched Kel’s arm. As he began to speak he chose his words very carefully. “I want you to listen. I am going to talk to you as a colleague. You of all people should know that from the type of crash you had that this is most likely swelling that will go away in 24 to 48 hours. So why don’t we just wait first to see if that is the case? Meanwhile with the tests I have ordered this will also give me an idea about your other injuries, including the possibility of spinal injury. Lets just take it one step at a time, OK” Kel who no longer cared if anyone other than Dixie saw him crying just nodded. He was scared and they knew it.
The X-ray technicians came in. Joe told them what he needed done. Joe and Mike went out to talk with Johnny and Roy. Dixie refused to leave his side.
After the X-rays and other tests were done, other technicians and aides came in to remove Kel’s clothes, get him in his hospital gown. In a way it was quiet funny because of the embarrassed look he had when they had to cut his remaining clothes off.
After talking with Roy and John, Joe decided he needed to call the station. He knew John and Roy weren’t back yet but he wanted to talk with Hank. He noticed how upset John and Roy were and he needed to find out a few more things. He couldn’t believe what he heard. Mike was sitting at the desk going over paperwork. Joe remarked “From what Hank tells me Kel is very lucky to be alive.”
Joe opened up the exam room and walked right back out. He walked in on a very touching scene. He decided to give them a little bit of time. Dixie knew Kel very well. She sat down on the stool, took his left hand in hers and brought it up to her face. Kel moved his head slightly to look at her. It was hard with the neck brace still on. Kel had tried to be brave but he finally let it all out. He started crying and couldn’t stop. Dixie held his good hand, squeezing reassurance while stroking his hair with the other hand, talking softly to him. Kel finally spoke the words that scared him the most.
With a quiver in his voice he said “Dixie, what am I going to do if I can’t walk? I won’t be any good to anyone.” She looked at this man she had been in love with for many years said with the utmost of conviction “You are going to be all right. You hear me” with that she leaned forward and kissed him gently on the cheek. Kel winked at her, nodding his understanding of her believe in him.
After 2 hours of poking, prodding, tests, etc. they moved Kel to ICU. Joe felt it was best. Tests showed he had a mild concussion, a broken collarbone, 2 ribs bruised, 2 were cracked. His right arm was sprained. It took 10 stitches for the cut above his eye. They had to do sterra strips on several places on his face and hands due to glass shards. He had numerous bruises all over his body. He had a spained right ankle. The tests done to his back didn’t show any tearing on the spinal cord. What Joe saw was what he expected, swelling on the vertebrae, which he knew, would decrease in a day or so.
Joe told the ICU nurses to let him know if there were any problems that he would be at home. Dr. Morton would be on duty to call him. Joe gave instructions for the ICU nurses to do nuro checks every two hours. If Kel’s pain worsened he would be given a small dose of Demerol, not much due to his head injury. Dixie refused to leave him The nurses set it up so Dixie could be near him. Dixie had called his father earlier. Neal Brackett was trying to get a flight to be there the following day.
Kel was in pain most of the night. The nurses did the nuro checks as Dr. Early requested. Much to their dismay Kel Brackett was being the good patient. Around 1am Dix with the persuasion of Marsha the head ICU nurse was sleeping on a bed in the nurses lounge.
At 3am Kel woke with a start. He was having a hard time breathing. He looked for Dixie. Couldn’t find her. He was panicking. He remembered Stacy one of the ICU nurses was on duty. He reached for the button. Within a split second Stacy was at his side. “Doctor Brackett what’s wrong?” “St…Stacy I’m havi…ing a hard time bre…eathing!” Stacy immediately contacted Dr. Morton. Mike checked him over. Decided to put him on O2 as a precaution due to his ribs. This seemed to help. “Stacy if his breathing is better say around 6am take him off the O2” “Yes sir Dr. Morton”
At 7am Neal Brackett entered ICU. He saw Dixie and Joe. Dixie ran up to him and gave him a hug. “How is he?” Neal asked. “Better this morning” Joe replied. “I’m going to keep him in ICU for the rest of the day and maybe move him to a room tomorrow.”
Dixie took Neal by the hand and walked over to Kel’s bed. Tears formed in Neal’s eyes when he saw his son. He sat down in the chair took Kel’s hand. Kelly opened his eyes. Weakly he said “Hey pop what are you doing here?” “Well a beautiful lady that loves you called and told me you were hurt. I wanted to be with you.” Kelly started crying and said in a real low voice “I’m sorry to worry you” Neal leaned over and kissed Kel on the forehead and said with love “that’s what parents do they worry about their children even when they are grown. You just rest I will be here when you wake up, OK” Kel nodded, closed his eyes. Within a minute you could tell he was sleeping. Dixie put her arms around Neal and hugged him to let him know she was there for him.
Dixie and Neal were sitting in the ICU waiting room talking about the crash. Neal was amazed. John and Roy stopped by. They had been on a run and felt compelled to see Dixie. She gave them each a big hug. “From what Hank told Joe I am very grateful for all that you did for him.” “Ah Dix we were just doing our job.” John said sheepishly. “Yeah right, but anyway thank you.” Roy asked more about him. “Well he still has no feeling but I am inclined to believe Joe that this is more from shock than anything else.” John and Roy said they would stop by later. Neal and Dix decided to go back in to see Kel.
Around noon Kel woke up with a start. He felt his whole body tingling. The way it
feels after you have been asleep in one spot. He was scared. He started
breathing faster. Dixie who had been
taking a nap woke with a start. She rushed to his side and immediately hit the
nurses button.”Kel, I’m here tell me what’s going on?” he said weakly, “I’m in
a lot of pain, my whole body feels like its on fire from my head down to my
toes.” Dixie and Neal just grinned at Kel. “Honey did you say you
felt pain all the way down to your toes?”
He nodded yes, then realized what he said. He started breathing faster, realizing that he wasn’t paralyzed.
Marsha the head ICU nurse who heard this contacted Drs. Morton and Early. “Kel slow your breathing. That’s it. Good. Mike and Joe will be here in a minute.” Kel started crying and saying over and over
“I’m not paralyzed.”
Dixie was sitting next to Kel’s bed when Joe and Mike came through the ICU doors like someone had shot them out of cannon. Joe looked at Kel and noticed the huge grin on his face. “Well from what I hear there is good news. Why don’t we do some tests to check it OK.” Kel nodded OK. Joe touched all areas from the chest down. Kel started wincing with every touch from his hip down to his foot. “Kel I want you to do me a favor. I want you to lift your right leg up as much as you can.” Kel did as he was told. He didn’t bring it up far, but it was enough. Pain shot through all the way to his hip. Same way with his left leg, but it was good news overall. “Well from what I can see Kel, you are on the road to a full recovery.” “Thanks Joe, Mike ” Kel said through tears. Dixie squeezed his hand with support. “We’ll get you moved to a private room in a little bit. I am sure you will have your very own nurse with you at all time. Plus, I know a few paramedics will be coming by to see you.”
Kel just nodded his understanding. He winced in pain. Joe asked “Are you still seeing double?” Kel told him no. Joe ordered a slow drip of morphine to ease the pain. He didn’t want to give Kel too much. He hoped that by tomorrow they could take the IV out. He explained his hopes to them.
Kel was moved to a private later that afternoon. The move absolutely wore him out. He fell asleep as soon as they got him settled His bed was raised just enough to keep him from being into much pain. Neal and Dixie were sitting in chairs talking quietly. There was a soft knock on the door and two happy paramedics walked in. As Dixie and the guys were talking. Neal said “I appreciate what you did.” “So do I more than you two will ever know.” Kel replied weakly. Roy replied “Well look who is finally awake, hey Doc” Kel put his left hand out. Johnny and Roy went over and shook his hand. Johnny asked “How are you really feeling?” “Better today. I don’t have the nausea, and there is only one of you Johnny where yesterday there was two. I feel weak more than anything.”
“Well from what you went through yesterday you are a very lucky man.” Roy replied. “Hey Doc how long do you think you will be in this joint?” Johnny asked. Kel shook his head and looked at Dixie. “Joe said he thought it would be possibly two weeks here then three to four weeks recovery at home.” Dixie replied.
“Well we got to go. We just wanted to see for ourselves how you were doing. We will stop by tomorrow after we got off shift. Cap and the others will be by sometime too” Roy replied. Kel looked at these two guys thoughtfully saying “I want you to know that I really appreciate what you did for me. I am very grateful.” Johnny and Roy nodded their understanding and left. As soon as they left Kel went back to sleep. Neal was concerned about this. Dixie said “Neal you have to realize his body took a physical and mental shock. It’s going to take a while for him to bounce back. Give him time” Neal leaned over kissed Dixie on the check and said with wonderment “no wonder my son loves you. You’re a wonderful and beautiful lady, more than you will ever know” Dixie just said thanks and gave him a hug.
The second day he was in his hospital room Joe decided he wanted to have Kel sit on the edge of the bed. With Joe and Neal’s help Kel sat on the edge of the bed. He was exhausted. Every area on his body ached, especially his ribs. Joe had orders for the nurses to help him sit on the edge of the bed for the next two days every other hour. When he would lay back down he felt like he had run a marathon. The fifth day Joe got him up to walk. It was an extreme effort for him. He walked from his bed with a limp due to the ankle to a chair. Dixie and Joe sat him down gently. He was worn out. After ten minutes they helped him back to bed. The next two days they did this.
Kel’s dad decided that he was in good hands and left the first weekend after the accident. Dixie and Kel were sitting in chairs in his hospital room one afternoon. He was trying to eat lunch. His appetite had improved. She noticed he was picking at his food and kept looking at her thoughtfully. “Kel what’s wrong?” After a minute he replied softly with tears flowing down his cheeks “I never got to take you on your date and it looks like its going to be awhile before I can make it up to you. I’m sorry.” Dixie said to him “you have to take a walk today in the corridor. That will be our date.” He started to protest but she interjected quickly. She knelt by his side took his hand saying “You are alive and that’s all that matters to me. Your present to make it up to me is to walk me down the hospital corridor.”
He looked at this beautiful woman and wondered how he got so lucky. It had taken them a lifetime to finally get the nerve to want to get married. He gave her a kiss and said “Dixie, would you accompany me for a walk?” “yes darling I would love to” She helped him up and gave him a minute to steady himself. Kel had been taking walks for almost a week but it was still hard. He and Dixie decided they would walk down to the nurse’s station. As they were walking three people watched with admiration. Dixie had her arm hooked into his as if they were strolling on the beach. It was such an effort for him. When he would stop, she would stop and talk gently to him.
After 2 and ½ weeks Kel was ready to be discharged. He had been doing physical therapy which he would continue on an outpatient basis. Johnny who was off was going to pick him and Dixie up. He walked in with Sharon the student nurse. “Hello, hello, hello. Your chariot awaits doc.” Kel and Dixie just grinned. “thanks Johnny”
“Doc do you want to sit in the front or the back?” “Johnny in the front will be fine.” Gingerly Kel got in. His ribs even though there were healing would be sore for at least another month. His shoulder was healing nicely but that would also be another month.
Dixie sat in the back watching Kel as Johnny driving him home. All of sudden Kel started breathing faster and faster. “Kel what’s wrong honey?” He looked over at Johnny and pleaded “Please stop the car, now!” When Johnny stopped realization hit him. This was the sight of the wreck. Kel was hyperventilating. “Kel, honey slow your breathing, its going to be fine” Johnny looked at Dixie and she realized he knew what was wrong. “Doc.” Johnny repeated a few times, finally he took Kel’s left hand squeezed it and said softly “Kel its ok, your safe. Remember you are alive. It’s just an intersection, but one that will be imbedded in your brain for the rest of your life. Your safe now, ok!” Kel slowed his breathing. Started to be calmer. Opened his eyes slowly and really, really looked at the area. He said a silent prayer. He looked at Johnny and saying very quietly through tears “Thank you so much” Johnny leaned over and hugged Kel while he sobbed. He just held him like that for a few minutes. Johnny noticed that Kel finally started to relax. Johnny felt it was safe to let him go. He looked at Kel. At this moment Johnny gained a new respect for Doctor Kelly Brackett. “You OK now?” Kel nodded yes. You ready to head home?” Kel again nodded yes. He was to afraid to speak. All the time this was going on Dixie watched with admiration. She gained a whole new understanding and love for Johnny Gage. She squeezed his shoulder and wiped tears from her eyes. Johnny looked at the two of them, shook his head saying “There must be a lot of pollution in the air today” and wiped his eyes.
As they were finally back to driving Kel to his place, Johnny explained that he understood how Kel felt. He felt fear for a few months after he was hit by a car. It helped knowing that his friends were there to support him especially in his recovery. He made this point so Kel would know that he was not alone.
After two months Kel was given permission to work 4 hour days 4 days a week for two weeks. He remarked to Dixie that he was so tired after the first few days, but it was getting better.
After three months Kelly Brackett returned to work full time. He said to Dixie after Johnny and Roy had left “I feel like I have been reborn. Man life is great” Dixie hugged him and said a silent prayer to the man upstairs.