Recovery of a Hero Ch. 11byRoadbug©
Chapter 11: The Hero's New Battle
The incorrect copy of this chapter was submitted before. I take full responsibility for the error.
This story is a work of fiction only. Any chance resemblance to actual people or events is purely accidental.
I guessed that Uncle Dar really was tired. After Ellen and Nancy pushed him into his room, they came out alone. I called Janny on the intercom to tell her that he was in bed and might need some help, as he didn't seem to be feeling well.
She and Erica showed up a few minutes later and went in. Janny came back out right away and told me to call an ambulance. She said, "It's his leg. The infection is back and it's all red and swollen. Send one of the girls to get my bag and call George too." With that, she went back in.
I called an ambulance right away and then told Nancy to go to Janny's room and get her medical bag. She ran off as I paged George on the intercom to come to Uncle Dar's room right away.
He showed up running and I told him about Dar's leg. He immediately went into Dar's room. I told Ellen to wait here and let the others know, and I went out to wait for the ambulance.
When the ambulance got there, I took the paramedics straight to Dar's room. They went in and George came back out with Erica. George looked very worried and Erica was crying quietly.
I asked George, "How bad?"
George said, "Bad. The infection is back and it looks like it spread into his abdomen. He's real sick right now. The medics took one look and called for a MAST (Medical emergency flight) flight to pick him up."
Ellen and Nancy started crying and I did, too. Erica came over to us on the couch and held us. As we sat there, Sandra and Shelly came in.
"What's the matter?" asked Shelly.
"Uncle Dar's leg is badly infected and he has to go to the hospital," said George.
Sandra said, "Oh no." She and Shelly came over to the couch with us and we huddled there together crying and watching Uncle Dar's room.
George went out to wait for the helicopter with his spotlight to guide it in.
I told Erica, "I need to call Coach Coulter. She has that big van, so she can take us to the hospital."
Erica handed me the phone, and I called the Coach. She answered right away and I told her what was happening. She said, "Well if it rains it pours. I'll be right over as soon as I get dressed. How many am I hauling this time?"
"All of us," I said. "We want to be with him at the hospital and we don't have a vehicle big enough for all of us."
"I figured as much. Ok, I'll be over in about twenty minutes so be ready."
"Thank you so much," I said. "I'm sorry we've caused you so much trouble."
She said," I don't mind the trouble, it's just the reasons. I'd rather come over for a party. Ok, I'm gonna get dressed and get the van over there. Tell the others to be ready." She hung up.
I told the others, "Coach Coulter is coming over to take us to the hospital once we know where they're taking Uncle Dar. She'll take us in the van."
Erica got up and said, "I'll get a few things we'll need while the rest of you get ready to go. Bring a change of clothes since we might be there a while." She went out of the room, leaving me with the other girls.
I told Sandra, "Go up and get some things packed for the cousin twins and get yourself packed to. Take Shelly since I don't think the others will be much help right now."
She nodded and grabbed Shelly and headed up stairs. I turned to the cousin twins and said, "I need help getting ready too. Will you?"
They got up and we went to my room. As I got ready, they helped a bit since I was still a bit wobbly and sore from my accident. When I was done, I got a few things together and put them in my daypack. While I was doing this, Ellen saw the medal Uncle Dar had given me and asked, "What's this?"
I said, "That's Uncle Dar's Navy Cross. He got it for saving George's life. He gave it to me right before we went to the carnival."
She reached up to it, then looked at me and asked, "May I?"
I said, "Of course."
She took it down, looked at it for a moment before turning to me, and said, "We're going to lose him too. First it was our parents, and now him." She started crying again and hugged the box with the medal to her chest.
I walked over, hugged her. and said, "I don't know. I wish I could say that he'll be alright, but I can't." I started crying again too.
Nancy hugged us both. I thought at the time that she was the only one in the world with dry eyes, but she looked so sad. I told her, "You two need to get ready to go, too." I took one of their hands in each of mine and we went upstairs.
I helped them get dressed and then we came back down. Sandra and Shelly were already waiting with a bag each and two more for the cousin twins.
I went into my room and got my bag, then we all went over to the couch and waited.
A few minutes later, George came in with two people wearing flight suits and carrying a basket-like thing. He showed them to Uncle Dar's room and came back over to us.
"They're going to fly him to Harbor View in Seattle," he said. "They have him on an I.V. right now. I don't know what he has, but Janny said that it spread fast. She doesn't know how bad he is but she told me that Harbor View is one of the best Emergency Medical Centers on the west coast. The only one better in Washington is Madigan at Fort Lewis."
Ellen just hugged the medal in its box tighter. I looked at Nancy and then I got up, went to Dar's desk, and got out the rest of his medals. I didn't know which was which except for the Purple Hearts. I put those back and took the other two over to the couch.
I told Ellen, "I know how much you care about him because I do, too. I'd give you that box if I could, but he wanted me to have it. But I'm sure he wouldn't mind if you and Nancy hung on to these two. " I handed each of them a box, and Ellen gave me mine back.
They both said, "Thank you." Both of them held on to their boxes like they were afraid to loose.
George saw what I'd done, and came over and asked to see what was in my box. I opened it and his eyes got real big. He asked me if I knew what it was, and I said, "Yes. It's Uncle Dar's Navy Cross. He gave it to me right before we went to the carnival.
George looked at it again, and then looked at the other two. He asked to see what was in them. The girls opened the boxes and he said, "Silver Star and a Bronze Star." He sat down with us and said, "The Navy Cross is the second highest award for bravery in the Navy and the other two are very high Army awards."
"I don't know if you girls know the whole story about what happened in Iraq, so I'm going to tell you," George said. "He didn't get the Cross for rescuing me. I think that's what the other two are for. He got the cross because he went back to the Humvee and got a radio he had and to call for help."
"While he was in the Humvee, he spotted an ambush being set up to attack the patrol that was coming after us. He warned them and then he started shooting at them with a handgun. They returned fire, and pinned him down inside the Humvee. Because of this, the rescue patrol was able to locate the ambush and attacked it."
"He also shot the man with the rocket launcher that had first attacked us. Some time after that, he lost consciousness because of how much blood he'd lost. That's why he almost died when we were ambushed and that's why he got three medals for it.
"He also got two Purple Hearts for it I didn't find out about his going back until later. I passed out right after he got me to safety."
"The Navy gave him the cross for saving all of my team and the patrol. If he hadn't gone back, they would have been ambushed and at least some if not all would have been killed. The general who gave me my award told me about it."
When he'd finished, I looked at him and told him about when Dar had given me the Navy Cross to keep. When I'd finished, George said, "Don't you believe him about it not being important to him. He was telling you that you're more important to him than that medal."
I said, "Well he's more important to me than this box. I'll keep it because he wanted me to, but I'm going to tell him that he's more important than a box with a shiny bit of metal inside.' I looked and Nancy and Ellen and decided to do something else.
I went over to Dar's desk again, and got out the other two boxes. I took them over to Sandra and Shelly and gave one to each of them.
I said, "Those are the Purple Hearts that Uncle Dar got in Iraq. When we can see him, I'm wearing this one. Will you wear the others with me? I want him to see them and know that we know what he did. I want him to know we all love him."
They agreed and we all hung on to those little boxes. They were like a lifeline to Uncle Dar for us, I think.
It was about then that Coach Coulter came in. She was wearing some jeans and a sweatshirt. She walked over to us and asked, "How bad?"
George said, "Bad. That infection is back and it spread. They're getting him set up and are flying him to Harbor View."
"Bad, then," she said. "I've got the van out front and I can take you all whenever you're ready."
George said, "Thanks, Meghan."
She smiled and said, "You ain't the only one that cares about that old wreck. I like him too."
The medics and Janny came out of Dar's room pushing him on the gurney and went straight out the door. I said, "I'm going to make sure the house is locked," and ran off to do it. We have a large house, so it took a few minutes. When I finished, I went out the front door and locked it too then turned on the security system.
I ran up to the van where everybody else was waiting and got in. George was in front and Coach Coulter was driving. Ellen and Nancy were in the first seat behind them, and Sandra, Shelly and Erica were in the next. That left room for me next to Nancy, so I sat there and buckled in.
"Everybody ready?" asked Coach Coulter.
We all said "Yes."
She started the van and headed out. We went to the freeway and got on heading south. The traffic was light which was nice. It meant that we wouldn't be too long getting to the hospital.
It took just under an hour for the trip all told. When we got to the hospital, we found Janny waiting in the emergency room waiting area. We all ran up to her and asked how Uncle Dar was doing.
She said, "They have him in emergency right now. They said that they won't know anything until after they run tests and see how he responds to antibiotics. Other than that, I don't know anything. We'll just have to wait until they tell us more."
I asked, "Can we go up?"
Janny said, "No, not until he's stable. I know the Nurse in charge of this shift there though, so you can all go up when he's out of danger. They won't say anything here about your ages so don't worry. When they say he can have visitors we all go."
I whispered to George, "We need to get something to eat while we wait. I know that none of us have had anything since lunch at the mall, and Ellen and Nancy need something now."
He said, "I'll see about getting something. I don't know this area well, but I'll ask."
He went over to the admitting clerk and started talking to her in a low voice. When he finished, he came back over and said "There's a restaurant close by that we can all go to for dinner. We may as well since we can't do anything here right now. The doctors have Janny's cell number and I gave the receptionist mine so they can call if something happens. Let's go eat."
Ellen and Nancy both said, "No." Nancy said, "I don't want to leave. I want to be here if he needs me so let me stay." Ellen nodded to that.
I said, "We haven't eaten for hours. If you want to help Uncle Dar, you need to get some food so you don't get sick. He needs us strong so we need to eat. Come on, I'm scared for him too, but I need food. I don't want to leave but I'm not eating here."
They reluctantly agreed, so we all went back out to the van and got in. George told Coach Coulter where to go, and she drove us to a small restaurant and parked. We all got out and went in.
The waitress that met us when we came in took us to a large booth next to the kitchen and gave us our menus then asked if we wanted anything to drink.
I ordered some tea, and the rest of the girls did the same. George got a cup of coffee, and so did Coach Coulter. Janny had an iced tea.
After ordering our drinks, I looked through the menu. I really wasn't hungry but I knew I had to eat something so I ordered a hamburger and fries. I didn't pay attention to what the others got, I just sat there and held that little box Uncle Dar had given me.
I looked around and saw the other girls holding the ones they had. We all had tears in our eyes as we thought about the person who'd earned them and what he'd done. I slipped my left hand under the table and grabbed Nancy's hand since she was next to me. She looked at me for a second then squeezed my hand.
I was frightened and so was she. We were so scared Uncle Dar might die tonight and there was nothing I could do but wait. I'd never done anything so hard in my life as sit there and wait for a meal I didn't want and at the same time wait for either Janny's or George's cell phone to ring and give us the worst. That had to be the hardest time of my life that I could remember.
When we'd finished eating, we got up and George put a tip on the table. While he went to pay the bill, the rest of us went out side to get into the van..
As we were loading up, Janny's phone rang. She answered it and talked for a moment than said so we could all hear, "Thank you. We'll be right back." She closed her phone and said, "That was the hospital. The fever's down and he's awake. He's asking to see all his kids now and is very insistent. I think he's going to be fine."
I started crying again, and took out my box and opened it. I took out the medal and put it on. My friends did the same thing when they saw me. Then we all got into the van and waited for George to come back out.
When he came out, he was smiling so I knew he'd gotten the news too. He got into the van and we went back to the hospital. Janny took us up to the ICU ward and went to the nurse's station and talked to the woman there for a moment then waved us over.
We followed her down the hallway to a room that she entered. We came in behind her.
Uncle Dar was in a bed surrounded by different types of equipment. He looked pale and his face was damp, but he saw us and smiled.
The five of us girls ran up to his bed and took turns hugging him. He didn't try to move his arms, but I saw him relax as we each took a turn.
I was so happy that he was alive and awake. This was even harder than when Uncle Sammy died last year. We'd all known that he was dying and that we couldn't help him. But Uncle Dar had been getting well and suddenly he was sick again. That was so much harder to handle than Uncle Sammy. Don't get me wrong, I loved him. It's just different when you know he's going.
Uncle Dar noticed that each of us was wearing one of his medals and said in a weak voice, "I see someone got into my drawer. Well, they look better on you than they would on me, so keep em. I'd rather have you kids than them any day."
Ellen answered, "We don't need them. We need our Uncle Dar to get well and come home. Besides, you have a promise to keep to Nancy and me. You said you'd make sure that the state could never separate us and I'm going to hold you to that. Now you have to get well so you can keep your promise to us."
"That's right," said Nancy. "You have to get well because you promised us and we're going to make you keep that promise. I'm not going home without you either."
We all agreed to that last.
A doctor came in while we were talking, and started talking to Janny and George. When he finished and left she told us, "They found what caused the infection. A piece of the bullet was still in there and that's what caused it in the first place. He said that they used a new type of x-ray and found it. They want to take it out tomorrow."
"After that," she continued, "they expect that Uncle Dar will be able to come home in a few days. Once they get that piece of bullet out and the infection is under control, they'll let him go."
A nurse came in and said, "It's time to go now. He needs to rest so you have to go.
"I'm staying," I said. "When I was in the hospital, he was there for me and now it's my turn. I won't leave."
Nancy and Ellen said the same, and so did Sandra and Shelly. We weren't leaving and if they tried to make us, they'd have five of us to deal with.
The nurse shrugged and said, "All right. But you have to let him rest. He's going to have surgery tomorrow and he needs to sleep now. I'll let you stay if you're quiet, but if you make any noise then you're out the door."
That night, I sat next to Ellen and Nancy on one side of the bed, and Sandra and Shelly were on the other. We stayed there all night with Uncle Dar. We were still there when they came to take him to surgery the next morning. I don't know if I slept at all, but I do know that I didn't leave.
When they came to take him, I went with the others to a small private waiting room. We didn't talk at all while we were there. We just watched the door and at least on my part, I prayed. It was the first time I'd done that since Uncle Sammy got sick and I'd felt that it hadn't worked. But I didn't have anything else I could do that would help so I did that much.
After about an hour, a doctor came in. He said that Uncle Dar was in Post Op and was doing fine. They'd gotten the bullet fragment out and had cleaned up the wound. The doctor also said that the wound should heal better this time and Uncle Dar should recover quickly.
The poor doctor got mobbed by five screaming kids all saying thank you. He left the room with a smile. I looked around and saw everybody was smiling now. I also noticed that there wasn't a dry eye in the room.
I felt dizzy after that, so I went and sat down again. The rest of the day is a blur but I do remember seeing Uncle Dar back in his bed. He looked a lot better now, and he even hugged us back a little. I was so happy about that.
I sat down in a chair, and I guess I fell asleep. I woke up in the van with Janny holding my head on her lap. When she saw that I was awake, she said that I'd fallen asleep in Uncle Dar's room and that Coach Coulter had carried me to her van.
Janny also said that when George tried to help, she'd told him she wasn't going to let a beat up marine take something so special and chance him dropping it. Then she'd brought me here and sat with me for a couple hours. Janny had just come out so she could go to the bathroom when I woke up.
That was something that I found hard to believe. Old Coach Coulter saying I was special? Amazing.
I thought it was her that was amazing. She bought her own school bus to use for the girls on her Cheerleaders squads, and she was the one doing most of the driving for us because she had a van big enough for five kids and three adults with a bit extra. And she was the one who did it because she wanted to. That seemed pretty amazing to me.
I thought, "We got to do something for her to say thank you." She deserved it and I thought that if we could get the whole Cheerleaders squad involved, it would be great.
I asked Janny what she thought of the idea, and she said, "Well I know a lot of people my age that would be interested in doing something like that. Let me talk it over with George and see what he thinks. Don't say anything to anyone else for a bit and we'll see.
I agreed, and asked about Uncle Dar. She said, "He's doing well. They think they got all the fragments of the bullet out and that should prevent future infections. He'll be real weak for awhile, but he should be fine now. We'll have to keep an extra close eye on him but I don't think he'll have any more problems.