AJ hung up the phone and ran up the stairs in a panic to get Kim. He hated to wake her, but they had to go now. He shook her awake. "Kim. Kim. Wake up."
"Where's the fire?" she murmured.
"Get your shoes on. We gotta go."
She sat up in bed. "Go where? What's going on?"
"I'll tell you when we get in the car. C'mon."
Kim knew that whatever happened or was happening was serious. "No, Alex. What happened?"
AJ didn't say anything at first as if his brain froze.
"Hey! What's wrong?"
"Mom and Jordan...got in a car accident."
"Oh, God. My baby," Kim gasped.
"We gotta go to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center right now. The hospital just called to get permission for Jordan to have surgery."
"Surgery? Okay. Okay. Get my shoes."
AJ hurried to the closet and brought Kim's tennis shoes back to her. He put on the left one and she put on the other one. They made sure they had everything they needed before rushing to the car.
AJ drove as fast as the speed limit would allow him to, they lived about a half-hour away from the hospital. AJ and Kim just held each others' hand the whole way until he needed to make a phone call.
"Hey, man, what's up?"
"Brian. I need you to pray harder than you ever have in your entire life. My mom and Jordan got in a car accident. We're on our way to the hospital now. Let the others know. Please pray."
Brian was almost speechless. "I-I will. Be strong. I love you."
"You, too, bye." AJ hit "END" and took Kim's hand again.
"I'm scared, Alex."
He swallowed. "...Me too." He smoothed his thumb over her hand repeatedly.
Once they made it to the hospital, they quickly parked in the garage and ran to the emergency room. They went up to the triage desk.
"Excuse me, my mom and our son were in an accident. Denise Solis and Jordan McLean."
"They were both taken up to Surgery. It's on the fourth floor, someone will be able to give you more information up there," the receptionist said.
"Thank you very much. Let's go." he said to Kim.
They rushed to the elevators and made it to the Surgical floor. They went to the nurses' station for information but were told to go into the waiting room and that a doctor would come speak to them when Jordan or Denise were out of surgery.
The two of them were ecstatic to see a familiar face. "Dad? Oh my God, Dad!" AJ and Tony hugged, then he hugged Kim. "How long have you been here? Do you know anything about what happened?"
"About twenty minutes. Witnesses say that a Cavalier t-boned her car at an intersection downtown. The driver's side. She was turning and the guy ran a red light—Kim, you look terrible. Sit, you're dead on your feet."
"It's just a cold," Kim insisted, but sat anyway.
Tony looked to AJ. "You, too, son."
"It could be awhile before we get any word."
He sighed. "I'm fine."
"Alex," Kim interjected. "Sit with me."
AJ did and took her hand while Kim rested her head on his shoulder. "You tired, babe?"
"Yeah." She coughed lightly into her fist. "Did you take any Airborne this morning?"
"I did, actually," he replied quietly.
"Good, don't want you to get this." She coughed again.
AJ kissed her hair and smoothed it. "Just relax. They'll be fine, they're fighters."
After about an hour, a doctor in blue scrubs came into the waiting room. "Mr. Solis?"
He stood and shook his hand. "Hello, Doctor. This my step-son Alex and his wife Kim. How is she?"
"Please, call me Tony."
"I'm Dr. Robert Jarnowski, I'm the Chief of Surgery who operated on your wife. She came in with serious injuries. Fractured ribs, lacerated bladder, spleen, and liver. Her left femur is also broken, which we had to surgically stabilize. We were able to repair the damage, but she lost a lot of blood. She's being taken to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, you'll be able to see her soon."
"He's still in surgery. I'll find out what his status is and let you all know."
Tony shook his hand again and AJ stood to shake the doctor's hand as well. "Thank you, Doctor," AJ said.
"You're very welcome. You all sit tight now." He left and AJ sat back down with his head in his hands. He let out a big sigh. It was now Kim's turn to comfort her husband. She rubbed his back.
AJ was shaking his head in disbelief at the whole situation, it all happened so fast. "I can't lose her. I can't lose him. Oh, God. Dad, did you call my uncle Bill?"
"As soon as I got word of the accident."
"Is he flying out here?" Denise's brother Bill still lived in Florida where AJ was born and raised.
"Yeah, the first flight available."
"Okay." AJ took a deep breath and exhaled. "Okay."
Dr. Jarnowski came back into the waiting room around fifteen minutes later. "Alex. Kim."
They both stood.
"The surgeons are finishing up right now on Jordan."
"He's okay?" Kim asked.
"Dr. Romero will be in to talk to both of you soon."
"Thank you so much," Kim said.
"Just doing my job. I'm going to go check on Denise right now, excuse me."
He left again and the three of them waited for the doctor to come speak to them about Jordan.
"One down," AJ said. "one to go." He started to pace the floor by his chair, he was too nervous to sit.
Tony put a hand on his shoulder. "Alex. He'll be alright."
"I know he will." AJ continued to pace until the doctor came.
"Mr. and Mrs. McLean. I'm Dr. Nicole Romero. I'm the pediatric surgeon on-call." They both shook her hand.
"I'm Kim and you spoke with Alex on the phone earlier. How is he? How's my baby boy?" Kim asked anxiously.
"Oh, thank God," Kim breathed.
"He has a broken left arm and will have to be in a cast for about six weeks. We needed your husband's permission to perform an exploratory laporotomy to check for internal bleeding and other injuries because he had some bruising on his abdomen. He has a few bruised left ribs and a lacerated spleen, but the damage to it was very severe, so, we had to remove it. Luckily, no other organs were damaged. I'm sure that he's in better condition than your mother is right now. He is being taken to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit as we speak for observation. He's very lucky."
"Intensive care? Is he going to be alright?" AJ wondered.
"It's just for precaution. His prognosis is good, he did very well. I can take you up to see him right now."
"Dad, you go to the SICU to be with Mom. I'll be there in a little bit," AJ said.
"Okay." They hugged and AJ and Kim went with Dr. Romero to the PICU.
"Now since this is an ICU, I'll need to take some blood from both of you to make sure that you're not carrying any infections that may harm your son or any of the other patients in this ward. Let me assure you that this standard procedure for all family members."
Kim spoke up. "Um, I have a little bit of a cold. Is that bad?"
"When did it start?"
"T-today," she answered.
"Hm, you're contagious. I don't think that you'll be allowed in."
"You mean to tell me that my little boy is in there, just out of surgery after he was in a serious car accident and I can't even go in there because of a cold? That's my son, I'm his mother for God's sake!" Kim bellowed.
AJ held his wife close. "Hey. Hey. Just calm down, okay? You don't need to stress out, that's not going to help Jordan any, now, will it?"
"No," she said, feeling a bit ashamed.
"Are you sure, Doctor? There isn't any way that she'll be allowed in if she's sick?"
"I'm afraid not. It's hospital policy," Dr. Romero replied. "I'm very sorry. If there was any other way, I would allow it. But I just can't, we can't take any risks with this."
AJ looked at Kim. "We understand, Doctor, thank you."
"You can come with me so a nurse can draw some blood and we'll get the results to you ASAP so you can be with your son, okay?"
"I have a fear of needles, but alright. Baby, I'll be right back, just sit down and relax." AJ kissed her forehead and went with the doctor.
She led him to an exam room and opened the door. "Here we are. Wait in here and a nurse will be with you in a few minutes."
AJ stepped inside the room and sat down on a plastic chair. He took a deep breath as he was getting more nervous and his hands were starting to get clammy.
The door opened and a young nurse in pink scrubs walked in. "Hi, Mr. McLean, I'm Chloe and I'm here to take some blood from you for testing."
AJ stood to shake her hand. "Call me Alex." He sat back down.
"Of course, Alex. Well, let's get this over with, now, shall we?"
"Roll up your sleeve for me," Chloe said.
AJ did. "I have a fear of needles."
"With all of these tattoos? I don't believe it."
"Yep, it's not something I'm proud of, that's for sure," he said with a nervous laugh.
Chloe tied a rubber tourniquet around AJ's arm and tapped the vein on his inner forearm.
"Just look away and don't move, okay? Take a deep breath and relax."
AJ did as he was told.
"A slight pinch," she announced as she introduced the needle into his vein.
AJ winced a little bit, but in about five seconds it was removed. She applied gauze to the puncture site. "Keep pressure on that," Chloe said as she untied the tourniquet. "All done. That wasn't too bad."
"Not at all."
Chloe taped the gauze onto his arm. "Your results should be back within the hour. You can go now."
AJ stood and went to the door. "Thank you."
"No problem, I'm sorry about your mom and son. It must be hard."
AJ just nodded, left the room, and went back to Kim. "Hey, babe." He sat down next to her.
"I wanna see him, he needs me."
AJ frowned. "I know, but you can't. Doctor's orders."
Kim buried her face into his chest. "But he needs me. To sing to him. If I'm not there when he wakes up..."
"I'll have to be doing that for the both of us this time."
"But you don't know Spanish," she protested.
"But I can sing."
She sighed and stifled a sneeze onto his shoulder. "Ugh. Sorry."
"Bless you. Don't worry about it, here." He passed her a tissue from the small box that they took from the surgical waiting room.
"Thanks." She sniffled into it and tossed it into a small trash can a few feet away from where they were sitting. "Perfect timing, huh?" Kim said with a bitter edge to her voice.
AJ looked at her. "Hey. None of this is, but my mother and our son are going to pull through this like we know that they can, right? We're gonna make it though this?"
Kim nodded slowly.
AJ's blood test results came back about thirty minutes later. "Alex, your blood work checks out. Your white blood cell count is normal and there are no signs of infection present. All we need to do now is take your temperature and if that's normal, you can go in and see Jordan."
AJ exhaled a breath that he felt like he'd been holding forever. "Thank God."
Dr. Romero took his temperature with an ear thermometer. "98.5. You're fine. Go in there and wash your hands and arms thoroughly in that station."
"Can someone stay with my wife? I don't want her to be alone."
"Of course. Chloe?"
The nurse that had drawn AJ's blood earlier walked up to them from down the hall. "Alex, so we meet again."
"She took my blood for a sample," AJ said, informing Kim of how the nurse recognized him.
AJ kissed Kim's forehead. "I will be right back, okay? I love you."
"I love you, too," she echoed, feeling herself start to tear up.
He gently wiped them off of her cheeks with his thumb. "It's okay, I'll be right back, do you hear me?"
She nodded and he kissed her again.
"Okay then." AJ and Dr. Romero turned around and went through the first set of doors in the PICU. He scrubbed his hands and arms with a sponge-type pad that would lather with soap when wet. He dried himself off and went through the next set of doors, being very careful not to touch anything.
"He's in the last bed, right there," she told him and pointed to it.
All AJ could hear were the sounds of heart monitors beeping steadily, respirators whooshing rhythmically as they helped their little owners to breathe, and the chatter of the other doctors and nurses as they hustled and bustled around the department.
AJ walked to his son's bedside. He looked like he was asleep. "He'll be coming out of the anesthesia soon. If you need anything, don't hesitate to let me know," Dr. Romero said and walked away.
AJ looked upon his little boy with great sadness filling his heart. There he was, so small, so fragile. He was slightly pale with a few bandages on his face from minor cuts and abrasions, there was oxygen being pumped from a tank near by that was being given by nasal cannula into his nose that was wrapped around his little ears. Under the blanket he was sure that Jordan was hooked up to an IV to give him fluids or whatever he needed. He had a blue cast on his left arm that extended just above his elbow, his favorite color. AJ took his hand and held his son's fingers, not ever wanting to let go as he repeatedly recited a Spanish nursery rhyme to him for Kim:
Colita de rana.
Si no sanas hoy,
little tail of the frog.
If you don't heal today,
you'll heal tomorrow.
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