The bank of elevators wasn’t far from the emergency room and Bill and Gabrielle hurried to the ER for the update about Adriel’s condition. There were still a lot of people in the waiting room and Bill noticed one man whose hand was inside a large plastic bag that subsequently held a towel that was saturated with blood. He shuddered and whispered to Gabrielle, “At least they took Adriel in right away. I guess when there’s more emergencies then there are treatment rooms or doctors you just get to sit in the waiting area.”
“Yeah. I remember sitting in a few of these as a kid determined not to pass out. Hard on everybody. Let’s see if Sue can tell us who we need to talk to about Adriel.”
“That’s the woman who admitted you?” Bill asked. “Looks like she’s tied up with somebody. There’s a different gal free over there, maybe she can help.”
As they approached the woman behind the partition held up a finger and then typed something into her computer. She then made a quick phone call before looking up at them and asking, “How can I help you?”
Bill looked at her name tag before answering. “Wendy, this is Gabrielle Gibeon. We were up in the chapel and she received a text that the doctor could see her and fill her in on her husband’s condition. Could you tell us what we need to do?”
“Doctor’s name?” she asked.
“I’m not sure,” Gabrielle responded. “I can see if it’s on the text.”
“That’s alright. What’s your husband’s name?”
“Adriel Gibeon. He’s the one with ALS and can’t speak.”
Wendy nodded slightly but did not respond to the information about Adriel’s ALS. “Doctor Cater must have texted you. I’m sure he’s with another patient but I’ll let him know you’re here and see if we can’t get someone out here to let you know what’s going on. Why don’t you have a seat?”
Gabrielle’s shoulders fell visibly. “Okay. Any idea how long?”
“No, ma’am. Someone will be with you as soon as they’re able.”
She nodded, said thank you, and made her way to the waiting area. “So we’re right back where we started, huh?” she said to Bill as they sat down.
“Maybe not. At least now they might know what’s going on.”
Less than ten minutes went by before Gabrielle heard someone with a thick accent ask, “Gabrielle Gibeon?”
Bill nudged her and the two of them rose from the chairs and walked over to a swarthy skinned man in green scrubs. “Doctor Cater?” she asked.
“Oh, no. Doctor Cater is with another patient. My name is Dr. Ashwald,” he said, extending his hand toward Gabrielle. “You are Adriel Gibeon’s wife?”
“Yes,” she responded, missing the cue to take Ashwald’s hand. “How is he?”
“Please, come with me and we can have a little more privacy. Dr. Cater asked me to tell you what we know and to find out if you wanted to see your husband? And I’m sorry, you are?” he asked Bill.
“This is my friend, Bill Finger. It’s okay to tell me what you know in front of him. You said I could see Adriel?”
“Yes,” Dr. Ashwald responded. “He’s stable but intubated and sedated so he won’t be able to speak to you.”
“He can’t really speak anyway. Not without his voder. So he’s not awake? How is he? Will he, will he pull through?”
“I did not know he couldn’t speak. That helps some. He was awake for a short time but we sedated him when we put the tubes in. He is out of immediate danger but is very, very fragile. His heart is very weak. You knew this of course? About his heart?”
“Yes, doctor. He’s been failing for a while now. Will he be able to come home?”
“He may be able to return to his care facility but I don’t know how likely that is. I know he will be here a while and then of course he will be bed ridden. Again, I am sorry to have such bad news. He is stable enough to see him for a few minutes but not very long I’m afraid.
“Once he regains some strength we may be able to return him to his home in the care facility but if things do not go well then you should be prepared for hospice. I’m very sorry. We will keep him in the intensive care unit tonight and perhaps another day but then he will have to be moved.
“What care facility has he been staying in?”
“Our home. He’s been staying in our home. I’ve been caring for him.”
Doctor Ashwald looked at Gabrielle for a moment before answering. “You have been caring for him? I’m sorry, I was unaware. I fear the time has come where this will no longer be possible.”