The fight started over Power Rangers. Billy, the five-year-old, wanted to watch the same TV show over and over again and it was driving Sandy crazy. She was, after all, a very mature ten. Or so she’d been told.

It was raining outside so she couldn’t go out to play on the swing set. There was nowhere to escape that dumb song, “Go, Go Power Rangers!”

Bekah, the teenager always left in charge, was on Billy’s side just to keep him quiet. But Sandy decided she’d had enough. He didn’t own the television, even if he was the baby. She needed reinforcements. She didn’t want to bother Mommy, who was resting in the bedroom, but this was important.

For some reason Mommy hadn’t gotten up all day but she slept a lot since her surgery. When Sandy went in her eyes were open, so she explained the problem. But Mommy didn’t say anything. Not one word. And she had a very frustrated look on her face.

Sandy figured it was her fault somehow but she didn’t know what to do. Mommy just looked upset and never said anything.

Finally, she turned around and went back to the living room to suffer through another stupid episode. But now Sandy had a bigger worry. She had no idea what she had done wrong.

My world seemed to drop into slow motion. Driving home, I was speeding down the highway and crawling along at the same time. I tried to decide what was wrong with Suzie while keeping my foot from turning to lead. A speeding ticket would only slow things down.

It was a drug reaction, my scattered mind diagnosed.

I prayed out loud, stating the obvious like God needed my information, which was nearly none. I repeated myself stupidly until I nearly hit a car.

This wasn’t working. I was trying to do too many things at once. An accident now would be devastating. I tried to put Suzie’s unreachable problem out of my mind and focus on driving.

If it wasn’t a drug reaction, what could it be?

Unbidden, the fiasco at the studio crept back into my head. I couldn’t believe I had just walked out on an orchestra session. Frantic phone calls failed to turn up another engineer so I had unceremoniously dumped the whole thing into the not-so-capable hands of a college intern.

Had I just ended my career? Under normal circumstances it was unthinkable, but now there didn’t seem to be any other choice. A wave of guilt immediately followed for thinking about such a thing at a time like this. How could I? My conscience beat me up from all sides.

It had to be a stroke!

That was all that made sense. If that was the case then speed was essential. Every tick of the clock made things worse. I should have called an ambulance instead of driving home.

My exit. My neighborhood. My street. My slo-mo car finally turned into the driveway and skidded to a stop.

My keys refused to cooperate to unlock the door. When I burst in, the children were sitting at the table, calmly doing homework. Around the corner, Suzie was lying on the couch with a look of worried relief.

“How do you feel? Any better?”

“No! I . . . uh . . . headache.”

Nothing had changed. We played twenty questions again.

“You still can’t talk?”


“What did the doctor say when you called?”

“Uh . . . I didn’t”

Wrong question. Stick to the rules, Dennis. One word answers.

“Did you call the doctor?”


“So, I just made that up?”


“Because you couldn’t talk to them anyway?”


“And you couldn’t find a way to correct me over the phone, but getting me home was all that mattered.”

“Yes.” Her eyes said, Finally, I can communicate!

“Okay, I’m calling now.” She needed me to be her voice to the outside world.

I dialed Dr. Burns’ office and eventually got a nurse who told me the doctor was in surgery and would have to call back later.

“I don’t think you understand,” I said. “Hang on a minute.”

I didn’t want to scare Suzie or the kids with my wild speculation so I carried the cordless phone out to the garage and shut the door.

“She can’t talk!” I continued by the washing machine. “But she’s thinking clearly and can answer questions with one word. This is not something that can wait. Is there anyone else I can talk to?”

“No, the doctor is in surgery. I’m the only one here besides the receptionist.”

“Well, let me tell you the details,” I urged. “Maybe you can give me a clue about what I should do.”

“I’m not a doctor. I really think . . .”

“I know, but I need some help. Just listen.” I told her everything I knew. It didn’t take long.

“It sounds to me like a reaction to the antihistamine we gave her, “she said. “I don’t think it’s anything to worry about.”

“But she stopped taking that yesterday and it’s still getting worse,” I insisted.

“A really dangerous drug reaction would have happened immediately. I think you should just watch her and wait for Dr. Burns to call.”

“What about a stroke?” I persisted.

“Is she having any paralysis or trouble moving?”


“Is her speech slurred?”


“Is her breathing shallow or pulse elevated?”


“So she’s fine, except for speaking slowly?”

“Well . . . yes,” I answered. When she put it that way it sounded like no big deal.

“Then I think you should just wait and . . . “

“I’m sorry,” I cut in. “But I know her and I’m looking at her and something is definitely wrong.”

“It doesn’t sound like an emergency so I . . .”

I was getting feisty by this time. I interrupted again.

“But what if it is a stroke?”

“But it doesn’t sound like . . .”

“I know!” I jumped in. “But what if it is?”

“But sir,” she started again.

“I know. But if she’s having a stroke, should I take her to the emergency room? What should you do in a case of stroke?”

“Well, if she had one, and I don’t really think she did, then she would definitely need medical attention.”

“Then that’s where I’m taking her,” I insisted. My mind was made up to do whatever I could.

“But . . . “ she began.

“Just tell the doctor we’ll be in the emergency room,” I ordered. There was no time for this. I now had a plan.

“He’ll check in with you there after he gets out of surgery. I’ll make sure he gets the message,” she said, finally giving up to my ignorance and stubbornness.

“Thank you,” I said, as if it would make up for my rudeness. I didn’t have time for anything else. We were on our way to Emergency. Suzie would get some help at last.

I went back inside to try and calmly explain it to the kids. A quick trip to the emergency room. No big deal. Just some tests.

As far as I knew, I was right.



Reader’s Club Home PageChapter 17: Trapped!