Medical dilemma requires mom to examine son… Laura was in a state of panic. Absolute horror. To make matters worse, this had all been her fault. She was the one who had rented a tiny two-bedroom vacation home in a small European town, during her son’s winter break from college, knowing that the weather would be icy.
She had good reason though. This had been her ancestor’s homeland for many generations. She had heard about this place from her grandparents and seen pictures of it in family photo albums. Who could blame her for wanting to explore her distant roots?
Unfortunately, her son Ben had fallen through a sheet of ice, plunging his body into freezing water. He was shivering and shaking when he made it out, showing all sorts of critical signs, but later insisted that he’d be okay.
Now, as Ben rested comfortably in his room, Laura spoke with a local doctor, a short elderly woman, who was nice enough to make the trip to their place. The conversation was rushed, however, since the doctor was in a hurry to leave because of an incoming snow storm.
“He is very, very lucky,” the doctor said with a heavy accent. “It was good he made it out of the water immediately and no serious harm was done.”
The doctor had an ultra friendly demeanor and seemed jovial about things. Even in her old age, her passion for helping people in times of distress had not faded.
“Thank you so much,” Laura exhaled. “I was afraid we couldn’t get a doctor here with the weather outside. You’re an angel.”
Once again, the doctor beamed, which highlighted every wrinkle on her face as her eyes lit up.
“It is my job.”
Laura reached for her purse and dug through it. “Thanks again. You deserve an extra tip, on top of whatever I already owe you.”
“No, no,” the doctor said, shaking her head, waving away the money. “Not yet. Not yet.”
“I don’t take money until patient is fully healed. I am honorable doctor.”
Laura was slightly confused by this. “Are you saying that Ben is not fully recovered yet?”
“We still need more check-up,” the doctor explained with a heavy accent. “People suffering from hypothermia often do not realize it, so he needs to be monitored for next few days. We need to make sure his sensitive organs have no damage.”
Laura nodded. “Okay, that makes perfect sense. You can stop by anytime.”
“I am quite busy – personal reasons.”
Laura resisted the urge to panic and tried to be calm about this. “What should I do then? Take him to the nearest hospital when the snow storm ends?”
“No, no. Not necessary. It is simple process and you can handle yourself. Okay?”
The doctor went over to her supply bag and put a notepad on the table. For the next few moments, she quickly jotted down some notes and instructions, then handed the paper to Laura, who quickly read it.
“Do you understand?” the doctor asked while Laura scanned the note.
Laura’s eyes were glued to the paper. “Is all of this really necessary?”
“Lasting effects of hypothermia may not be fully known. It is important to keep monitoring him.”
The doctor flashed another big smile and then gathered her things. She seemed hurried to leave, completely oblivious that the American values which Laura held were far more modest than those in this insular town.
Laura tried holding up the paper, pointing to specific instructions. “How about this part? Are you sure?”
“Yes, yes. Very sure.”
There was no sense of shame whatsoever on the doctor’s part. She clearly didn’t understand why this would be a problem for a woman like Laura. Once the doctor had gathered all of her things, she made her way to the door and left, giving a final bright smile and wishing Ben a speedy recovery.
“I will be back in two days to check,” the doctor said happily. “Please follow instructions. They are easy. When you do first exam today, call me and let me know! I’m eager to hear how Ben is doing. I suspect he will be fine, but we mustn’t take any chances.”
When the doctor left, Laura closed the door and sighed. This was going to be a long day.
A few moments later she entered Ben’s bedroom. He was resting comfortably, dressed in fresh clothes, tucked under the blanket with a remote control in hand to switch channels on the old television set he was watching. It was like nothing had happened.
“Feeling better?” she asked.
Ben nodded, taking his eyes away from the television. “I’m fine. A little cold still, but I’m okay.”
She pulled up a chair and sat next to his bed. Her motherly instincts kicked in and she fussed over her son – touching his forehead and checking up on his general condition to the best of her ability.
So far, Ben looked good overall, but looking in his eyes, Laura could tell that he was still slightly disoriented, no matter how hard he tried to hide it. It seemed like nothing to worry about, since he was recovering, but Laura was a worrier.
Laura examined him even closer. “You look a lot better than before, but I’m still concerned.”
“Don’t be,” he reassured. “I’m fine, seriously.”
“There’s still a small risk of some lingering effects of hypothermia, or worse, some of your vulnerable organs could be damaged.”
His eyebrow rose. “It’s that serious? All I did was fall into ice water.”
“Yes, but you were in there for too long and it took you a while to get out. Plus, we’re in a remote area and getting medical help during the snow storm is a big problem. This is my fault.”
There was genuine remorse in Laura’s voice, a slight trembling. She had always been overprotective of her son, who was the center of her universe.
He reached out and held her hand. “Don’t blame yourself, Mom. I was the one goofing around on the ice.”
“But I was the one who wanted to come to such an isolated area, in a country we’ve never been to. I should have planned this better.”
“It’s not a big deal. Like I said, I feel fine. Plus we’ve had plenty of cool experiences here, right?
Ben always knew how to cheer her up, and Laura felt better. He was right, too; the trip wasn’t all bad. At least they got to bond, have a nice vacation, and visit places new to them but familiar to their ancestors.
“You’ll understand my protectiveness when you become a parent someday,” she managed to smile. “Until then, I’ll start preparing lunch, hot soup, of course. Then later, we’ll begin the checkups.”