Bryson City Seasons — Doctor Dad (Part 1)

This is from the twenty-sixth chapter from my best-selling book, Bryson City Seasons, which is the sequel to Bryson City TalesI hope that you’ll enjoy going back to Bryson City with me each week and that if you do, you’ll be sure to invite your friends and family to join us.


The day before Kate’s surgery, we drove from Bryson City back to Duke and checked into the hospital late that afternoon. Kate’s room was in the hospital’s newest addition called Duke North.

A nurse met us in the admitting office and had Kate hop into a small wheelchair. Barb and I walked behind, holding hands as I held Scott in my other arm, and we were escorted up to the pediatric ward.

I was petrified. Now, I was a doctor. I was supposed to know the drill. But I was also a parent, and the thought of my little girl having to go into surgery was very uncomfortable. I knew the pain she was going to experience, and I felt helpless.

The nurse turned to go into a room, and Scott, Barb, and I were left for a moment in the hall together. Thoughts and emotions flooded my mind. I longed to trade places with Kate. Were we making the right decision? What if Kate had a negative reaction to the anesthesia—or what if she didn’t wake up afterward?

I felt my eyes filling with tears. Barb gave my hand a squeeze and whispered, “She’ll be okay, Walt. I know it!”

We had been married long enough that I knew to appreciate and trust Barb’s intuition. I had also been a doctor long enough to grow to understand and value a mother’s intuition. I let go of her hand to turn and face her and gratefully accepted her confident hug.

Then we turned to follow Kate into her room. We entered the room, surprised to find it painted in festive colors and child-sized, with the exception of a chair and bed for one parent. One parent! I thought. That means only one of us will stay with her tonight. I decided it’d be best not to think about it right then.

The afternoon was a blur. Lab technicians came in to draw blood, take a chest X-ray, and do an EKG. Kate’s physical, speech, and occupational therapists all came by for a visit. It was good to see old friends who loved us and our daughter.

The surgeon and an anesthesiologist both came by to visit. The visit from the latter was the most worrisome. Bill Brown, M.D., and his wife, CeCe, were our friends when we were residents together. When he came by the room, we first caught up on all that had happened since we had finished residency as Scott napped in the guest bed. As Barb and I shared stories about our life and times in Bryson City, he laughed. “You should write a book sometime!”

We all laughed. That will never happen! I thought.

Bill looked at Kate and commented, “Kate, you’ll be our first case in the morning. You’re our number one!”

Kate’s eyes got big, and she looked at me. “Daddy, did you hear that?” Her chest seemed to puff up just a bit. “I’m number one!”

We all laughed, and then Bill nodded at the doorway. “Let’s step out for a second, okay?”

We followed him into the hall. He seemed very serious. “Barb and Walt, there’s a concern I need to share with you.”

Barb and I quickly exchanged apprehensive glances. “What is it?” Barb asked.

“With Kate’s brain damage, I just don’t know how she’ll respond to the anesthetic. I’ll try to give her no more than absolutely necessary, but she could react in ways we can’t predict.”

“Such as?” I asked.

Bill looked down for a moment and then at me. “Walt, one risk is seizure activity—during or after surgery. But my biggest concern is that she might not wake up.”

“What!” My voice was a whisper.

“It’s highly unlikely—and very rare. But cases have been reported in children like Kate where they react to the anesthetic in such a way that we lose them on the table. I don’t want to alarm you unnecessarily—just because this is so very, very rare. But I want you to be prepared for all possibilities.”

“What’s the risk?” I asked.

“I’m not sure I can say,” Bill explained, “but I would think the odds are very, very low.”

We were all quiet for a moment. Bill continued. “I’ll need to include the risk of death on the consent form you sign. I’ll let you all talk about this. This is elective surgery. If for any reason you want to cancel the surgery, I’ll certainly understand—and I’m sure Dr. Fitch would also.”

We thanked Bill, and he left. We walked back into the room and were alone with Kate and Scott. Scott had awakened from his nap, and he and Kate played together on her bed.

“What do you think?” I asked Barb.

She smiled at me. “I think we can dramatically reduce Kate’s risk!”

“How so?” I inquired.

“We’ll just pray her through this—you and I!”

She smiled and reached out to take my hands in hers. Then Barb prayed an ever-so-brief prayer—for Kate and for us. When she was through, we both had tears rolling down our cheeks. Barb’s strong faith had held our family together from the shock we had first felt at the time of Kate’s diagnosis—and now this same faith was overflowing into my life.

We then distracted ourselves by playing with our children.


  1. The Murder (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  2. The Arrival (Part 1)(Part 2)
  3. The Hemlock Inn (Part 1)(Part 2)
  4. The Grand Tour (Part 1)(Part 2)
  5. The Interview (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  6. Settling In (Part 1)(Part 2)
  7. First-Day Jitters (Part 1)(Part 2)
  8. Emergency (Part 1)(Part 2)
  9. The Delivery (Part 1)(Part 2)
  10. The “Expert” (Part 1)(Part 2)
  11. The Trial (Part 1)(Part 2)
  12. Shiitake Sam (Part 1)(Part 2)
  13. Wet Behind the Ears (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  14. Lessons in Daily Practice (Part 1) — Anal Angina(Part 2)(Part 3)(Part 4)
  15. White Lies
  16. The Epiphany (Part 1)(Part 2)
  17. Becoming Part of the Team (Part 1)(Part 2)
  18. Monuments (Part 1)(Part 2)
  19. My First Home Victory (Part 1)(Part 2)
  20. Fisher of Men (Part 1)(Part 2)
  21. Fly-Fishing (Part 1); (Part 2)
  22. Something Fishy (Part 1)(Part 2)
  23. A Good Day at the Office
  24. An Evening to Remember
  25. Another New Doc Comes to Town
  26. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (Part 1)(Part 2)
  27. A Surprising Gift
  28. The New Year (Part 1)(Part 2)
  29. The Home Birth (Part1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  30. The Showdown (Part1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  31. The Initiation (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  32. Home at Last (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2017. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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