In the world of
light, the figure and that ever-nearing syringe were all that eight-year-old
Katherine could see from the hospital gurney. The light overhead was so glaring
and yet it did not improve upon the darkness surrounding her. Each shallow
breath made the light and therefore the sight more of a blur, and then the
figure stepped up with the needle in hand. The black silhouette stood over her
obscuring the overhead lamp but for a glow encircling its horrible head. This
corona was not round like that of a saint but fiery and twisted in an aura of
blond-red tendrils surrounding the black space that should have been a face.
gasped and was startled back to life by the full intake of air.
She took a couple of quick breaths to make sure, and everything seemed to
be in working order. The hospital room was bright and orderly.
Her dear mother stood at her right hand as her trusting face swept back
how are you feeling sweetheart?" she asked.
put a small hand to her heart and gave the room a quick look to orient herself.
She nodded as if it had a been a yes or no question, but the meaning was clear.
Doctor is ready to see you." her mother said.
"Are you up for a visit or shall we rest here a while longer?"
cringed slightly at the word doctor but gave a quick nod that it was all right.
Her mother let go of her hand and walked to the open door.
has never had a fear of doctors before." she whispered with concern to
someone just out of sight. "This
may really have affected her."
can take it from here." the Doctor said with condolence as Katherine's
mother swiped a quick tear. "Perhaps
you should wait outside."
nodded, and seeing that Kathy was deliberately looking the other way, departed
without a wave.Kathy was terrified to look at the open door and the man who was
with a clipboard. She held her
breath, but as he came to her bedside the
image of what she was about to imagine suddenly dissolved and a short,
man smiled at her.
my name is Dr. Sobol." he said. "I'm
going to be your pediatrician. Is that okay with you?"
man had short, dark hair and tan skin like a man who spends his time at the
beach. When he smiled a pair of
dimples appeared that he would probably be unable to hide all his life.
He was probably thirty, but his face and his height were youthening and
put Katherine at peace like when a girl sees her first crush.
breathing easy, that's good." he said.
"Do you know what happened to you last night?"
had an asthma attack." she said.
you tell me about it?" Dr. Sobol inquired, putting down his clipboard.
"It's okay if you don't want to."
don't mind." she said, swallowing.
described the nightmare to him in every detail she could muster.
The light, the
and the syringe. He sat attentively
on a tall stool at her feet, his white jacket
perfectly to his neck. When she was
done he sat in silence and then finally spoke.
interesting story." he said, his eyebrows raised.
"You're certain that someone came at you with a needle?"
nodded, afraid that by his puzzled look he did not believe her.
say it was blurry..." he said. "Blurrier
with each breath. Do you know what
it means to hallucinate?"
normal to see things when you pass out," he said, "or to see a
dream-like version of what is actually happening."
"It's called being in a semi-conscious state.
It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you, Katherine."
it didn't happen?" she asked positively, sitting upright.
true that you were lying down with an overhead lamp above you." he replied.
"That much is certain. But
these hospital lamps are not so bright that you can't see past
glare, nor is it too dark to see either, and you did say both were the case if I
heard you right."
reached for a harmless lamp nearby, turned the long neck so she could see the
and flipped the fairly dim light on and off a couple of times.
finally, you can rest assured that there was no needle." he said as calmly
as he could. "Asthma patients
are not injected with anything. When
you arrived, you were
directly to this room and this little tube was put in your mouth to help the
breathing, that's all."
smiled at him, relieved that her nightmare was over.
She breathed easy and
watched each other in reassurance for as long as Dr. Sobol deemed necessary.
okay now." she said, sighing.
you're not afraid of doctors?" he asked.
shook her head vigorously. Dr.
Sobol smiled and returned to the open doorway to get a prescription.
He passed Katherine's mother as she returned to the bedside.
not so bad." Katherine stated.
could have walked or even skipped briskly down the hall to the parking lot,
she wanted to ride the wheelchair anyway. Her
mother pushed her down the
thoroughfare, and as they passed the front desk she had to stop because the
of bodies in white coats heading left and right was too crowded at the moment to
through. In the midst of those
white coats Kathy drew a faint breath and for
moment thought that the world was growing pale around a writhing mass in the
her eye, but in another moment it was gone.
you all right?" her mother asked, noticing her expression.
"You look like you
fine." she said. "It's
stuffy in this place, that's all."
returned home with an appointment for later in the week to see Dr. Sobol again.
He was confident that he knew exactly what happened, but had run a couple
of tests on Katherine just to make sure. By
the time she returned for the results,
there had been no further episodes.
glad to see you again, Katherine." he said.
"No more nightmares I hope?"
don't even remember it all that well." she replied.
"Didn't happen, don't need to
Sobol and her mother exchanged a glance at her confident, if not comical answer.
He pulled the results from her test, and announced that everything was as
your brain is not receiving enough oxygen," he explained, "it goes
into a shut-down mode." "You
lose consciousness, and it's natural for everything to go white or
until the oxygen returns. With the
right medication, we can prevent this from
wanted to ride the wheelchair again, which made Dr. Sobol laugh and he even
volunteered to give her a push while her mother went to start the car. Katherine
to enjoy Dr. Sobol's company, and he appeared to enjoy hers as he
wheeled her down the hallway faster than her mother would have.
The other white-smocked
looked at the two of them as if in envy that some fun was actually taking
on the premises.
junction near the front desk was as crowded as usual so they wheeled to one
of the hallway to let the traffic pass. Katherine
watched the medical personnel hustle about, and began to wonder if Dr. Sobol was
really one of them amongst the crowd of faceless smocks.
she gasped and some unknown thought made her breath halt for a
instant. The world was growing pale
again as if from some light source above,and some of the colors she was seeing
started to blend inward like running
What's wrong?" Dr. Sobol asked as he kneeled beside her.
you having an attack? Just tell
was pale as a sheet. Something in
this busy corridor had frightened the breath out of her and she had no idea what
it was. A white smock passed right
in front of her with a large syringe held in its hand.
There was definitely something moving in the corner of her eye, and by
the shape of it she knew what is was.
I can't help you unless you tell me what's wrong." Dr. Sobol said with
was definitely staring at something in the crowd.
She lifted her arm slowly and pointed across the way.
is that man..." she whispered faintly.
Sobol turned around and saw only the white smocks passing in front of the main
desk and behind it, and more passing in and out of rooms on the far side.
Katherine was visibly scared to death.
one?" he whispered in reply.
one with the long hair..." she said breathlessly.
rose to his feet and looked carefully, straining to see so many faces, and
a smock with a long mane of reddish-blond hair sweeping past the collar.
was on the far side of the busy intersection about twenty yards away, facing the
direction and was obscured by desk counters except for the hair, and in another
would be Dr. Lang, the asthma specialist." he said, relieved to see that
her color was returning. "Why,
do you know him?"
she stated, taking a deep and welcome breath.
"I've never seen him
why were you frightened?" Dr. Sobol asked, scratching his head.
paused and was faced with an impasse no child would be prepared for.
She had been so reassured, and yet the thought could not be denied.
he is the man with the needle.” she stated clearly.
Copyright©2000 Len Rely