What Matters Most~ Chapter Thirty-Nine

Note: I did as much research as I could to make this chapter as realistic as possible, however I am not a doctor. Any and all mistakes are my own.

Michelle took a deep breath and began scrubbing the harsh soap along her hands and arms. Normally the thought of surgery didn’t fluster her focus but this was no ordinary surgery, she held the lives on two people in her hands today. One person she loved like the sister she never had and the other she was going to help bring into the world today.

The door behind her flew open with a crash. “Let me guess, you must be Dr. Santos. Ordering CT scans without my council and now here you are about to perform major surgery on our patient without thinking of the risks involved.”

Michelle stood with her mouth agape at the harsh tone, not to mention the implication that she didn’t have Marah’s best interests at heart. Her voice was frosty cold when she replied, “You were paged. You didn’t show up. I have a patient with significant blood loss, a partial placental abruption who could go into shock at any moment. I didn’t exactly have time to twiddle my thumbs Dr. Salas.” She had never worked with Richard Salas before, he had just recently been hired on to the Cedars surgical staff, but Michelle could already tell she didn’t like him. At all. He had a haughtiness about him that made it hard to resist the urge to punch him in the face. She would just love to see the paperwork on that one as she sat in front of the review board.

Dr. Richard Salas crossed his arms over his chest and looked down at her as if he was trying to prove his superiority. Asshole. “You are lucky that the CT scan came back negative for inter-cranial bleeding. Our patient has had one nasty bump to the head which caused a severe concussion. Coupled with blood loss it’s no wonder she is still unconscious but her brain functions appear normal.” He moved to exit the way he came, satisfied he made his point. But before he left the room he made one last parting shot, “I will assess her later. Pending a successful surgery of course.”

Michelle gritted her teeth and turned back to the sink. This time when she scrubbed her arms she did it with enough force she was surprised her skin wasn’t rubbed raw. One of the nurse assisting that night, Ann, opened the door for her. “You ready Doctor?”

Michelle once again took a deep breath, clearing her mind. “As I’ll ever be.”

***

Like a well choreographed dance Michelle quickly handed off a tiny miracle to Mary, the neonatal nurse on duty, who immediately began checking the baby over. The baby was a little small but from Michelle’s well-trained eye she appeared to be completely healthy. With a great set of lungs on her judging by the shrill cry coming from her unhappy little face.

But while the neonatal nurse whisked the baby out of the room towards the neonatal intensive care unit Michelle was already at work on Marah finishing the procedure when she noticed the surgical incision wasn’t clotting normally and Marah was losing blood rapidly. Michelle cursed under her breath. They had started giving Marah blood since she arrived but it seems it hadn’t been enough to starve off the trauma . Normally c-sections were relatively safe, even with the amount of blood lost, but most people hadn’t just endured what Marah just lived through.

The alarm on the monitors sounded through the room. Above her face mask Ann’s eyes were large with adrenaline. Her muffled voice called out, “Her BP is falling!”

Michelle’s critical eyes took in Marah’s vital signs on the monitor. This was not looking good. “Damn it she’s lost too much blood! We need to set up two more units and I’m going to need 1mg of epinephrine to boost this blood pressure fast!” Her worst fear was realized when moments later another alarm sounded. The shrill sound alerting them to the fact that Marah had gone into V-fib. With no time to waste Michelle called for a crash cart. “Come on, we’re not losing her. Let’s move!”

As one nurse pumped the Ambu mask over Marah’s face Michelle was racing against time. “Charging to 200! Clear!” No change. “Give me 300. Clear!” She leaned over Marah’s body and shouted even though she knew the other woman couldn’t hear her. “Don’t you dare leave us now Marah Santos! You have too much to live for, you hear me!” She faced the nurse, “Give me 350! I am not going to lose her! Not today.”

***

“I thought I might find you in here.”

Tony didn’t turn or acknowledge Ray’s entrance into the room he simply stared at the chapel’s unadorned altar. And he continued staring even as Ray sat behind him, silently waiting for Tony to say something so he could gauge his state of mind. As if Ray needed him to say that he was barely holding on by a thread. Tired of pacing the hallways and growling at anyone who asked for the millionth time if he was alright he came here, to the hospital chapel, to find…something. Perhaps some peace. Perhaps some answers. Anything but pity.

“You know the surgery should be over soon. Somewhere in this hospital your daughter is sleeping peacefully.” The wonder and awe in Ray’s voice was clear. “I never thought I would see Tony Santos, family man.” He paused before amending, “Actually I guess we all never thought we’d see it considering we all thought you were dead a few years ago. Glad to say we were mistaken.”

Tony never thought it was possible considering the events of that night but he was suddenly overcome with laughter. Then as quickly as it appeared it was gone and Tony looked back at Ray with a serious expression. “I am a father.” He paused as he let that sink in. He turned back towards the altar and sighed. “I hope I can protect her better than I protected her mother.”

“Oh come off of it Tony!” Both men turned around to see Danny joined them and apparently had been listening at the door. “Like you could have anticipated the actions of Carlos Quesada. That man had been plotting revenge for close to ten years. Even team Santos couldn’t have stopped that. But we were all there Tony, we watched you run into a crazy situation to save Marah with no one at your back. Your daughter is lucky to have you as a father.”

Overcome by Danny’s words Tony didn’t know what to say so instead he chose the part of Danny’s speech that didn’t threaten to bring emotion to the forefront. “Team Santos?”

Danny smiled, “Well if Faith can be on a team about some fictional vampire I figure our family isn’t too far off.”

Ray laughed loudly, the sound echoing in the nearly empty room. “Faith still Team Edward huh? I was always for the dog. Jared? Jason?”

“Jacob.” Tony shook his head at the ridiculousness of the conversation. Here they were talking about Twilight clearly straying from the original point. “So Danny what is Team Santos?”

“Team Santos is who we are. It’s who we’ve always been. We want something bad enough we work to get it. We face challenge head on and work to beat it. We may stumble and we may lose our way from time to time but we’ll find a way to bring each other back to the light. When we triumph we celebrate those victories because we are Team Santos and we have pulled ourselves up from Carmen and Maria’s filth. We are Team Santos and we are pretty damn great.”

After Danny was finished with his emotional speech Danny and Ray sat silently as they took it all in. Then Ray smiled. “I like it.”

Tony nodded in agreement. “Me too. We may have to get shirts. Team Santos.” Tony looked at his watch and was alarmed that so much time had passed. Though talking with Danny and Ray had helped take his mind off of the hellish night and the reminder that Marah was still in surgery it all came flooding back. He was on his feet quickly and headed for the door. “I need to go see what is taking so long. Marah should be out of surgery by now.”

Suddenly Shayne was at the chapel door and it looked as if he had run through the hospital corridors to get to them. “Tony, Michelle wants to see you right away!”

Without a second to lose Tony was out the door, the rest of Team Santos following in his wake.

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