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    quokka
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Top End Doctor - 1. Dr Chapter 1

From the moment that I was discharged from hospital, I wanted to become a doctor, even after all the trauma that I had gone through in the past nine weeks, I still wanted to be one. I was in the hospital due to me being a passenger in my parent’s car, when we were hit from behind at traffic lights and pushed into traffic from the other directions, resulting in the instant death of my mother, and eventual death of my father.

Toby, my younger brother was still in a coma, and at the time of my discharge, his future was still unknown. For me, I was now being cared for by my mother’s much older brother, Uncle James, who is himself a doctor, and up till the accident, he was working as an emergency specialist in Darwin’s private hospital and part-time in the public hospital.

I am just eleven years old at the time of the accident, and Toby is just six, and for the first few weeks of living with Uncle James in a rented apartment near the hospital, we visited Toby every day, after I arrived home from school, reading him stories in hope that he would wake up.

After nearly twelve weeks of being in a coma, the Paediatric Surgeon suggested to Uncle James that he consider turning off the life support for Toby, as there was little hope of him coming out of the coma, and if he does there is a high chance that he will be severely disabled.

Uncle James turned to me, as I began to weep when I realised that I would no longer be able to play with my little brother. “What do you think little man, I can’t make this decision on my own, I need your agreement on this decision too?” Uncle James said to me, and I wept some more, before wiping away my tears with the sleeve of my shirt.

“Can we think about it overnight please?” I asked the doctor, “Yes, Master Reid, we will see you tomorrow, and we will make a decision then. Now I think it is time you say good night, and go home and get some sleep,” the Doctor said to me, and I nodded my head yes, as I gave my brother’s hand a light squeeze.

“I miss you, Toby, please come back to me, I really need you, little buddy,” I whispered softly to him, and as I was about to let go of his hand, I thought I felt his hand squeeze mine, but I didn’t think to say anything, as I kissed Toby of the forehead, released my grip and followed Uncle James out the door.

I didn’t sleep very well that night, and I thought I heard Uncle James’s mobile ring sometime during the night, as I drifted back into a restless sleep. When I struggled out of bed the next morning, I headed to the kitchen still dressed in my pyjamas. “I don’t feel like going to school today, Uncle James,” I announced.

“That’s is good, because it is Saturday today, and I received a call from the hospital last night, Toby woke up from his coma,” Uncle James replied smiling, and it took a few moments for the information to sink in. Great no school today, that means… “What did you just say? Toby is out of the coma?” I asked.

“Yes, that is right, but he is still a very sick boy, he is very disorientated and they need to run a few more tests on him, so we will go and see him straight after lunch, when all the tests are done,” Uncle James said to me. “Yippee, Toby is awake!” I shouted, as I jumped on to the lounge and jumped up and down, and Uncle James just smiled and watched.

When we arrived at the hospital, I was very impatient with going to see my brother, but Uncle James insisted that he needs to speak to the doctor before they both go and see him, so we made our way to his office, where we waited for the specialist to arrive. “Hello Reid, I bet you are very keen to see your little brother?” the doctor said as he arrived, and led the way into his office next door.

“Now, as you know, Toby woke up from his coma last night, at about 1.20 am, and right away, we discovered a few issues, he is paralysed from the waist down, and he does not remember anything about the accident or anything before then, which could be caused by brain damage, but we will know more after some more tests, so he may or may not remember either of you.

He also has slurred speech, probably due to his vocal cords being damaged during the accident, and the first lot of tests show that he does have some scaring inside his throat. I suggest you try your very best to be extra brave when you do and see him and try not to show to many emotions, if Toby cannot remember you,” the doctor said to us before standing, and he led the way to the room, where Toby was located.

I was thrilled to see Toby sitting up slightly in his bed awake and looking out the window, with a curious look on his face, he was still attached to a lot of wires and tubes, but having those myself a few weeks back, I expected that. When he heard us enter the room, he stared at us and frowned.

“Do I know you? I don’t remember seeing you before!” Toby said as he stared directly at our uncle, then he looked at me, as I walked around to the other side of the bed. “I think I know you? You look familiar?” and I smiled. “Yes Toby, we are good mates, I am so pleased that you are awake at last,” I replied softly.

“What happened to me, why am I here?” Toby asked me, and I thought about this question for a long time before answering, “We were in a bad accident, and I got out of hospital a little earlier than you, but don’t worry about that just concentrate on getting better,” I said, as I sat in the chair beside the bed, and held his hand.

Toby looked at my hand, and I gave his hand a soft squeeze, and Toby did his best to try and smile, but it was only a slight one, as I picked up the book and continued to read the story to him. We stayed for nearly two hours before Toby fell asleep, and we quietly left the room, to let him get his rest.

Over the next two weeks, Toby was put through a barrage of medical tests, as he slowly began to recover from his injuries. On top of the tests, his memory had improved dramatically, firstly remembering who I am, and a few days later he remembered Uncle James. He also went through speech and physical therapy, to improve his speech and movement in his lower body, and psychological counselling, to overcome what he has been through.

By the time Toby was released from hospital, he was speaking a lot clearer, but not perfect, he is able to walk with the aid of being strapped to a walking frame for short distances, and he was getting quite good at running me over with his new wheelchair, that Uncle James had bought him, which made him laugh each time he succeeded, and I didn’t mind as I felt pleased and happy when I heard him laugh.

A few days later, we had packed up everything and headed for the airport, for the trip to our new home in Darwin, Northern Territory. Our parents had taken us there just a year before the accident, to spend Christmas with Uncle James, and I remember that his home was large and is very close to the ocean, and overlooking the marina.

Uncle James had spent a lot of his spare time sorting through our former home, sorting and packing everything up, with all of our parents stuff being donated to charity, and apart from a few personal items, the rest including all of the furniture was sold, as was the house and the second car, which Uncle James had been using since being in Perth to look after us both.

On the flight to Darwin, which was in Business class, so it is easier to seat Toby, Uncle James informed us that he and his partner had moved into a very solid modern home in the suburb of Brinkin, just behind the university and close to the hospital, with it has two levels and includes an elevator.

He said that the ground floor has a three-vehicle garage, with a large rumpus room with a small kitchenette, which leads off from the entry foyer, stairs and elevator. Behind the rumpus room, are two of the five bedrooms in the house, with a large shared bathroom, that is suitable for wheelchairs. The ground floor also has a home theatre room, the laundry, another toilet and a storeroom.

On the first floor, there is the main living area, kitchen, butler’s pantry, breakfast bar, dining room and a formal lounge room. Leading off the lounge is the master suite with private bathroom, and balcony, and in the other direction is the guest bedroom, with its own bathroom, and a large study, plus there is veranda’s around three sides of the house on both levels.

Outside there is a tropical garden on both sides and along the front, providing plenty of privacy, plus Uncle James had bought the property behind their home, and demolished the old house that was on it and expanded the tropical gardens, plus installed a lap pool and spa pool, which are shaded by sun sails, to protect everyone from the harsh sun.

The house that was demolished was set right back from the road and has lush tropical gardens along the front, which hid the previous house very well, and so Uncle James had just pulled up the driveway and planted trees and shrubs to hide the original driveway. We were informed that the house is just across the road and 240 metres from the Casuarina Coastal Reserve and the beach, and 1.5 kilometres from the University and 3.2 kilometres from the hospital.

When we finally arrived in Darwin, we were one of the first to disembark from the plane, and with Toby back in his wheelchair, with me having a firm grip on the handles, we set off into the terminal. As we cleared the security gates, we stopped and waited for Uncle James to catch up, as I had a hard time keeping Toby from racing ahead at breakneck speed and running into someone.

As I saw Uncle James approaching, I looked around at the crowd, and I soon found the smiling face of Uncle James’s partner, Timothy. “Boys, do you remember Timothy Hope?” Uncle James asked us. “Yes, I do, hello again,” I responded, as I held out my hand and shook his, as I kept a firm grip on the wheelchair with my spare hand.

There was a moment of silence before Toby replied, “I’m sorry I don’t remember you, but Uncle James has told me that you are his life partner,” Toby replied, as he kept his hands in his lap. “Well that is good to know, and I am so pleased that you have recovered very well since… well that you are looking good,” Timothy said.

Nothing more was said as we headed to collect our luggage, that we had brought with us, with the remainder of our belongings being freighted up next week. “Uncle James has told us all about this new house, it sounds great, I look forward to seeing it,” I said to Timothy.

“Yes, we have put a lot of work into it during the dry season, and with the monsoon season near, all the new plants should start growing quickly,” Timothy replied.

Copyright © March 2020 Preston Wigglesworth. All Rights Reserved.
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I also like this story, glad Toby is getting better, and that Reid was glad to have his bro back, I hope this story is a longer than usual one, get sick of some of the shortened stories on GA.

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Interesting chapter, and better intriguing start to this New story, I hope he does recover and gets his mobility back

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Toby is very fortunate, people who are in a deep coma for a long period of time normally have a very difficult time time the they return to consciousness. He is lucky in that some of his memory has returned, that bodes well for a more significant pattern of continued improvement. Interesting beginning for a story.

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 A bit late to the party, but I have more time now and I'm interested to see where you take us.  (The house sounds awesome!) The characters are introduced and now I hope we get to know them better.

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I'm a bit late also but - the story already has my full attention. Recovery from a long coma is tricky, to say the least, but again, age is relevant.  Depending on the extent of brain injury - younger patients have a much better prognosis for recovery!  Can't wait to see the progress of little Toby!

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I have my belt snugged up ready to work hard at understanding the Australianisms. My one Pacific expedition was to OZ, but only to Sidney and the east coast as far as Cairns, so the Northwest is all new to me except for a reading about Shark Bay and the dolphins. I'm looking forward to the exploration.

One thing, I do hope that the wet season brings some regrowth of the greenery. The fires suffered in the Southeast this year have been devastating and you have my sympathy.

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