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    Timothy M.
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The Cardmaker and the Caretaker - 23. Chapter 23 Cakes and caring

Distractions are useful while waiting.


Sorry about the long wait. :*)  In case you've forgotten, Michael left for heart surgery at the end of the previous chapter.

The three hours dragged along, but Michael’s dads did their best to keep each other from worrying. Patrick told stories about his parents, and Peter shared memories of good times with his son. A nurse and a ward orderly, both male, came by to meet Patrick. He finally understood Peter’s comment about being jealous if the staff were younger, because the nurse was a forty-something handsome man, who pinged his gaydar nicely and transmitted a pleasant vibe when they shook hands.

The other man was a hunky grey-haired Jamaican, who had them all laughing over a funny story about Patrick’s mum, ending up with: “And then she tells me ‘Mr. T., if every orderly was as dedicated as you, we’d be able to eat off the floors.’ So next week I brung her a square cake with white icing and a red marzipan bucket and mop.”

He held out a photo showing him and a laughing Lizzie holding the remarkably tile-like cake between them. Patrick felt how pleased the man was with the praise he’d gotten, and how well the cake had been received. It sparked an almost forgotten memory.

“I can remember her bringing the part with the bucket home and sharing it with Dad and me. It was one of the best cakes I’d ever tasted. She said one of her colleagues treated the staff on his birthday, and she managed to save the nicest piece to take home.”

“My wife works in a bakery, which makes speciality cakes for all kinds of parties. Sure, it was my fiftieth birthday, but I had the idea from your mum always saying no nursing or doctor skills could make up for dirt or nasty germs. She made cleaning staff feel important and part of the heart team.”

“Well, with the lecture the surgeon and Michael’s nurse gave us about hygiene here and at home I have no doubt they agree,” Peter said. “Patrick has hired professional cleaners, and I hope they’re close to your standard.”

The male nurse smiled at the hunky Dane in a way which showed he appreciated the off-limit eye candy. “If not, I’m sure Michael’s grandmother will step in. She’s a most determined lady in spite of being very kind.”

Patrick froze, but Peter was completely cool. “Thanks, Gerard. She’s my aunt, not my mum, but you’re right about her being the best granny for our son. And yes, she’s the perfect person to be in charge of his recovery. We couldn’t manage without her.”

“Oops, sorry about that. I think my brain took a vacation. I knew she was an Auntie.”

“More like all your blood went south,” the ward orderly teased him, and Patrick heard a faint giggle in the back of his head. Right, just the sort of joke that silly imp would enjoy.

“Hey, it’s not every day we get such a handsome couple on the premises. I can’t wait to get home and tell Duncan about Lizzie’s son and his Viking. Can I take a picture of you two? My partner won’t believe my glowing descriptions otherwise.”

As Peter and Patrick posed for several shots, the cardmaker felt inspirations for two cards simmer. He was intrigued by the friendly banter which showed the nurse was out and open about having an eye for good-looking guys, enough to have his straight colleague poke fun at it. He’d examined his own feelings for jealousy, when Gerard eyed Peter, but found none, and when the nurse mentioned his partner, Patrick knew why. There was a surge of love and pride from Gerard showing his absolute conviction that no matter how much he enjoyed ogling a handsome man, none of them compared to Duncan in his heart. The cardmaker got the distinct feeling both partners liked to share eye candy descriptions as innocent fun.

“You gonna print me a couple of those to show the Missus?” Mr. T. enquired when Gerard finished, and the nurse nodded.

“Could I have the name of the cake shop where your wife works, Mr. T.? We’ll want to celebrate with something special, when Michael comes home. Apparently, all Danes love cakes.”

The ward orderly beamed at Patrick and gave him the name and address and a few hints on which cakes to try. Gerard chimed in, and it was obvious Mrs. T.’s cakes were renowned in the ward.

“Would it be a good idea to buy a large cake for the staff here to share? We’d like to show our appreciation of all the hospital’s done for Michael.”

Peter’s suggestion was met with enthusiasm from all, and they spent some time organizing how and when they should order the cake. Patrick had already decided he would ask Diane and Tania about ways to donate to the ward in order to help other children. Something in his mother’s name to keep her memory alive among the colleagues who had appreciated her kind heart as well as her skills. But the cake was a great idea for right now.

After this conversation the nurse excused himself to get back to work, and Mr. T chased them out of the room to do his cleaning. “I always take the chance to do extra floor mopping when there’s no bed. And once the kiddo is back here, you don’t want me banging around with buckets and stuff.”

They stood by the window in the corridor holding hands and chatting quietly.

“I almost got jealous when Gerard was admiring your behind.”

“What are you talking about, Peter? You’re the one he ogled, but I don’t blame him. You’re the most handsome man around.”

“I guess he’s an equal opportunity admirer, but he certainly checked out your ass when you were looking at Mr. T.’s picture of your mum.”

“Well, there’s no need to get jealous about other people looking, as long as they don’t try anything. I’ve no doubt you’ll be the recipient of plenty of wishful female thinking, what with having those rugged blond looks and a cute son. But I also know you’re mine, so they can look and sigh with envy as much as they like.”

“True, and I admit Gerard’s admiration was quite innocent. Probably because he’s in a relationship.”

“He thinks Duncan is the most beautiful guy in the world.”

Peter looked around before replying. “Is that your ESP talking?”

“Yep, I got clear vibes, and there’s no doubt they worship each other. Makes me want to design a card for them.”

“Cool, I’m beginning to like the idea of my lover having a special talent. Apart from the ones in bed, I mean.”

Patrick ignored the small leer and nudge. “You know, with the things I’ve been told about my mum, I’m beginning to think you’re right about her being gifted too.”

“You’ll have to see if your children inherit anything.”

“Children?” Patrick stared at Peter in shock.

“I’d love for us to have more children together, and you can definitely afford a surrogate, right? Or isn’t this legal in England?”

“I…uhm…I have no idea. I think most people have a friend or a sister help them out, but I don’t know of anyone….” The image of Fiona popped into his head, but he quickly dismissed it. As a deputy headmistress she wouldn’t be able to help, and besides it might bring back bad memories of her teen pregnancy. Had she given the baby up for adoption? Patrick didn’t know, but perhaps Fiona would confide in him, when they became close.

“Well, there’s plenty of time to talk about this in the future. I just wanted you to know I’d love to see the son or daughter you’d father.”

“Thank you, Peter. I’m sure they could never be as wonderful as Michael. And right now he’s our only son and priority.”

They both turned when they heard Mr. T’s cheerful voice telling them he was all done. He waved away their thanks and proceeded to the next room. Back inside the two men tried to dismiss their worry about Michael by positive talk and hugs. They had no idea how the surgery was going. However, this was actually fine, since they’d been told ‘No news is good news’ in this case. Patrick even managed to persuade Peter to lie down on the sofa with his head on his lap. Stroking his hair gently made the Dane doze off for twenty minutes, which did him a lot of good.

Shortly after eleven they were joined by Grethe and Alice. They had red cheeks and smiles on their faces, telling them about a nice walk in the sunshine after eating breakfast. They had only just sat down, when the surgeon entered. His pleased expression and smiling nod almost said it all.

“I’m happy to tell you the operation was successful, and Michael will be perfectly alright once he recovers from surgery and rehab. Of course, we can never promise there won’t be unexpected complications, but the risk is very low and not something you should worry about. A few weeks of bedrest with careful physical activity and avoiding infections until the incision has healed, and it’s all a matter of rebuilding his strength.”

There was a babble of joyful exclamations and thanks, as well as hugs and a few tears shed. When they had calmed down, Grethe and Peter asked more questions, and Patrick joined Alice by the window.

“I’m probably being silly, but I can’t bear to hear any details. I just want to know Michael is fine.” She gave him a wobbly smile.

“Oh thank God for that, I feel exactly the same. I’m so grateful Grethe is here to share these matters with Peter, so I don’t have to. We can support him in other ways, and I can see how much your presence means to both of them.”

“You’d think having mums who were nurses we wouldn’t be squeamish, but I can’t stand the sight of blood.”

“I think we can be similar to our parents in some ways and completely dissimilar in others.”

“Or similar to one parent, but not to the other. Peter’s very much like his dad and not at all like his mum. Annika is a mixture, although to be fair she’s never had some of Marianne’s worst traits.”

“I got the impression his mum’s objection to us as a couple stems mostly from her current husband.” They’d turned towards the window and lowered their voices, but Patrick kept glancing towards Peter to make sure he would be ready to walk over if needed.

“I think my aunt is the sort of person who’s easily persuaded and guided in her opinions and ideas. That’s OK when it’s done by someone like my mum or Peter’s dad, but a problem when it’s someone like Sven.” On the last word, her voice dropped to a whisper, almost making the name inaudible. It reinforced his impression that no one liked to say the man’s name in Peter’s presence. Fine with him, but it was helpful to know Alice disliked the guy too.

Peter looked towards them, and Alice must have noticed, because her voice suddenly became clear and full of giggles.

“Yup, it’s true, our mums named us after their favourite story book characters. I’m Alice in Wonderland and Kim is the Kipling character.”

“So me calling him Peter Plys was a lucky coincidence? Or is he named for Peter in Narnia?”

Alice clapped a hand in front of her mouth to stop her laughing at his quick wits in taking up the diversion. Her eyes were dancing as she nodded, and Peter groaned and waved them over. The surgeon was checking a call on his pager, which had created a lull in their talk. Alice and Patrick approached and tried to compose themselves to listen to the doctor.

“Sorry about that. Michael’s in recovery right now, but we’ve decided to bring him up here rather than let him stay there as first planned. His stats were stable by the end of surgery, and it’s nicer for him to be moved while asleep and wake in relative familiar surroundings. He should surface about half an hour from now. He’ll be able to hear you, but don’t expect any responses at first. He’ll be dozy and maybe a bit confused.”

“Do we need to suit up?”

“Just wear gowns over your normal clothes, no need for masks or gloves. But wash your hands and use the alcohol rub before you touch him.”

“I’m going to do some shopping,” Alice told them. “Just text me if there’s a change of plans. I have Mum’s key to the house and the code for the alarm, so I can go there when I get bored.”

“When did you ever get bored with shopping?” Peter teased her, and she smacked his arm. Alice left and the rest of them got busy preparing for Michael’s arrival.

A short while later a porter wheeled a sleeping Michael into the room. The surgeon conferred quietly with the nurse following him, while Peter and Patrick held hands at their son’s bedside. Michael was on his back and a huge bandage covered his left side. The yellow skin on his torso contrasted starkly with the white gauze, and Patrick knew the colour came from the disinfectant and would soon fade. Thankfully there was no visible blood apart from the almost empty bag hanging next to the saline drip, both of which were replacing the boy’s lost fluids.

Michael looked pale, but he was breathing easily and his pulse was calm, as evident by the monitor next to the bed to which sensors on the boy were plugged in immediately after arrival. A thin tube under his nose feed oxygen into his system, and his lips seemed a little dry. The white-blond locks were hidden under a light blue cap, but the boy still looked angelic. His arms were supported by pillows, so he wouldn’t move them too suddenly when he woke.

“You can talk to him, just keep it quiet. And when he starts to surface, you can hold his hands, if you want.”

They looked up to see the nurse smiling at them, and Peter nodded while wiping his eyes. Patrick moved a chair to the bedside and told Peter to sit down.

“This way you can hold his hand and speak to him in Danish. I’ll be behind you, so he can see us both, when he opens his eyes.”

Ten minutes later their vigil was rewarded when Michael began to stir and make small sounds. Peter increased the volume of his voice slightly and repeated the same phrase over and over.

“Det er OK, Michael. Far og Papa er her.” It was easy to understand he was telling his son everything was OK and, his dad and Patrick were there with him.

Patrick saw Michael’s right hand tighten on the fingers Peter had resting gently on the open palm. At the same time, his left hand twitched. Grethe, who was standing on the other side of the bed, enclosed the small fingers in her hand, mindful of the attached drip. The nurse kept an eye on the boy as well as the monitor and she seemed pleased and calm as she took notes.

Suddenly Michael’s eyes opened, they were unfocused and blinked against the light, even though they had dimmed it. A small whimper of pain made Patrick wince and look at the nurse. She gave him a sympathetic smile.

“He’ll be in pain for the first few days, even with medication. The challenge is to give him enough to make the pain bearable without zonking him out completely. We want him to be awake and moving about as much as possible. It’s better for him.”

The next ten minutes Peter and Moster Grethe took turns to reassure Michael all was well, even though he hurt. He would squeeze their fingers and his eyes got clearer every time he looked at them. The nurse left for a moment and came back with a small cup of ice flakes. Patrick took it and used the small spoon to place a couple of them between the boy’s lips. Michael eagerly sucked the ice into his mouth, and he gave him two more helpings before pausing. He could remember his mother doing the same for him when he had a fever or after being sick, and he knew to go slow.

“Far, det gør ondt,”[1] Michael whispered, and Grethe quickly translated for the nurse.

“He says it hurts.”

“Ask him where.”

Grethe did and translated the whiny reply of ‘over det hele’ as “All over.”

“Good, that means it’s a general soreness and not a sharp or specific pain.” She took a syringe and injected something via the vent in his drip. “Tell him this will help, and ask if he’s feeling nauseated.”

“Har du kvalme?”[2]

Michael shook his head at Peter’s question about feeling sick and asked for more ice. Patrick was proud he could guess the meaning of ‘mere is, Papa’ and slowly fed him the rest of the ice after getting a nod of approval from the nurse.

Peter was doing his best to reassure his son the pain would decrease, but he was also honest about it hurting for several days. However, he emphasized the good news about the success of the surgery which would ensure Michael’s future health. The explanation was done in simple short sentences, which Peter translated for Patrick after each one. This gave Michael time to absorb the words, and after Peter had repeated himself a few times the boy seemed to catch up.

“Ja, ja, far, jeg har forstået. Nu gør det heller ikke så ondt mere.”[3]

The nurse was pleased to be told the pain had receded, and Michael was perky enough to tell his dad to stop repeating himself. She disconnected the empty drips and removed the cap and the pillows under his arms. Grethe wiped Michael’s face and neck with a cold cloth and he was allowed to drink more water if he took it slow. The boy would doze off for a while between periods of lucidity, and when he was awake he lay quietly and mostly answered any questions with a nod, a headshake or single words. Grethe and Patrick sat down next to the bed. Michael seemed content to hold their hands and listen to them talking quietly in English or Danish.

Patrick went out around two o’clock to buy some sandwiches and drinks for them and he phoned Alice to let her know Michael was doing well. She was thrilled to hear it and thanked him for keeping her updated.

“I’m not sure when we’ll be back at the house. Peter is reluctant to leave Michael’s side, which is understandable. Your mum says she’ll take a nap on the sofa after lunch, and I may stroll down to the shop for an hour or two, because there isn’t really much I can do. Michael is too tired to need entertaining but the nurse thinks he’ll be able to sit up for a bit late in the afternoon.”

“That’s fine, Patrick. I’m going to the airport to pick up Kim and I’ll take him to your place and feed him. Text me when you leave for home and I’ll wake him up, so he’s ready to greet Peter. Until then I’ll assume no news is good news.”

By five in the afternoon, Michael was well enough for the back of the bed to be raised into a half-sitting position. He’d peed in a bottle twice, and was able to stick his tongue out at his dad when Peter joked about him not peeing in bed since he was three. He progressed to eating yogurt and vanilla ice cream, and the nurse promised him a special treat for breakfast if he felt hungry enough. When the boy immediately said “Pancakes?” she laughed and told him she’d do her best to make it happen.

Both Danes had been adamantly against Patrick leaving, so while Grethe slept on the sofa, he massaged Peter’s shoulders, took turns holding Michael’s hands while his fiancé returned the favour, and made notes about his card ideas. It was flattering to be needed simply for his presence when he’d felt useless, and Michael even whispered a few words about ‘sej engel med lyssværd’ which Peter translated as cool angel with light sabre. Patrick heard a faint huff of ‘my sword isn’t a silly light sabre’ and two giggles from the invisible entities in his head.

When he sent out a silent but heartfelt thanks for keeping their son safe, there was a grumpy but pleased ‘you’re welcome’ from the hunky blond guardian angel momentarily hovering at the back of his mind before fading from his inner sight. He got the feeling the angel felt his duty was done, which he decided to take as a sign Michael was out of danger. It was worth the slightly uncomfortable idea of angels being around when you’d never been religious. At the thought, the naughty imp suddenly manifested in his head and rolled his eyes.

‘Yo buddy, we ain’t got anything to do with humans and their stupid notions of gods.’

To Patrick’s surprise the cute angel immediately popped in to agree. ‘Organized religion has nothing to do with us. The names of our abodes may translate as Heaven and Hell to humans, but they’re nothing like what people imagine.’

‘Except, we have it hot, and you Angels are normally a frigid lot.’ The imp leered at the angel who promptly smacked the back of his head. They faded away accompanied by a mutter of ‘Aww, Angie’ and ‘Don’t call me that or else…’ leaving Patrick quite confused about the feeling of mutual love and attraction seemingly emanating from the arch enemies. He had no idea why he kept imagining these two or the Guardian Angel for that matter. At least, he hoped he was making them up subconsciously, since the alternative was simply too weird, even for a guy with ESP.

By eight in the evening, Michael was ready to let his daddies go home after extracting a solemn promise from both of them about returning early in the morning. Peter had surprised his son with a new iPad with headphones, which could be used as long as it was in flight mode. Michael was thrilled at the possibility of watching cartoons, which they had downloaded for him. But he could only concentrate for ten minutes at a time before needing a rest. But the night nurse was optimistic and said a good night’s sleep would work wonders together with some fine-tuning of the boy’s pain medication.

Grethe had gone out for a quick meal around seven pm and would be with him all night. When they arrived in the morning, she would go home to spend time with Alice and take a long nap. They’d arrive for normal visiting hours if Michael seemed well enough to have extra visitors. Of course, Kim would be with them, but neither Grethe nor Peter knew this. Nor did they mention Alice to Michael, in case she didn’t get the chance to visit.

Thus, with a few extra kisses and careful hugs for Michael and Moster Grethe the two men set off for home. Patrick suggested Peter call or text his mother, even though Grethe had contacted her sister earlier to tell her the good news. While he was occupied with composing a text, Patrick sent off his own message to Alice to warn her they were on the way home. He’d set his phone to silent, to avoid alerting Peter when her return text saying ‘OK, we’re ready’ arrived. On the spur of the moment he also wrote texts to Fiona and John, and those enthusiastic replies to the happy tidings he shared with a pleased Dane. Everyone were both relieved and grateful to be safely and successfully past the hurdle of surgery.


[1] Daddy, it hurts.

[2] Do you feel sick?

[3] Yes, yes, Daddy, I get it / I understand. It doesn’t hurt as much now.

Thank you @christal for sharing your experiences with heart surgery. It was very helpful for this chapter. :hug: 

Copyright © 2018 Timothy M.; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

A busy chapter. Great to see Michael well after surgery. He’s surrounded by lots of love.

Peter and Patrick expanding family leaves room for story expansion. Always nice to have Angel and Imp pop in. Good chapter Tim! 

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I remember what my father looked like after his quintuple bypass surgery in the ‘90s. He hadn’t had a heart attack, but had terrible chest pains. It sounds like Michael’s surgery wasn’t quite so invasive and traumatic. My dad looked tiny in the hospital bed with all the monitors and devices arrayed around him. It certainly took him more than a few hours for him to interact with us.


But my (Protestant minister) father didn’t have the benefit of a Guardian Angel or an Angel & Imp.  ;–)

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So glad Michael made it through the surgery so well.  Glad that Patrick could hear more stories about his mother and the donation to the hospital in her name sounds great. Thanks for the new chapter. 

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Guest christal


 Mine surgery ;one of my heart vessel didn't closed before birth. So I had a small hole in my heart; that need to be  repaired. The doctor had stitch the vessel together. I was only five years old at the time I had my surgery in 88. I was small and my mom told me I looked smaller in the bed, I was in and out for the first hour or two, sometimes I didn't know where I was or why I was in pain. And to have nurses help you to the bathroom was embarrassing; cause I couldn't do it myself.  One after noon I didn't want to eat my lunch; I didn't like that sandwich; my room door was open and across the hall was a nurse's broke room and some of the nurses was on  their lunch broke and was going in the room with pizzas and cokes. One of the male nurses saw me and smile he came in the room look at my lunch tray and said to me," um....that sandwich looked like it's no good to eat. you want to join us Christal?" I was happy I yelled "yes!" He then picked me up and took me to the other room. I eat pizza and drink a can of coke with the nurses. They was broken the rules for having me in there, but I loved it; cause I was fussed over by all the nurses. I never told on them, cause Sam had put me in my room after I ate and the woman who came in my room to pick up my tray was mad I didn't eat it. 

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Guest christal


I did love this story. I'm happy to help you Tim. 

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Great read.   I really like the interactions between family and the tensions. Makes a interesting story.  

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Wow so glad that Michael pull thru and doing well. This is a well written chapter just like all the others! Good job Tim:yes::thankyou: I loved the visit of the Imp and the Angel

Edited by Albert1434
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Can I say "I absolutely adore this story"?!!!  😍😍 So glad Alice is there to help. Can't wait to meet Kim. The side interactions with my favorite AI peeps were hilarious and made me laugh and smile. I love them. 😚😍  They need a new story.   (hint hint)   Michael is a trooper and will have everyone wrapped around his little finger soon. Looking forward to his recovery.  🤩

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Recently started reading this story... and what a great story it is! 

Looking forward to many more chapters with the hunky blonde Viking 😍

Fortsæt du bare med at skrive! Det ser jeg frem til :)

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On 5/2/2018 at 11:15 PM, ColumbusGuy said:

It's wonderful to see Michael coming through surgery so well...he's an amazing kid and so are his aunt and far.  The idea of Patrick becoming a father would be great...come on Peter, make it happen! 

Are we due for another Angel/Imp story?  Loved hearing from them again!

Tusind tak min kaereste ven!


Selv tak, min elskelige ven. :hug: 

It was a relief to get Michael out of surgery, now I need to get him home. He's going to be so spoiled, lol. Patrick begetting a child was a bomb shell Peter dropped on me as I was writing. But I can see both of them wanting more kids, and they make great dads.

I'm glad my A.I. team still sparks interest, I'm hoping to be inspired to another sequel, but I really should focus on my main stories.

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On 5/2/2018 at 11:15 PM, BlindAmbition said:

A busy chapter. Great to see Michael well after surgery. He’s surrounded by lots of love.

Peter and Patrick expanding family leaves room for story expansion. Always nice to have Angel and Imp pop in. Good chapter Tim! 


Thank you, jp. You're right about the love surrounding Michael. Patrick has so much love to give, and Peter is happy to receive. :blink:  um, I mean... :facepalm: :*) 

Story expansion may be good, once I've resolved all the current plot lines. :lol:  Same goes for Angel and Imp, but I'm happy my readers enjoy them popping in. 

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On 5/2/2018 at 11:46 PM, Wesley8890 said:

I love the 👼and imp! So glad Michael made it through


On 5/3/2018 at 3:27 AM, glennish said:

So glad Michael made it through the surgery so well.  Glad that Patrick could hear more stories about his mother and the donation to the hospital in her name sounds great. Thanks for the new chapter. 


On 5/3/2018 at 11:52 PM, Sweetlion said:

So good to see Michael out of surgery. He will be happy to see his cousins, an Peter will have a good surprise as well. The angel and imp are always funny.


I've felt quite bad about leaving Michael in the middle of heart surgery, so I'm just as relieved as you are to have him safely through the ordeal. I never wanted to make this story a huge hospital drama, but on the other hand it is an important part of the story, apart from being the reason Patrick and Peter met.


I'm very pleased my A.I. team continues to amuse my readers, I have fun coming up with stuff for them to say and do. :lol: 


Thank you for leaving comments, they are a huge part of my motivation. 

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On 5/2/2018 at 11:59 PM, droughtquake said:

I remember what my father looked like after his quintuple bypass surgery in the ‘90s. He hadn’t had a heart attack, but had terrible chest pains. It sounds like Michael’s surgery wasn’t quite so invasive and traumatic. My dad looked tiny in the hospital bed with all the monitors and devices arrayed around him. It certainly took him more than a few hours for him to interact with us.


But my (Protestant minister) father didn’t have the benefit of a Guardian Angel or an Angel & Imp.  ;–)


In some ways I think children are more resilient than adults, and recent research seems to corroborate this. Children up to the age of ten do not get tired the same way teens or adult do. They can keep going and bounce back faster from exhaustion.

But yes, the Guardian Angel was probably helpful too. :) 

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