The scope was in. And an image appeared on the monitor. Dr. Willowby wheeled about the examination room on a small stool periodically pressing a button. My fingers were crossed and my toes were too. At least, I think they were. I stayed silent as best I could. Dr. Willowby was video recording this exam. When he was finished he would compare the images with the images he made two months earlier. Trixie, the senior nurse in charge of the zap squad knew why I was absent that day. I told her I wouldn’t be in today two days earlier. She was mildly concerned about the outcome too. If cancer had returned or was in a different area it meant she hadn’t done her job as well as she had thought.
Peter had stayed silent for the past two months. Not a peep had escaped his lips. Not a grunt, groan, or a well-intentioned humph. When Peter spoke it was via the iPad. He liked to say that I had pressed his mute button which would true if he had buttons.
I coughed as quietly as I could.
Dr. Willowby turned his head sideways and looked right at me.
“Sorry, Cassie. Forgot all about you. You were so quiet I didn’t -. Sorry about that. That didn’t come out the way I intended. It was another rough night. OK, Peter, I’m looking right at both your vocal cords and I’d like you to try and say the letter E if you can.”
“Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” Peters voice was still rough. I was positive he was going to lose his voice forever. Dr. Willowby withdrew the scope, cleaned it and wiped his brow.
“Now, I’m sorry but we have to wait a little longer. The computer is making its comparison computations and the conclusion won’t be ready for a couple of hours. Why don’t you get a coffee or something? Peter, you’d be wise to get something cold. Your throat doesn’t seem to like it when I poke around in there. To take your minds off the obvious in two days it’ll be Christmas. And I’d like to extend an invitation to both of you to have dinner at Chez Willowby. It’s just Wilma, me, Kenny and Trina. Kenny is looking forward to seeing his “hot” aunt at Christmas dinner.”
I got up from the chair I’d been sitting in and my jaw went into first gear. I was angry. And madder than hell at Dr. Willowby.
“Dr. Willowby, that was really dirty pool. You know I haven’t told Peter. Are you trying to get me in trouble? For some reason you don’t seem too concerned about Peter “learning” your name. Well for your information he’s known it since you two first met. We’ll be back in two hours. See ya, Bill!”
I marched across the room, took Peter by the arm and marched out. I’ve never been so angry at Dr. Willowby. I was really pissed at him. I thought seriously of declining the invitation via his wife. She’ll box his ears. I wanted to tell Peter I was now an aunt but I wanted to do it in my own time and in my own way. Jeez!
We went down to the food court. Peter was now looking at me to fill him in. I decided it would be best if we each got something to drink first. Peter ordered an ice cold ice tea for his throat and I ordered a black coffee with two sugars. While we waited I went to the ladies room.
When I came back I told Peter all about Kenny, the Batman mask, and being adopted by Kenny. Suddenly and without warning, Peter stopped me in mid-explanation. He said he knew all about Kenny, “the mask lady”, the two job offers, everything. Apparently, Wilma had texted Peter to keep him in the loop. He didn’t mind me being an aunt.
“I’ve kept so much from you. I don’t understand why you’re not furious with me. Can you please tell me why?” He took out the iPad and typed a long message.
“There two reasons. 1. I love you. 2. When we’re married Kenny is going to get an uncle whether he wants one or not. And if we go to Christmas dinner and Kenny and I hit it off the kid gets an uncle for Christmas. Plus it’ll be good training for when we have our own kids. A sort premarital parenting class.” The tips of my fingers touched his.
“And here I was getting all worked up for nothing. I’m sorry I was keeping things from you. You’re really sure you don’t mind?” Peter shook his head gently. I put my hand on top of his. “You know, you’re really one of a kind.” Peter grasped the iPad and typed madly.
“I know. And I know you were simply trying to protect me. You wanted me to concentrate on getting better and nothing else. But if our marriage is to work, really work, you’re going to have to be a lot more open with me.” He paused then continued.
“I’m going to have to learn about sharing you when we have our own kids. If I can learn about it now that would be all the better. One thing I really don’t like is Dr. Willowby or Kenny calling you hot. I want to be the only one who calls you hot. I can’t help it. Yes, I’m jealous of a ten-year-old boy calling you hot and yes I’m jealous of the man who helped save my life calling you hot. I can’t help that. I want to be the only one who does that. Nobody else.”
I got up, went over to the other side of the table, sat in Peters lap and hugged him. When he was born they must have broken the mold. While I sat in Peters lap he was typing something else on the iPad. When I read it I found it was a simple request.
“Is there anything else I should know about?” he asked.
“Nope.” Then I started whispering. “Nothing at all. Now let’s get back to Dr. Willowby’s office. I know it’s early but maybe that computer is finished its number crunching. If the news is good I want to find out if a certain someone is up to the mighty task of satisfying me. I want him!” After I stood up Peter stood up and hugged me. He pressed me close to his waist. I could feel a certain throbbing that I hadn’t felt for a long time and I was just itching to feel it again.
During our walk back to Dr. Willowby’s office Peter ran his finger over the palm of my hand. That was his signal to let me know he was frisky too. We both quickened our pace. I wanted good news and something else too. When we arrived Delores, Dr. Willowby’s secretary, told us to go on in.
Dr. Willowby sat at his desk reading. When we sat down he stood up.
“Wilma just read me The Riot Act Cassie. She tore a strip off my hide and gave me hell for calling you hot. She reminded me that the only woman I should call hot is her. So to retain my matrimonial status and to retain your friendship which I greatly value I humbly apologize.”
I couldn’t help noticing that while Dr. Willowby was eating crow Peter was pecking away on the iPad. When he was finished he handed it to Dr. Willowby. He read it a few times to make sure he understood it.
“We’ll make you a deal. You and Kenny stop calling my wife-to-be hot and we won’t call you Bill. Besides, you’re always going to be Dr. Willowby to us. It just wouldn’t feel right calling you by your first name. And if Kenny wants an uncle he has one. But don’t tell him until Christmas Day. When we get married he’s going to have to accept me. If we can become friends before we get to that point it’ll be easier on both of us. Just remember STOP CALLING CASSIE “HOT””.
Dr. Willowby sat against the edge of his desk and read the message. Then he showed it to me.
“You sir, are a scholar and a gentleman. You have a deal. I’ll also tell Kenny to stop calling Cassie hot.”
“And now for some really good news. You get to keep your vocal cords. It seems you heal extremely slowly, a factor I should have considered. Your left vocal cord is just starting to go back to its normal color and size. Your voice will be rough for a little longer than the norm. I can’t tell you how long because as my late father used to say, and Cassie already knows, you sir are a “special breed of cat”. It will indeed be a long road back. What might normally takes one year for one person could easily translate into two years or more for you.”
Dr. Willowby looked at a long computer printout.
“Now this parts for you Cassie. Try not to get discouraged with your scribes progress. It’s not slow for him. It’s normal. Try to make sure your scribe here drinks at least one litre of water each day.”
“Peter, you’re going to discover your throat will dry out much faster than usual even when you’re not talking. Hence the water. Now when it comes to talking try to limit yourself to one or two syllable words. The words you choose may not be the words you’d normally choose or even use but try to keep the words short to minimize any irritation to your vocal cords. Your voice won’t have the volume it originally had. And that’s normal. All the muscles you would normally use to produce your voice are weak. Some of those muscles have atrophied from lack of use.”
Dr. Willowby certainly had a lot to say. The script from the computer seemed to be never-ending.
“From what I can tell you’ll be lucky to get eighty to eighty-five percent of your normal voice back. And the reason is that there was more damage than I first thought. When it comes to eating feel free to eat whatever you want. You might want to keep some Boost around for a quick snack. When you are eating don’t have a mouthful. Right now your throat is too narrow. It’s a learning process between you and your throat. When you’re in the shower try saying the vowels. That’s why I ask you to say the letter “E”. You won’t like the sound at first and you’ll be inclined not to say them at all. Don’t. Your vocal cords are at the stage of a newborn. And you’re learning to talk all over again. Basically what you’ll be doing will be based on common sense. If it hurts stop doing what you’re doing. Whisper at times. Right now you won’t be able to hum. Your vocal cords are too weak but in time will bounce back. When you’re outside wear a scarf. Cassie, this is where you come in. I want you to watch him like a hawk. Make sure he drinks a lot of water. Wears scarfs. Nag him to do his vowels if you have to. And no wine for you my friend. Right now you could choke on it. And don’t be embarrassed if it takes two or more tries when you’re swallowing. Those muscles are re-learning what to do too. To help you swallow you might want to consider tilting your head up a bit. Its very simple. If it hurts stop doing what you’re doing. One last thing. If you liked to sing in the shower go for it. Don’t force it and don’t be discouraged by the sound. You haven’t used your diaphragm for quite some months. It’ll come back in time. That’s about it concerning your throat. I’ll email a list of things you need to do. It’ll be in point form so you can print it out and put it on the fridge.”
Dr. Willowby looked winded. I don’t think I’ve heard him say so much in one sitting.
“I want to thank both of you very much. What you’ve consented to do for Kenny will help him so much.I just have one question-” Peter interrupted Dr. Willowby.
“We love him. I know I haven’t met him yet but if Cassie loves him I’m sure I will too. Our relationship will be symbiotic. He’s going to learn from us and we’re going to learn from him” gurgled Peter. Lordy, it felt so good to hear him again. I was getting tired of talking all the time.
Suddenly Peter spoke up again. “Does Kenny like slot cars?”.
Dr. Willowby was silent for a while. “You know something, I just don’t know. But it sounds like his uncle likes them.”
“He does” Peters’ voice started to get really rough.
Dr. Willowby put his hands around Peters’ throat. “I want you to say something. Not loudly. A whisper will do.”
Peter looked at Dr. Willowby. “Anything at all?”
“ Just a few words. I want to find out if your cords a grating against each other.”
All of a sudden Peter made me blush like crazy.
“Cassie is a hot and foxy babe”. Peters voice suddenly started to get so rough he winced in pain.
“That’s it for you Romeo. From now on when your throat starts feeling the way it does it right now stop talking. Write notes or use the iPad. Don’t push yourself. Cassie, I want you to make sure he stops talking.”
“Don’t you worry. I’ve got a pretty idea on just what to do and I think he knows I’ll do it too.”
Peter grimaced a bit. “Oh crap”.
“That’s quite enough out of you scribe. She’s the boss and from one married man to a man who will soon be married remember she’s the boss. I suggest most strongly that you never ever forget it. I’m your doctor but she’s the boss. Now hush.”
I was impressed and patted Dr. Willowby on the back.
“Not bad Doctor, not bad at all. I’ll be sure to compliment Wilma on her training. The sooner you gentlemen discover that the fairer sex is in charge the better it’ll be for both of us.”
As we left the hospital Peter turned to me and said one word: “Shopping”
…to be continued in Chapter 10C