Bethany, or Beth as her friends and family call her, is 18 years old. Beth is a friendly young woman. She enjoys things all teenagers enjoy - walking around in the mall and hanging out with her friends, watching movies, reading romance stories, and social media in all its forms.
One Saturday afternoon Beth and her girlfriends went for a walk in a park. It was a beautiful park, a botanical gardens, with a large part of it as natural as it could be, being that it was an urban park. It also had a small stream with steep banks running through it. The girls enjoyed the afternoon of walking and gossiping, until, at the edge of the bank to the stream, Bethany tripped on a tree root, fell on the ground, and rolled down the embankment and into the stream.
What they had just seen frightened the girls. Feeling helpless, eyes-wide-open, and shocked by this sudden accident, all they could do was watch their friend tumble down the slope.
"Beth! Are you all right?" Bonnie Mae shouted at her.
Monica screamed, "Beth! Oh, my god!"
Bethany landed in the creek with a splash! Her friends slipped and stumbled down the embankment to help her. Bonnie Mae slipped on the slick grass slope and she slid down and into the water. Linda was the first to reach Bethany, in the middle of the stream, and tried to help her to stand up, but she, too, slipped and fell into the water because the rocks were slick with the sort of green slimy growth rocks get when they spend too much time in a stream. Bonnie Mae got up and helped Linda fish Beth out of the flowing water. She had landed in the deepest part of the stream where the water was almost waist deep. Their second attempt at standing was successful. The young women looked at themselves, and broke out into a long and joyous laugh, and their friends soon joined them.
"Beth, are you okay? Did you break anything?" Linda asked, terrified that her best friend might be injured.
"No, no, I'm fine, I think. Look at us! What's my Mom going to say? She's going to have a fit." All the girls laughed at the thought of Bethany's mother, usually very even-tempered and rarely excitedly upset, actually having a fit. Bethany, Bonnie Mae, and Linda stepped through the slippery rocks and started the steep climb up the bank of the creek.
Bonnie Mae paused partway up the slope and said, "Not just your mother, look at us! We look like we just took a bath in the creek! At least my hair isn't soaked, like you guys!" And they all laughed again. Bonnie Mae has long light-brown hair which today was tied up and hidden under a baseball cap.
"My god Beth, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw you fall down into this gulley. Are you sure you're okay?" Distraught with worry, Monica hoped Beth did not get hurt after that tumble.
"Yes, Mouse, I'm fine, I'm sure. I have no broken bones, and I don't see any cuts," Beth checked her arms and legs for any injuries.
Mouse's real name is Monica. Her friends call her Mouse because of her glasses and small nose, her ears are a little larger than normal so she hides them under her long, blonde hair, and she loves Minnie Mouse and everything related to the cartoon character.
Bethany, Bonnie Mae, and Linda, soaked and dirty from their little swim in the creek, squeezed as much of the water out of their clothes as they could, and wiped off most of the mud as they ascended the slippery creek bank. By the time they all reached the top, mud covered them from head to toe. They looked like a frightful group of homeless girls.
Linda, long naturally blonde hair, blue eyes, and generally modelesque, and wearing white shorts and white t-shirt, was no longer blonde and wearing white, but was now dirty brown from head to toe. "Oh my god! Can you believe this! Look at me! Oh! I can't be seen like this! What'll the boys think if they see me like this?"
"Oh, relax, you look fine, wet and dirty, yes, but you always look great no matter what you wear," joked Bethany, "and if any of our friends see us they'll think so, too."
Richard returned home from another long day at the hospital. He works at the research hospital in the center of Philadelphia. When he arrived home, he found his wife in the kitchen finishing preparing dinner. He took her in his arms, gave her a long warm kiss, and said, "I love you, darling. How has your day been?"
Mary responded with a big smile. She held her husband tight. "It's been good. I missed you today, darling." She gave him another kiss and squeezed his oversized body even harder. They greet each other this way every day. For 30 years, they have been in love with each other and a day has not passed without one of them telling the other "I love you", along with a big hug and kiss.
Five years younger and much smaller than Richard, Mary can barely touch her fingers together when she greets him with a hug.
With the job that Richard has, Mary gets to stay home, something she could not do for the first 20 years of their marriage. She much prefers this to the rat race of the banking industry where she had managed a bank for too many years.
"Now you go take a quick shower and come right back here to the table so we can eat together."
"Good plan darling, I love you so much!" He gave her an even bigger hug, his arms just about wrapping all the way around her little waist.
While Richard scrubbed shampoo into his hair, he vaguely heard these words from his wife, "Oh, and sweetie, we will have company this evening. Bob and Jackie are coming by about eight. I hope you don't mind".
From under the warm water of the shower, he said, "What babe? Oh, yeah, that's fine. Sorry, my ears are full of shampoo."
A few minutes later, he went into the kitchen where Mary was just finishing the dinner preparations. "Ah, my big handsome man," she wrapped her arms around him again, "you're the best man a girl could want." They kiss again.
"Well, I don't know about that, but I do what I can to take care of you and the kids." He sat down at the table and Mary filled his plate with two slices of ham, potatoes, vegetables, and set a bowl of salad next to it.
"The kids? They're not kids anymore, darling."
"Well, what else do I call them? It'd be rather weird to say ‘I do what I can to take care of you and the adults', don't you think?"
"Well, yes, I do agree with you there. So, how was work?"
"Oh, good. I spent the day in the lab helping the researchers. We're making good progress on the project."
"That's exciting! I know there'll be many thankful people when you and your team find some kind of a cure."
"Well, first, it's a vaccine we're working on developing, and yes, we hope this one will be the one." He started eating his dinner. "Wow, this tastes wonderful! What did you do to it?"
"It's a secret! There's nothing you can do that will get it out of me."
"Oh, really? Are you sure about that?"
She smiled and nodded her head, dark brown bangs swung over her eyes; he smiled, reached over to her, cupped her face in his large hands, and gave her another kiss. This time it tasted like the well-seasoned ham on his plate.
Their friends, Bob and Jackie, arrived right at eight as expected and the four of them sat at the table for a few hands of pinochle. Bob attended the same university as Richard, and Jackie is a distant relative of Mary. They all get together to play pinochle twice a month. Cards and wine to relax after a long week, it is something they all look forward to.
Beth slept well last night, after her little excursion in the park. In the morning, awakened by the sun shining in through the window, she rolled over in her bed, gazed out the window, sat up, and suddenly did not feel well. She steadied herself on the edge of the bed for a minute, stood up, then sat back down on the bed. Her head was spinning like a top. What's this about? Why do I feel like this? She stood up again, got dizzy, and sat back down on her bed.
"Mom! Come here, please!"
Her mother was in the kitchen, downstairs, cooking breakfast.
"Mom! Mom!" Beth, scared of what was happening to her when she stood up, shouted again, "Mom!"
Her Mother heard her yelling and rushed up the stairs. "What? What's wrong my darling?"
Beth had tears in her eyes. "Mom, when I stand up I get dizzy. And, my body feels kid of achy, all over."
"Okay baby, try again to stand up, slowly." She put her hand out, Beth took her Mother's hand and stood up, and her head started spinning. She wobbled on her feet, her knees got weak, and she sat back down, now crying.
"What's happening Mom? What's wrong with me?"
"I don't know, dear, but I'll call the doctor, right now. You just lay down and try to stay calm. I'll be right back." She hurried downstairs, looked for her phone in the kitchen, then the living room, and finally found it in the bathroom. She called the family doctor - Joseph Wetmore.
Doctor Wetmore has been the family doctor for about 18 years, so he knows Beth and her mother well. "Ok, Cynthia" Beth's Mom's name is Cynthia, "Try to keep her calm and laying down. I don't want you to bring her here. I'll come there, to your house. Okay?"
"Of course, please hurry," Cynthia responded, both scared and nervous, her hands shaking a little as she put her phone down.
Doctor Wetmore took a seat next to Beth's bed and checked her temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. He examined her body from head to toe but could find nothing wrong. As he did this, Beth recounted the events in the park the previous day.
"You have this one scab here on your elbow; it's a few days old though, what happened? I think you may have opened it again, in your fall yesterday," Doctor Wetmore asked.
"Oh, that, yes, I'd forgotten all about that. That happened at school. Some kids were running in the hall, one of them pushed me, I hit against the lockers and got that little cut on my elbow. It's nothing, and it's healing fine. Well, it was until I fell yesterday."
"Yes, I see that…," looking over to Cynthia, "I want to take her to the hospital for some tests."
"What? The hospital? It's just a little scratch, and it's already scabbed over." Beth has tears coming down her cheeks again.
"Now, now, dear, don't worry yourself about that, okay? I want to find out about your dizziness, and we can't do that here." He called 911, explained the situation and soon an ambulance was at the front of the house.
"Take her to the hospital; I'll be right behind you."
"Yes, sir." They help her onto the gurney, her head spinning for the few seconds between the bed and gurney, and away they went. Cynthia rode in the ambulance with her, and the doctor followed close behind in his car.
Richard spent another day with the other researchers. It appeared they had found a treatment. They were all excited about the preliminary results.
He had spent much of his career researching and working on this one disease. His younger brother died from it. It is not a common disease, but when it occurs, there is nothing to do for the person with the malady. This is something that has picked at his brain for his entire adult life. He made it his personal journey in life to pursue and find a treatment, or better yet, a cure. And, here, today, after almost 20 years, he and his staff found what appears to be a promising treatment.
Dr. Richard met with his research assistants, "I've contacted all the people higher up and told them of our progress. This week I have to travel to DC to do a presentation about our findings. Let's hope we can start with a human subject soon."
"You don't suppose it's too soon?" One assistant asked, wondering if he might be acting a little prematurely.
"No, all the results are exactly what we were hoping for, right?"
"Well, yes, they are," another of the assistants responded, though a little hesitantly. She, too, thinks he might be moving a little too soon for this meeting in Washington DC.
"Have you found any side effects other than the few we expected and accounted for?"
"No," they both responded.
"Okay, so next week let's hope for the best, right?"
One assistant replied, "Yes, you're right, we've been at this for a long time, and now we are at the point of trying it with people. This is exciting Doctor Richard!"
Doctor Wetmore performed every test he knew of, and so far could find nothing conclusive. In the back of his mind, that little scratch on the back of her elbow keeps poking its ugly little scabby head at him.
"Hello, this is Doctor Joseph Wetmore; can I speak to Doctor Randolph Olson, please?" Doctor Wetmore called his friend at the research hospital in Dallas.
Doctor Randolph, excited to be getting a call from his old university buddy, said, "Hello, Joey! What's happening? It's been a long time, how are you old man?" They studied medicine together for 10 years. After he earned a Doctorate degree and completed his internship, Doctor Joseph moved away to Miami. Soon after his relocation, he married wife Deborah and started his practice at a local hospital. Randolph stayed behind and continued his education to receive a second Doctorate degree before he moved on to work in a research hospital in Dallas.
Dr. Wetmore got right to the point, "Listen, Randy, I've got a patient that I just can't find an explanation for why she is suffering. I need to talk to you, in person. Is that possible?"
"Of course, I would love to come to Miami for a break. Let's see, I have some time available next week, I'll fly in next Friday, how's that?" They talked about the symptons and the fall and the tests that had already been performed. This piqued Dr. Randolph's curiosity, "This should be interesting, something out of the ordinary," he thought.
"That'd be great. Thanks. Bethany and I thank you. Talk to you later," and then Dr. Wetmore went on to another patient.
"Welcome to Miami, Doctor Randolph!" Dr. Joseph was glad his old friend had made it to Miami. It has been many years since they last visited each other.
"Oh, Joey, don't be so formal." Doctor Randolph grabbed his old friend and gave him a bear hug. "It's good to see you again. However, I wish it were under better circumstances. I've read all the reports you sent me, and I've got to say, I'm also stumped."
"Okay, that's not what I was hoping to hear from you, Randy, but… well, let's get some lunch and talk about what we'll do."
After lunch, Doctor Joseph sat down at Bethany's side, "Hi, Bethany, how are you feeling today?" He checked her blood pressure and temperature while talking to her. Doctor Randolph listened to her heart beating anxiously in her chest.
"Doctor Wetmore, um, who's he?" She whispered, uneasy because another doctor examining her.
"He's a colleague from Dallas. Bethany, we've been friends since our university days, this is Doctor Randolph Olson. Doctor Olson, this is Bethany Keepers."
"Good morning, Bethany, you don't mind if I check a few things, do you?" He asked her with a smile, all the while looking at her skin color, moving her arms and legs, checking for any signs of pain in the movements.
"No, sir," she replied a little nervously.
"Okay, can you describe for me what you're feeling? And where?" She told him about her medical history, and that she feels dizzy when she stands up from the bed.
After some time talking with the two doctors, Bethany wanted to rest, so the doctors left her with her Mother.
Cynthia walked out of the room with the doctors and started shooting out questions, "What do you think? Why are you here from Dallas? What's wrong with her? Is this something so serious we need a specialist?"
"Okay, Mrs. Keepers, please try to relax, try to calm yourself. Let's go over there and talk." The three of them moved to a couch in a quiet space off the hall. Doctor Joseph handed a cup of water to Cynthia, and she drank it all in one go.
"Right now, we don't know what is ailing your daughter. We need to run more tests."
"More tests? But, you guys are the specialists? Why don't you know what's wrong with my baby? Dr. Joseph, you've been running tests for a week now."
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Keepers, we just haven't found anything definitive, yet. Please be patient with this, um, process. It might take some time."
"Take some time? She's only 18 years old; she has a life, friends, and school. What's going to happen to my baby?" She started crying, sobbing on the shoulder of her dear friend Doctor Joseph.
On the weekend, Bethany's friends came to visit her. They brought flowers and candies (hidden in the flowers), and talked about all the latest gossip at school - Johnny and Sara broke up! Oh no! And Sarah is now with Antony, the baseball team captain; Rachel was caught drinking whiskey in the bathroom; one of the math teachers, Ms. Oliver, was fired because of inappropriate behavior with her teaching assistant in one of her classes. They also brought her the latest schoolwork so she could work on some of it while in the hospital.
Doctor Williamson flew to Washington D.C. to do his presentation, which was about a rare disease caused by a microorganism found in certain waters, bacteria that can cause an interruption to the person's nervous system, their balance, and causes extreme dizziness. And, in a few cases, the patient died from a break in the nerve connections in the brain. Apparently, this may cause a massive stroke and takes the person's life. This is what happened to Doctor Williamson's brother. The presentation had gone well and he and his fellow researchers received the go-ahead to try the new treatment on one person.
Doctor Joseph and Doctor Randolph had been running every test they know of for the past several weeks and they kept running into a brick wall.
"What could be the problem, or problems?" Wondered Dr. Joseph, "Bethany is in pain, her body hurts everywhere. She can't stand without feeling dizzy."
Dr. Randolph added, "Exactly. I think we need to consult other specialists. This is something beyond my area of expertise."
"Okay, I agree. I remember seeing a message from a doctor in Philadelphia, he is looking for patients with certain conditions, and I think we should write to him and inform him of Bethany and her condition," Dr. Joseph was thinking aloud.
Dr. Randolph agreed, "I read that message also. His name is Dr. Williamson if I remember correctly. He has been working on finding a treatment for a condition related to nerve damage, extreme dizziness, and interrupted balance."
Doctor Wetmore sent a message to Doctor Williamson in Philadelphia, informing him about the patient he has been examining, and suggested that maybe he could come to Miami and examine her, "maybe she is the person you have been looking for" wrote Dr. Wetmore.
Bethany has been in the hospital for almost a month. She is in tears almost every day. Not crying, but tears because of the constant the dizzy feeling has progressed and she has a dizzy feelign even when laying down. Why? She wonders. Why is this happening to me? I too young for this! God, why? Why me? Why am I feeling this way? Dear God, why?
Doctor Williamson had sent a response to the message within a day of receiving it. He had read all the reports Dr. Joseph sent him and was excited that this patient could well be the one he has been hoping to find.
Doctor Richards had spoken with his team and Doctor Randolph Olson and they determined that she was probably suffering from the condition that they had been researching, and they discussed the possibility of giving her the new treatment.
Bethany's mother, Cynthia, had been at her side every day. She took a sabbatical from her job, and her boss was helpful in getting her the time off with partial pay because she had no more vacation time and she had already used all her sick time. All their friends and relatives had been sending money to help with the costs that were piling up. It was a difficult situation. Cynthia is a single mother; it is just her and Bethany. Bethany's father died in an auto accident many years before, when Bethany was a young girl. Now Cynthia was wishing she had a man to help her through this difficult time. She was a strong and independent woman, but this was just getting to be too much for one person to handle alone.
"Joseph, please tell me you've found something, anything, please. I don't know what tell my baby, I don't know what to tell my family and friends. Everyone's so worried. And I'm scared." Cynthia was in tears, holding Joseph's hands in her lap, begging with her eyes.
"Cynthia, we're doing everything possible." He just about whispered, finding it difficult to find his voice, and forcing back his own tears. He has known Cynthia and Bethany since Bethany was born. He had to be strong and hold his emotions back, but it was difficult. "Doctor Olson and I are consulting with another doctor, renowned in the field of rare diseases…"
"Rare diseases? Oh, my God! Please, no!" She broke down crying now. A nurse who was nearby came over to help console her.
"Doctor Joseph, please report to room 521. Doctor Joseph, please report to room 521." The announcement jerked his attention away from Cynthia. "I'm sorry darling, but I have to go to see what that's about. Nurse Judy will stay with you."
Still crying, "Okay, thank you, Joseph."
"What's up Randolph? Have you found something?" Joseph was excited about the prospects.
"I think we have. The doctor in Philadelphia, Doctor Richard Williamson, is interested in helping us with some more testing. He says he has some ideas."
"Oh, that's fantastic! When can he be here?"
"I'm just about to call him so we can talk to him. He's waiting for our call."
Doctor Williamson finished the call with Doctors Wetmore and Olson and called his team of researchers together.
"Guys, I am going to Miami tomorrow."
"You think the young woman in Miami is our prospect?"
"Yes, I think so. She's 18 years old, an active young lady. She has dizziness when laying and standing. She's been bedridden for over a month. There are two doctors looking after her and they have done everything they can, everything they know of, but can't determine any reason for the dizziness. I've reviewed all the reports they sent and I think we can help this young lady, Bethany Keepers."
"Oh, I hope we have what she needs." Some of the other researchers start talking among themselves.
"Yeah, so do I, she might be just who we've been looking for. Oh, I hope we can help her to feel better."
"This might be our big breakthrough."
"She's only 18 years old. What about that? She's still so young."
"Poor thing, I can't imagine the pain she's living with, I do hope we can help her."
"Okay, okay, everyone, let's not get carried away. I have to go down there and run more tests. I'll be in contact with you all, of course. Oh, Andrea, Christie, can you come to my office, please? I want to talk to you."
In the office he said to the two researcher assistants, "I want you two to come with me to Miami, can you both do that?"
"Yes, I can, of course." Andrea, young and fresh out of the university, was excited about such a trip and what was about to transpire in the next few days. This was her first job in the "real" world, and this opportunity would go a long way towards her goal of someday running her own research lab.
"Of course, I would love to!" Christie is one of those always-bubbly types, always in a happy mood, always with a smile on her face; nothing ever affects her in a negative way.
"Excellent. I'll make the arrangements, you two just be ready to fly out tomorrow afternoon."
Beth was trying to watch a TV program but that is difficult to do when your eyes are full of tears, constantly. It was as if she could not make them stop.
On Saturday her friends arrived for their weekend visit and sharing of gossip. This time they told Bethany about Kate and Ally being caught kissing each other in the locker room (they said they were just experimenting, curious); Ralph got sick eating the school lunch and ralphed all over the table, splashing some on 3 other students, and they then also got sick and they also vomited on the table. The entire lunch hour was ruined for everyone. All the girls were laughing at the stories, Bethany smiled, she tried to laugh, but she was in difficulty and the others could see it in her eyes.
The next Friday when Doctors Joseph and Randolph walked into her room, they had three new people with them.
"Good morning, Bethany, how are you today?" Of course, Doctor Randolph knew the answer to the question before he even asked it.
"Always dizzy and my eyes won't stop crying, but I'm not crying."
"That's your body's reaction, sweetheart." Doctor Joseph was checking her blood pressure, Doctor Randolph listened to her heart, and the new people were whispering and looking at the charts.
"Who are they?" Beth asked, curious about the new people.
"Let me introduce you to Doctor Williamson, he is from Philadelphia, and this is Andrea Burgess and Christie Garcia. They work with Doctor Williamson in his research lab."
"Research lab? What's this about?" Cynthia broke into the introductions, shocked to hear the words "research lab".
"Now Cynthia, please, they are here to help us," Doctor Joseph took her in his arms to help calm his dear friend. The doctors walked over to the door, with Cynthia, to talk about their concerns, and try to ease Cynthia's mind, as much as possible.
Christie spoke quietly to Bethany, "We have been doing research for many years in related areas to what seems to be ailing you and we hope to be able to help ease your pain." Christie has a good bedside manner, fit for a nurse, which is what she had majored in before changing to research. She was sitting alongside Bethany, holding her hand, stroking the back of her hand, calming her, as the doctors all talked quietly near the door.
"I'm so scared," Cynthia whispered into Doctor Joseph's ear.
"I know, Cynthia. We're going to find an answer, okay? Please, for Bethany, try to be strong." He spoke quietly so Bethany would not hear him.
After the little group finished their discussion, Dr. Williamson walked over to the bed, "Bethany, I'm Doctor Richard Williamson. I've spent the last 20 years doing research on the nervous system. And, I'm here to help find a solution to what ails you. Now, I've read every report, but I would like to talk to you, I hope you don't mind. You've probably been asked many of the same questions many times."
"Okay, Doctor Williamson. Just don't mind my tears, I can't stop them."
The other doctors left the room to Doctor Richard, Andrea, and Christie. Bethany started telling them everything that happened before – the visit to the park, what happened in the park, and the day after.
Andrea and Christie were writing notes while Doctor Richard listened closely to everything she described and he asked her many questions. Some of the questions seemed to be completely irrelevant, Bethany thought, but she answered them all.
"And this little scratch on your elbow?"
"That happened at school a couple days before the fall into the stream. Some kids were running in the hall, one of them bumped into me and pushed against the lockers. My elbow hit against the latch and I got that scratch. But it's healing just fine, isn't it?"
"Well, it was reopened when you fell into the stream. So we'll be examining that a bit more closely."
Doctor Richard and his assistants went to an office that the hospital assigned to them and went over the notes with the other doctors. They spent the rest of the afternoon discussing the options and possibilities.
"We have something we developed in the lab in Philly and would like to give it to Bethany. I think it will help to relieve her symptoms." Doctor Richard was telling the other doctors and Cynthia about the medicine they developed. "Cynthia, do we have your permission to do this? It's completely experimental. We've been given permission to test it on a limited number of people, and only in specific cases. And Bethany is within that group, and so far, she is the only person we have found who is suitable for this trial."
"Yes, Doctor Williamson, I give you my permission. But, what about side effects?"
"Well, so far as our testing results have shown, the side effects should be minimal."
"Should? You don't know for sure?"
"No, as I said, this is new and experimental. I hope it works as we think it will. If it does, Bethany should experience a lessening of the dizzyness, and hopefully, before too long, it will go away. But we don't know exactly how much effect there will be until we can try it with a real patient."
In tears, Cynthia said "Okay, oh dear Lord, I hope you're right. I want my Bethany back at home with me. She wants to be home, she wants to be out with her friends. She's only 18." Cynthia is crying. "I do hope you're right about this."
Andrea put an arm around Cynthia, "We are quite certain that this will help her." Cynthia turned and held tight to Andrea, crying gently on her shoulder.
"Okay, when do we give her the medicine?" Cynthia managed to get the words out, feigning a strength that she did not really feel.
"I have some coming from Philadelphia right now. It will be here first thing in the morning. We will give Bethany the medication tomorrow morning."
"It's going to be all right Cynthia, just let us take care of her." Christie has a soft voice that can calm the worst storm of worries, and she took Cynthia's hand and held it firmly, reassuringly, and smiled a smile Cynthia could not resist. Her experience from her years in nursing makes all the difference in the world to a person in a time of crises, like this one now, and Cynthia felt that care and love in her touch and heard it in her voice.
The doctors went back to their hotels and Cynthia went back to her daughter to tell her the news.
Bethany, excited by the news, said, "Really Mommy? They think they have some medicine that might help me?" The tears just would not stop, but now she is smiling with hope, she has been wiping her cheeks so much they are red.
"Yes, my dear. They will be here in the morning with the medicine. Their people in Philadelphia sent it today. We should pray that it works as expected."
"Yes, let's do that." They held hands and said a prayer and then Cynthia sat back in the armchair and fell asleep. Bethany did the best she could to sleep, but sleep had been difficult for her since she had been in the hospital.
Bethany woke up early, eager to start the medication that the doctors developed. However, they had not yet arrived. She tried to read the newspaper that the nurse brought, but she could not concentrate on any of the articles. She tried to watch the early news broadcast, but it was difficult to watch TV through the nonstop tears. She finally turned off the TV and just waited. While she waited, she tried writing and did manage to write a few paragraphs. She could not concentrate on her schoolwork, so she texted messages with her friends.
The door opened and in marched the three doctors and the two research assistants as well as two other nurses. It was quite a gang of white-robed cheery-faced people.
"Mommy! Wake up! They're here!" Bethany felt excited, anxious, and nervous, all at the same time.
"Oh, my goodness, this is quite a group we have today. Good morning doctors." Cynthia was rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, finally getting them focused on the people who now filled the room.
"Good morning, Cynthia," came five times.
"Well, Bethany," Doctor Williamson was the first to tell her what to expect. "My team in Philly," he held a tablet with a live video chat with his team in Philadelphia, "and Andrea and Christie," nodding to the two women researchers, "have developed a medication that we have tested, but not yet on a person. I need you to understand that you will be the first person to try this medication. We are certain it is safe. And, we are certain that you will see some improvement. However, how much improvement, well, that we are not certain about. I have some forms for you to read, and be sure you understand everything, okay? Your mother will also read them, and I hope you do have questions. You must have a clear understanding of the importance of this procedure. These forms list everything we know about the medication's possible effects and side effects. And then you both must sign the forms."
"Ok, give them to me; I want to read them right now." Bethany was excited and read the forms quickly. "Okay, let's do this, where's the medication?"
"Well, wait just a minute young lady; do you understand everything you read?" Doctor Wetmore wanted to be sure his longtime friend and client has a clear understanding of everything that is about to occur.
"Yes, Doctor Wetmore, I understand it all."
"Okay, and what about you Mrs. Keepers? Any questions?" Doctor Olson sat next to her and took her hand in his because he could see she was nervous.
"Yes, I do have a couple of questions…" Cynthia then asked her questions, which the research assistants Andrea and Deborah answered, and even one of the researchers in the video chat joined in and added more information to the conversation. They were good with all the details and with sharing them in a compassionate way, which helped calm Cynthia's nerves.
"Okay. I'm satisfied with that." Cynthia signed the forms, handed them to Bethany, and she signed the forms. The doctors all signed them as well. Everything was set. Doctor Williamson opened a black case in which were four syringes with a yellowish liquid in them. "These are the first of what we hope will be a new life for you, Bethany", said Dr. Williamson.
"Only four? Is that all it takes?" Bethany was expecting much more than just four little syringes.
"Well, remember, this is new, and these are the first ones we have to use. Let's hope all goes well and we don't need more."
"Maybe we can all hold hands and say a prayer first? Would that be okay?" Bethany asked with wide-open eyes and a big smile on her face, obviously excited and nervous.
"Of course we can." They all stood in a circle around the bed and first Bethany said a short prayer, then her Mother, then Doctor Wetmore.
Doctor Williamson took Bethany's arm in his hand, she took a deep breath, he tapped on her upper arm, and slowly injected the serum. Everyone watched, anxiously, not knowing what to expect. They all let out deep breaths that they all had held in at the moment of the injection. A minute passed, two minutes passed.
"What should I feel?"
"Well, that's a good question. You will have to tell us if you feel or notice any changes of any kind, both physical and mental, okay? It's important that you keep us informed. You probably won't feel anything; at least I hope you don't. We expect it to take effect and do it's job healing you without you noticing it. Other than the dizziness going away." The doctor was still holding her arm, watching her eyes, her lips, her ears, her skin color, and feeling for any change in skin temperature.
"Okay, I will."
She laid her head back against the pillow and immediately fell unconscious.
The doctors all scrambled, checking all the monitors, listening with the stethoscope, quietly talking to each other. Everything appeared to be fine, but why did she so suddenly fall unconscious?
"What happened? Please, tell me, what happened to my daughter?"
"It's okay. All her vital signs are normal, there's nothing at all abnormal with anything. She simply fell asleep."
"Should we try to wake her? I want to know if she's okay. Doctor Wetmore!" Cynthia took his hand, pleading with her eyes, "Please, try to wake her."
"Just a moment, Cynthia, she's moving her hands and feet."
"Wow! That was weird!" Bethany suddenly awakened and appeared to be just fine.
"What happened, Bethany? Tell us exactly what happened," Doctor Olson was concerned that maybe something was not right with the medication. Even though he is an expert in rare diseases, he had not been involved in the development of the serum.
"Well, first my mind went light, like being floating overhead, and it was very colorful, like one of those kaleidoscope things. Then I felt the medication going all through my body. It was weird. It was like I could feel it moving into my bones and muscles and everything."
"Do you still have any dizziness?"
"Um, yes, there is still some, but not to the level it was before. Doctor, I feel better than I did before, I think it's working."
"Well, I think it's a little too soon to make that judgment. You should rest now, and we'll check back with you later. Andrea, Christie, can you two stay here in the room with Bethany?"
"Yes, of course, we will."
"Great. I need to make a call back to the lab." He raised the tablet with the video chat, the other researchers were still watching, in silence, looking worried and relieved. "I will be calling you guys in about an hour," he told them
Throughout the day, the doctors took turns checking on Bethany, watching for changes, asking questions and taking notes.
The next day she said she was feeling better, that the dizziness was a little less than it had been. The doctors continued to monitor her every couple of hours. In addition, Christie and Andrea stayed with her all day, along with Cynthia. This went on without change for a couple more days.
On the fourth day, Doctor Williamson said they should do another injection.
"I've spoken with my people at the lab and they agree that we should do another injection, what do you think?"
"What do I think? I think yes, of course! Why not? I think it's working, so let's do it." Bethany could not wait to get out of the hospital and away from the not-so-great cafeteria food.
"Bethany, remember, this is experimental and we really aren't one hundred percent sure about this."
"Yes, I know, but it's working, I know it is, I'm feeling better. Please, give me a second injection."
"Okay, tomorrow morning, we'll all be here for a second injection. I want to make sure we're ready for any possible contingency."
"Thanks, Doctor Williamson." Bethany was beginning to feel better. There was less dizziness, and she was able to concentrate better on the newspaper, her writing, even on the TV programs. There were still tears, but not quite as much as before the injection.
She sent text messages to her friends and they were all excited for her. They wanted to come to visit but the hospital said it was too late in the day and they could not, they would have to plan for another day.
In the morning, the three doctors and two research assistants were all in Bethany's room again, anxious and excited about the second injection. Dr. Williamson put the tablet, with the video chat open again, on a nearby shelf so the other researchers could see the entire proceedings.
First, a prayer, then they all took a big breath together, momentarily held it, and Doctor Williamson pressed the needle into Bethany's arm. As he removed the needle, everyone breathed again.
One minute passed, "It's different this time." Two minutes, "No colors, no floating feeling." Three minutes have passed and she suddenly fell unconscious, just like the first time. "Doctor!" Cynthia panicked; Christie took her hand, and whispered, "Look, all her vital signs are still normal, perfectly normal. She's okay; she's just sleeping, just like the last time." A minute later, "Wow!" Bethany awoke and started talking fast, "You can't imagine what that is like! It's crazy! It's so weird! I don't know what to say, words just don't describe it," and on she went.
"Are you sure that was the same stuff as the first injection?" Bethany asked because she had such a different response this time.
"Yes, my dear, it's the exact same stuff. I think that this is a positive result. Now, again, make sure you tell us everything that you experienced, okay? Both mental and physical."
"Okay. But, wow!" And she went on and gave them all the details she could about her mental experience.
Cynthia took Doctor Williamson by the hand and quietly asked, "What do you think? Is it working? Is she going to be cured? Will she be able to go back to being a teenager?"
"Wait, wait, wait, Mrs. Keepers." He chuckles a little at her rapid-fire questions. "Yes, I think we are seeing positive results, and what will come of these results we have yet to learn. All our testing indicates she should see a full recovery. But only time will tell."
"Okay, that's good news, though, yes, I think it is."
"Yes, I think so, too."
Two days. One week. Bethany is recovering well. It seems the dizziness is 50%-60 of what it had been. She is able to walk in her room for a few minutes. Things are looking good for her.
"Doctor, it's been two weeks now, and I'm feeling much better, when can I go home?"
"Bethany, you aren't out of the woods, yet. You're close, yes, but we still don't know what the cause of all this was. My people are still running tests. We should have some more results in another week. I hope they will be the ones that reveal the cause."
"I hope so, too." She was feeling much better. Another week and she is walking in the hallway, down the hall to the waiting room and back again before feeling any dizziness. She knew she was not one hundred percent yet, but she wanted so much to get out of the hospital.
"I'm glad everyone is here, I have news, and it's good news. My researchers have found what they believe was the cause – they found a microbe, probably something she got when she fell into the water that day in the park. Do you remember she had that tiny scratch on her elbow? Even though it had scabbed over, it was broken open in the fall, and apparently a bacterium infected the wound and it had been absorbed into her bloodstream. That then spread to her nervous system. This is something that has only been seen a couple of times here in North America, and only a handful of times throughout the world."
"Excellent! So, now we know the source, and it appears your serum is working well, this is something we can celebrate!"
"Well, yes, but she's still not one hundred percent. My people are making a small change to the serum, and we'll have it in a couple of days."
Bethany's friends were in her room visiting. They brought flowers, with some candies hidden among them, of course, and shared the latest gossip from school. The two research assistants, who were always in the room with Bethany, and her mother, were listening from across the room and remembering and talking about their own school years.
The new serum arrived and the doctors went immediately to Bethany's room, and everyone was excited to get on with it. "I think it is best if your friends leave now, would that be okay, Bethany?"
"Oh, can't we stay and watch?" Mouse was always curious about such things.
"Yeah, we want to see what happens, too." Linda chimed in, but Doctor Williamson said it was best if they come back the next day.
After Beth's friends left the doctor began to describe the changes made to the serum, and before he could finish Beth interrupted him, "Okay, okay, give it to me!"
After a prayer with all the doctors and her Mother, Bethany said, "Do it, Doc!" Doctor Williamson smiled, squeezed her hand, prepped her arm, and injected the serum. And the watching commenced.
"I don't feel anything happening. No colors, no floating feeling, nothing."
"Just wait," and they all stood around her bed, anxiously watching for any sign of anything happening to her.
"How are you feeling?" asked Mom.
"I'm feeling very good. I don't feel any dizziness, I think it's all gone, doctor." She moved are arms and legs, got up and walked out of the room, stretched her arms over her head, even jumped, all without any dizziness. "Yeah, no more dizziness." She turned around to the other, anxiously watching her.
The three doctors spent the next couple of days running tests and examinations and taking blood samples. They sent some samples to the lab in Philadelphia; others were tested in the hospital. All the results came back with the kind of results that made everyone happy.
"Doctor, I'm feeling very good now, I feel like my old self again."
"If you put a number on your health right now, what would it be? 100%? 95%?"
"Oh, I suppose I would say 95%, at least. I feel good. No, better than that, 99%, because of the slight ache in my back, probably from laying in this bed for so long."
"That does coincide with our test results. Everything we have seen is looking good."
"Yes, I want to go home."
"I will talk with the other doctors and my colleagues at the lab."
"Okay, I'll wait a little longer then." She was getting tired of all the waiting and wanting to get out of the hospital. Bethany's friends had visited many times, telling her all the things she has missed, and brought her some homework from her classes. However, she had not been able to do any of it because of the dizziness. Now that she was feeling better, she was able to work on the schoolwork and got herself almost all caught up with her classes.
Two days later, when the doctors all arrived in Bethany's room they had good news for her.
"My researchers have come to the conclusion, after examining all the samples I've sent them, reading all the reports we sent them, you are free to go home and get back to your normal life."
Everybody cheered and clapped, especially Bethany and her mother. There were hugs all around the room. A couple of the local hospital doctors were listening in and giving their congratulations.
"We want to give you one more injection if you will let us, and I believe it will be the final one needed."
"Okay, let's do it."
They spent the rest of the day talking, eating and visiting with friends who came to the hospital.
The next morning Doctor Williamson gave Bethany the last injection. The process was the same as the previous injections – first, they said a prayer, then everyone held their breath, then the injection. After the doctor administered the injection, she had no reaction at all. They watched and watched some more, but she just smiled and talked. She got up and walked out of the room and through the hallways with no dizziness.
"I feel great, doctor! I'm all cured! Thank you so much!" She could hardly contain her excitement.
Bethany was discharged from the hospital the next day. Cynthia wheeled her out to the car; there were at least 25 or 30 friends waiting outside to greet her.
"Oh, my god! I can't believe it! I didn't know you all were coming! Thanks! Thanks so much!"
The doctors all walked along with her and her Mother. When they arrived at the car, Bethany stopped the wheelchair and said, "Everybody, I want to introduce you to my new friends, my doctors." She stood up from the wheelchair and went to each of the three doctors and two research assistants, introduced each one to her crowd of friends, and gave each one a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.
Dr. Wetmore would continue to monitor Bethany and send reports to the other doctors for the next several months. It appeared she was indeed cured of the infection.
The doctors all went back to their homes and families and lives knowing that the work they had done to help Bethany will also help other people live better lives.