Cast Off!

Medical City Hospital

Bright, wide lights hang from the ceiling, casting the clean and sterile surroundings with brilliant light. A reception area sits centered before the door where people can check in, or ask for directions to other areas within the hospital. Past the desk is a small hallway with elevators leading to the upper floors, and signs that point to radiology.

Two large metal doors to the left of the entrance lead outside to the ambulance loading dock. The doors are marked 'EMERGENCY ONLY' in large red letters.

ben_icon.jpg desiree_icon.jpg

It's been a long month, all things considered. She doesn't want to think about the reason her arm's in a cast. She only wants to know when the damned cast can be removed. It's been frustrating. Forced to drive with one good hand and fingertips of the other. Unable to dance because she's off balance. Getting dresses is a hassle, getting undressed the same. Wearing sleeveless shirts and dresses. Hell, even going to the bathroom is hard with only one hand — and let's not forget the actual pain of a broken bone. No, Desiree is sick and tired of having her arm in a cast, and would tear the damned thing off that instant if she wasn't afraid of doing herself harm.

Any wonder why she was willing to owe James (and de facto, Marius?) a favor in order to remember who did this to her? Yes, it could've been far worse, and yes, it's unlikely the guilty vampire will see any kind of punishment for his deed, but there's no harm in dreaming, is there?

The hospital isn't her favorite place, but she's got an appointment with Out-Patient Services. Time to see the doctor and get some good news — she hopes. She can stand this cast for another week, maybe two, but six weeks is her limit. Any longer, and damage be damned, the cast is coming off.


Of course, she has a long wait to deal with at the hospital, since things do tend to be busy even with an appointment. She's left sitting on some crinkly paper for a long time, but at least she gets to keep her clothes on. Finally, Doctor Ben makes his appearance, knocking lightly before he opens the exam room door. "Ms. DeVilliers?" he asks, sure to make her title non-specific in the way he pronounces it. As for her name, he does an okay job pronouncing it, but he's probably not a skilled French speaker. He's got a nice smile on for her.


Desiree is usually a very congenial person, but her lack of return smile is in direct proportion to the length of time she's sat in this cramped examination room. Every ten minutes — loudly ticked off second by second on one of those horrid, huge schoolhouse clocks — means a degree less of warmth in her greeting. By the time the door opens and a doctor enters, he gets a half-hearted smile in return for his. "That would be me, yes," Desiree replies, nodding, "and this would be the reason I'm here."

She nods to the cast on her left arm; not quite as pristine white as it was a month ago, but devoid of autographs.

"I really only have one question, and that's when can this thing come off?" Her voice is weary, and she her expression clearly indicates she's totally, completely, undeniably "over it." She waits, now, somewhat patiently, for the answer to her question. Depending upon what she's told after he examines the arm…? Well, that'll determine how she reacts.


Ben consults the clipboard he's holding to make sure he's aware of her situation and medical history. "Okay," he says, looking over her cast. He shuts the door behind him and approaches her. "I understand you're probably really impatient to get that off there," he says. "So let me just give you a quick exam. It says here you got the cast put on about five weeks ago, is that right?" He's all professional smiles.


"Four weeks, five days and about sixteen hours," Desiree replies sarcastically, "but who's counting?" She takes a breath, expelling it in barely contained impatience. "It was the first of July. That, I know for certain."

There's a certain amount of mental preparation to make yourself ready for an examination. Desiree knows it'll probably hurt a bit, and she's sure the arm will be pale and shriveled. She's seen others with broken bones, but never had one herself.

Until now.

"Sure, Doc. Examine away — just as long as you tell me this can come off today. I'm literally dying for a long, hot shower without having my arm in a garbage sack, or holding it outside the curtain." Not fun, that. Her expression is literally begging him for good news.


"Okay," Ben says, making a note. "My name's Doctor Wilder, and I'll be doing the examination and the removal if you're ready." He smiles apologetically. "Bones don't always work on a schedule. Do you eat and drink dairy products?" he wonders, taking her arm between two flat palms and beginning the inspection by turning her arm this way and that. "First, just tell me if it hurts anywhere when I do this, and then we're going to get you an X-ray. Okay?" He makes eye contact. Smile.


"More since I broke this than before," is the rather dry reply. "And, I take vitamins with a calcium supplement, like the other doctor recommended. I'm beginning to feel like Elsie the Cow."

Humor. Not one of Desiree's strong points today.

"I've been trying to exercise the fingers — ow!" She interrupts herself with a grunt of pain. "Well, that was unpleasant," she snaps. "I was about to tell you I exercise my fingers, and I haven't noticed any pain recently."

Until just then, of course.

"X-ray." Desiree's face brightens. "That means the cast comes off, right?" It's the most animation she's shown since Dr. Wilder walked into the room. Eye contact is made. Sparkles of anticipation answer his smile.


Ben looks a little concerned by the pain. "Obviously you're not completely healed, but it'll probably be okay to take it off and double-check with an x-ray. Ideally, I'll give you a semi-rigid cast for the upper part of your arm and give you a cloth sling that you should continue using for a week or two. The sling is mostly going to help you remember to go easy on the arm, and help support some of the weight." He gently lowers the cast to her lap. "By the way, if you're taking a calcium supplement, are you also taking a magnesium supplement?"


"Magnesium? — I don't know. I did remember to bring the bottle with me. It's in my purse?" Desiree drags her purse close, digging inside until she comes up with a Centrum (tm) multipurpose vitamin with calcium, magnesium and phosphates. "Yep, looks like it," she says, holding out the bottle to him. "Is there a reason for the magnesium?" she asks.

Of course, cutting off the cast is the big thing. When she sees the nurse bring in what looks like a pair of super-sized wire-cutters, her eyes widen. "You're joking, right?" she says. "Those are huge! I saw workmen using those things at my Dad's contracting sites. Where'd the hospital get them — Home Depot?"

But, the nurse knows what she's doing, and between her and an intern, have the plaster cast sliced, diced and julienned in a matter of minutes. The look on Desiree's face when she sees her powdery white arm is almost funny. "Trust me, Doc, that is so not my arm. That belongs to Popeye's girlfriend, what's her name? — Olive Oil? — yeah. Her."


Ben takes the bottle and looks it over, nodding. He gives it over to her. "Yeah, that's okay. In a nutshell, taking calcium alone can upset your stomach, so I recommend that my patients who take calcium also take magnesium with it. This has both. You might want to boost your vitamin D, too." He watches the procedure calmly. "The shears are better than a saw," he comments mildly, smiling at her joke. "The arm might feel a little weak, but that'll help keep you from overusing for the next couple of weeks. How does it feel?"


Desiree might be horrified at the mummified husk her arm appears, but the sheer freedom of having that dead weight off her arm is pure relief. "Oh, man, does that feel good."

First thing she does is unbend her elbow. There's some pain, but that's only from having not used that particular joint for a month. "Yeah, I see what you mean," she tells the doctor. "But, it still feels fantastic. Any chance that new cast is waterproof?" Probably not, but a girl can dream.

God, I know I'm a sinner, but please let this arm be healed enough to not need another full cast. I promise I'll be — Desiree halts her silent plea, and looks momentarily at the ceiling. Okay, I won't promise I'll be good, but I'll be better. How's that? Just don't let me have to get another cast.

Aloud, she says, "So, point me to that X-ray machine, Doc. The faster we get my picture taken, the faster we find out if I'm a go for the smaller cast."


"It's not waterproof, but you can actually remove it for bathing and then replace it after you dry off." He offers her a smile and writes on the chart. "Okay, I'll get you an appointment with radiology and have that done. So somebody eventually takes her down to where the x-ray machine is, puts a heavy horse-blanket over her chest and takes pretty pictures of her arm, which are delivered to Ben just as Desiree is. He sticks it up on a light board. "Here's your arm," he announces. "Looking better than the last time you saw it, I bet."


"Feeling better, too," Desiree says with a grin. "Man, you've never known irritation until you have an itch inside a cast and nothing works to scratch it!" she tells Ben. "I just scratched my arm, and it felt Won. Der. Ful."

All right, so the arm's pale, skinny and flaky, now. It'll get better. She can use her fingers, and bend her elbow. That's enough to make her turn a genuinely dazzling smile on the doctor. Yeah, show him the full Monty — a Desiree DeVilliers showroom smile.

"You've no idea how good this feels, Doctor. I feel human again. There were times when — nah, better not go there. You're the best."


"Sure I do," Ben offers. "I've been hurt before." He turns away from the x-ray. "The nurse is going to bring you a semi-rigid cast and a sling," he says. The nurse looks a little irritated that he just announces that without requesting it from her personally, but she goes to get the stuff. "You seem pretty happy," he observes. Apparently he aced Stating the Obvious in med school.


"And you, sir, are what my older brother would call a 'MOTFO,'" Desiree says, her eyes sparkling with good humor. "Don't be insulted, it's nothing bad. A MOTFO is a 'Master of the Freaking Obvious' — only he didn't use 'freaking,' if you get my drift." Her laugh is soft and pleasant, and that smile is picture perfect.

Desiree seems a lot more relaxed since the cast came off, and she got some good news. "I think you might want to buy her lunch or something," she says in a whisper as the nurse leaves. "That wasn't a happy look she gave you just then. Just a friendly heads up. You might find yourself the target of a very long, sharp needle, otherwise." A wink and she's grinning at him.

The nurse returns with the cast and sling, and the next twenty minutes are spent fitting the semi-rigid cast. Too tight and it cuts off circulation, too loose, and it's useless. It's a delicate balance. When they're done. Desiree flexes her upper arm muscles slowly and carefully. A twinge of pain, and nothing more. The sling is in place, and she's done.


"Oh," Ben says, blinking a bit blankly. He doesn't seem to know how to respond to that, so he smiles. Then he looks over his shoulder in the direction the nurse left. "Why is she unhappy?" he asks. Apparently he has no idea. But then the nurse is back again, so Ben just steps back and lets her do her work. He smiles his satisfaction to see the job well done.


Once the nurse steps out of the room for the last time, Desiree turns to the doctor. There's a kind of amused expression on her face, her lips quirking up on one side. "It's all right," she tells the doctor. "She was just a bit miffed at being ordered instead of asked, I think. You know, assuming she was going to do something instead of — never mind."

It's really none of her business, after all. Not up to her to tell a doctor how to treat the nurses. If the nurses here are anything like others she's met, they'll make their point known soon enough.

"So, am I good to go? — 'cause if I am, there's a tall, cool Long Island Iced Tea with my name on it just waiting for me at the country club." Happy? Nah, not Desiree. Ecstatic is more like it. "I take it I wear this for another week, then … freedom? Or, do I need to come back and see you before it comes off?"


Ben seems pretty clueless about why that would upset anybody, but he smiles and nods. "Yeah, you can go," he says, bobbing his head. "Wear it a week or so and then you can take it off, but be gentle with that arm. You can take it off yourself, but you might want to come in about a month later to make sure everything healed properly, especially if you feel like there's a problem. But you should be fine. If you feel minor aches and pains, feel free to take over-the-counter analgesics as directed on the bottle. Any questions?"


"None whatsoever," Desiree replies happily. She regrets not being able to yet wear her jacket, but the end is near. "I'll watch the lifting and all, I promise." Like a kid who's just been handed the keys to Toys'R'Us, Desiree grins and gets off the padded table. "If I have any problems, I'll be sure to let you know."

She's gathering her things when she stops, turns and cants her head to the side. Second thoughts on the questions, apparently. "You have a private practice, or are you attached to the hospital?" An interesting question. "I mean, can I request to see you, not just any doctor here?"

There's a good reason for her asking. "I don't have a doctor anymore. My old family doctor passed on some months ago, and I stay pretty healthy, so —" A shrug of her good shoulder. "Never know when you need to see a physician, and it's handy having one around for … times like this."


"I actually work for the hospital right now, but when you make an appointment, you can request to see me, Benjamin Wilder, and provided I'm on-duty and not slammed, you can probably see me. If it's an emergency, they can beep me." He passes her a business card with his name and the hospital's address and phone on it. "Good luck with the healing."


"Good deal." Desiree takes the card, tucking it into her purse. "And if you ever want to spend an evening tripping the light fantastic, here's my card," she tells him, still grinning. The card gives a dance studio name, address and phone. A quick scribble with her pen, and she's handing it over to him. "My cell number's on the back."

Desiree turns to the door, glancing over her shoulder. "And if you don't know how to dance, I can teach you. Then we can trip the light fantastic." There's a wink, a laugh, and she's out the door, leaving a soft, exotic whiff of purfume in her wake.


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