Considerably. Jesus. "Does she have brain damage?"
"Too soon to tell."
"So, what now? I just sit here and hope she opens her damn eyes?"
"No. With what we've observed we can detail our proposed treatment."
"Which is what?"
The doctors exchanged a look. Neither man seemed old enough to practice medicine and that didn't set Carson's mind at ease.
The dark-haired doctor spoke first. "We'd like to place your wife in a medically induced coma."
Carson opened his mouth to say the f**k that is happening.
"Hear us out. We've already given your wife an IV of Mannitol that reduces cranial pressure from swelling via drainage. But it hasn't worked as well as we expected. So Dr. Vincent-" he gestured to his red-haired colleague, "-your wife's anesthesiologist, has proposed using a sedative called Propofol, normally used during surgical procedures, to put Mrs. McKay into a temporary coma."
"Ain't she already in a coma?"
"Technically, yes. But putting her in a medically induced coma gives us control-not her body-and with the drugs we can bring her out of it at our discretion. It also allows time for the brain swelling to decrease, which hopefully will limit the amount of permanent damage to the brain tissue."
"This isn't an experimental procedure? You do this all the time?"
Dr. Vincent nodded. "It's the best possible way to deal with the altered metabolism in the brain that's caused by injury. With pharmaceuticals we can keep the brain from shutting down and maintain other important body functions. But that also means your wife will be on medication to keep her heart pumping and medication to keep her blood pressure steady. Plus we'll put her on a respirator to mechanically control her respiration rate."
Dr. McMillan rested his elbows on his knees and leaned closer. "We'll keep her chemically sedated only as long as we have to. There are other risk factors with this treatment. Pneumonia and blood clots being at the top of the list-muscle paralysis is a possibility too."
Carson's head spun. He had to remind himself they were talking about Carolyn, the woman he loved, being hooked up to all sorts of nasty machines with chemicals being pumped into her body.
"We've conferred with our colleagues at the neurosciences department at Denver General Hospital-getting a second and third opinion-and they've agreed our proposed treatment has the best chance of success. If you agree we'll need to get this underway immediately."
"Is there another option?"
"If we do nothing there's a chance-albeit an infinitesimal one-that her body will spontaneously heal."
"Or she might never…" Recover. Carson closed his eyes. No f**king way. He couldn't-he wouldn't-accept that.
"Is there someone else you need to discuss this with before making a decision?"
He thought of his kids. Carolyn was their mother, but she was his wife-his entire damn life-so this decision rested solely on his shoulders. "No. Go ahead and treat her." He swallowed hard, trying to dislodge the lump in his throat. "How long will she be…?"
"A minimum of five days. Most likely a week to ten days. Since she has an open wound on the back of her head and the brain used it as a conduit to try and dump excess fluid, the risk of infection is extremely high-much higher than normal. As soon as we have your consent, we'll dress the wound and put her in a sterile environment."
The docs exchanged another look.
"What aren't you tellin' me?"
"After she's hooked up to the respirator and EEG, we'll move her to ICU. Visitation will be limited."
His eyes narrowed. "How limited?"
"We'll allow…five minutes an hour."
"That time is allotted for other family members. Not for me, right?"
Dr. McMillan shook his head. "That includes you. To be completely honest, we're mandating no visitors for the first twenty-four hours as we're adjusting her medication levels and when the risk of infection is highest. I cannot emphasize this enough. Your wife is highly susceptible to infection."
"Make no mistake; I ain't leavin' her side even in the twenty-four hours she don't know I'm here. I may only get five minutes an hour with her, but the other fifty-five minutes of the day I will be right outside her door."
"Mr. McKay, I'm not sure-"
"I am one hundred percent sure that I will not leave my wife alone in this state. If that's gonna be a problem for you, say so now."
"As long as you know the only reason we're putting these restrictions on visitation is to protect her."
Carson nodded. Then he sighed and rubbed the back of his neck.
"Not right now, I'm still tryin' to get a handle on all this."
"Understood. It's a lot to process. We have work to do, to get the treatment started."
And he had nothing to do but sit around and wait.
Carson glanced up at the nurse. "Yes?"
"Your wife has been moved to ICU."
He pushed to his feet. "Any change in her?"
"I don't know. I'm only passing along the information about the room change."