Dr. Baker, Kevin’s endocrinologist, had just finished examining Kevin, and motioned for Brian and Liz to meet him in the hall. A nurse stayed in the room with Kevin to finish her notes.
“We did another test confirming that he has Addison’s. I’ve given him an injection of a corticosteroid, which should stabilize him. We’ll need to keep him overnight for observation.”
“What’s the prognosis, doc?” Brian asked.
Dr. Baker shoved his hands into the pockets of his white coat. “He’ll have to be on meds, probably for the rest of his life. If properly managed, he should have a fairly normal life.”
He paused. “But he’s had an Addisonian crisis, and it may take a month or two for him to fully recover. It could have been triggered by dehydration, resulting from the diarrhea and vomiting. I wouldn’t recommend that he go back to school just yet. You mentioned that there is a home-schooling possibility. You should look into that. We will need to monitor him closely for the next 6-8 weeks.”
He added, “I will need one of you to stay with him tonight. Every room in the pediatric ward has a cot for a parent.”
Liz looked at Brian, “I’ll stay. You can go home to get a few hours of sleep before the boys wake up. Come and get me after you take Sean and Liam to school. Marta can stay with Kevin for the day.”
The next morning Brian dropped off Sean and Liam at Christ the King a bit early, and picked up Liz and Kevin at the hospital after Kevin was released.
Kevin didn’t want to spend the day in bed, so Liz got him settled with a quilt and pillows on the family room sofa, and gave Marta instructions about giving him small sips of water. She explained that he can’t eat regular food at first but If he gets hungry, she should give him a half a piece of toast. If he tolerated that well and was still hungry, then she could give him a little white rice, a bit of applesauce, or a part of a banana.
Liz knew that Marta would hover around Kevin until she got home that afternoon.
Having worked for the O’Connells for 14 years, Marta had taken care of Kevin many times when he was home sick, and she knew exactly what the BRAT diet was and what to do.
The whole O’Connell family adored Marta. A deeply religious woman, Marta didn’t wear her religion on her sleeve. She lived her faith in everything she said and did. She was a friend, confidant, sounding board, consultant, and much more to Liz. Liz valued her opinion over many others on many subjects. Liz shared more of her concerns and plans with Marta than she did with most of her other friends. She also shared recipes, food, flowers, clothes, and many other things with Marta. Marta was simply the best. Other than Brian, she had no better friend or confidant.
As she knew that God had brought Brian into her life, Liz was certain that divine providence had brought Marta into her life. She was a loving mother to her own three children, as well as a mother figure to the O’Connell children. Marta’s mother lived with her family and helped with her children. She was efficient, yet compassionate. She kept the O’Connell household from delving into chaos while caring for the family. She was a rare jewel—well-organized and competent, yet loving. Other than her own mother, there was no one that Liz trusted more with her children.
“I’ll be in the office all day and will have my cell phone with me. Call me if you have any questions or there are any problems,” Liz instructed.
Leaving Kevin with Marta, Liz ran upstairs for a quick shower and to dress. Fifteen minutes later she glanced at the digital clock in the Suburban as she backed out of the driveway, and winced. It was already almost 9 am. She would be three hours late to work. Fortunately, most of the attorneys in her office didn’t arrive before 9:30 in the morning.
Once she got on the Santa Monica Freeway, Liz punched the screen on the dashboard showing her pre-programmed office phone number.
Sandy answered her phone. “Where have you been? You’re late.”
“Tell me something I don’t know,” Liz answered dryly.
“The boss wants to see you right away in his office. Ms. Santiago told me to tell you to go directly there when you get in. She’s already there.”
As an afterthought, she asked, “Are you ok?”
“It’s Kevin. I spent the night in the hospital with him.”
“Oh gosh, I am so sorry. What’s wrong?”
“They diagnosed him with Addison’s disease. I’ll explain later.
Listen, I’m going to lose you. I’m pulling into the underground garage now. Would you please text Terry to tell her I’ll be there in 5 minutes?”
Liz pulled her briefcase out of the back seat of the Suburban, absentmindedly slipped on her jacket, and headed into the office through the garage. She had rarely been called into the City Attorney’s office, and never had been summoned without notice. What could have happened?