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|-- TRACER --|
I woke up Christmas morning to the sound of something beating against the window. Shit! It was ice. The temperature must have fallen during the night and the snow storm had turned into an ice storm. Then I realized why I could hear the ice so well; the power was out and nothing else was making a sound. The house was still comfortably warm, so the power had not been out too long.
I rolled out of bed, doing my best not to disturb Erik. I went over to the window, pulled back the curtain and looked out upon a beautiful scene - ice coating everything. Beautiful, but very hostile.
I went back over to the bed and nudged Erik awake.
"Baby, there's an ice storm; power's out. I'm going to go crank up the generator."
"Hrmph," was the only response I got.
We had been up late the night before, as our little family had decided to start a new tradition. A few days earlier, Ryan had called the local hospital inquiring how many kids were there. We'd been told seven, ranging in age from four to sixteen. About an hour before visiting hours ended on Christmas Eve, we pulled into the parking lot and went inside. Each of us had a big red laundry bag full of toys. We spent the next hour doing our part to bring a little cheer to the kids who would spend their holiday in a hospital bed. After we finished distributing the gifts, a few of the parents came out into the hall and thanked us for our generosity.
Afterwards, we came home for a late dinner. Then the four of us, paired off appropriately, snuggled up in front of the fire place while the lights from the Christmas tree twinkled.
Finally, around midnight we'd climbed up to the bedrooms. Erik and I stayed up a lot later enjoying slow, quiet and intimate sex. At one point we heard a ‘WOOF' coming from down the hall; obviously we weren't the only ones still up.
I dressed and went downstairs and grabbed my heaviest coat. The lights came back on as I was reaching for my hat and gloves. Looking out the back window, I saw Ryan and Will running through the ice from the barn.
As they came up the back steps, I opened the door to let them in.
"Thanks, Guys. I wasn't looking forward to going out in that mess."
"It's really nasty out there," Ryan stuttered through chattering teeth.
Will and Ryan stripped off their coats. We all hung them in the closet and I moved over to the kitchen counter, flipping on the coffee pot.
"I'll go see if I can stir Erik. He was sound asleep when I came downstairs."
As if on cue, we heard the water running from upstairs.
"Sounds like Dad is up," Ryan said.
"How about a hot breakfast before we start on the chores?" Will asked.
"Sure," I replied. "Pancakes and bacon?"
"How about waffles and bacon?" Ryan answered.
"Grab the waffle iron and I'll start making the batter."
By the time Erik came into the kitchen, the first of the waffles were ready. The four of us ate a leisurely breakfast and then Ryan and Will volunteered to clean up. Erik and I worked to de-ice the back steps and then walked out to the barn. We were partway through feeding the horses when Ryan and Will came through the door. With four of us all pitching in, we made short work of all the chores. Erik walked over to the barn to check the generator and then joined the rest of us in the house.
Opening the presents was fun as always. I surprised Will by getting him his own saddle. The gifts which caused the biggest surprise, however, were those not related to horses.
Will had finally settled on a sterling silver bracelet for Ryan. It was about an inch and a half wide and featured a southwestern motif. It fit Ryan's wrist and looked handsome on him.
Ryan and I teamed up on lunch, doing a ham basted in Coca-Cola. Ryan had heard about it when he was in Memphis. The rest of the spread included candied yams, sweet potato biscuits and collard greens. For desert, we'd made minced meat and pumpkin pie.
Mom and Dad called after we'd finished lunch. Will and I talked to them for a bit. They were enjoying Christmas with Patrick and his girlfriend.
With the storm slowly ending, we all just took the time to relax and unwind. The news reports indicated that most of the roads in the area were a mess. Road crews were working to put down salt, but with so many rural roads and the holiday – the lack of traffic meant it was a losing battle.
Late in the afternoon, Erik started complaining of a stomach ache. I suggested he go lie down for a while. I went up to check on him before dinner and found him in the bathroom.
"How long have you been throwing up?" I demanded.
"Don't get all motherly on me - I can hear it in your voice. This just started."
I helped him clean up and got him back in bed.
Back downstairs, I let the boys know what was happening upstairs and we decided on leftovers for dinner. After eating, I fixed a toast and took it upstairs to Erik.
"I'm definitely not going to eat right now. My stomach is just too upset," he stated, when he saw me with the plate.
"Did you take anything?"
"Yes, I took some Pepto. It doesn't seem to be working" he replied.
"Get some sleep if you can. Do you want me to stay up here with you?"
"Tracer, I'm a grown man. I'll yell if I need help."
"OK. OK. I'm not trying to be a mother," I said defensively.
Ryan and Will showed some concern about Erik's sickness, but I told them I figured it was a twenty-four hour bug.
We watched a bit of television. The boys volunteered to check the stables while I checked the generator. The icing had stopped, but the wind was whipping around - making it frigid outside.
"Goodnight, Guys, I'll see you in the morning," I said, as we reached the top of the stairs.
"Night, Tracer," they echoed.
"Sleep well," I replied.
I stripped down and crawled into bed beside Erik, trying my best not to wake him. I looked at the clock; it was only nine p.m. It didn't take me long to drift off to sleep.
A noise, a yell, something startled me brain into waking up slightly.
"Huh, what?" I replied. My brain was a bit befuddled. I looked at the clock – it was two a.m.
"Tracer! Wake up!" I heard Erik yell.
I finally got my head clear and looked around, the light was on in the bathroom. I ran, naked, into the room and found Erik on the toilet.
"What's wrong?" Panic filled my voice.
"My piss is pinkish-orange; I think there's blood in it. On top of that, my back is killing me!"
"Oh, shit. Hospital? Should I take you to the hospital?" Now I was frightened!
"Yeah, I think that's best. Be calm, but let's go see what's wrong here."
"OK. Do you need help?" I asked.
"No. It's gonna be OK, Tracer. Go wake up Ryan and let him know we're going. Don't worry him too much."
Erik's calm was not working on me. "Don't worry him that I'm taking his Dad to the hospital in the middle of the night. OK!"
Erik walked into the bedroom and went to the closet. I grabbed a pair of boxers and went over to the boys' room. I knocked gently at first till I heard a muffled response. I opened the door and stuck my head into the dark room. Ryan was sitting up on his elbows. Will was still asleep beside him. Will always could sleep through noise!
"Ryan, your Dad's not feeling well. I'm going to take him to the hospital to get him checked out."
"WHAT!" exploded out of Ryan's mouth. With that Will woke up with a start.
"What's wrong with Dad?" Ryan continued. "How are you going to get him there?"
"He's still sick and things aren't getting better," I tried my best to stay calm and avoid the full truth. "I'm going to put him in a truck and drive him there."
"Um, Tracer, what about all the ice?" Ryan reminded me.
"Oh, Shit! Maybe we should call an ambulance."
Will was sitting fully upright by this point. "Don't you have chains for the tires?"
Ryan looked like someone had smacked him. "Yeah."
"Can you and Will get them on the truck and I'll help Erik get ready to go?"
"Sure, then we all go to the hospital," Ryan stated.
"I can take care of it, Ryan. You two get more sleep."
"Tracer, he's my Dad. I'm going! Period!"
"OK, get the chains on."
I turned and went back to our bedroom. Erik was nowhere to be seen. I peeked into the bathroom. He was back on the toilet.
"No. How did Ryan react?"
"He and Will are getting dressed," I said. I put my hand up to stop Erik from interrupting. "They are going to put the chains on the truck. Then we are all going to the hospital. Ryan's already made that point very clear."
"OK, I'm in no shape to fight."
I got dressed and walked with Erik down to the kitchen. Ryan and Will had the big dualie pulled up to the backdoor in no time. We got Erik into the back seat and had him lie down. The three of us rode up front.
Driving to the hospital was eerie, no lights were on anywhere. The ice storm had made kindling of many trees and in crashing to the earth they had taken out power lines everywhere. We made good time to the hospital and I was surprised how good the roads were. Well, with the chains maybe we just didn't notice how bad the roads were.
The hospital was pretty dark and as the four of us walked into the Emergency Room, I realized they must be running on emergency generators. We went over to the registration desk. Erik explained his symptoms to the admissions person. After giving all his insurance information, we were directed to the waiting room. The lady at admitting warned us that due to the power issues things were much slower than normal.
We sat there quietly for about an hour when Erik was finally called. I walked over with him.
"Are you a family member?" The nurse asked politely.
"No, I'm his," I paused a moment. "His business partner." I realized immediately, I should have lied.
"Sorry, Sir. Hospital policy," she stated firmly. "We can't have just everyone roaming through the area so we limit things to family only.
"Ryan." I waved him over. I turned to the nurse. "This is his son." I turned to Ryan and whispered. "Please let me know what's going on as soon as you can."
"I will," Ryan whispered back.
Erik and Ryan disappeared into the Emergency Room as the doors closed. I went and sat with Will.
"That's not right," Will said. "You should be able to go in with him."
"I know, but it's policy. If there ever is a next time, I'll say I'm his son," I replied.
"You shouldn't have to lie," Will stated. "I wonder if this happens in big cities?"
"You think it's part of a small town attitude?"
"Yeah," Will answered. He went on, "What would you do if something serious happened?"
"We've never planned that far. I don't know."
We sat there quietly and time seemed to slow to a stop. I was tired, upset, frustrated and more. I just didn't know what to do. I leaned over and laid my head on Will's shoulder. He put his arm around me; it felt reassuring.
"He's gonna be alright," Will whispered.
"I know," I replied quietly.
The doors, separating the Emergency Room and the waiting room opened and closed periodically, a steady flow of traffic running through them. Over an hour after they'd disappeared through them, Ryan came out alone.
"Well?" My voice showed all the emotion bundled up inside.
"Sorry, even though we were back there – nothing happened for a while. He's got several kidney stones. One is lodged in his right kidney and two more are in the," he paused. "Shit, I forgot the name. The second and third stones are stuck in the tube that runs from the kidney to the bladder on his left side. That's why he's in so much pain and peeing blood."
"I don't understand," Will got out first.
"The doctor said it's like a cork. The stones are stuck in the tube and all his urine is stuck behind it. As the pressure builds up, his kidney gets sore – that causes nausea and the back pain. As the stone moves, it tears the tube, causing the blood."
"So, what's next?" I asked.
"Well, they are giving him pain medication and he'll be able to go home soon. But, he's gonna have to have surgery. The doctor doesn't think the stones will come out on their own."
"Worse. He's probably going to need two different surgeries," Ryan explained.
"What?" That scared me even more.
"Well, they have to go in and pull the stones on his left side out. Then the second surgery will be to explode the stone in his right kidney."
"Damn, that sounds painful," Will interjected.
"Yeah, it does. Dad's gonna miss a lot of work."
I hugged Ryan and we looked at each other. "We'll get through it."
About that time they pushed Erik through the doors in a wheelchair. I went over and hugged him. At this point, I didn't care what anyone thought. At five a.m. on a nasty morning, the area was pretty deserted.
We got Erik home and we all crashed. I woke up and sunlight was streaming through the windows. I glanced at the clock – it was nearly noon. I turned and saw that Erik was sound asleep. I got out of bed carefully. I threw on my boxers and grabbed my robe.
When I got down to the kitchen, I found Will sitting alone.
"Hey," he said. "Ryan's still asleep."
"Erik's asleep too. Are you hungry?" I asked.
"I made some hot chocolate, but I am hungry."
"What sounds good?"
"How about ham and eggs?" Will suggested. "We have all the leftover ham."
"OK." I got started slicing and pan frying ham. Will cracked open some eggs and started frying those.
As the cooking got started, Will turned to me. "So, how is Erik doing?"
"With the pain killers, he seemed to be OK when he fell asleep. I never thought a kidney stone could be so painful."
"I figured he had appendicitis when this started," Will replied.
"Actually, so did I."
"What's wrong, Tracer? You've never been good at hiding your emotions from me," Will stated.
"This morning at the hospital, when I couldn't go back with Erik," I replied. "That really bothered me. I don't know what to do."
"Can't you do something similar to what Mom and Dad set up for me to be here? Sign legal documents giving you the ability?"
"I don't know. It's something Erik and I need to discuss and figure out. Especially since Ryan will be leaving here in the fall. Then no one could go with Erik."
"Well, there's always lying – tell them you're his son," Will suggested. "It's not like you and Ryan are that far apart in age."
"Yeah, I guess. But I want something more permanent, legal, proper."
While we talked, I had popped some bread in the toaster. We made fried egg and ham sandwiches and moved to the kitchen table to eat.
"There's more isn't there?" Will asked, finally.
"Yeah, I'm worried about the farm while Erik's laid up," I admitted.
"You've been learning about the farm for a long time. Don't you think you can manage without him for a while? Things are going to be quiet between the holiday and the weather."
"Oh, I'm sure the guys can run the place without Erik while he's out, but I can't add much."
"Stop it!" Will got loud. "You always doubt yourself. I know Randy's been spending a lot of time showing you how things run. You do a lot around here and it's about time that you admit it."
"I guess," I replied.
"No guessing to it. So what's got you so worried?" Will asked.
"Erik's run the office for so long and I don't think anyone knows enough about it to fill in for him."
"Then we'll all pitch in and help out. I'm sure Ryan knows some. You obviously know some. Erik's going to be around to answer questions. It will work out."
"Thanks, Will. I needed a little pick-me-up, I guess."
I heard footsteps and looked up in time to see Erik walking into the kitchen.
"Hey, Baby, how you feeling?" I asked.
"Pretty good. The pain has subsided a lot," he replied.
"Hungry?" I asked.
"How about fried egg and ham on toast?"
"Sounds fine," Erik replied.
While I was cooking, Erik ducked into the office.
"You're sandwich is ready," I called to him.
"Be right there."
Erik came in a few moments later. "I called the urologist's service. They will leave a message with the office to call me for a first available appointment. I'm going to see the urologist the emergency room doctor referred me to."
"OK, I can work out the schedule so I can drive you, once it's scheduled"
"I'm fine, Tracer. You don't have to go," Erik replied.
As Will had indicated earlier, I show my emotions on my face. Will picked up on my uneasiness easily.
"Guys, I'm going to go check up on Ryan," Will said as he left.
"Erik, I want - no that's not it - I need to go with you," I said.
"Why? It's a doctor's appointment not the surgery."
"I felt helpless last night. I couldn't go in the back with you. I don't want to feel that way again."
I went through all my concerns with Erik. At first he seemed to be discounting them; however, he slowly came around to understand my concerns were justified.
"I'll call my lawyer Monday and see what we can work out."
"Will he understand the situation?" I asked.
"You've got a point. Let's see what we can figure out."
We discussed the possibilities for a while and decided to see if we could find anything on the Internet.
Ryan and Will finally made an appearance in the kitchen. I got the feeling that they had kept tabs on what we were doing so as not to disturb the private discussion. Will and I fixed Ryan some lunch and then everyone when out to the stables to take care of chores.
The doctor's office called Erik first thing Monday morning and set up an appointment for Tuesday. Erik's appointment was the doctor's first that morning.
"Mr. Chamberlain, I want to remove the stones on the left side first. From the X-Rays you brought with you, they are both rather large – about seven millimeters each. While they are not blocking anything now, they may shift and start causing significant pain quickly. With both of them so close together they could cause severe problems. After that, we'll perform shock wave lithotripsy on your right kidney to destroy the stone that is there," the doctor explained. "That stone appears to be over one centimeter wide."
"How do you remove the stone on the left?" Erik asked, timidly.
"We perform what we call a basket catch. While it's an invasive surgery there is no cutting."
The doctor went on to explain the full procedure. "We insert a ureteroscope that moves up into the ureter so I can see the stones. Once found, I'll use a small basket to catch the stones and remove them."
As he explained how the ‘basket' got to the stone both Erik and I winced. He would insert the tube through the urethra, up through the bladder and into the ureter. Ouch!
"Most likely, I will insert a stent in the area where the stones are to permit better flow and healing. We'll remove this a few days after the surgery. In worst case scenarios, you'll have a catheter inserted as well."
"The procedure is an outpatient surgery. You'll go home that afternoon, but you won't be able to go back to work for several days."
Erik sat up a bit at that, but did not comment. The doctor caught his expression and explained the healing time and other issues.
"Can both surgeries be done at once?" I asked.
"That's not advised. While there is a stone in Mr. Chamberlain's right kidney it is not causing pain or other issues. We'll schedule that surgery for later"
"What's that surgery like?" Erik asked.
"First off, it's non-invasive. We lay you on a device that looks like a gel filled balloon and shoot sound waves through it. The sound waves break up the stone. The small fragments pass out of you over the next few days, typically without any issue."
"Why can't you do that for the two on the left side?" Erik asked.
"The stones have to be in the kidney for the lithotripsy to work," the doctor replied.
"OK, when do we do the first one?" Erik asked.
"I'll have my nurse schedule it and call you later today. I typically do surgery on Wednesday so I'll see if she can squeeze you in tomorrow."
We departed the office shortly after and I drove us home. I was happy that the first surgery should be while Ryan and Will were still on Christmas break. I'd have plenty of help around the house.
We got home and found a phone message waiting, Erik's surgery would be at two-thirty the next day. He would have to fast after six p.m. this evening.
Wednesday morning Erik helped us with the chores. I could tell he was in a lot of pain, but didn't want to admit it. We all drove to the hospital; no one was going to stay home. We got there about noon and sat – a long time. Erik disappeared moments after registration was completed. The doctor came out about three and told us that the surgery had been a success and that Erik was in recovery.
A nurse came out just before five to tell us that Erik was awake and that someone could come back with her to visit with him till his discharge. Ryan looked at me and smiled, he moved his hand to indicate that I should go. I smiled back at him and took off.
Erik was groggy and barely coherent when I first walked up; however, it didn't take long for him to clear his head. About six the nurse indicated that he could leave. I helped her get him into a wheelchair and she rolled him out. I had alerted Ryan and Will so they had the truck at the front door. We had Erik home and in his bed in short order.
Erik remained in the bed pretty much all of the next day. The doctor had him come in on New Year's Eve to remove the catheter and have a quick checkup. Our New Year's Eve was spent quietly and we were asleep in bed early.
I woke up New Year's morning with a hard-on that wouldn't quit. I was going to sneak into the bathroom to take care of it when Erik woke up.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"Tracer, it has been a week since we've had sex. I can tell you're pretty horny!"
"It's nothing I can't handle, Erik. You need to recuperate," I replied.
"I can help out," he protested. "Lie back down."
I lay down next to him. He leaned over and kissed me.
"I love you, Baby," he said.
"I love you too," I replied.
Erik reached over to the nightstand and grabbed a bottle of lube. With a small amount on his hand he started stroking my dick while kissing me. Periodically, his hand would slip down and rub my balls.
I turned my head a bit so I could kiss him more easily. He enhanced his movements by letting his hand slip below my balls to tease my asshole. I was so keyed up and his hand work was really getting me going.
"Damn, Erik, that feels so fucking good."
I started thrusting up into his hand. My bucking brought me to the edge.
"Fuck!" I yelped. Cum sprayed across my chest. I panted a bit as I came down from the high.
"Hope that helped, Baby," Erik cooed.
I leaned over and kissed him deeply. Throughout the entire session, Erik never got hard.
"You OK?" I asked.
"You didn't get hard," I replied.
"Tracer, I'm just not in the mood. Trust me as soon as I recover I'll be ready to fuck you over and over!"
I rolled over and put my head on this chest. "Good!"