Upon walking in the door from playing a few rounds of miniature golf with his girlfriend and her family, Ethan’s brother Chris heard a loud banging coming from upstairs. What the hell? Rushing up the stairs he quickly zeroed in on the source of the banging – Ethan’s room. Throwing the door open he found Ethan on the floor in the midst of convulsions. He grabbed a pillow off the bed to protect his head as he dialed 911.
Looking around while waiting for the paramedics to arrive he noticed an open pill bottle in Ethan’s hand and several pills scattered about on the floor. God, I hope this isn’t what it looks like. He prayed. After several attempts he was able to pry the pill bottle out of Ethan’s hand. He sighed with relief that it was one of his HIV medications, Epzicom. He must have been taking them when the seizures hit. I wish I knew what to do. He did the only think he could do while waiting for help – he kept Ethan from hurting himself.
The paramedics arrived, took one look at the scene and rushed Ethan to the hospital after helping Chris gather up all of the pills scattered about. A half-hour later, Chris was out of his mind with worry. After a couple of hours a doctor entered the waiting room. “Is there a Chris Evans here?”
Chris and his girlfriend, Jenny, approached the doctor. “I’m Chris Evans and this is my girlfriend Jenny. What’s happening with my brother?”
“Honestly, we don’t know. The seizures have finally stopped. We’ve done a brain scan and everything appears to be normal. In a few minutes we’ll be taking him up to an isolation room in the ICU. Until we know for sure what caused his seizures, we’re leaving nothing to chance.” The doctor looked hesitant to continue. “You can speak freely in front of Jenny. The three of us have to secrets.”
“Let’s go sit over there in the corner.” The doctor suggested, indicating an empty corner of the waiting room. As they sat, he continued in a hushed tone of voice, “`Did you know that he is HIV positive?
“Yes. He told us two years ago.” “And in all this time, has he been on the same medications?” “As far as I know. I know the first couple of months he was really sick, but then I guess he got used to them. We don’t talk about it much. He knows we’re both here for him, no matter what.”
“What about your parents?”
“They both died in a boating accident four years ago.”
“I see. So then that would make you his next-of-kin?”
“Yes. I have medical power of attorney as well. I can get you a copy of that and his other paperwork. He doesn’t want any…” Chris broke off, unable to say the words.
“Extraordinary measures taken?” Chris could only nod. “Okay, I’d appreciate it if you could get me a copy of those papers. Also, since you are the next-of-kin, would you be willing to sign a release so that I can discuss his case with his primary care physician? It’s possible that one of his medications could be causing this. I need you to be absolutely honest with me. Does he do any kind of illegal substances?”
“No. He tried pot once and hated how it made him feel. He gets his high from woodworking; something he’s passionate about and very good at.”
“Okay.” The doctor produced a clipboard with some papers on it. “If you would be so kind as to fill out and sign this release I’ll get in touch with his doctor and see what we can figure out.” Chris quickly filled out the paperwork. “Thank you. Now, why don’t the two of you go home and get some rest. There’s nothing more we can do for him tonight except get him admitted and make him comfortable. We have all of his medications. I promise you we’ll give him the best possible care.”
Giving thanks to the doctor, Chris and Jenny went home, but neither got much rest. Ethan, Chris and Jenny were very close, which made them worry all the more.
The following week was like an episode of the TV medical drama ‘House’. A team of doctors would meet every day to discuss Ethan’s case, possible diagnoses and treatments bantered about and dismissed. They ran every conceivable test, all returning either inconclusive or normal results. Nobody could figure out what was happening to Ethan or why, within minutes after being given his medications, he would go into convulsions. Ethan’s doctor was consulted many times, but she was equally clueless as to what was happening. All they knew was that if they didn’t stop the convulsions, Ethan could suffer brain damage or die.
“Your kind should be killed, not tolerated for one moment.” The prison guard growled as the shoved Ryan into a chair in the waiting room. Across the table sat his boss, Duncan, with a pained and angry look on his face.
“We’ve discussed what happened at length, but there’s more going on that what you’ve told me.” Duncan began, staring at the battered Ryan.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Duncan suddenly banged his fist on the table, startling Ryan. “I don’t have time for this! You know damned well what I’m talking about.”
“No, I honestly don’t.
“Okay, hot shot. We’ll play it your way. Tell me about two vials of the universal STD vaccine and two vials of the HIV cure missing from the infirmary?”
Ryan hung his head. Duncan had guessed that he was the one who had taken them and what he had done with them. “Tell me something, Duncan. If your wife had HIV and you had access to medications that would cure her, would you do anything and everything to get those medications to her?”
Duncan thought for a minute before opening his mouth to respond.
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