Tom Harris is injured in a high school football game and ends up in the hospital.
Tanner Knox says he’ll make sure Tom receives reparation for what happened.
Monday Morning, 10/1/2018
Tom was lying on the examination table, his eyes closed. Tanner didn’t want to wake him, so he sat down in the only chair; which was on Tom’s left. When Tanner moved the chair, Tom opened his eyes.
“Hi, Tom. How are you feeling? Did they tell you anything?”
“About the same. They haven’t told me anything about what’s wrong with me. A urologist is coming to see me. They said it would be just a few minutes.”
“That’s hospital minutes. You know, like there’s dog years that are shorter? Well, hospital minutes are a lot longer. It’s a joke that my mom told me.”
“I guess. I hope someone comes real soon. I’m starting to feel like I need to pee again.”
That’s when a doctor entered the examination room and walked over to Tom.
“Thomas Harris, I’m Doctor Joseph Hamilton. I’m the urologist who’s going to determine the nature of your injury and why you have blood in your urine. The first thing, you will need a transfusion, so I need a signed approval from a parent or guardian. I understand that you are in the foster care system, so either one of your foster parents or a representative from CPS needs to sign the approval.”
“My so-called foster parents won’t sign. Tanner’s mom works here. Tanner, what’s her name?”
“Danielle Knox. She’s a nursing manager.”
“I know Danielle. Tanner, is she able to sign for Tom?”
“I don’t think so, but she said she would call someone she knows at CPS to come to the hospital to check on Tom. I think they’ll be able to sign. I’ll call her and find out what’s going on.”
He speed-dialed his mom’s cellphone.
“Doctor Hamilton is here, and he says Tom needs a blood transfusion. He needs a signed approval. Tom said the people where he’s being fostered won’t do it. Is the woman from CPS going to come to the hospital?”
“Yes, she’s here now. I’ll bring her down to the ER. She’ll be able to sign the approval form. Is Tom in the same room?”
“Yes, number fourteen.”
“We’ll be there in a few minutes. Let me talk to Doctor Hamilton.”
“My mom said the woman from CPS is here, and my mom wants to talk to you.” He handed the doctor his cellphone. They spoke briefly, then the doctor returned the phone.
“Your mother and the woman from CPS are on their way here. She said the woman from CPS can sign the approval for Tom. I’m going to have one unit of plasma brought down,” the doctor said.
“Am I going to be okay? Will the transfusion stop me from urinating blood?” Tom asked.
“It’s a plasma transfusion, and that will help your blood coagulate. That should help reduce your bleeding. To determine what the problem is, we will take a CT scan of your bladder. If there’s damage, and depending on the extent, you might need surgery. If so, the surgery should fix the problem. It’s also possible that you might not need surgery. In that case, the bleeding will stop, and you’ll be fine.”
“How long will I be out of school? I can’t afford to miss my classes.”
“Recovery time from surgery is typically several weeks. During that time you’ll be able to have private tutoring and keep up with your classes. That’s provided by the school district.”
“Will I be able to play football?”
“You probably won’t be able to play any sports the rest of this school year. I’m not sure about the future. It depends on the nature of the injury. I don’t want to sound negative, but I can’t sound positive until we find out the extent of your injuries.
“Now I’ll check the X-ray, and I’ll be back.”
Tanner stepped over to Tom and grabbed his hand. Tom looked up, tears running down his face, and he squeezed Tanner’s hand.
Tanner squeezed Tom’s hand. “You’re going to be okay,” he said. “I’m going to talk to the woman from CPS and find out why things are so bad where you’re staying.”
“Thanks, but I don’t think it would do any good. The new caseworker I have moved me from a great family who loved me, Tanner. She said she had to move me because the Jacksons had complained that I was a danger to their two kids. I phoned them, and they told me they never filed a complaint, I was never a danger to their kids. They wanted me to stay with them, and they appealed the transfer, but they were ignored.”
“Was it your caseworker who ignored them?” Tanner asked.
“Yeah. She was a new caseworker for me. Her name is Donna Strallen. In fact, she’s the new caseworker for all nine of us that are in the Wilcox house. They moved me from a home where I was the only kid being fostered, and I had my own bedroom, to a so-called foster family that has nine of us. The rule says we have to have our own bedroom, but there’s three of us in each of three small bedrooms. We’re supposed to get a weekly allowance and every month our bus ticket to ride to school. It’s always late. Like today, I didn’t have a bus ticket, and I didn’t have any money. That asshole George Wilcox threatened me and told me he wouldn’t take me to the hospital because if I was injured playing football, they didn’t have to take care of me.”
They heard yelling. It sounded to Tanner like it was coming from the reception area. He stepped into the hall and pulled the curtain across the entrance to examination room fourteen. He walked to the door to the reception area and saw a woman screaming at the guard.
“If you try to restrain me, I’m going to have you arrested, and I’m going to sue this poor excuse of a hospital. Now, where is Tom Harris? He’s assigned to me as his foster parent. Where is he!”
He went back to tell Tom what the yelling was about. He looked around the curtain and relayed what he’d overheard.
“Tanner, that sounds like Mable Wilcox,” Tom said. “She’s my so-called foster mother. She has a screeching kind of voice.”
“Yeah, it’s amazing that with the door to the reception area closed we can still hear her in your examination room.”
“The other guys that are being fostered there and I think Mable Wilcox and her husband George are scamming CPS. The Wilcox’s get money from the state for each of us, and I think they kick back some of it to our caseworker. The more kids they have in their house, the more money they make. I checked the CPS website, and the Wilcox’s aren’t listed as a licensed group home.”
Tanner turned back and saw the woman Tom said was Mable Wilcox force her way through the door from the reception area and rush down the hall. “Where is Thomas Harris?” she yelled. Then she saw there was a whiteboard next to the entrance of each examination room with the last name of the patient. She looked at each of the rooms until she arrived at the one Tom was in.
Tanner held the curtain shut behind him and stood so he was blocking the entrance.
“Get outa my way!” Mable Wilcox yelled at Tanner. She tried to push him out of the way accomplishing nothing. Tanner was nicknamed ‘Tank’ — for Tanner Knox — because of his size and strength. And he was only sixteen years old.
“You touch me one more time, and I’m going to call the guard to hold you and call the police,” Tanner growled.
She tried to kick Tanner’s ankle, but he dodged her foot and, as she tried to push him out of the way again, he put his palms out and held them in place. She pulled back and jammed her fists into his palms, very hard; his hands and arms didn’t move. Instead, she lost her balance and ended up sitting on her butt in the middle of the hall. Tanner stifled a smile.
“I’m going to have you arrested! You attacked me!” she screamed.
The hospital guard walked up. “No, he didn’t,” he said. “Since you ran past me, forced the door to the examination rooms open, and ran into the hall, I started taking a video of you on my phone. I saw what happened. The police are on the way, and I’m going to have you arrested unless you leave the hospital right now.”
With some difficulty, and rejecting assistance from Tanner and the guard, Mable Wilcox got to her feet. She glared at the guard. “You can’t have me arrested! I’m an officer of the court!”
“A foster parent isn’t an officer of the court,” Tanner said, smirking at her. He wasn’t certain that he was correct, but what she said didn’t make sense. He’d taken Argumentation and Debate when he was a freshman, and the teacher had told the class, “If you say something with enough conviction people will often believe what you’re saying even if you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Tanner’s mom and another woman walked up.
“What’s going on here?” the woman asked.
Mable Wilcox replied, “Someone brought Thomas Harris to this hospital because he claimed he had a little blood in his pee. They have no right to do that. In fact, they shouldn’t have admitted him without my approval. He doesn’t even have a Medi-Cal card.”
“Yes, he does.” Tanner’s mom said. “He used it when he was admitted. I’m the nursing manager here at John Muir Hospital, and I assisted him when he arrived. His admission was warranted because his condition is serious.”
Tanner added, “Tom lost a lot of blood, and they need to give him a transfusion. They’re waiting for someone to approve that.”
“He can’t have that without my approval!” Mable Wilcox shrieked. “There’s no reason for a transfusion. It’s just a way for the hospital to make more money!”
“He will have my approval,” the woman who’d accompanied Tanner’s mom said.
“Who do you think you are?” Mable Wilcox asked as she glared at the woman.
“I’m Catherine Parsons. I’m the supervisor in charge of the caseworkers at the Pleasant Hill CPS office. I’m assuming responsibility for Tom Harris. He is going to be removed from your home and placed somewhere else.”
“No! I’m his foster mother! You can’t take him away from me!”
“You’re no longer fostering Tom Harris. He’s now a direct ward of Child Protective Services.”
“How dare you! I’m going to sue CPS… and you, personally!”
“You better get a good lawyer. You’ll need one.”
“What do you mean by that?”
There was no response from Catherine Parsons who turned around and went into examination room fourteen where the doctor had returned and was waiting for someone to sign the approval for Tom to have the transfusion. Tanner continued to block access to room fourteen so Mable Wilcox couldn’t get in.
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