Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters, and I don't know who does own them, although the movie was produced by Kaboom. I write them for fun only, as an exercise in creative writing. This is a work of fiction, based upon the movie characters. I just love Robert and Catherine
Liz is a friend Catherine met at UCLA and they have stayed in touch all these years. John is her husband.
Catherine and Robert were to meet Liz and John in Los Angeles. They were going to spend a week on Catalina Island, including five days on a sailboat.
It was still dark when Robert packed the car. Catherine handed him her medical bag.
"Do you always take it with you, Catherine?"
"Yes, you never know. If there is an emergency, I'm obligated to help."
"Well okay, if you say so. Will it pass security?"
"Yes, Robert, It only contains my stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff and an otoscope. Years ago they stopped us from carrying medicine and syringes."
Robert and Catherine boarded a non-stop flight out of LaGuardia. It was an early flight that would put them in LA around noon. As first class and families were boarding, Catherine noticed a family with a little girl.
"Robert," Catherine pointed to a little girl, "she looks a lot like little Marybeth, same dark curly hair, about the same age."
"You're right Catherine, she does."
Catherine noticed something else, something didn't seem right. She didn't think anymore about her until they went on board. They passed right by the family, they were seated in the first row behind first class. Catherine continued to observe the little girl; then it dawned on her, she was pale, very pale in fact.
Catherine was no different from any other doctor; she had a hard time turning off her doctor's mind. "Robert, something is wrong with that child, I can feel it."
"Catherine, sweetheart, try not to think too much, let's enjoy the flight."
"I can't help it, Robert."
The little girl's crying made all the passengers around them irritable; Catherine could see the looks they all gave the family. Her mother was doing her best to try and quiet her, but nothing helped.
"Robert, I know you want me to sit back and relax, but I just can't. Please get my bag down."
Robert knew his wife would not ignore her feelings; he got up and opened the overhead bin to retrieve her bag. As he was out of his seat, Catherine took the opportunity to go to the front of the plane, passing right by the child. She pretended to get a magazine but she was really observing the child.
She spoke quietly to the stewardess, "I'm Dr. Woodward a pediatric heart doctor, I'm very alarmed how that little girl is reacting to flying."
"I am too; I've never seen anything like it before, most children that age might cry on take off but then they calm down."
Catherine returned to her seat, she heard, "Is your daughter alright?" The flight attendant asked. The parents insisted nothing was wrong; "it's her first airplane ride." Catherine heard the mother tell the attendant.
Catherine never took her eyes off of the family. Finally, she had enough. "Robert, let me out please. I need to help the little girl." Robert knew he couldn't stop her, he let her go and sat and watched his wife. This was the first time he saw her professional expertise in action.
The stewardess reacted intuitively to Catherine's appearance in the front of the plane again; she had already brought out the portable oxygen tank and a child size mask.
"That's just what I need, Sally," having read her name tag.
Catherine went right to the family. "Allow me to introduce myself, I'm
Dr. Woodward, I'm a pediatric heart doctor; I'm very concerned about your daughter, she having trouble breathing. I think she should have some extra oxygen. Will you allow me to put the mask on her face?"
"Yes, of course, anything to help her stop crying."
The child was in her mother's arms, facing away from Catherine, but she could see her face, her lips were blue. Holding the oxygen mask near the child, Catherine turned on the oxygen. Just holding it there would give the little girl some extra oxygen. Catherine started to talk to the mother.
"What's her name?"
The oxygen was helping, soon Rosemary started to calm down and her breathing improved.
She knelt in front of the little girl; softly touched her hair. "My granddaughter has curls just like you. I want you to feel better. The little boys and girls I take care of call me Dr. Cat. Can you say that?" The little girl tried to smile, softly saying, "Dr. Cat."
"Rosemary, this mask, showing it to her and letting her play with it, "will make you happy. Nothing will hurt you. Can I put the mask on your face?"
First Catherine turned the oxygen down; Rosemary willingly let Catherine place the mask on her face, pulling the band behind her head to secure it. Catherine observed her; then turned the oxygen up a little at a time. Rosemary was breathing easier and she was no longer fretful.
By this time everyone on the plane was aware something was wrong, especially those sitting around the family. She called to Robert. "Bring me my bag please."
Grabbing her stethoscope, she asked permission to listen to the girl's heart and lungs.
"Rosemary, I need to listen to your heart. Right there," she said as she pointed to the little girl's heart.
Putting the earpieces in her ears, she said; "See Rosemary," as she listen to her own heart and then to her mother's. "It doesn't hurt."
The little girl's lungs were clear. Listening to her heart, instead of the usual lub-dub, Catherine heard, lub-swish-dub; the usual sound of a defect.
Although the oxygen had helped, the child's nail beds and lips were still blue.
Turning to the attendant, "we have an emergency, this child really needs medical attention."
And then to the parents, she asked, "Please tell me your names." The mother introduced themselves to her, as Maria and Felix Lopez.
"May I call you by your first names?" They both nodded yes. Since Maria had been the one to speak, Catherine addressed her questions to her.
"Maria, does Rosemary, have any heart problems?
"We were told she had a small hole in her heart a few weeks after she was born, but we didn't have the money." The mother started to cry. Catherine's suspicions were confirmed.
The Captain, who had been informed of the situation came out of the cockpit and spoke to Catherine. "We're not even half way to California; do we need to make an emergency landing?"
"I think that is best for the child."
"Okay, let me see what I can do."
The captain spoke to the passengers. "We have a child with a medical emergency. We are making an emergency landing, on an old military runway. I ask everyone to take their seats and fasten your seat belt. It may be a bumpy landing." In a few minutes they touched down, the landing wasn't all that bad, everyone let out a collective sigh of relief.
Again the Captain spoke to the passengers, "we will be able to resume this flight as soon as the helicopter arrives to take the child to the hospital. LA will be notified of our approximate arrival time as soon as we take off." The other stewardesses went through the cabin and offered snacks and drinks.
Catherine returned to sit with the family, they sat together waiting for the helicopter from the hospital to land. Robert continued to watch; he thought to himself, "Catherine was right the little girl needed her."
It wasn't long, the helicopter landed and the doctor from Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City entered the plane. "Dr. Woodward, I'm Dr. Morris, so glad you were aboard. I was told the child became restless at 28,000 feet and that the oxygen only help her calm down; is that right?"
"Yes, Dr. Morris, her heart sounds like she may have a major defect. The parents had no money to get it repaired at birth."
"I see. Have you had experience in repairing these defects?"
"Yes, about six years ago I attended a conference in Chicago and learned from Dr. Montgomery. I've probably done about twenty procedures since then."
"That's good; no one on my staff has that expertise. Our lawyers will need to process the paperwork to have your credentials approved in Oklahoma." Dr. Morris radioed ahead, all the information they needed to process her credentials to perform the procedure. He wanted there to be no delay.
It didn't take long; Rosemary and her mother boarded the helicopter. A discussion on the plane had informed Maria that only one other person could fit on the helicopter. Immediately, she had asked for Catherine.
Robert who had been standing near enough to hear the conversation quickly spoke up, "Catherine, I can rent a car and drive Mr. Lopez. Is that alright?" he said turning to Mr. Lopez. Who nodded. After both men said their goodbyes; they watched the craft leave.
A sergeant from the base drove Robert and Felix into town, where he was able to rent a car. About an hour later, they were on their way. Robert tried to contact Liz or John, but being in the middle of nowhere, there was no cell signal available.
Back in LA the news of a plane being diverted for an emergency landing due to a medical problem with a passenger flashes on the news. John was visiting Liz at the hospital when the news broke. "John I'm sure that's Catherine and Robert's plane."
"I'm sure Robert will get in touch with us when he can. Be sure your phone is on, he will probably call you."
Every twenty miles or so Robert was trying to get a cell signal. Finally, he found a signal, knowing full well he would be charged roaming fees. He said to himself, "the heck with roaming charges." His first call was to Catherine. She doesn't answer but he left a message. "Be there in about two hours." Next he reached Liz and left a more detailed message.
Felix was definitely worried. Robert tried to put him at ease. "Felix, my wife is one of the best in all of New England. Parents come from everywhere to have their children cared for by Catherine. Do you need to contact anyone?"
He hesitated, "yes, I would like to call Maria's mother?" Robert handed him his cell phone.
Meanwhile the helicopter landed on the pad at the Children's Hospital. Dr. Morris and Catherine had been talking to Maria the whole way; explaining that Rosemary would need a non-invasive procedure to determine if a defect was actually present. Maria had agreed and she signed the consent as soon as Rosemary arrived in the children's heart center.
Maria and Catherine were allowed to watch; Rosemary had been given a small amount of medicine to help her lay very still. Catherine was in position to see the monitor screen and within minutes she knew her suspicions had been confirmed.
She waited for Dr. Morris to join them to discuss the findings. "Mrs. Lopez, Rosemary does have a small hole between the two upper chambers of her heart. This normally closes when a child is born. She probably would have been fine but when you ride an airplane the changes in air pressure causes a lack of oxygen and that made her very scared." Maria would wait for Felix before signing anything.
Just then her cell phone vibrated, it was Robert.
"Catherine, we're about thirty minutes away." Okay Robert, see you soon, love you."
"Maria, would you like to walk to the chapel? We could say a prayer and light a candle if you wanted to."
"I'd like that."
They followed the signs; at the end of the hall they found a chapel that looked out over a waterfall outside; the light filtered in through the stained glass windows make for a very calm setting. Two other families were leaving as they entered. Maria and Catherine find a pew.
Immediately, Maria knelt and began to pray the Rosary. Catherine found the prayer card and began to read:
Be strong and courageous. He will not fail you or forsake you.
Trust in the Lord with all you heart.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
And then the prayer to bless her hands:
Give skill to my hands, clear vision to my mind, kindness and sympathy to my heart. I ask that You give me clarity of thought and mind
I ask You to bless my hands; guide them as I perform this procedure to provide healing of Rosemary's heart. Amen
Realizing it had been twenty minute, Catherine taped Maria on her shoulder, she softly said, "we better go, our husbands will be here soon."
On their way out of the chapel, Catherine stopped to place some money in the chaplains' basket and signed the prayer book, "Please pray for Rosemary, a three year old with a heart defect who's having a procedure soon.
Maria stopped and lit a candle for her daughter. Upon returning to the waiting room, they saw Robert and Felix enter from the other side.
The Chief of the Cardiac Services found Catherine. "Good news, you have been cleared to perform the procedure."
"That is good news," Maria said while giving a Catherine a look of approval.
"Now, everyone, come with me," they heard Dr. Morris say. He led them to a conference to explain exactly what needed to be done.
"A small tube will be inserted into a blood vessel near the top of her leg," Dr. Morris pointed to the area on a picture.
"We use that tube to insert other wires; we watch them on the TV and then repair the defect." They consented and signed the paperwork. Dr. Morris notified the procedure room to set up for it and gave some orders to prepare Rosemary for the procedure.
Catherine and Robert had stepped into the hall. "Are you alright Catherine?"
"Yes Robert, Maria and I spent a few minutes in the chapel. How are you? That was a long drive."
"Not too bad Catherine, just glad I could help. I'll wait with the others. He cupped her cheek and gave her a sweet kiss. Catherine took off her wedding set and watch; "hold these Robert, I don't like to take off my rings but I must, at least they're with the man I love." She turned and followed the nurse to the locker room to change her clothes.
Robert finally made contact with Liz and John, he returned to the waiting room.
Robert began think of another time he waited for news from Catherine, the day Marybeth was born.
He spoke to Maria and Felix. "Maria, I told Felix, Catherine is the best in New England, patients come from everywhere. She helped when my daughter went into early labor and little Marybeth was born; every little child that comes to her is special. It's almost like they become her child. Rosemary is now one of her children; she's in good hands with God looking over her shoulder, I'm certain of it."
Yes, Robert was sure, in less than an hour and a half, Catherine and Dr. Morris found them. Their smiles told them everything.
"Rosemary is fine; she's in intensive care. "I know you want to see her. Come with me, you too Robert."
Rosemary was still using oxygen and EKG wires were still attached but she was smiling. Emotions fill the room; Maria and Felix sat at their daughter's bedside; their gratitude expressed in their eyes.
Robert and Catherine left the parents for now; Catherine needed to talk to Robert in private.
She pulled him into a stairwell and they embraced. "Robert I'm sorry for disrupting our plans."
"No need to be sorry Catherine, you knew exactly what was wrong with her; without you she may have developed a real serious problem."
"Robert," she kissed him fully, "you're so good to me. We need to find a room soon."
"I couldn't agree more. Let's go check on her and then we can leave."
Hand in hand, they returned to the ICU. The oxygen was off; the EKG wires had been removed. Rosemary was sitting up eating sherbet. Catherine knew her duties were over; everyone had her contact information. Catherine and Robert departed to the nearest hotel.
They checked into their room after dinner. Robert put their bags on the luggage stands and turned to Catherine. "I have a surprise for you," he said half laughing but with a full smile.
"Robert, what have you done?"
"I haven't done anything, open that door behind you."
Looking at him with a peculiar inquisitive face, Catherine opened the door.
Excitedly, "there's a hot tub in there, Robert. I've never seen a hot tub in a hotel room."
"Me neither, but I thought you would like it." Robert said as he moved close to her and started to unbutton her blouse – kissing her sweetly while he did.
"Now, Robert," she said between returning his kisses, "you know what this does to me."
"Yes, but we're married."
"I know that silly man," as she grabbed a terry robe and threw it at him.
"Come on let's get in."
The both quickly undressed and put on their robes and stood by the hot tub. Catherine put her foot in first; it was very warm. Hanging their robes on the hooks provided; they stepped into the tub. The water was really a little on the hot side but still very enjoyable.
The glass around the tub was frosted only half way up; the rest was clear. It was getting dark they could still see filaments of the sunset. Each seat had individual adjustments for the jets. Catherine slid all the way down so only her head was above water.
Robert had turned on the music system; all love song instrumentals. He also found the switch for the revolving colored lights.
"This is nice, Robert, thank you, I really needed this."
"Just don't fall asleep Catherine, we have another date, remember."
"I know, Robert, just a few more minutes." She took the hand held jet and soothed her neck and temples.
Slowly, she sat up on the bench and reached for the hand rail to get out. As she was putting on her robe, she noticed Robert was still resting with his eyes closed.
"Okay, sleepy head, I'm out."
Robert moaned as he pulled himself up and out of the tub.
Quickly he was by Catherine's side. "I didn't have the privilege of undressing you, so I will dry you," he teasingly said to her. Robert dried every inch of her; it had the same effect as undressing did. Robert was delighted.
Almost immediately after their intimate encounter, Catherine fell sound to sleep.
Robert shifted his weight, propping his head up with his arm; his other hand ran threw her hair and tucked it behind her ear. His fingers softly caressed her cheek and his thumb lightly touched her lips. He bent over and gave her a light kiss. "Good night, sweetheart."
Removing her arm from under him, he placed it by her side, Robert snuggled up to her; laying his head on the same pillow; he too fell sound asleep.
Awaking in the morning to the soft chime of the alarm, they realized they hadn't moved all night. Kissing sweetly, they knew they needed to get up.
They returned to the hospital to check on Rosemary; she had been moved out of intensive care and the parents could take her home in the morning. The "Angel" flight service had been contacted; they would fly the family home.
Robert and Catherine booked a flight to LA where they did enjoy that sailboat cruise.
THE THANK YOU
A week or so after getting home and back to work, Catherine opened an envelope that looked like a card.
Inside, she did find a card; a thank you note from Maria and Felix.
That wasn't all. Catherine unfolded a piece of construction paper.
It was covered by heart stickers. It had a few crayon makings around some of the hearts; like those of a three year old.
At the bottom, Maria had written:
Thank you, Dr. Cat
She took it home to show Robert.
"Catherine I think you should frame it and hang it in your office.
Label it the miracle at 28,000 feet."
"That would be nice Robert, I think I will."
That picture hung in her office until she retired, then it found a place in her office nook at home.
It's now years later, Robert and Catherine are both retired but they do volunteer work around the world. Coming home from a recent trip, they departed their plane in the newest New York City airport.
"Robert, we could get lost in here."
They wondered over to the coffee stand. They hadn't had a good cup of coffee in days. It wasn't very busy. A couple of tables away sat two very pretty young ladies.
Robert had also noticed them. "Catherine one of the young ladies reminds me so much of Marybeth."
"Yes, you're right."
That same girl was looking Catherine over. She said to her friend, "that lady over there reminds me of someone I've met before."
"Well, my dear Dr. Cat, we need to go home." Robert said with a smile. All the children in Guatemala had been calling her that all week.
The young lady heard that. "Dr. Cat?" she called after the lady.
Catherine turned around in surprise, wondering who in the world would be using that name for her. She looked right at the young lady who looked so much like Marybeth.
"Dr. Cat it's me Rosemary. Your emergency at 28,000 feet."
A big smile came to all their faces as they remembered.
"How did you know it was me Rosemary?"
"Is there another Dr. Cat?"
Catherine laughed. They decided to sit and talk.
"I just want you to know, my parent have always told me I owe my life to you."
Being modest, Catherine just smiled.
"I decided to return the favor, I'm studying to be a nurse practitioner, couldn't quite do the doctor thing. I want to be a medical missionary."
"That's wonderful, Robert and I are retired now; we just returned from a mission trip to Guatemala."
Handing her a card, "here's all the information for contacting the organization who sponsored us. They need all kinds of help. You may be able to take a trip while you are still in school.
"Rosemary, it's been wonderful seeing you. Our grandson should be waiting at baggage claim to take us home. Give our best to your parents."
"Dr. Cat," she said with a delighted smile, "I will."