Chapter 2 – Nachos at Halftime

Chapter 2 – Nachos at Halftime

The air was stale and had been lingering heavily in the waiting room when the doctor found Morgan hoping for a positive report of Isaac’s condition.  Morgan’s face fell with the delivery of the news and his eyes turned glassy and red with raw emotion.

“Dr.—” Morgan stammered.

The doctor knew Morgan had never grown accustomed to calling him by his formal title.  Because they had been close friends long before he received his license, it didn’t bother him when Morgan continued more informally using his first name instead.  “Ray, I don’t know what to do.”

“Morgan, he needs the procedure. Remember, your valve replacement was particularly hard because of the additional stresses:  Medical school, a new baby.  You made it through, even with all that, and I believe he will too.”

Morgan shook his head despairingly.  “Sure I made it through, but I had to drop out of school.  There’s got to be an alternative.”

Dr. Golward pursed his lips together then asked, “When did you say Rita would be back from her mother’s?”


Knowing Morgan’s wife would help him recognize what was medically necessary, he suggested, “Why don’t you talk to her about it then and give me a call.”

“I already have.  She can’t understand why I’m holding back.  I know. I know; there’s really no question.  We’ve just got to do it.”  After a halting pause, he nodded, “It’s okay.” Morgan sat quietly with the doctor for a moment, gathering his thoughts.  His brows furrowed slightly before asking directly, “But what if it doesn’t work?”

“Morgan, you’ve experienced this as a patient.  I don’t need to explain the risks; you know them as well as anyone.  But you’ve also seen it work, and Isaac really has no other choice.”

“I know; you’re right.”

“Just let me do my best, and pray for God’s hand in his full recovery.”

Morgan nodded, and took a deep breath.  “You know, if I’d been able to stay in medical school, you realize I might be the one performing this surgery?”

“No, Morgan. Everything happens for a reason.  It’s not your job to do this for your son.  And somehow, all that’s transpired will ultimately reveal a grander purpose for your life, and greater meaning to your challenges.”

Morgan lamented, “I never aspired to work for a medical devices company; I always thought I’d be in the trenches saving lives like you.”

“Well, we all play our part.  I couldn’t do what I do without the tools you provide.  And look at you now, succeeding magnificently right where you are.  Your interest in medicine making you uniquely equipped to bring passion and purpose to an industry often driven by profit alone.” Dr. Golward smiled. “No wonder you’ve done so well.  In your wildest dreams, did you ever think you’d so quickly end up as the company president?”

Morgan was too numb to respond.

After a reflective moment, Dr. Golward put his hands on Morgan’s shoulders and reiterated, “Now.  Let’s help your son.  That’s my passion and purpose; I want to see him grow up to play football for our old high school.  Deal?”

“Alright,” Morgan nodded, “I’ll trust you.”

“No, don’t trust me.  Trust God, Morgan.  I’m just an instrument; and like I said, all I can promise is to do my very best.  You know, my own heart is in this one.  I want him well.”


Eight months later

“I’m so sorry, Morgan.”  Dr. Golward looked at his hands, wringing them as he prepared to deliver the devastating news.  Then, bravely making eye contact he stated, “It’s infective endocarditis.”

Morgan closed his eyes and Rita put her arms around him, hiding her face in his shoulder.  Questioningly, Morgan looked up, shaking his head to Dr. Golward: “Why Isaac? How can thousands of people come through without a hitch, and Isaac’s little body goes toxic? Can you explain that to me?”  Morgan was angry and Dr. Golward just listened. “This was supposed to work, Ray!”

It’s not that Morgan didn’t understand the medical terminology or anticipate the potential setbacks of his son’s condition.  He had spent hours at the hospital library learning everything he could about the aspects of cardiology that had impacted his family twice now, but Isaac’s situation wasn’t a story in a medical textbook. This wasn’t just “O” positive on a chart.  This was real blood, and not just any, but his own, coursing through the veins of his very sick, but cherished offspring.

In reality, this was his own flesh, under conditions beyond his control.  Powerlessness, helplessness—emotions not easily adjusted to by any grown man, but especially Morgan, who erroneously felt that if somehow he had been able to finish school, he would have had more power or knowledge to avert this tragedy in the first place.

Finally the doctor responded.  “The valve is compromised; the leaflets have seeded bacteria. We hope to get the infection under control with antibiotics, Morgan, but I’m afraid the valve is only temporary. The leaflets are damaged.”

Morgan’s anger melted away as he mustered some weak but hopeful determination. “So now what?”

“He’ll need another surgery. How soon? Not sure.  We’ll wait as long as we can, managing his condition with medication to delay the second procedure.”

“So what’s to keep this from happening again?”

The doctor silently pressed his lips together and then replied, “There are no guarantees. There are inherent disadvantages to both the mechanical prosthetic valves and the ones made from animal tissue. We do the best we can with what we have to work with.”

Unsatisfied with the doctor’s response, Morgan replied resolutely, “I believe in miracles, doctor. I still envision Isaac leading a normal life…”

The doctor cautiously assured, “I believe in miracles, too, Morgan.”  After a sympathetic pause, Dr. Golward smiled faintly, “I’m looking forward to the football game we’ll watch him play in about ten years.  Mark your calendar; we’ll eat nachos at halftime.”


The doctor would never express such confidence to just any of his patients’ families, but he knew Morgan needed his buoyancy more than he needed a report of the apparent truth.  Their enduring friendship transcended the typical professional protocol, and he knew the friendship would endure, even if his words proved to be a lie.

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56 responses to “Chapter 2 – Nachos at Halftime

  1. Marcy

    Scary to think that your child is sick and you don’t know what to do. I see Morgan inventing a new valve.

  2. Susan

    First putting my self in their position, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how I would react! Emotions can really effect our thinking if not kept under ( some ) control. I sometimes think my road is hard-but reading this chapter it makes me thankful to keep the problems I have. It’s never greener on the other side of the fence.

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  4. Tamra Mather

    looking forward to reading the book. i can see that morgan is beginning to visualize a healthy son!

  5. Katie

    I agree with others who have commented before me, I am puzzled as to why Rita didn’t leave her mother’s to get to the hospital? Looking forward to the helter-skelter of chapter 3!

    Thanks again Leslie.

  6. Leslie Householder

    For everyone who wonders about Rita staying with her mother instead of being at the hospital with Morgan and Isaac, the new edition will explain. I always imagined her being with her aged and dying mother in another hospital out of state. It isn’t until the doctors tell Rita that her mother is “out of the woods” that Rita feels like she can leave. This is what was in my mind when I wrote the scene, and it has been your comments that have helped me realize that I need to spell it out and not assume that the reader can read my mind. Here’s probably what Rita will say in the next edition:

    “Please don’t do it, at least—will you just—wait until I get back? Mother was taken off life support this morning, and if she remains stable, and if Dad’s feeling like he can handle everything without me, I think I may be able to catch a flight to get me home by dinnertime Thursday. What if you save it for next weekend? Maybe we could all go hunting together.”

    Having Rita absent didn’t seem so far-fetched to me because of all the times my husband and I have had to split up to attend to the needs of our children separately, especially when two very important situations simultaneously needed our personal attention.

    For example, I recall one day when my daughter had a near-death experience and I followed the ambulance alone while my husband was out of town and could not be reached for quite some time. Of course, the minute he found out, he made arrangements as quickly as possible to come, but it still took several hours for him to make the journey and I had to handle everything without him.

    When conditions don’t allow you and your spouse to be together to tend to a sick child, you simply have to trust that God and your spouse will adequately handle things without you. You could drive yourself to suffer a nervous breakdown if you don’t just let go and trust, and then how helpful would you be to anyone?

    Thank you for all of your comments!

  7. Bruce

    I agree with others who have commented before me, I am puzzled as to why Rita didn’t leave her mother’s to get to the hospital? Looking forward to the helter-skelter of chapter 3!

    Thanks again Leslie.

  8. jacqui

    Good narrative and description to set the scene and make the reader feel the tension. I have experienced different emotions in both chapters and get a sense of hope overcoming adversity but little (~or major) obstacles popping up seemingly to thwart the happy outcome. Like it a lot so far.

  9. Berta

    I am still interested, and can’t wait to read more. I like the faith in God. Seems like the dad will solve the problem with a new invention…?

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