It was a long drive to Jamestown but Arf and Katie didn’t care. Katie could get through anything if she had her best friend by her side. Steve told his daughter he would spend the night at a local hotel and head back to the ranch the next day. He had work to do. He would be back in two weeks to pick them up.
“Good luck princess,” Steve said. “They will be giving you tests the first week. We’ll all be praying that everything goes well. I love you.”
Katie stayed in a small room that looked like a dormitory. Inside there was a narrow hospital bed and a small chest for her clothes. Katie was grateful there was a handicap bathroom that included a shower.
“I thought my dog, Arf, was going to sleep in my room with me,”Katie said. “Where is he going to sleep?”
“Arf has to go through a little training before he can sleep in here with you. Don’t worry, he’ll be taken care of and it will only be for a couple of days.”
“But what if he gets scared and runs away? I don’t know what I would do without Arf.”
“He won’t run away…I promise,” said the attendant. “He’ll be away from you for a couple of days while you have some tests run and then you’ll have him back again.”
The next two days were really busy. The research team at the hospital ran more tests than Katie could count. She was almost too busy to miss Arf…Almost.
***I hated being away from Katie, but I figured out they must need me for something or I would still be back at the ranch. No…I would just bide my time. I could see some other dogs were there, too and my digs were pretty nice .
I hope I’m smart enough. Do you think I’m smart enough? I’ll try to understand. I will, I will.
“Hi honey, wakey, wakey…It’s Daddy. The doctors asked me to come so they could review your tests with me. I have a meeting with them in just a few minutes. When it’s over, I’ll come back and say goodbye.”
“Hello Mr. Martin,” Doctor Jones said. “Please come in an have a seat. I’m going to ask Doctor Philips to join us.”
“The first thing I must tell you is that Katie did not have polio. She had acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) a very rare but serious illness that can cause sudden polio-like symptoms such as weak muscles and paralysis.
There is no specific treatment for AFM. However, some children with AFM have benefited from physical and occupational therapy.
Here at the research hospital, we have developed a unique exercise and stretching formula that we’re hoping can help children like Katie gain the use of their legs. However, something else must be accomplished before we begin treatment.” Dr. Philips paused before going on.
“Katie hasn’t been able to use her legs for almost eight years. There is a significant amount of muscle atrophy and nerve damage. We will have to perform a surgery involving tissue transplants before we’ll know for sure if we can help her. After looking at the tests we ran and examining her, I believe she is a viable candidate…and Steve, at worst, she will suffer a huge disappointment. All surgeries involve risk, but Katie is a strong little girl and I understand she and her dog make a good team.
“When will she have the surgery?” Steve asked.
“In two days,” was the answer. “I’m sorry for such short notice.”
***The first night was bad. It reminded me of the nights I had to sleep in the moving van, only I knew that Katie was close by. The food was pretty good, although it could have used a little more gravy. I saw a river a little ways off and wondered if it had any fish in it.
On the second morning, a young man came and got me. He put me on a leash. Can you believe that? Oh well, they’ll get to know me and that won’t be an issue.
The young man didn’t take me to Katie. He took me to a big field that had all kinds of stuff in it. It looked like fun. I saw frisbees, balls, ropes, and plastic people dishes. He said the same words to me over and over. I learned really fast that he liked to blow whistles. I hate whistles so I did everything he said so he wouldn’t blow it. I had to wonder what this all had to do with me helping Katie.
Back at the ranch, Brad was sitting alone on the front porch when Jamie drove up. She and Miss Bessie had agreed that Katie needed Arf more than they did and Arf needed to help Katie.
They were all becoming a family that wanted the best for one another.
The month was over. Jamie had the summer off. Brad couldn’t wait to find out what her plans were.