Raphael was sick again. Splinter had lost count of the number of times Raphael had been bedridden. He suspected an inner ear problem, based off the fact that Raphael would rub on his ear slits often. The young turtle also had a problem with balance due to the infections.
His brothers would taunt him, but he did not let it discourage him. On the contrary, it fueled him. He was a determined child and was driven to keep up with, if not surpass his brothers.
While the others moved through their katas with fluidity, Raphael struggled to maintain balance. There were nights that Splinter would find him alone in the dojo with a look of determination on his face. He would fall, but he would always get back up. There were other days Splinter would find him curled up in the corner, crying but he never did it to where his brothers could see him.
Do to the lack of medicine, Splinter could do little to treat Raphael’s fever. Fortunately they were always low grade and would pass within a few days.
One day, Leonardo was showing off his flips. He would stand on a high platform and do a back flip with a twist then stick the landing with little effort. The others applauded Leo and taunted Raphael, saying that he could hardly stand. Angry tears filled Raphael’s eyes as he climbed up on the platform.
“Ya can’t even jump down without hurting ya-self,” Leo taunted.
Splinter heard the taunting and came out to investigate just as Raph left the platform. He managed the simple backflip, but didn’t land the right way. There was a loud snap and Raph fell into the supports of the platform, bringing the whole structure down on top of him.
“Boys, get back,” Splinter yelled as he rushed to lift the debris off of Raphael. He could not lose another one. Panic filled him as he uncovered the still form of Raphael. His plastron was cracked and bleeding and his knees didn’t sit right.
Splinter lifted Raphael carefully and moved him into his room. He did his best to check for any broken bones and was happy to discover that there weren’t any. Raphael’s knees, however, were dislocated and the caps were sticking laterally on the outside of both knees. If the poor child had problems walking before this was only going to add to the problem.
He first treated the wounds as best he could and stopped the bleeding, but some were deep and needed stiches. They would have to wait. He then moved to pop Raph’s knee caps back in place. He started with the right one, but when he moved to the left knee the right one popped back out. When he fixed the left one, it too did not stay. He wondered if he was doing it wrong.
Raph’s body was trembling from shock and Splinter noticed a goose egg sized bump forming on his head. Dread filled Splinter as he looked down at his son. The fear of infection was high, that is if the shock didn’t get to him first. Splinter opened Raph’s eye to see that they were dilated and unresponsive.
He knew he had to do more for him. Covering Raphael with a blanket and making him as comfortable as possible, Splinter headed out to the surface to go somewhere other than the dump for the first time in six years.
Covered in a cowl, Splinter used his ninja skills to break into a pharmacy. He hated the idea of stealing, but he had no other option. He went to the children’s section of the prescription medicines and looked through the labels. Antibiotics, pain relievers, and fever reducers were among the drugs stolen. He then went out and found various wrappings and bandages, tucking them all into the satchel at his side.
While he was there he went ahead and collected other items that would help with everyday life and even took a few toys for the boys. He left what little cash he still had from when he was human, though he knew that it didn’t cover the cost of all that he took, and rushed back to the lair.
When he got back, he found Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Donatello laying around their injured brother. They moved out of the way as Splinter approached and sat back out of the way but continued to watch. Splinter touched the back of his hand to Raph’s cheek and felt that a fever was already starting to set in.
Sweat drenched the sheet and Raph’s breathing was staggered. Splinter decided to start with the over the counter fever reducer, using the dropper to measure out the recommended dosage. Raphael swallowed the medicine, groaning in pain but kept his eyes closed.
Splinter covered Raph’s eyes with a cooling pack before turning back to his knees. He gently lifted each one, placing a brace underneath. Then he pushed the cap back in place and wrapped the brace around tight enough to hold it in place, but not so tight to cut circulation.
He then went about re-cleaning and dressing the wounds. He used dental floss and a sewing needle to stich up the deeper lacerations and wrapped them all. When he was done, all he could do was wait and hope that it was enough.
The first night was the worst. Fever plagued Raph and nothing Splinter gave him helped to bring it down. But by the morning, the fever broke and Raphael slept peacefully.
In an attempt to be helpful, Michelangelo brought Raphael food and left it next to him as they did their morning katas. His good deed backfired when the left out food attracted roaches. Raphael cried out as the bugs crawled over him to get at the food. While his mouth was open, one of the roaches fell in causing him to choke and thrash, pulling stiches.
After tending to the reopened wounds, Splinter moved Raph to a large beanbag to get him off the floor. Anytime Splinter removed the braces, Raph’s knee caps would dislocate again so he decided to keep them on. He was glad that he grabbed a few larger sized braces as well. He had a feeling that Raph was going to need them.
Splinter had found some crutches at the dump and Donatello managed to adjust them for Raph. But he hated being encumbered with the crutches and after only a few days, he threw them on the floor.
Splinter rushed over and picked up a crutch. “Raphael, no!” he warned. “It’s too soon!”
But Raph didn’t listen. He forced his body to work and walked over to Mikey then smacked his brother on the back of the head. “That’s for leaving the food out, knucklehead,” he growled.
Splinter saw the determination in his son and knew that he would learn to overcome his adversities. He was not going to let anything keep him from being the best.