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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Crisis Investigated

The sound of rapidly moving flip-flops signaled me that Cindy had arrived and would soon be inside my room. “Dar, hi. What’s happening? The nurse called and said you’re blind.”

“Thanks so much for coming, Cindy,” I said, shaking my head. “I just don’t know why they keep saying things like that; I’m not blind.”

“What a relief. So, you can see me then?” I heard the sound of the straight-back chair being pulled over to the bed.

“Not exactly. I mean, it’s not all black like blind people, but I can’t really see you. I see only long chains of colored pyramids. They’re like waving strings of colored lights, kind of; it’s hard to explain. I couldn’t make the doctor understand. He’s the one that says I’m blind.”

“Are you in pain? You’re kinda squeezing your eyes like I do when I have a migraine.”

“Am I? I didn’t realize that. Yes, I have a bad headache, but they say it’s too early to give me anything for the pain. I have to have some tests first.”

“Yeah, that’s what they told me. I called your mother and she’s coming right away. She said your father would come after work.”

“Oh, poor Mom. She’s probably a wreck. Dad can handle stuff like this so much better; but if they need only one parent to be here, I can see she’d get away from work more easily than Dad. Can you stay with her, Cindy?”

“I think so. I’ll run home before she gets here to be sure Jack‘s gonna be home with the baby. I don’t think he has plans that can’t be changed a bit; it’s his day off.”

“Hey, thanks so much. This is just so weird. I mean, Cindy, I’m not sick at all; I just had this neck-thing going on and now—“ I interrupted myself, remembering about the blindness rumor. “You didn’t tell Mom I’m blind, did you? She’ll crash the car on her way, if she’s got that on her mind.” Cindy joined my chuckling.

“I know exactly what you mean; my mom’s the same way. No, I just said you were in the hospital and needed to have some tests. I told her that the doctor wanted one of your parents to come.”

“Okay, good; that’s not too bad then. Go ahead and check with Jack, and thanks.”

When Cindy returned with the news she could be with Mom until Dad arrived, we used the time to catch up on family happenings over the months we’d been apart, as any two young adult women would. “One thing I am thanking the Lord for in all of this, Dar, is that whatever is going on with your body, we’re not still living across the city. We’re practically in the hospital’s parking lot.”

“Me, too, Cindy. I’m so glad the Lord has you close enough to be here with me, and to help Mom.”

Just then, the fast clicking of Mom’s pumps rushed to my bedside. Grabbing my hand and pressing it between her two palms, Mom’s lips touched my forehead. “Oh, Honey. Oh, Honey! What’s happening to you? The doctor said they had to do a test and you might die or lose your leg?”

“Leg?” Cindy and I said at the same time. “There’s nothing wrong with my leg, Mom. I have no idea why the doctor would tell you that.”

As I struggled to make sense of that warning, Mom reached up and stroked my cheek. At the same time, she pressed her own cheek into my right hand. I felt her tears. Then I remembered.

“Oh, Mom, I know why Dr. Roberts* told you that; it’s the law. They are going to do a test that puts dye into the blood vessels in my brain. Because they actually insert the needle in the artery at the top of the leg and thread it up to the right spot, he’s obliged by law to tell you what could happen if things go wrong. It hardly ever does, but if he tells us and we still sign the consent papers, the doctor and hospital are off the hook. You know how that goes, right? This isn’t going to happen to me; I’m not a bit worried about losing my leg. I’m not allergic to any dyes either, so this test isn’t going to kill me.” Mom wrapped her arms around my body as best she could, resting her head on my chest.

“It’s okay, Mom, really. I’m not worried; you don’t need to be either,” I said, stroking her shoulder and choking back the tears the sight of my mother’s pain had stirred in me.

Just then, the orderly arrived with the gurney to take me down to Radiology for the Cerebral Arteriogram Dr. Roberts had ordered to be done immediately. My bed raised, I scooted over to the gurney. Sitting up, I let my mother hug me; I returned her embrace, hoping all really would turn out to be as good as I’d tried to assure her it would.

The hard x-ray table felt cold beneath me. I listened to all the activity around me, remembering the protocols I’d followed when working as a student radiology tech. The tap at the back of my head meant a large molded foam would soon be placed under it, with straps to keep my head from moving out of position. I figured the inguinal insertion of the catheter would soon follow.

What I had totally forgotten was the towel. I felt the female tech place a wad of folded terrycloth between my legs. “You’ll want this there in a minute.”

“But, I did—“

 “Yeah, I know; all patients are taken to the restroom before being put on this table. But let me assure you, you’ll be glad I padded this area for you. It’s just a reflex.”

In fact, the lady had been right. Sometimes the humiliation of being a patient can be worse than the pain of the disease. At least, that’s what I thought when the inguinal insertion of the catheter needle caused an immediate release of residual warm bladder contents.

Then they shot the dye into my brain and I knew I’d been wrong. No humiliation came close to this kind of pain. No wonder they’d strapped my head into the foam restraint.

*Name changed.

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